Saturday, December 31, 2016

On UNSC Israel settlement resolution and vote


....The resolution states in part that “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution.”

The vote in fact registers a blow to the decades-long struggle of the Palestinian people against national oppression. It reinforces the dead-end course of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaderships to rely on Washington and other imperialist powers to pressure Tel Aviv, while shackling the Palestinian masses as passive bystanders. It gives a boost to forces in Israel pushing for greater inroads into Palestinian territory.

It reflects the absence of any Palestinian leadership fighting for a way forward — a negotiated agreement that includes recognition of the state of Israel, coupled with recognition of a Palestinian state, as it exists today, as a stepping-stone to the fight for a single, contiguous homeland for the Palestinian people. Only this fight can provide the basis for advancing the interests of working people of all nationalities in the region today.

Educating and mobilizing Palestinian workers and farmers to campaign to reach such an agreement could break the cycle of past years of war, bloodshed and more settlements....

Friday, December 30, 2016

Average annual per capita GDP growth


The pro-choice battle of Wichita

....There’s an important example of a different course that workers and young people looking to defend women’s rights today can learn from.

Emboldened by the bipartisan attacks on the right to choose abortion, Operation Rescue launched a national campaign in the early 1990s to physically shut down abortion clinics. They mobilized thousands of rightist cadres to lay siege to the three clinics in Wichita, Kansas, in the summer of 1991. Leaders of the main women’s rights organization argued against a countermobilization, saying the cops and courts should be allowed to “do their job.” The result was that the rightists succeeded in shutting the clinics for weeks.

Many defenders of women’s rights drew the lessons from this defeat. In April 1992, when Operation Rescue tried to pull off a siege of clinics in Buffalo, New York, they were met by some 1,500 defenders who turned out daily at 5 a.m. to keep the clinics open. By the end of the second week, most of Operation Rescue’s troops had left town, demoralized. Defenders of abortion rights went on to confront Operation Rescue in Houston and other cities and successfully beat them back.

This is the direction we need to look today — not the same dead-end of relying on the same capitalist parties who’ve overseen the assault on workers’ rights and living standards for decades.

Supporters of the SWP will attend the Jan. 21 action, not to build it, but to meet and debate with those there an alternative, independent working-class road forward. 

Full article:

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The rulers' manipulation of anxiety, resentment, and fear of loss

From a speech by Jack Barnes in October 2001.


...."For self-serving ends, the rulers and their shameless media propagandists have ripped away privacy from thousands of people who did lose family members and friends on September 11. They are cynically exploiting concrete individual weeping in order to turn it into general patriotic fervor."


But none of this has anything to do with human solidarity, Barnes said. It is part of the capitalists' political preparations to maintain their inhuman social system, restrict the rights and drive down the conditions of working people at home, and inflict unimaginable horrors on toilers abroad.


"It's part of the 'pornographication of politics' that has accompanied the deepening crisis and instability of the world capitalist order over the past decade," Barnes said.


"The rulers barrage working people with sensationalized stories of individual corruption, 'decadence,' sex, divorce, and tragedy, all of it turned into group emotion. Whether it's the sex life of President Clinton or Prince Charles; the death in a car crash of Princess Diana; or the private mourning for friends and loved ones killed at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon--the effect of such engineered public spectacles is to take our eyes off the exploitative class relations that are the source of social ills and human misery under capitalism."


All this is part of the rulers' manipulation of anxiety, resentment, and fear of loss in order to diminish what Barnes pointed to as the only reliable basis for human solidarity--the political solidarity of workers, farmers, and other exploited toilers. That solidarity is based not on sentimentality or fear but on the growing political consciousness and confidence of the working majority of humanity who have no class interest in the exploitation, oppression, and humiliation of other human beings.


"That's why the front page of every issue of the Militant during the campaign against the imperialist war," Barnes said, "needs to feature an article or two about a strike or rally organized by workers, a farmers protest, a demonstration against cop brutality, an action in defense of immigrants' rights, or a protest to demand affirmative action for Blacks, women, and other oppressed layers of the working class.


"That's how growing numbers of workers and youth will come to understand in practice who 'we' and 'they' really are--and to think and act accordingly."

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Lenin on 1912 U.S. presidential election

Wilson, a “Democrat”, has been elected President of the United States of America. He has polled over six million votes, Roosevelt (the new National Progressive Party) over four million, Taft (Republican Party) over three million, and the Socialist Eugene Debs 800,000 votes.

The world significance of the U.S. elections lies not so much in the great increase in the number of Socialist votes as in the far-reaching crisis of the bourgeois parties, in the amazing force with which their decay has been revealed. Lastly, the significance of the elections lies in the unusually clear and striking revelation of bourgeois reformism as a means of combating socialism.

In all bourgeois countries, the parties which stand for capitalism, i.e., the bourgeois parties, came into being a long time ago, and the greater the extent of political liberty, the more solid they are.

Freedom in the U.S.A. is most complete. And for a whole half-century—since the Civil War over slavery in 1860–65—two bourgeois parties have been distinguished there by remarkable solidity and strength. The party of the former slave-owners is the so-called Democratic Party. The capitalist party, which favoured the emancipation of the Negroes, has developed into the Republican Party.

Since the emancipation of the Negroes, the distinction between the two parties has been diminishing. The fight between these two parties has been mainly over the height of customs duties. Their fight has not had any serious importance for the mass of the people. The people have been deceived and diverted from their vital interests by means of   spectacular and meaningless duels between the two bourgeois parties.

This so-called bipartisan system prevailing in America and Britain has been one of the most powerful means of preventing the rise of an independent working-class, i.e., genuinely socialist, party.

And now the bipartisan system has suffered a fiasco in America, the country boasting the most advanced capitalism! What caused this fiasco?

The strength of the working-class movement, the growth of socialism.

The old bourgeois parties (the “Democratic” and the “Republican” parties) have been facing towards the past, the period of the emancipation of the Negroes. The new bourgeois party, the National Progressive Party, is facing to wards the future. Its programme turns entirely on the question whether capitalism is to be or not to be, on the issues, to he specific, of protection for the workers and of “trusts”, as the capitalist associations are called in the U.S.A.

The old parties are products of an epoch whose task was to develop capitalism as speedily as possible. The struggle between the parties was over the question how best to expedite and facilitate this development.

The new party is a product of the present epoch, which raises the issue of the very existence of capitalism. In the U.S.A., the freest and most advanced country, this issue is coming to the fore more clearly and broadly than anywhere else.

The entire programme and entire agitation of Roosevelt and the Progressives turn on how to save capitalism by means of bourgeois reforms.

The bourgeois reformism which in old Europe manifests itself in the chatter of liberal professors has all at once come forward in the free American republic as a party four million strong. This is American style.

We shall save capitalism by reforms, says that party. We shall grant the most progressive factory legislation. We shall establish state control over all the trusts (in the U.S.A. that means over allindustries!). We shall establish state control over them to eliminate poverty and enable everybody to earn a “decent” wage. We shall establish   “social and industrial justice”. We revere all reforms—the only “reform” we don’t want is expropriation of the capitalists!

The national wealth of the U.S.A. is now reckoned to be 120 billion (thousand million) dollars, i.e., about 240 billion rubles. Approximately one-third of it, or about 80 billion rubles, belongs to two trusts, those of Rockefeller and Morgan, or is subordinated to these trusts! Not more than. 40,000 families making up these two trusts are the masters of 80 million wage slaves.

Obviously, so long as these modern slave-owners are there, all “reforms” will be nothing but a deception. Roosevelt has been deliberately hired by the astute multimillionaires to preach this deception. The “state control” they promise will become—if the capitalists keep their capital—a means of combating and crushing strikes.

But the American proletarian has already awakened and has taken up his post. He greets Roosevelt’s success with cheerful irony, as if to say: You lured four million people with your promises of reform, dear impostor Roosevelt. Very well! Tomorrow those four million will see that your promises were a fraud, and don’t forget that they are following youonly because they feel that it is impossibleto go on  living in the old way.

Anti-Trump hysteria in face of capital's business as usual

Trump selects cabinet in face of liberal hysteria


As President-elect Donald Trump put together a cabinet that looks a lot like those installed by previous Republican presidents like Dwight D. Eisenhower, a hysterical six-week liberal-left frenzy that dreamed of robbing him of the presidency through an Electoral College coup fell flat. From the pages of the Washington Post to the Communist Party’s online People’s World, editorial writers mislabeled Trump a fascist.

The “Vote Trump Out” campaign aimed at the Electoral College focused on charges that Trump is soft on Russian President Vladimir Putin and that Moscow hackers helped throw the election. Many Republican electors were flooded with letters, some threatening, urging them not to vote for Trump.

Jill Stein, who ran as Green Party candidate for president, acted as a shill for Hillary Clinton and went to court in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, demanding recounts. Perhaps she felt guilty for running in the first place. In Michigan, Stein was credited with 51,463 votes, while Trump won by 10,704. But her meritless lawsuits were unceremoniously thrown out.

President Barack Obama took the wind out of the “Block Trump” campaign Dec. 16, defending “the integrity of our election system” and denying ballots weren’t fairly counted. Obama pledged to make Trump’s transition to the White House as smooth as possible.

Trump won handily Dec. 19. Two Trump electors and five of Clinton’s changed their votes.

The howl continues. “Congratulations, Trump. Welcome to hell,” headlined an op-ed in the Washington Post Dec. 21. It signals continuing Democratic Party efforts to bog down the new administration and prevent it from conducting business.

Hillary Clinton continues to blame her defeat on a Russian conspiracy. “Vladimir Putin himself directed the covert cyber attacks against our electoral system, against our democracy, apparently because he has a personal beef against me,” she said Dec. 16.

Moscow, like most capitalist regimes, tries to take advantage of every opportunity to try to influence its rivals. But Washington, with its vast bipartisan history of orchestrating regime change in Cuba, Haiti, Guatemala, Libya, Angola, Iraq, Congo, Indonesia, Vietnam and Iran, to name a few, has no standing to complain.

The anti-working-class record of Bill Clinton’s administrations, her conduct as secretary of state, and her campaign, which oozed contempt for workers, especially those who are Caucasian, were more than enough to torpedo her presidential prospects. Hillary Clinton was one of the most distrusted and unpopular candidates in modern history.

She convinced many workers that Trump was the lesser evil when she called his supporters “deplorables” and “irredeemable.”

Union officials and others backing the Democratic Party are attacking Trump’s cabinet nominations, accusing him of preparing an unprecedented assault on unions, women’s rights, immigrant workers and gays. Many zero in on Trump’s nomination of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, saying it’s a conflict for an executive of a big company to represent the government.

But the appointees of both capitalist parties always represent the interests of the propertied ruling-class families who hold state power. Wealthy banker and investor Joseph Kennedy was just one of many big capitalists in Franklin Roosevelt’s cabinet. Ford Motor President Robert McNamara was secretary of defense under John Kennedy. And Eisenhower had a twofer, with brothers John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, both partners in the international law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, dedicated to defending the interests of U.S. big business throughout the world, as secretary of state and director of the CIA respectively.

Trump will preside over a pro-business administration. Despite Democratic charges that he will provoke a trade war against China, his nomination of Terry Branstad, governor of agricultural powerhouse Iowa and a longtime friend of Chinese President Xi Jinping, to be ambassador to China, points to growing Sino-U.S. trade.

Democrats claim to be the party of peace, labor and “identity politics,” a focus on women, gays and other minorities; but their administrations, rife with “brights” and “experts,” are responsible for imposing some of the most onerous ceilings on our rights.

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision brought to an end growing street mobilizations for the right to choose abortion as equal protection for women in making decisions about their bodies. These mobilizations were transforming public sentiment, winning millions to see the rights of women in a new light.

Instead, the Harvard and Yale-trained Supreme Court justices based a more limited right to abortion on women’s doctors’ judgments and medical questions like fetal viability. This, coupled with the refusal of pro-Democrat leaders of the National Organization for Women and other groups to mobilize to defend the right to choose — motivated by the desire not to rock the boat and cost Democratic office holders their jobs — opened the way for more than four decades of erosion of abortion rights.

William Clinton led both parties to “end welfare as we know it” in the 1990s, making the future for jobless female workers with children a nightmare as the economic crisis deepened and jobs disappeared.

And Obamacare was designed to block the road to universal health care and to guarantee superprofits for the insurance cartels as health care for working people deteriorates.

Democrats encourage working people, who they fear and view as stupid, to vote for them and rely on their executive action, bureaucratic regulation and court rulings. But defending and extending labor and social gains can only be achieved in struggle in the streets on the road to workers taking state power.

Trump is no more capable of enacting policies to end the crisis of the capitalist economy than was Obama. There are no “policies” that can do so. The infrastructure jobs program he talks of “is more about rewarding private-equity investors than about rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure,” wrote Princeton economics professors Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger in the Wall Street Journal Dec. 18.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The FARC: Opposite of Cuban Revolution

....The FARC began in the 1960s as a rural guerrilla group linked to the Stalinist Communist Party of Colombia. Its perspective was to exert pressure and win concessions from the landlords and government through bombings, assassinations and kidnappings as part of a "prolonged war." At best, this relegated working people to the role of spectators.

This course gave the government and landlords a pretext for assaults on unionists and farmers and to clamp down on political rights. The regime mobilized thousands of paramilitaries to terrorize the population. As the FARC gained territory in the 1990s, Washington sent Bogotá troops, arms and funds, claiming to wage war on drugs and terrorism. Plan Colombia, signed by President Bill Clinton in 2000, allocated $10 billion to this.

Following the election of President Álvaro Uribe in 2002, a military offensive dealt major blows to the FARC and its leadership. Faced with these setbacks, and growing international discussion, including Castro's contributions, on what way forward for working people in Colombia, the FARC entered peace talks with the Santos government, which took office in 2010.

The Cuban government was instrumental in facilitating the negotiations, which opened in Havana in 2012. A peace accord was signed in September and put to a referendum Oct. 2. Polls had projected it would pass with a big majority, but 50.2 percent voted against.

An Oct. 4 statement by the Communist Youth of Colombia reflected a common response on the left. It described the vote as a victory for "ultra-right, conservative and religious sectors," saying the "voter population" had been "confused with the lying and hatred of the far right campaign." Similar explanations appeared in much of the capitalist media.

The Oct. 24 Militant article "Colombia 'No' Vote Reflects Discontent with Gov't, FARC," didn't answer this line. It referred to classless "discontent" and stressed the "vote no" campaign led by Uribe and the low 37 percent turnout, suggesting the vote showed a shift to the right and working-class apathy.

But the reason many working people voted "no" or abstained was because of deep hostility toward the FARC. Many felt the terms were too generous toward FARC leaders responsible for death and destruction, including guaranteed seats in Congress and amnesty for leaders accused of major crimes.

In the territories it occupied, the FARC used violence to impose its rule over working people. It extorted taxes, including on the production and transport of illegal drugs, and carried out thousands of kidnappings for ransom. It imposed curfews and strict social controls on residents, expelling violators from their homes and land. Thousands of peasants were killed or maimed by land mines laid by the FARC.

Opposite of Cuban Revolution

When a raid by the Colombian military in 2008 freed 15 hostages held by the FARC, Fidel Castro took the opportunity to speak out. Those released included Ingrid Betancourt, who had been kidnapped six years earlier while campaigning for president, 11 soldiers and three U.S. citizens.
"We rejoiced at the news" that the "captives had been released," Castro said. "The civilians should have never been kidnapped, nor should the soldiers have been kept as prisoners in jungle conditions. These were objectively cruel actions. No revolutionary aim could justify them."

From its very beginning, Castro said, the course followed by the FARC was the opposite of that followed by the revolutionary movement that led workers and farmers to power in Cuba. The Communist Party of Colombia "was under the influence of the Communist Party of the USSR, not of Cuba," he said. It "never planned to conquer power."

In Cuba the Rebel Army led by Castro looked to the working class and exploited farmers as the agents of revolutionary change. They organized land reform, literacy campaigns and other revolutionary measures in areas under rebel control.

When they fought battles with the dictatorship's troops, they sought to keep civilians from harms way. Soldiers they captured were treated with dignity and released at the first opportunity. This course and conduct reflected the working-class morality of Cuba's revolutionary leaders.

Havana is now hosting a new round of talks between Colombian officials and the FARC leadership. A cease-fire has been extended through the end of the year. The Cuban and Ecuadoran governments are also facilitating peace talks between Bogotá and the National Liberation Army (ELN), a smaller Colombian guerrilla organization.  


....Unlike Cuba, where the Rebel Army led by Fidel Castro began organizing land reform, literacy 
campaigns and other revolutionary measures in areas under rebel control even before it succeeded in 
overthrowing the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship, the FARC and other guerrilla groups left capitalist economic 
and social relations intact in the areas they controlled.

While guerrilla groups denied U.S. and Colombian government charges that they were involved in drug trafficking, they defended the collection of a tax on those involved in the drug trade, like they did on other capitalist enterprises.

The guerrilla leaders never saw the armed struggle as a road to increasing the self-confidence, class-
consciousness and discipline of workers and farmers to rapidly take political power. Instead, Marulanda "conceived a lengthy and prolonged struggle," Castro explained in the book La paz en Colombia (Peace in Colombia), published in 2008. Castro also criticized the methods of the Colombian guerrillas of taking both civilians and soldiers hostage. (See page 7.)

The Armando Rios First Front, the 200-strong FARC unit famous for holding presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt hostage for six years, announced July 6 it doesn't intend to disarm. The National Liberation Army (ELN), another guerrilla group, has said it is willing to negotiate with the government. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Saturday, December 17, 2016

1990 preface to In Defense of Marxism

'In Defense of Marxism':
an essential work to
understand USSR's social
and political structures

From the 10 August 1900 issue of The Militant

The following is the preface to the third
edition of In Defense of Marxism by Leon
'Trotsky, to be published this month by
Pathfinder. The preface is copyright @
1990 and reprinted by permission of Path-


Unleashing decades of pent-up anger and
frustration, millions across Central and East-
em Europe took to the streets in the closing
months of 1989 and early 1990 demanding
justice and political rights. By July 1990,
when this preface was written, they had
toppled or shaken most of the regimes dom-
inated by Stalinist Communist Parties. In
doing so, they opened the door for working
people to break out of the political cocoon
they were wrapped in for more than four
decades by the repressive policies of the
privileged bureaucratic castes in these coun-
tries. The disintegration of the Stalinist par-
ties and the formation of weaker and more
unstable regimes create the possibility for
workers and farmers to take the first steps
toward getting involved in political life, or-
ganizing to defend their class interests, and
being influenced by struggles of working
people and national liberation fighters in
other countries.

The parasitic petty-bourgeois caste in the
Soviet Union, too, is being wracked by this
crisis. Workers' strikes are mounting. Mobi-
lizations of nationally oppressed peoples
threaten secession from the USSR by repub-
lics from the Baltics to Azerbaijan.

Moreover, economic stagnation has led to
a decline in workers' living standards and to
growing popular unrest and protests through-
out Central and Eastern Europe and the So-
viet Union. In the face of this situation, most
of the regimes -both the new governments
in most Eastern European countries and the
Communist Party-dominated regime in the
Soviet Union -have initiated steps to re-
structure their economies by employing
wider use of capitalist market methods and

These momentous changes are stimulating
interest and discussion among working peo-
ple, students, and others around the world.
There is a thirst for a clear explanation of the
economic, social, and political contradictions
in the structures of these countries, where
capitalist ownership of basic industry and

banking was overturned decades ago.
Questions include: What is the social char-
acter of these states? Is capitalism being
restored? What, if anything, is there for workers

to defend in these societies? What is the
character of workers' struggles? What should
be the stance of working people in the United
States and other countries to these develop-
ments? What is the relationship of workers
in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to
struggles against capitalist exploitation and
imperialist domination around the world?
The republication of this book by Leon
Trotsky is a helpful guide for working
through answers to these and other questions.
As a central leader of the October 1917
Russian revolution and of the Communist
International in its early years, Trotsky brings
insights from direct experience. Although the
' articles and letters in this volume were writ-
ten 50 years ago, their evaluation of Soviet
society and its contradictory place in world
·politics is not only accurate but essential to
understanding the permanent crisis of the
Stalinist parties and the growing instability
of the regimes in Eastern and Central Europe
; and in the USSR itself.

In the late 1920s Trotsky had been ex-
pelled from the Soviet Communist Party and
forced into exile by Joseph Stalin. Trotsky's
"crime" was to have continued to fight for
the communist course that V.I. Lenin and the
Bolsheviks had followed before the bureau-
cratic degeneration of the revolution under

"Stalinism" refers to the counterrevolu-
tionary policies of the privileged social caste
that emerged and consolidated its power at
that time and continues its domination in the
Soviet Union to this day. These Stalinist
policies were endorsed by the leaderships of
parties that called themselves "Communist"
around the world. They subordinated
workers' struggles to serving the diplomatic
needs of the caste in the Soviet Union and,
after World War II, of the castes that exer-
cised power in other countries where capi-
talism had been overturned in the decade
following the war.

In 1939--40, when the materials in this
book were written, Trotsky was living in
exile in Mexico. In August 1940 he was
assassinated by an agent of Stalin.

Trotsky wrote these articles and letters as
part of a debate inside the Socialist Workers
Party during the opening stages of the second
interimperialist world war. The key issue in
dispute was what kind of party needed to be
built in the United States and around the
world: a revolutionary party that was truly
part ofthe working class and its struggles,
or ·a petty-bourgeois radical party calling
itself working class in words, while buckling
in deeds to bourgeois public opinion? What
kind of party could stand up to the pressures
of the capitalists' intensifying prowar propa-
ganda and anticommunist hysteria?

Trotsky's standpoint was that of the work-
ing class, both inside the Soviet Union and
internationally. He explained that clarity on
the class character and contradictions of the
Soviet Union was interlinked with the polit-
ical tasks and orientation of revolutionary
workers the world over. It was necessary to
distinguish between the nationalized prop-
erty relations that resulted from the expro-
priation of the capitalist class, which were
conquests of the workers and peasants during
the opening years of the Russian revolution,
and the counterrevolutionary policies of the
privileged social caste. Only by doing so
could working people around the world
know what they should do to defend the
Soviet Union against impending military at-
tack (which came with imperialist
Germany's invasion in June 1941, less than
a year after the final items in this collection
were written).

The underlying cause of World War II was
the rivalry among the competing capitalist
ruling families of the imperialist countries,
Trotsky explained. A manifesto on the war
drafted by Trotsky and adopted by the SWP
and other revolutionary organizations in May
1940 outlined the tasks of working people as
they were dragged into the slaughter by the
capitalist rulers. (See Writings of Leon '
Trotsky 1939-40, Pathfinder, 1973, pp.l83-

Trotsky's analysis of the economic and
social structures of the Soviet Union and the
counterrevolutionary character of the Stalin-
ist bureaucracy, which the SWP shared, has
been tested by history and confirmed. More-
over, the prognosis that the war would lead
to a new wave of working-class revolutions
and anticolonial uprisings was also borne out,
although in ways that Trotsky and the SWP
did not and could not have foreseen.

Despite the Stalin regime's continuing

counterrevolutionary course during the war,w
the workers and peasants
of the Soviet Union suc-
cessfully beat back the
German imperialist in-
vasion. The military
turning point came in i
early 1943 when Soviet
resistance broke the
siege of Stalingrad. The
victories of Soviet work-
ing people, won at great
human and material cost,
not only defended the
conquests of the October
revolution and pre-
vented the restoration of
capitalism and imperial-
ist domination in the So-
viet Union. They also
gave a powerful impulse
to anticolonial and other
national liberation strug-
gles throughout Africa,
Asia, the Pacific, and the
Caribbean. And capital-
ist property relations
were overturned in the
late 1940s and early
1950s in Yugoslavia,
elsewhere in Eastern and Central Europe,
North Korea, China, and then North Vietnam.
The extension of the socialist revolution,
however, occurred under the domination of
Stalinist, not revolutionary, leadership.
Moreover, the strength of Stalinism in the
workers' movement in Western Europe, es-
pecially France and Italy, blocked any chance
for socialist victories in a major imperialist
power. Thus, the revolutionary advances irri-
pelled by the triumph of Soviet working
people over imperialist aggression did not
"inevitably lead to the overthrow of the bu-
reaucracy in the USSR and regeneration of
Soviet democracy," as Trotsky had antici-
pated. These advances did not result in a
political revolution that restored power to the
Soviet working class under the leadership of
a renewed communist party.

In Trotsky's 1936 book, The Revolution

Betrayed: What Is the Soviet Union and
Where Is It Going?
(Pathfinder, 1972), which
is an essential complement to In Defense of
Marxism, he based his prognosis of a political
revolution in the Soviet Union on the com-
munist consciousness that still existed among
tens of thousands of workers who had gone
through the October Revolution or had been
deeply influenced by its revolutionary lead-

In the decades since, however, this polit-
ical consciousness has eroded so much under
the stultifying conditions imposed by the
Stalinist regimes that today there is no com-
munist working-class vanguard in the Soviet
Union or anywhere in Central or Eastern
Europe. Instead, there has been a sharp break
in continuity with the rich communist tradi-
tions of the early Soviet government under

Lenin's leadership and the first five years of
the Communist International.

Workers throughout Eastern and Central
Europe, however, are regaining political
room to organize and become involved in
politics. They are seeking to fight back
against attacks on their economic and social
conquests as the regimes -new and old - .
in all these countries increase reliance on
capitalist methods and try to forge closer ties
to the imperialist ruling classes of Western
Europe, North America, and Japan. It is
through struggles like these that working
people from Berlin to the Pacific coast of the
Soviet Union will link up with fights by other
workers and fanners the world over, test
alternative strategies and ideas, and begin
anew the bUilding of proletarian communist

* *

The political crisis in the Socialist Workers
Party discussed by Trotsky in these pages ·
was precipitated by the signing of the "non-
aggression" pact between the governments
of the Soviet Union and Germany (the Sta-
lin-Hitler Pact) on Aug. 22, 1939, and the
outbreak of war a week later with the inva-
sion of Poland by German imperialism. A
substantial minority in the SWP leadership
and membership concluded that there was no
longer anything progressive in the Soviet
Union to defend. This panicky turning away
from historic conquests of the international
workers' movement reflected a more funda-
mental retreat from any perspective of build-
ing a revolutionary proletarian party in the
United States and worldwide.

For several years, Trotsky had been urging
the SWP to adopt an "orientation of the whole
party toward factory work" and to deepen its
active involvement in the industrial trade

unions. He called for systematic political
activity among workers who are Black.
"'They are convoked by the historic develop-
ment to become a vanguard of the working
class," Trotsky said. His views on these ques-
tions can be found in Background to "The
Struggle for A Proletarian Party" and Leon
Trotsky on Black Nationalism and Self-De-
termination, both published by Pathfinder.
Many questions of communist leadership
and party building that arose in the 1939-40
debate were also addressed in The Struggle
for a Proletarian Party (Pathfinder, 1972) by
James P. Cannon, SWP national secretary at
the time. This book remains a valuable com-
panion volume to In Defense of Marxism and
should be studied along with it.

For a broader picture of the effort to forge
a party of the working-class vanguard in the
United States, Pathfinder's foui-volume se-
ries on the struggle to organize the Teamsters
union in the Midwest is especially useful:
Teamster Rebellion, Teamster Power, Team-
ster Politics, and Teamster Bureaucracy. The
series was written by Farrell Dobbs, a prom-
inent leader of the Teamster organizing drives
in the 1930s who later served as the SWP's
national secretary. Dobbs describes the hard-
fought labor battles through which an entire
layer of working-class fighters learned how
to carry out serious revolutionary work in the
trade unions and were won to socialism. The
impact of the Teamsters' experience on the
evolution and development of the forces that
founded the SWP was deeply felt in the
1939-40 struggle, in which the proletarian
character of the party was challenged and
successfully defended.

During the period of capitalist expansion
following World War ll, the labor movement
was pushed out of the center of politics in
the United States. This began to change as
the 1974-75 international recession, the

deepest since 1937, registered the scope of
the economiC crisis facing the capitalist rul-
ers. To bolster declining profit rates, employ-
ers began squeezing more out of working
people and launched an assault on the unions.
Labor's resistance to this assault, which
has gone through ups and downs, has moved
the unions back into a central place in U.S.
and world politics. Moreover, the unions
have been deeply affected by the conquests
of social and political battles of recent de-
cades (the struggle for Black rights, the anti-
Vietnam war movement, fights for women's
rights, etc.) and by the changing composition
of the working class in the United States
(growing numbers of immigrant workers, the
increasing percentage of women).

In response, the Socialist Workers Party
entered a new stage of its evolution by turning
its face and activity to work in the industrial
trade unions. The 1978 report by Jack Barnes
for the SWP National Committee that
adopted this perspective explained that this
tum was necessary to "carry forward the
basic proletarian orientation the party has had
for decades." That report and other docu-
ments outlining a course to build a proletarian
party in the closing decades of the twentieth
century are contained in The Changing Face
of U.S. Politics, published by Pathfinder in

* *

In Defense of Marxism was first published
in 1942 with an introduction by George
Novack and Joseph Hansen, two leaders of
the SWP. Hansen was one of Trotsky's sec-
retaries in Mexico during much of the time
the 1939-40 discussion in the SWP was
taking place. Novack and Hansen updated
their introduction for the second edition of
the book in 1973.

The Introduction to the second edition, by George Novack
and Joseph Hansen can be read here.