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From Class Struggle 49 March/April 2003

If Labour Parties are implicated in Bush’s war, should workers try to build Green Parties or left Social Democratic parties like the Alliance? While their stand against the war appears better than Labour’s would they be able to stop the war?

What ‘peace-loving’ capitalist governments?

At a recent GPJA (Global Peace and Justice Alliance) meeting Alliance activist Mike Treen began a talk on the impending war on Iraq with the statement: “I don’t think we can stop the war on Iraq, but we can make it more expensive for them to go to war”. What he meant was that we are unlikely to influence the Labour-Progressive Coalition Government to get them to recall the ships and planes. But we may make them unpopular and bring about their electoral defeat at the hands of political parties opposed to war.As a member of the Alliance, Treen clearly sees the Alliance rebounding into parliament at the expense of a Labour Government discredited because it won’t criticise the US policy of unilateral regime change. No doubt the Greens share this hope for a revival of their electoral fortunes too.

On the following Saturday, 15 February, New Zealand led the 12 million who rallied against the war. GPJA organised the Auckland rally of more than 10,000 people who marched up Queen Street to Myers Park. There an audience of at least 5,000 cheered loudly in support of resolutions that opposed a war against Iraq whether done in the name of the UN or not, and called on the Labour government to refuse to participate in this war. Water Pressure Group spokesperson Penny Bright got the loudest cheers of the day, when she condemned the UN Security Council and called for direct action at military facilities like Whenuapai Air Base.

On the following day at a‘Peace in the Park’ rally 2,000 people listened to similar speeches and a small group delivered a ‘letter’ with hundreds of signatures to the Prime Minister Helen Clark’s residence repeating the demand that Labour must oppose the war on Iraq. So clearly even if GPJA leaders did not think that they could stop the war, they had hopes of influencing NZ’s participation, or at least exposing Labour as a government committed to war, preparing the ground for political parties against the war to win support in the anti-war movement.

But what Treen failed to say, and what we in the Communist Workers Group and the Anti Imperialist Coalition constantly say, is that appeals to bourgeois governments of any sort cannot stop war. While they may claim to represent workers’ interests, Green and Social Democratic governments go to war to defend the profits of their own bourgeoisies. They do this because the labour bureaucracy that runs the unions and controls Labour Parties are paid for their services with a share of the bosses’ profits, so have to prop up the profit system.

Lessons of History

In Australia, the Labor Party endorsed the First World War enthusiastically. Labor leader Billy Hughes traversed Britain holding public meetings to rally support for the war. What offended Labor workers in Australia was not so much Hughes’ jingoism as his parading around in a top hat sucking up to British royalty. Though Hughes was kicked out of the Labor Party this was over the issue of conscription not the war itself.In NZ Labour leaders like Peter Fraser went to jail rather than fight, but by the Second World War they were in government, and backed Britain’s war by introducing conscription and setting up a network of prison camps to house the thousands of workers who refused to fight for imperialism.

If that is the track record of past Labour governments, then Clark’s Labour-Progressive Coalition Government is no better. In fact the Greens and the Alliance say it’s worse because it took part in a secret war in Afghanistan where NZ SASS troops guided US bombers to their targets. But would the Greens or Alliance be any better in Government? What if the majority of voters break from the warlike Labour parties to back parties like the Alliance and the Greens who have come out against a UN-sanctioned war?Should workers place their hopes in ‘peace-loving’ Alliance-led or Green-led governments?

History is against the Green Left.

Peace movements’ directed at pressuring bourgeois governments, no matter how left-wing, have always been impotent before the imperialist drive to war. Why?Because such ‘movements’ are composed of individuals who see only the symptoms not the causes of war. They see war as a bloody minded ‘policy’ of some sections of the ruling class (hence the personal attacks on Bush or his pro-war ‘camp’, and on Blair’s moral hypocrisy) and appeal to the ‘democratic’ and ‘pacifist’ instincts of more enlightened sectors of the ruling classes. But when these ‘democrats’ also go to war on the basis of high moral principles i.e. ‘defending democracy against fascism’, or in the name of the ‘UN’ or the ‘international community’, the ‘masses’ fall prey to their dressed-up appeals to nationalism and jingoism and are soon drawn into the defence of their virtuous fatherlands against some ‘axis of evil’.

The idea that left wing, even supposedly ‘socialist’ governments, are any better at opposing war is disproved by the betrayals of the leaders of the Second Communist International and the Stalinist leaders of the Third Communist International in the face of the First and Second Imperialist Wars.

On August 4, 1914, the leaders of the Second International of ‘socialist’ parties renounced their clear program of refusing to fight in imperialist wars and instead backed their own bosses to draft workers to kill each other. A hard core of revolutionary workers around Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg and Vladimir Lenin formed the Zimmerwald Left(see Class Struggle No 44, 45 & 47) to rally workers to fight against the war.Their position was that workers in each of the imperialist countries, including Russia, should ‘turn their guns on their own ruling class’ because they were the ‘main enemy’, not the workers of other countries.They would transform imperialist war into civil war overthrow their own ruling classes and go on to create a socialist, and ultimately a classless, society. By this means workers could turn the crisis of a bosses’ war into a solution for all humanity.

The example of 1917

That is why CWG repeats again and again that only organised workers’ action can stop war. And that to stop war, the cause of war, capitalism, has to be replaced by socialism. Workers as members of a class that is exploited by capitalism have a class interest in stopping war. They are the ones who are conscripted to kill one another – the cannon fodder – and they are the ones who are forced to work non-stop on the home front for the war effort.War divides them, but it also arms them and exposes them to the suffering of war, and teaches them that they can take action to end war.Historical examples abound.

In Russia the First Imperialist War was ended by a workers’ revolution. It was begun by the women textile workers of St Petersburg who went on strike on International Women’s Day in February 1917. Their strike set in motion the revolutionary process that led to the October Revolution. Trotsky has a powerful description of what happened in his History of the Russian Revolution:

“The 23rd of February (old style) was International Woman’s Day. The social-democratic circles had intended to mark this day in a general manner: by meetings, speeches, leaflets. It had not occurred to anyone that it might become the first day of the revolution. Not a single organisation called for strikes on that day. What is more, even a Bolshevik organisation, and a most militant one – the Vyborg borough-committee, all workers – was opposing strikes…On the following morning, however, in spite of all directives, the women textile workers in several factories went on strike, and sent delegates to the metal workers with an appeal for support…Thus the fact is that the February revolution was begun from below, overcoming the resistance of its own revolutionary organisations, the initiative being taken of their own accord by the most oppressed and downtrodden part of the proletariat – the women textile workers, among them no doubt many soldiers’ wives.” (Vol 1 119-120).

This strike led to a mass strike where thousands of workers rallied behind cries for ‘bread’ and the slogans “Down with the autocracy!’ and ‘Down with the war!’ In five days the masses won over the rank and file of the soldiers fed up with war and went on to overthrow the Tsarist state. Trotsky recounts how relations between workers and soldiers developed in the days before the strike:

“Two weeks before the revolution, a spy… reported a conversation in a tramcar traversing the workers’ suburb. The soldier was telling how in his regiment eight men were under hard labour because last autumn they refused to shoot at the workers of the Nobel factory, but shot at the police instead.“We’ll get even with them’ the solider concluded. A skilled worker answered him: “For that it is necessary to organise so that all will be like one.” The soldier answered, “Don’t you worry, we’ve been organising a long time…They’ve drunk enough blood. Men are suffering in the trenches and here they are fattening their bellies.” (164).

The war in Russia did not end immediately. While workers and soldiers formed soviets and went on to make the October 1917 revolution, not until the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in early 1918 was the new Soviet government able to negotiate a peace with Germany.

On the wider European front the war was stopped by a soldiers’ and sailors’ mutiny in Germany at the end of 1918. The British and German general staffs rapidly agreed to stop hostilities for fear that the ‘Bolshevik Revolution’ would spread to Europe.Unfortunately, the revolutionaries were too poorly organised to be able to turn these mutinies into successful revolutions like in Russia. The defeat of revolution in Germany in 1919 left the workers’ movement divided and weakened. This created conditions in which workers became the target of rising fascist movements based on the ruined middle class and disaffected elements of the working class. The isolation of the Soviet Union soon led to the rise of a degenerated anti-worker bureaucracy under Joseph Stalin. From that point on the war policy of the Soviet Union was subordinated to the defence of‘socialism [ie Stalinism] in one country’.

From Revolution to ‘democratic’ war

In the period after 1924 the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union refused to build United Fronts of all workers to fight fascism – this which further divided the working class, handing a victory to fascism in Italy in 1923, Germany in 1933 and Spain in 1938. After 1935 the Stalinist Comintern then threw all of its energy into forming popular fronts between the communist parties and ‘democratic’, ‘peace loving’, elements of the bourgeoisie who were apparently opposed to fascism. Instead of the Bolsheviks’ policy of civil, or class, war as the best way to fight fascism, this was a policy of civil, or class, peace. Revolutions were sacrificed to the defence of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union.

Communists allied with ‘socialists’ (Labour parties) alongside petty bourgeois and ‘democratic’ bosses’ parties to fight fascism. They were part of the Popular Front (cross-class) government that came to power in France in 1936, and politically supported the Republican government of Spain against Franco’s army. This Stalinist betrayal meant that workers had to forgo revolution and submit to bourgeois governments so that they were divided and defeated by fascism. Franco won in Spain. Hitler gained in strength and prepared to go on the rampage across Europe, into Russia and North Africa. The ultimate proof of the bankruptcy of this ‘peace loving’ policy was the sudden zig when Stalin did a deal with Hitler in 1939 in a desperate attempt to stop an invasion of the Soviet Union. Of course when Hitler broke this pact Stalin zagged back to a popular front policy.

Once again, most workers in New Zealand, and in every other country, put their hopes in ‘left’ parties that claimed to represent workers, or the people, against warlike bosses. From 1941 the communist parties sided with the ‘democratic’ bosses in the hope of defeating the ‘fascist’ bosses, and the result was a disaster for workers everywhere. Instead of rising up against all bosses to stop war, workers went to kill each other to defend the bosses’ ‘democracy’ (the right to rule the masses by means of parliament). Where workers attempted to rise up in revolution at the end of the war as in Italy, Greece and Czechoslovakia, they were weak and isolated, and despite their valiant sacrifices, were defeated. Only in the colonial countries were workers and peasants were more united against their colonial overlords did wars of liberation result in important victories.

Stalinists betray the colonial struggles

But even in the colonies, as in Europe, the betrayal of the ‘left’ saw Stalinist parties, allied to the old ‘socialist’ parties, rally to defend their bourgeoisies against workers and peasants revolutions. Yalta saw Stalin do a deal with Roosevelt and Churchill to divide the world into ‘spheres of interest’. Stalin got Eastern Europe as ‘buffer states’ to defend ‘socialism in one country’ and in exchange he ordered the communist parties to collaborate in the repression of workers’ revolutionary wars in Europe and the Far East.

In China, Korea, Cuba and Indochina, colonial wars were brought to an end, some much earlier than others, by organised peasants and workers armies with little or no help from Stalin. In fact in Indochina, national liberation was set back 30 years because the Stalinists collaborated with the French in the hope of gaining independence peacefully. The result was the massacre of thousands of Trotskyists and other revolutionaries and the French re-occupation of Indochina. In Algeria and in Nicaragua reactionary settlers or landlords were expelled by workers’ and peasants’ militias actively opposed by the Stalinist Communist Parties. In Algeria the French Communist Party sided with the French state in putting down the Algerian insurrection. In South Africa the Communist Party ‘conned’ the workers and peasants into stopping short on the road to national revolution and to ‘share power’ with the white ruling class.

In all of these cases, popular and working class wars of liberation were stalled, or reversed and in most cases defeated, because of the intervention, not only of imperialist ruling classes, but more significantly, of the ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’ parties. Where some of the historic gains of these wars of liberation remain (eg in Cuba, Vietnam and North Korea) it is because the national liberation struggles were forced to overthrow the national bourgeoisie when they openly sided with imperialism, and as yet imperialism has yet to impose decisive and historic defeats on these interrupted revolutions.

Back to the Future

What about the ‘anti-war’ Greens and Alliance-type parties today? These are parties based on the petty bourgeoisie or the labour aristocracy. They are run by a caste of labour bureaucrats. They do not even have the official support of organised labour. People like Keith Locke and Mike Treen do not want to make a revolution, they want to make a parliamentary career. They too sacrifice the interests of the working class to prop up capitalism so that they can represent the small business owners and managers, or serve the bourgeoisie as bureaucrats, politicians and flunkies, and reap their financial rewards.They are reformists who believe in their ability to manage capitalism and make a peaceful and democratic transition to socialism – so long as they are in the driving seat!But the bureaucrats have never been able to do anything other than drive the workers movement off the road.

Today the reformists’ hopes are pinned on the World Social Forum (see the article below) and in particular on the prospects of the Lula government in Brazil to challenge globalisation from below. Just like in the previous imperialist wars, the reformists of the WSF see themselves as the answer to the new imperialist ‘war on terror’. Theorists like Toni Negri present the WSF as a movement of the ‘multitude’ against the Empire. Negri argues, like Chomsky, that the US is a rogue state, which reverted to a more primitive imperialist international posture after S11 by declaring its right to ‘regime change’ by unilateral and pre-emptive military strike.Negri puts his hopes in the multilateral ‘rationality’ of the European Union ruling classes, and the ‘democratic’ fraction of the US ruling class, to constitute a world Empire in the guise of new multinational states like the EU, a revamped UN, giant transnational corporations, and a body of international law.

So like the Mensheviks of the First Imperialist war, and the Stalinists of the Second Imperialist war, today’s WSF reformists think that capitalism can be tamed by appealing to the self-interest of ‘democratic’ capitalists in all countries to join forces and act together to avoid war. This is just like Kautsky’s 1914 theory of ultra-imperialism. Kautsky said that capitalists should not go to war because they have investments spread across the hostile countries. War could end if the workers’ movement persuaded the bosses that war was bad for business.

What today’s post-imperialists overlook is the fact that the conflict between the EU and the US is not a slight reversal of ultra-imperialism caused by a rogue US state, but the reassertion of the inter-imperialist rivalry over the division of the world’s resources and markets. The only reason that the major EU states adopt multilateralism, trying to work through the UN, is that they do not have the military dominance to impose a unilateral line on the US.

To stop the betrayals of a new reformist WSF international, trapping workers in Popular Fronts with the ‘democratic’ bourgeoisie, revolutionaries have to urgently mobilise a new revolutionary International, based on the lessons of the Zimmerwald left of 1915 and the Trotskyist Fourth International in 1938. The CWG is currently engaged with 4 other tendencies in working on a joint document that calls for another Zimmerwald and a new revolutionary international to fight the renewed drive to imperialist war.

Written by raved

January 3, 2009 at 9:56 pm


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Zimmerwald Part 3:

How and when did the split which formed the Zimmerwald Left in 1915 take place? Why was this the important step to building a new international? What are the lessons to be learned today as US imperialism steps up its war drive? With the end of the Soviet Bloc most of the Western left has reverted to a Menshevik position of putting faith in the completion of the bourgeois revolution. They have given up on any belief that the working class is the revolutionary class and substituted the petty bourgeois intelligentsia. Those who adapt to democratic imperialism, Stalinists, centrists, and social democrats avoid fighting their own ruling class! They turn their backs on revolutionary Marxism, Leninism, and Bolshevism. As the contradictions of imperialism intensify these Menshevik currents form a counter-revolutionary barrier to the leftward movement of workers and poor peasants. That is why we need a New Zimmerwald, a new Bolshevik left, and a new Communist International.

Zimmerwald at Last

During the first year of the war the pressure from the left for an international conference to unite those prepared to break with the social chauvinists and pacifists was sabotaged by the right and centre. The preliminary conference in Bern on July 11 1915 was dominated by the right and centre and rejected Zinoviev’s motions for revolutionary mass actions against the war. When the Zimmerwarld Conference was finally held, September 5-8, 8 delegates including the Polish, Russian delegates met beforehand and formed the ‘Zimmerwald left’. They were Lenin and Zinoviev (Bolsheviks), Berzin (Latvian social democrats), Radek (Polish-Lithuanian opposition), Borchardt (for Lichenstrahlen in Germany), Hoglund and Nerman (Swedish and Norwegian left), Platten (Switzerland). Trotsky was among several others who attended this meeting but did not endorse the left’s position.

Liebknecht writing from prison greets the delegates and calls for a “settling of accounts with the deserters and turncoats of the International”. He urges the delegates to fight an international class war and to break with false appeals to national and party unity. He concludes:

“The new international will arise on the ruins of the old. It can only arise on these ruins, on new and firmer foundations. Friends – socialists from all countries – you must lay the foundation stone today for the future structure. Pass irreconcilable judgement upon the false socialists…Long live the future peace among peoples! Long live internationalist, people-liberating,

The formation of the ‘Zimmerwald left’ was the decisive step in the break with the old international. Lenin and Radek had drafted resolutions to put to the conference. Radek’s was adopted but Lenin’s references to support for colonial wars and calling for ‘defeat of one’s own country’ were omitted. Yet Radek’s draft was still strong. The war is characterised as an imperialist war. The causes of war can only be overcome by socialist revolution in the leading countries. The majority of the socialist international has gone over to the social patriotism of their national bourgeoisies. The ‘centre’ current of pacifists such as Kautsky is more dangerous than the open patriots because it misleads and confuses the more advanced workers. The left must struggle against social patriotism with every method at its disposal – rejection of war credits, propaganda against the war, demonstrations, fraternatisation in the trenches, strikes etc. Quoting Liebknecht’s letter, Radek concludes: “Civil war, not ‘civil peace’ is out slogan” (LSRI, 299).

The debates centred around the question of ‘civil peace’ versus ‘civil war’. Most delegates were for ‘peace’ because they said workers were demoralised, confused and needed further preparation before they could turn the war into a ‘civil war’. Those against ‘civil peace’ also included Trotsky who opposed to pacifism ‘class struggle and ‘social revolution’. Chernov the Russian socialist revolutionary said that the “struggle for peace exclusively” must be extended to the “struggle for social revolution”. Radek’s resolution that put the case for ‘civil war’ was voted down 19 to 12 and did not become part of the final manifesto. Trotsky and Roland-Holst, Chernov and Natanson voted with the Zimmerward 8.

Zimmerwald Manifesto

The Zimmerwald Manifesto addresses the Proletarians of Europe: “one thing is certain: the war that has produced this chaos is the product of imperialism…economically backward or politically weak nations are thereby subjecated by the great powers, who, in this war, are seeking to remake the world map with blood and ironin accord with their exploiting interests…In the course of the war, its driving forces are revealed in all their vileness…The capitalists of all countries who are coining the gold of war profits out of the blood shed by the people, assert that the war is for defence of the fatherland, for democracy and the liberation of oppressed nations…thus the war reveals the naked figure of modern capitalism which has become irreconcilable not only with the interests of the masses of workers, not only with the requirements of historical development, but also with the elementary conditions of human existence…this situation that faces us, threatening the entire future of Europe and humanity, cannot and must not be tolerated any longer without action…

So far so good, but what action? The Manifesto concludes: “Proletarians! Since the outbreak of the war you have placed your energy, yiour courage, your endurance at the service of the ruling classes. Now you must stand up for your own cause, for the sacred aims of socialism, for the emancipation of the oppressed nations as well as of the enslaved classes, by means of irreconcilable class struggle”.

“Class struggle”? What does this mean? Socialists in the countries at war are told to take up “this task”. What is this? “peace among the people”. Compared with real task of turning the imperialist war into civil war this is a pious platitude. (320)

Lenin, Zinoviev, Radek, Nerman, Hoglund and Winter of the Zimmerwald left produced a statement protesting the ommision of any “characterisation of opportunism” as the main cause of the capitulation to war, and any clear presentation of “methods of struggle against the war”. But they said that they would still vote for the Manifesto as a “call to struggle, and because we want to march forward in this struggle arm in arm with the other sections of the International”.

Zimmerwald leads to inevitable split

The Zimmerwald left was aware of the need to use the left position to break with the right and centre to form a new international. Lenin and the others (excluding Trotsky) saw that a split was necesssary. Radek calls the betrayal of the opportunist a de facto split. The failure to prepare for a new international quickly was to set the scene for later defeats. This is most obvious in Lenin’s critique of the Spartacists for not taking a firm independent line against the centrists in Germany.

The main lesson from tZimmerwald was that the left needed to strike out on an independent course (collaborating where possible at Zimmerwald etc) to win over the most advanced workers, with both a critique of opportunism and the revolutionary mobilisation against the ruling class.

Radek put this forcefully in his report on the conference: “It may be a long-time before the masses, bled white by the war recover and renew the struggle. We can shorten this time, however by explaining to the most conscious workers why the International collapsed, how they have to struggle, for what goals they must appeal to other workers, and how they must organise the struggle under conditions of military rule. The more difficult the situation the clearer must be the politics of socialism. It is never too early to tell the workers their true situation” (339).

Lenin’s critique of Luxemburg

Lenin critiqued Luxemburg and the German Spartacists for following the Zimmerwald Manifesto in toning down their critique of opportunism and failing to break from the centrists and create an independent party. He was responding to Luxemburg’s famous ‘Junius Pamphlet’.

“The chief defect in Junius pamphet…is its silence about the connection between social chauvinism …and opportunism..This is wrong from the standpoint of theory, for it is impossible to account for the ‘betrayal’ [of the 2nd international without linking it up witih opportunism as a trend with a long history behind it, the history of the whole Scond International. ..It is also a mistake from the practical political standpoint, for it is impossible either to understand the ‘crisis of social democracy’ or overcome it, without claifying the meaning and the role of two trends, the openly opportunist trend…and the tacitly opportunist trend…A very great defect in revolutionary Marxisn in Germany as a whole is its lack of a compact illegal organisation that would systematically pursue its own line and educate the masses in the spirit of the new tasks; such an organisation would have to take a definite stand on opportunism and Kautskyism (436).

Lenin also criticises Luxemburg for not understanding that a civil war against the bourgeoisie was necessary. “In saying that the class struggle is the best means of defence against invasion, Junius applies Marxist dialectics only half way…Marxist dialectics call for a concrete analysis of each specific historical situaiton…Class struggle…is too general and therefore inadequate in the present specific case. Cvil war against the bourgeoisie is also a form of class struggle, and only this form of class struggle would have saved Europe…from invasion” (443)

Lenin explains these defects in Luxemberg’s position materially as due to the ‘environment’ of German social democracy and the fear of the leftists to follow “their revolutionary slogans to their logical conclusions”. As a result Luxemburg pulls back to “something like a Menshevik ‘theory of stages’ of first defending a republic and then to the next stage – socialist revolution”

“But this shortcoming is not Junius’ personal failing, but the result of the weakness of all the German leftists, who have become engangled in the vile net of Kautskyite hypocrisy, pedantry and “friendliness” for the opportunists.”

Trotsky the semi-menshevik

Trotsky’s role in all this was confusionist. He had illusions in winning of the ‘centre’. He talked of Kautsky moving left. He confused the necessary subjective task of winning the most advanced workers (Radek’s point) with the objective backward consciousness of workers. This misled him into trying to influence the party leaders of the centre like Kautsky who had “authority” with the masses. Hence his mechanical schematic view that workers had to stop fighting themselves before they would fight their own bourgeoisies. This was true but undialectical.

Trotsky was proved wrong. When the German soldiers and sailors mutinied in 1918 they fulfilled the first part of Trotsky’s schema. But instead of turning their guns against the bourgeoisie, they were talked into exchanging their guns for votes in a German Republic. In Russia, the first revolution in February against the Tzar did not succumb to the bourgeoisie. The armed workers retained their guns, defeated the counter-revolution and went on to make a socialist revolution.

What was the lesson from Zimmerwald? Lenin expressed it very well. Imperialist wars can be won by workers only by means of a socialist revolution. Wars open up revolutionary crises and the revolutionary leadership must clearly take the lead from the right and centre of the party. The right goes further to the right and drags the centre with it. Failure to break from the centre was the fate of the German Spartacists. The lack of as Bolshevik party in Germany was the vital factor that allowed the counter-revolution to succeed. The defeat of the German revolution was ultimately to bring the defeat of the Russian revolution in 1991.

Lenin’s “Socialism and War” pamphlet from 1915 is available online at;

We need a new Bolshevik International

Menshevism allows the possibility of a ‘peaceful’ evolutionary transition to socialism and so sees bourgeois democracy as a shell for workers democracy. But In times of war capitalism doesn’t want workers votes it want their blood. Revolutionaries have to counter that by building independent workers organs that do not rely on bourgeois democracy. Bourgeois democracy is the dictatorshp of the bourgeoisie counterposed to the dictatorship of the proletariat. That’s why we were against bourgeois democracy in the former DWS’s. As Trosky said bourgeois democracy could only be counter-revolutionary in a DWS.

Today the remains of the 2nd International are even more openly social imperialist. Socialism has virtually dissappeared inside imperialism. The new imperialism promotes western values of democracy and human rights as the means of ‘civilising’ the colonial and semi-colonial world. The remains of the 3rd international have become 2nd internationalists in the imperialist world, In the ‘3rd world’ they are for the patriotic popular front to complete the bourgeois revolution in the former workers states and in the semicolonies. This means counterposing the international civil society of Porto Alegre to the rogue institutions of globalisation such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO etc. Both of these currents endorse the right of imperialism to intervene in oppressed states to remove local dictators and facilitate ‘democratic’ regimes. They are against the armed struggle of colonial and semi-colonial peoples to do it themselves.

The degenerate Trotskyists are joining forces with these betrayers to revise the permanent revolution and promote the democratic stage as a necessary preparation for the socialist stage. But this is a grotesque deformation of the theory of permanent revolution that says that the democratic stage can be completed only by socialism. That is, the struggle right now is for socialism during which the incomplete democratic tasks will be completed.

Zimmerwald teaches us the importance of the fundamental distinction between the methods of the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks explained by Lenin in What is to be Done, and then proven decisively i the massive betrayal in imperialist war. The Mensheviks wanted peace first, that is an end to military imperialism by peaceful imperialism. This was so because it was the institutions of bourgeois democracy, parliament, pressured by the masses that would enact peace. The Bosheviks, dominating the Zimmerwald Left, saw the need to activate the working masses directly to stop the war by turning the imperialist war into a ‘civil war’.

Thus the Bolsheviks called for the struggle for socialism as the only way to stop the imperialist war. They knew that this struggle would transform workers from a backward, defensive consciousness, in awe of the bosses’ parliament, into a revolutionary force capable of socialist revolution.

Today, under conditions of growing crisis and drive to imperialist war on the part of US imperialism, revolutionaries have this same task. We need a New Zimmerwald. We have to reject the Menshevik program of counterposing bourgeois democracy to US imperialism in the Porto Alegre, anti-globalising, sense. We have to break from the politics of the popular front and internationally from the Menshevik international. We have to rebuild a new Bolshevik International now!

All page references are to Lenin’s Struggle for a Revolutionary International. Documents: 1907-1916. The Preparatory Years. Edited by John Riddell. Monad Press, New York, 1984.

Written by raved

June 29, 2008 at 1:06 pm