Statement on the Lynching of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Uprising

Struggle for a New World strongly condemns the brutal and inhumane police murder of George Floyd, committed by Officer Derek Chauvin, with the aid of other officers of the Minneapolis Police Department, on May 25, 2020. This on-camera murder of an Afro-American man, already handcuffed and on the ground, is only the latest in a long line of legal lynchings. We salute the ongoing popular resistance and community self-defense actions being carried out by the Afro-American people of Minneapolis and their allies. On May 26, thousands defied the restrictions of the coronavirus to peacefully protest George Floyd’s murder, only for the MPD to attempt to viciously repress them. These heroic protesters resisted the attacks of the police. This protest and resistance has continued now into the following days, and will not stop until police murders stop. While the bourgeois media engages in “both-sides” rhetoric and condemns “violent riots” and “looting” in the same breath as they cry crocodile tears over George Floyd, we recognize the legitimacy of resisting, in the words of Malcolm X, “by any means necessary” the attacks and repression of white-supremacist US imperialism, in this instance represented by the MPD.

Let us be clear: it is right to rebel. It is right for the people to storm a police station, as just happened on the night of the 28th. The police are an occupying army who must be kicked out of every Black community, every working class community, every community of the oppressed and exploited. It is right to storm the Targets and ever other store, to seize the capitalist institutions that suck the money out of us and give nothing but starvation wages (with wage theft) in return. Which side are on? Are you on the side of the people, or the pigs? There is no middle path.

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Statement for International Workers’ Day 2020

Struggle for a New World sends revolutionary greetings to the working and oppressed peoples of the world on May 1st, 2020, the first International Workers’ Day of this decade.

We observe the holiday of the working class in unique conditions. For many of us, particularly in the US but also across the world, we will spend today inside our homes due to COVID-19. The big rallies and marches that have traditionally marked this day are on hold, as we all try to weather the pandemic and capitalism’s COVID crisis. Yet, today is still “the day we raise our voices loudest in our struggle against capitalism, imperialism, and fascism, and for socialism, peace, and democracy.” The class war has not been put on hold by the pandemic, but exacerbated by it.

With this in mind, we greet our comrades in every corner of the world: this year and decade have been rung in by US imperialism’s threat of imperialist war against Iran, and the burning fires which sweep across our society’s southern hemisphere twin: Australia. These are but two fitting reminders of capitalism’s threat of world-destroying war and climate crisis. And now we face this pandemic, which has impacted every corner of the world, a fitting reminder of our interconnectedness.

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COVID-19 and Capitalism

Right now, the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the US and UK are more rapid than in any other country, despite a clear head start in China, Iran, and Italy.

This is due to the flagrant mismanagement by the Trump and Johnson governments, each of them tied to the most extreme of “market freedom” economic ideologies, which as we can see in practice, means more profits at the cost of human needs.

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Feminism and Nationalism

In the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, most of the remaining “socialist states” have been those which came into being through the explicit form of a national liberation struggle: Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, China, and Korea, all are united by the fact that a (at the time) Marxist-Leninist party led a popular front to victory against the forces of imperialism and fascism, and continue to stand as the de facto engineers of “socialist statehood”. Because of this, many people, particularly young people without any particular theoretical training, over-identify with national liberation as the defining feature of Marxism-Leninism.

From the other side, there are those, particularly left communists and Trotskyites, who accuse our entire ideology of being nothing more than a series of nationalist commitments. If one defends the national rights of the Kurdish people, one has fallen victim to “Kurdish nationalism”. In the United States, those who continue to uphold Afro-American liberation are accused of being nothing more than “Black nationalists”. The most troubling form of this comes, not from armchair critics of “nationalism” who would never say anything that could be accused of some sort of “nationalism”, but from members of the aforementioned first group, who imagine their perspective to be broadly “anti-imperialist”, but in fact use their own, unacknowledged, uninvestigated, uncriticized nationalism to attack the basic demands for rights by other nations.

In other words, the crux of our problem, as I have stated before, is how to distinguish between being a “nationalist” for oppressed peoples and simply defending oppressed nationalities.

This distinction is important, as the nationalist places at the centre of their world a nation, ignoring its internal contradictions, an error we must be very careful not to fall into. Although I am often accused of ignoring, for example, class contradictions among nations whose bourgeoisies are not hegemonic within a given state, I do consider this quite frequently, it’s simply that, in many contexts, a more powerful nation’s bourgeoisie has forced some sections of certain nation’s bourgeoisies into a progressive historical position, however temporarily.

So, given that I have spoken about this before, and noting the title at the top, the reader may wonder: what does this have to do with feminism?

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On the “Deal of the Century” and the Oslo Accords

On Tuesday, January 28th, the United States announced its latest “peace plan” for the Palestinian people in a characteristic display of arrogant imperialist hubris. Like all such “peace plans” put forth by the US, the plan offered no meaningful concessions from the Israeli side. Yet the Trump administration, in typical shady salesman style, has pushed it as “the Deal of the Century”, even having the chutzpah to mock and insult the entire Palestinian people prior to their even having a chance to reject this latest non-solution.

All of this in spite of the fact that the entire conflict is the result of the Zionist state being built via settler-colonial violence against the Indigenous Palestinian population, and in spite of the fact that an apartheid state of affairs persists on their land to this day. The Palestinian people are expected to jump with joy every time the head imperialist power “offers” them “peace” in the form of total surrender to Zionist colonization, and of course are vilified for any resistance, including non-violent resistance which they are not obligated to restrain themselves to.

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Where Does the Revolutionary Party Stand on the State?

supremesoviet

In writing this piece, I’m acutely aware of my own identity as a Marxist, which starts with the assumption that to be a Marxist is to be one of the most ruthless theoretical and practical critics of “the state”, and to conceive of “the state” as an enemy which can only be defeated by revolution. In fact, in the United States, which is the focus of the website on which I’m publishing, a great number of purported “Marxists” insist that they desire no such revolutionary overturn at all. Many even mock anarchists for using just such words as the ones I chose above.

This reality, to the sincere Marxist, is evidence of the widespread nature of “revisionism” of the essential claims of Marxism, by which Marxism is distanced from revolution and transformed into a “proper” statist ideology, like social democracy.

But confusing matters when we make this claim, is the fact that since the lifetime of Marx itself, anarchist opponents took issue with Marx’s analysis of the historical emergence and likely future of the state as entity. When Marxism in practice led to the formation of new state entities and these entities could convincingly be accused of repression, ultimately even of the interests they claimed to represent (namely, a revolution which would liberate humanity from exploitation and oppression), the anarchists felt themselves vindicated that our ideology effectively produces the same results as the status quo and is accordingly not worth considering as a revolutionary alternative.

This reality, of the historical and contemporary debate between anarchists and Marxists on “the state” in the abstract and the Soviet Union (at least in its early history) in the concrete, is evidence that Marxists are indeed demarcated from anarchists on theoretical grounds that include our conception of the state.

This piece will take up this contradiction and attempt an explanation of how our sincere difference with the anarchists was transformed into a lack of difference with social democracy. The point of this, of course, is not merely to weep about a past revolution, but to rearm ourselves and reaffirm our commitment to new revolutions which will, we hope, succeed in remaking the world sufficiently to pass beyond the state. I will rearticulate the basic Marxist understanding of revolution and the state (drawing heavily on Lenin’s “the State and Revolution”), and in this context, critique our 20th century history’s approach to both: it is my claim that there are concrete limitations when state and revolution have to continue in parallel, limitations that the party was ill-prepared for, and the inevitable result was the retreat of the Soviet Union’s revolutionary commitments, and the failure even of the “anti-revisionist” trend in Albania and China.

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Hands Off Iran! US Imperialism Out Of Iraq!

We condemn the U.S. assassination of General Qasem Soleimani and PMU commander Abu Mehdi al Muhendis in Baghdad. The targeting of senior military officials in this way is a clear violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a brazen act of war against Iran. As the United States approaches an election year, Trump is using this act of aggression to consolidate his support— just as Bill Clinton bombed Iraq during his impeachment, and George Bush launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after losing the popular vote in the 2000 election.

We cannot understand this escalation without understanding how the people of both Iraq and Iran have suffered violence, repression, and economic deprivation for decades because of U.S. attacks and intervention. From overthrowing an elected Iranian government and installing a monarchy in order to maintain Western economic interests in the country and arming Saddam Hussein and defending his atrocities throughout the Iran-Iraq war, to the years of devastating sanctions imposed on both countries, to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, U.S. actions have already lead to the deaths and suffering of millions. A new war in both countries would devastate the lives of millions more, at a time when people are still rebuilding from the aftermath of previous conflicts, and while popular movements in both countries face repression for making demands of their own governments.

Within the United States, war with Iran will lead to greater surveillance and criminalization of already-targeted Muslim and immigrant communities, just as previous wars in the region have. Police in large American cities including Los Angeles and Boston have already issued threats, asking people to report supposed ‘suspicious activity.’

It is our responsibility to stand with the working and oppressed people of Iraq and Iran, oppose any attempts to start a new war, and support an end to U.S. military involvement in the region.

National Liberation and Nation-States

“The National Question” has been debated among communists for well over 150 years. This is because the nascent socialist movement was born into a capitalist world of nation-states; and the nation-state had itself emerged with capitalism. To Marx and Engels, this new form of state was a reflection of a stage of social development, of the bourgeoisie reshaping society not on the basis of a particular ruling bloodline or theological basis, but primarily on the basis of common social interaction, as a whole society. In the first instance, this is a progressive process: “Modern nationalities are thus the creations of the oppressed classes”, writes Engels in his analysis of the transition from feudal statelets to nascent modern capitalist nation-states.

It is not only from the perspective of economic development or at the stage of capitalist construction that Engels defended national rights, but also as a precondition for socialist revolution:

Without restoring autonomy and unity to each nation, it will be impossible to achieve the international union of the proletariat, or the peaceful and intelligent co-operation of these nations toward common aims.”
–Preface to the 1893 Italian edition of the Communist Manifesto, 1893

Taking a few lines of Engels out of context, it would be easy to reimagine Marxism as nothing but perpetual support for bourgeois nationalism of each and every nation, an ideology which poses no threat to capitalism itself. But it must not be forgotten that Marx and Engels were revolutionaries who actively organized against the bourgeois nationalist states of their day: they did not defend these bourgeois nationalisms beyond their ability to achieve said “autonomy and unity” for a given nation (that is, to overcome oppression by another nationalism), and to carry forward bourgeois domination of the feudal oppressor classes (that is, to overcome oppression by backwards, pre-capitalist and pre-nationalist ideologies).

After these conditions are met, the bourgeois state and its nationalism are to be understood as instruments of oppression and exploitation like any other ideology which conceals the contradictions between oppressor and oppressed classes. The communist perspective is always, at all stages of history, to turn popular social processes into weapons against the oppressor classes and their states. Thus, the struggle for a a modern democracy is progressive until a certain point of solidification. At this point, the limitations of liberal democracy become clear, and the social struggle is increasingly reduced to one between capital and labor, the apparent “final” struggle of class society. Because the new capitalist state is a weapon in the hands of capital, a new collection of “oppressed classes” find themselves in conflict with it. But who are these classes? Are they always and only the proletariat? Can the bourgeoisie be an oppressed class under capitalist rule? Here we come to the essence of why we speak of “the national question”.

The individual capitalist does not “want to” share their control of productive relations, and the capitalist class as a whole likewise jealously guard their privileges. Their desire to dominate as much of the market as possible leads the individual capitalist into competition with other capitalists, and leads the ruling classes of one society into conflict with other societies, leading to national oppression. The national formations which are held down by the power of the bourgeois state take on the same quality of being “oppressed” which the bourgeoisie as a whole did under feudal social relations. The oppressed nations in their entirety seem to play a progressive role, a weapon not only for their own society, but against the oppression of the capitalist state.

Thus was it that Marx and Engels noted the importance of the national struggle in Ireland and the anti-colonial struggle in India, in spite of the advanced development of the English proletariat in productive and social terms relative to other working classes around the world. Thus did it come to be that the Marxist watchword was “no nation can be free if it oppresses other nations”.

But what precisely is meant by this, and what is our explicit goal? If national oppression means that any oppressed nationality’s class struggle is held back, that the “stage” of socialist revolution cannot yet be reached, do we simply advocate a struggle for a particular set of national borders which will allow for the “pure” class conflict to emerge afterwards?

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“Green New Deal” or Planned Green Economy?

by Güney Işıkara

The report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in September 2018, immediately followed by the UN COP24 climate change conference in December of the same year, immediately resulted in a flurry of discussion around the world, including within the United States. As the environmental crisis looms ever more as an existential crisis in the popular imagination, it is increasingly reflected in policy proposals. The “Green New Deal” proposed by the Green Party in the US has been taken up by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), including some, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who sit in prominent offices through the Democratic Party. The fact that corporate greenwashing, along with the propagation of a “green capitalism,” has been organized around the concept of sustainability should not drive the left. The main task is to frame the question in correct terms, putting our fingers on the systemic aspect of the crisis— namely capitalism as a totality.

However, this does not simply mean providing an abstract criticism of capitalism as responsible for the crisis, while standing aloof from the specifics of the environmental crisis. The initial consciousness of the system as the source of the crisis cannot be equated with the posing a concrete solution. On what grounds can Marxists analyze the environmental crisis, and what distinctive political prescriptions follow from this, that might differ from social-democratic reforms?

In this short piece, we will mainly focus on the deadlock which solution proposals that do not problematize the capitalist market mechanism find themselves in, and suggest the blueprints of a radical, socialist response that the crisis itself is calling for. Particularly taking up the question of growth vs. degrowth, we are aware that the piece leaves many important issues untouched.

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Where’s the League of Struggle*? A Response to Where’s the Winter Palace

The following essay was written and published by Struggle for a New World’s fraternal publication in the U.K., The Lever, in the summer of 2018, prior to our coming together as a collective. We are republishing it with their permission because it was one of the theoretical interventions which led to the creation of our platform. We consider this polemic to be a valuable contribution to the rearticulation of revolutionary communism in English-speaking imperialist countries, and we largely agree with it and uphold it. We hope that interested readers will be in touch with us and The Lever about the ideological and practical positions outlined therein, and in other pieces on our platform and theirs.

WHERE’S THE LEAGUE OF STRUGGLE*? A RESPONSE TO WHERE’S THE WINTER PALACE

We wish to extend our most comradely greetings to Avery Minnelli and Eliezer Levin, the authors of Where’s the Winter Palace? On the Marxist-Leninist Trend in the United States, and those behind the blog The Left Wind. We have found the analysis of US Marxism-Leninism contained within the essay to be extremely timely. We find our issues with the broadly trotskyite organised left in the UK reflected in your essay. We thus hope that through developing criticisms of your work to come to a greater understanding of our own positions, and further develop our own theory and practice. We also believe the piece to be broadly correct in it’s analysis and recommendations for moving forward. We hope to offer comradely criticism in the hopes that it will be useful for both sides in developing our ideas further, hopefully bringing us closer together.

We have kept our criticism within the boundaries of what we think is appropriate for our means and ends. We have no organising experience in the US, and are thus unable to comment directly on your points related to this. We do however have a number of issues with your work which we feel it necessary to comment on. The following paragraphs set out these criticisms.

THE PARTY AND DEMOCRATIC CENTRALISM

We welcome the criticism of sect culture which has blighted the US left in a similar way to the UK left. We particularly think it is important to understand the historical context of how party structures we associate with Leninism were understood in the process of formation, and welcome the engagement with authors who engage this history, even Trotskyites such as Hal Draper, and particularly Lars T. Lih’s work placing texts like What Is To Be Done? and the evolving Bolshevik conception of the party and Democratic Centralism. We feel that this comes at a time where many who have been drawn into the western Marxist-Leninist milleu are beginning to question – through their own involvement with these organisations or through various publicised cases of misconduct by members and the utterly appalling way that ‘Democratic Centralism’ has been used to shut down legitimate and necessary criticisms of party conduct in these matters.

In our piecBetter Late than Never we have tried to articulate what such a ‘Democratic Centralist’ party may look like in practice, and what it should seek to embody:

‘To defend a politics which sees leadership and centralism as necessary for a movement of the oppressed to win, we must articulate a form of democratic centralism which sweeps away the autocratic and cultic forms which are predominantly practiced in this country today. For this to be successful, we have to develop robust methods of party democracy which sees the relationship between leadership, lower, and middle cadre as one of teaching and learning. As important as leadership is, it is incapable of leading without the organisational, theoretical, and democratic input of all cadre. Cadre are unable to provide this input without entering into an organic and dialectical relationship with the class as a whole.

A party should seek to embody an organic social trend which tends towards freedom and justice, and use the practical means at our disposal to raise this social trend to the level of a genuine social force. It should seek to articulate new social grievances as they arise. We argue for a party that is centralist in form, but democratic in essence.

We believe in the necessity to build a party not attached to some dead and stale dogma, but part a living creative tradition of liberation.’

We believe that this is something that has played a part in Leninist organising in all periods of the existence of the Leninist party, even in those periods of ‘acute civil war’ which are discussed in Where’s the Winter Palace. This has perhaps taken it’s most explicit form in the Maoist conception of the Mass Line (embodied in the phrase ‘from the people, to the people’), however, we do not see this (or Maoism in general) as a decisive break from Leninist practice before this, indeed, the dialectical relationship between the subjectivities of mass and organisation have been articulated even prior to articulations of “Leninism” as such, by such Marxist theoreticians as Rosa Luxemburg.

The piece crucially links the dogmatic and faulty application of Democratic Centralism with a dogmatic focus on ‘party line’ experienced in the US. We feel the issue of ‘line’, and the relationship to theory and practice is one in dire need of re-theorising in general, and in the US and UK in particular, and believe that your piece takes a significant step in this process of re-theorisation.

THE ISSUE OF “LINE”

“We believe the conception of “line” as an end in itself is detrimental to both theory and practice. Placing importance on “line” in this way severs theory from practice by suggesting that theory can be “correct” without practice

– Where’s The Winter Palace

Certainly, the concept of “line” as an end to itself is dangerous and damaging to the movement, particularly when combined with the sectarian approach to the party which this essay outlines so well. However, the theory/practice dynamic is twofold – just as there can be no correct theory which does not result in correct practice, so too will even the most correct practice become unmoored quickly is it does not crystallise into a correct theoretical architecture. It was with this understanding that Lenin famously said “Without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.

Our concern is that this essay places too much emphasis on developing correct practice but doesn’t recognise that the importance of the relationship between theory and practice. Furthermore, we wish to emphasise that fundamentally this relationship is dialectical. Theory and practice should be in constant tension, with developments in one informing and developing the other. The experience of the ML movement in the US is not simply one where abstract line was placed over concrete practice, by one where this dialectical process was arrested by sectarian organisations which were unable to manage the multiplicitous contradictions between theory and practice as they arose.

As such, in doing away with the sect system, organisations must also reset the balance between theory and practice. We believe that it is only an organisation operating on the principles we have outlined above has the ability to begin this process.

REVOLUTIONARY THEORY

“But what is the practical value in having to “keep quiet” on internal disagreements, especially on historical or international topics that have very little direct bearing on our practical tasks as it stands (such as whether China is socialist)? Or on relevant modern theoretical questions which do not have a definitive answer yet?”

 – Where’s The Winter Palace

“Theory is the experience of the working-class movement in all countries taken in its general aspect.

 – J. V. Stalin, Foundations of Leninism

We disagree that historical or international questions (such as ‘is China socialist?’) have little or direct bearing on practical tasks. At the same time, we agree with the authors that cadre should be able to have free and frank discussions about such issues, and that holding fierce battles over these questions in organising spaces (within one or between several organisations) can be distracting, even fully counter-productive in many cases. However, such nonchalance on crucial topics is typical of a lack of focus on the internationalism which should be at the core of any socialist organising.

The positions various groups take on international and historical issues show us how various organising tendencies apply the Marxist method, which is intimately linked to their day-to-day organisational practice. Whether China is socialist or not may seem like an abstraction, but it involves crucial questions that must be discussed, such as the issues of the dictatorship of the proletariat, debates on ‘productivism’, imperialism in the 21st century, and how we conceive of the contradictions of class society on a national and international level.

The fact that US Marxist-Leninists have debased the idea of internationalism and international solidarity to who they ‘uphold’ and who they denounce is indicative. International solidarity is built by fostering real connections with comrades who are struggling in many different contexts, providing them material and ideological support where possible, and with principled criticism where necessary. Ultimately, we feel that the incorrect approach to internationalism seen amongst the US ML movement and many ‘anti-imperialists’ in the UK boils down to seeing states, rather than the revolutionary international proletariat in diverse particular contexts as the motive force of revolution and history. In their defence of actually existing socialism, they have come to identify the state as the agent of revolution, rather than a form the revolution reifies as part of a process of social organisation necessitated by the current stage of historical development, which is used as a tool by the revolutionary class in pursuing and consolidating revolution, with all the risks and contradictions this engenders. To come to this conclusion, it is necessary we believe to engage in discussion and investigation on the topic of ‘revisionism’ in the 20th century Marxist-Leninist movement, not merely as a formal defence of the figures of Stalin, Mao, or Hoxha, but in terms of a real loss of the historical and dialectical materialist method outlined by Marx and solidified in practice from Lenin onwards in diverse countries, with all their successes and failures, our common heritage from which we must learn.

Here we come again to the need for the construction of a vanguard organisation which is able to stand with the people in their daily struggles and also connect those struggles to the struggles of other workers and oppressed people internationally. It is no minor thing that the slogan of our movement has always been some variation of ‘workers of the world, unite!’

It is vital at this juncture that we discuss our history and where our class stands now, both nationally and internationally. Despite all the victories of the last century, we stand here, a century after the October Revolution, utterly unable to comprehend the scale of what we have lost. We have lost practically every political structure that could support us in constructing a new revolutionary movement in either of our countries, and we must come to terms with this loss by taking a thorough account of the last century, and making an unflinching assessment of where we stand, and in which direction we are travelling. Posing as vanguards, so many who fancy ourselves communists are sectarians who are marching in radically different directions from the proletariat. Only by understanding our own failures will an organisation be able to operate as a meaningful vanguard, as the advanced detachment of the working class, as the body which the class uses to lead itself.

We believe now is the time to undertake this historical reckoning, and to instigate a thoroughgoing struggle against revisions to the Marxist method. We do not seek to rehash the petty ideological squabbles of the past, but to begin with investigation and comradely criticism and self-criticism, always with the goal of uniting our disparate forces and preparing our class for the revolutionary struggle ahead.

A REVOLUTIONARY SITUATION?

“Are we in a revolutionary period in the U.S. right now? Clearly not. One could perceive a revolutionary situation arising sometime in the next several decades, but it is hardly on the immediate agenda. It is clear that our time is very different from Stalin’s. While “proletarian revolution” is still our goal in general, it is not constitutive of our current period in the way that it was for Stalin’s, in that we are not in a period of major revolutionary upheaval.

– Where’s The Winter Palace

An important question is asked here – are we in a revolutionary period in the US right now? However, what remains unasked is the more important question – what is a revolutionary situation? Lenin stated in 1915 that:

“To the Marxist it is indisputable that a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, it is not every revolutionary situation that leads to revolution. What, generally speaking, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall certainly not be mistaken if we indicate the following three major symptoms: (1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes”, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way; (2) when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action.”

Without these objective changes, which are independent of the will, not only of individual groups and parties but even of individual classes, a revolution, as a general rule, is impossible. The totality of all these objective changes is called a revolutionary situation. Such a situation existed in 1905 in Russia, and in all revolutionary periods in the West; it also existed in Germany in the sixties of the last century, and in Russia in 1859-61 and 1879-80, although no revolution occurred in these instances. Why was that? It was because it is not every revolutionary situation that gives rise to a revolution; revolution arises only out of a situation in which the above-mentioned objective changes are accompanied by a subjective change, namely, the ability of the revolutionary class to take revolutionary mass action strong enough to break (or dislocate) the old government, which never, not even in a period of crisis, “falls”, if it is not toppled over.

– V. I. Lenin, The Collapse of the Second International

It is crucial to grasp that, upon the arrival of objective conditions, there must be a corresponding subjective push to change the possibility of these conditions into a real change. But when Lenin says: “the ability of the revolutionary class to take revolutionary mass action strong enough to break (or dislocate) the old government, which never, not even in a period of crisis, “falls”, if it is not toppled over”, he emphasises a strength of subjective actors, which does not arrive out of nowhere and is not independent of the objectivity in which it operates: the truly heightened political consciousness is one that understands that our subjectivity is not only shaped by our objective conditions, but at every stage, plays a role in shaping it. We cannot will a revolution out of nothingness, but we also cannot stand idly by and allow our ideological enemies to shape the narrative and the objective conditions without any resistance from our side.

Here in the the UK, we are also not in a period where the objective conditions for a revolutionary situation yet exist. However, we believe that it is also necessary understand the tendencies of struggle by the working classes and the contradictions in society which can be directed towards such a moment, and which can challenge the hegemonic forces throughout the process.

As unlikely as it is that revolutionary situations will develop in the declining core imperialist power such as the US and the UK, the decline in their hegemony produces and is produced by an international crisis which we have not yet seen the end of, and may prove terminal. The last US election revealed deep divisions within the US ruling class. Since the election of Donald Trump as president, we have seen a nakedly xenophobic wing of US national capital gain a strong hand against the traditional tendencies of international capital in the US and their partners abroad. In spite of the actions of the majority of forces within the Democratic and Republican parties to suppress this trend as well as the upsurge in socialist rhetoric and action in the name of business as usual, the centre is eroding and the contradictions are being laid bare. This significant rift shows only signs of deepening – with ultimately the working class and oppressed nations of the US, as well as migrants, refugees and the working and oppressed peoples of peripheral and semi-peripheral countries paying the price.

However, we also see new resistances growing, whether it be against the horrors of ICE, or through a resurgent social democratic and even socialist politics within the DSA, or in the projects of Black liberation and autonomy exemplified by Cooperation Jackson in Mississippi. It is our task as revolutionaries to unify these struggles, learn from them, raise them higher, and prepare the proletariat for the possibility of a revolutionary situation. This is why we agree with the authors that there should be a focus on base building in the short and medium term. The building of the base, just like the building of a Marxist organisation, however, is no end in itself. Both are actions which must be carried out with the consciousness of higher unity in struggle by the masses themselves, and intervene on a broader and deeper scale. It is to bring the working class and oppressed peoples back onto the stage of history as the third, decisive force in our separate contexts, to topple all forces of reaction and bring a new society, where the poor and downtrodden control their own lives, into being.

***

“Where will the revolution begin? Where, in what country, can the front of capital be pierced first?

Where industry is more developed. Where the proletarian constitutes the majority Where the proletariat constitutes the majority? Where the there is more culture? where there is more democracy-that was the reply usually given formerly?

No, objects the Leninist theory of revolution, not necessarily where industry is more developed, and so forth. The front of capital will be pierced where the chain of imperialism is weakest, for the proletarian revolution is the result of the breaking of the chain of the world imperialist front at its weakest link

– J. V Stalin, Foundations of Leninism

Revolutionary situations are revealing themselves around the world at this very moment, revolutionary parties and mass movements are grappling with how lead the broadest masses to power against the oppressor ruling classes. Along with the Leninist dictum that the imperialist chain breaks at its weakest link, we see revolutionary struggles which have been decades in the making reaching new and higher levels, and facing new and more perilous challenges. The Kurdish national liberation movement in North and West Kurdistan, the Communist Party of the Philippines. Political crisis grips Turkey, where the fascist dictatorship presently headed by the AKP has governed for nearly two years by emergency decree, and changes election rules constantly while calling election after election in an attempt to push the progressive HDP out of parliament. In these areas where contradictions are sharpening, and dominant and oppressed classes come closer and closer to all out war, we see Marxist theoreticians producing theoretical output at an astounding rate to account for their own social contradictions and social developments the world over.

Parties involved on the front lines of organising in these countries are to be found in new international forums, for example the International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations (ICOR) and both organisations named the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO/ICMLPO) – to share their theoretical and practical experiences and to coordinate solidarity work. We must follow the example of these parties in seeking to unite our revolutionary organisations in new forms of international organisation.

MARXISM-LENINISM AS A HISTORICALLY CONTINGENT IDEOLOGY

“Thus, we would argue that U.S. “Marxism-Leninism” is an historically contingent ideology rather than a modern iteration of Marxism fit for our time and place. However, that does not mean that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater. The successes and failures of 20th century socialist experiments have much to teach us moving forward, from how to organize unemployed workers to how to run a planned economy. Lenin is arguably the most important Marxist since Marx, and it would do us good to learn from him and the evolution of his thought, not a mythological, prophetic version of Lenin. While we should study and learn from Leninism, we should also study other trends: autonomism & operaismo, Marxist-feminism, pre-war social democracy, and all historical anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist, and feminist movements.

– Where’s The Winter Palace

As we have stated, we believe many of the criticisms of the US Marxist-Leninist movement are correct. However, we still believe it is important to uphold something called ‘Marxism-Leninism’, though something that is radically different from what is practiced by those revisionist organisations which dominate the theoretical discourse in the US and the UK today.

Is Marxism-Leninism a historically contingent ideology? Yes, in the broadest terms, all such ideologies are historically contingent. We do, however, hold that there is a contemporary ideology in existence today which may be described as Marxism-Leninism, a practical political theory for the era of imperialism and proletarian revolution, which continues to prove to be the most vital and revolutionary ideology today.

We agree wholeheartedly that we must read outside of a narrowly defined ‘Marxist-Leninist canon’ if we are to revitalise Marxism-Leninism in the anglophone world. But it was never the position of Marx or Lenin that our reading or our work were to be trapped within the narrow confines of party-approved thinkers. Lenin read Hegel in a time of crisis, Marx’s writings are filled with literary references. Beyond such historical references, however, we believe our ideology to express the truth in the totality strongly enough that there is of course nothing wrong with reading, engaging with, and working with persons from diverse ideological commitments. It has never been our position that anarchists and Trotskyites, for example, are “heretics”, simply that these formal labels happen to reflect a broadly different historical perspective than our own. In our practical work, however, many who identify with this traditions have proven themselves greater than many “Marxist-Leninists”, and important insights from sincere critics of the established order, even those who identify with merely as liberal democrats, may be engaged with to produced a fuller analysis. If the truth is in the totality, as dialectical thinkers believe, we will understand the social processes which produce diverse thinkers and political trends, rather than sectarianly dismiss them as heretics while rereading, with no critical eye or sincere understanding, a few works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin as if they were sacred texts to be regurgitated to suppress critical thought.

The traditions of Marxism-Leninism which we believe are most vital are rarely seen inside the anglophone world. In Turkey, Kurdistan, Sri Lanka, India, Latin America, the resurgence of Maoism in the Philippines, India, Afghanistan, and even China. In this sense, the incorrect ideas and lines of various communists are a result not just of their sectarian behaviour, but of their inability to develop on the nascent revolutionary traditions which have developed in their own society (for example the heroic socialist Black liberation trend from the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense onwards). This has been exacerbated by the lack of contact with revolutionary traditions outside of the US since China closed itself of to revolutionaries and opened itself up to foreign capital, or since the death of Enver Hoxha (notable exceptions are the Revolutionary Organisation of Labour and the relatively new American Party of Labour, who have made active attempts to grapple with deep theoretical and practical debates happening between organisations in diverse countries). Imperial arrogance and great nation chauvinism lifts the likes of Sam Marcy in the United States, or Tony Cliff in the United Kingdom, to great theoretical leaders, and as such, any true internationalist tendencies which existed in these countries withered on the vine, meaning that now, as the need for a revolutionary communist approach to mass organisation is needed, we find ourselves without the tools we need to develop one.

CONCLUSION

There is no better time for a piece such as Where’s The Winter Palace to be published. We believe that it’s positive reception amongst many in the US and Anglophone left is indicative of its correct analysis of many of the problems of the US Marxist-Leninist movement which we believe are also applicable to the context of UK Trotskyite organisations as well. We see it as particularly important in this context, as we have seen a rise of a number of young, vocal, self-declared Marxist-Leninists on social media joining these organisations (in particular the PSL). We support the authors in their critiques of the movement as it stands, and have high hopes that through interventions such as this, a stronger, fighting proletarian movement can be built.

We level our critiques here in the spirit of proletarian internationalism and comradely criticism, and we hope they are taken as such. Our critics focus on seeing the need to unite the strong focus on new revivified forms of practice and party organisation, with an equal focus on revolutionary theory. We wish to highlight again the importance of internationalism for every and any organising effort which parties undertake, and believe we have set out the criteria needed for this to be done on a principled and effective basis to avoid the pitfalls that the authors have so effectively demonstrated in the work.

We hope that this essay is the beginning of a fruitful and productive exchange between our two publications.

In solidarity,

– The Lever Editorial Group.

* The title was chosen as a tribute both to the original League of Struggle in St. Petersburg which would go on to lay the foundations for what would become the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) to emphasise the need for theoretical development that will complement practical work, and also for the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, an organisation from the heroic era of the Communist Party USA when they fought for Black liberation, prior to selling out Black people in the US south in 1935. We believe the name “League of Struggle for Negro Rights” was chosen as a tribute to the history of the communists in the Russian empire who fought for the liberation of so many peoples suffering under the Tsarist yoke prior to the revolution. We hope that interested US communists will appreciate this heroic moment in their own history, brief though it was.