Wars, the destitution of the Third World countries, the attack against the working class and the other oppressed strata are the weapons that the capitalists use in order to defend their domination upon humanity. Ownership and control of the means of production by a small minority of the population, the capitalists, is not only an absolute obstacle for development, but also threatens to send the whole planet to the graveyard. In order to maintain their profits, they choose to destroy millions of tonnes of goods, close down factories, sack workers, reduce wages and throw huge masses of the population into barbarism. Their overthrow and the planning of economy on a socialist basis is able to eliminate famine on the planet, reduce working hours, stop economic antagonisms and wars and open the way to development for the benefit of the whole of society.
The working class cannot get to socialism through little by little increasing its conquests. On the contrary, the workers must first smash the state apparatus which supports the economic and political – ideological domination of the bourgeois class. Any politics of class co-operation is an obstacle to the transformation of soviety and spreads illusions about bourgeois democracy. Those who support such politics are agents of bourgeois ideology within the working class. The socialist revolution does not lead straghtaway to socialist liberation and classless society. The bourgeois class will co-operate with imperialism and attempt to organise its restoration to power just as it tried to in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. For this reason, the working class needs to set up transitionally its own state in order to smash any attempt of bourgeois counterrevolution.
The domination of a handful of imperialist metropoles on world economy does not allow any illusions about ‘building socialism in one country’. This domination, which also means control of technology, together with military pressure exhausted stalinism in Eastern Europe and caused it to collapse. The stalinist bureaucrats not only did not try to prevent this development, but had been encouraging it for decades through the politics of ‘peaceful co-operation’. ‘Peaceful co-operation with imperialism’ was the strategy that they employed in order to defend their privileges. But socialism can only win on the basis of a planned economy on a world scale. The development of productive forces does not only clash with private property but also with the existence of national states and borders. And the latter will continue to exist and fetter further development unless the victorious revolution in one country expands to the international arena. The working class will have to smash imperialism in order to build socialism.
It is not enough for the working class to fight for its everyday problems. It has to liberate itself from the influence of bourgeois ideology, which is imposed through the mechanisms of the bourgeois class and also through its agents, the reformist parties. The necessary precondition for the working class to achieve its political independence and realise its historic tasks is the building of the revolutionary party. This party will consist of the vanguard members of the working class. A party like this must, first of all, be linked with revolutionary tradition. This is the strategy of Lenin and Trotsky and it is the sole steady basis on which the party can organise the mass mobilisation for the workers’ power. And since socialism can only be built on an international scale, the party must be a part of an International. Such an International revolutionary party is the aim of the militamts of the Fourth International.
Every time that the workers’ movement and the movement of the young people give a tough struggle, there are certain questions that preoccupy every militant of the vanguard who has been in the front line of the struggle. The most basic of these questions is: What happens from now on? For every struggle that does not win the torturing question is: Why didn’t we win? What did we do wrong and why didn’t we manage a blow against the government and its policies? What was missing? But even if a certain struggle wins, sometimes the final result seems to be out of proportion to the cost. For example, in the struggle of 1990-91, no student or worker was satisfied with the resignation of the Minister of Education, Kontogiannopoulos, and the withdrawal of the Bill for education. And how could they be, given that the cost of the struggle involved a murdered teacher and four dead people, burnt in the fire that the police had caused in the building ‘K. Marousis’ in Athens?The answers that are usually offered cause more confusion than a clear answer to those vanguard militants. As a rule, the commonest answers are the following: ‘What is to blame is the immaturity of the movement, lack of comprehension of the problems and the individualism of the people’. The second answer is less common; however, it is equally confusing: ‘What is to blame is the existence of bureaucrats and political parties, which do not allow the militants to express their dispositions spontaneously’. As a matter of fact, both answers are the two sides of the same coin.
Ususally, those who believe that all responsibility lies in the ‘immaturity’ of the working class are the ones who occupy top positions in trade unions. It is the very people who not only fail to organise the struggle but, on the contrary, they organise the selling-out of the struggle. We are talking about the bureaucrats of PASOK (Socialdemocratic Party) and KKE (the Communist Party). All they are interested in is their priviliges and not how they are going to defend the conquests of the working class and the young people. What else could be expected of those who have undertaken the management of the capitalist system? When they are in office (PASOK) they are exactly the same as the genuine bourgeois party, the New Democracy. And what do they do when they are in opposition? They just cultivate illusions that when they take office, everything is going to change. However, when the working class makes struggles, they immediately become the best allies of the government. These bureaucrats, after they have sold out even the toughest fights, justify themselves on the pretext that ‘the people did not want to fight any more because they are immature’. Such are the classic tricks of these traitors who pass their own responsibilities on the masses. The working class has proved again and again that they are determined to fight heroically up to victory. One million killed militants in the Spanish civil war, thousands killed and exiled militants in the Greek civil war in 1944-49 are enough proof. In fact, it has never been the ‘lack of militancy’ or the ‘immaturity of the masses’ why the struggles failed to win. The full responsibility for every failed fight belongs to the bureaucrats of Socialdemocracy and stalinism who exist only in order to make workers surrender to the repression of the bourgeois state. All of them promote, either directly or indirectly, the submission of the working class.
The conception that all responsibilty lies in the bureaucrats and the existing parties is correct only up to a certain extent. However, it is completely wrong when it suggests that the movement can on its own achieve its aims,. It is true that bureaucracy has become a huge obstacle to the development of the movement. It continually tries to stop struggles. It does everything it can to harness the struggles and eventually stop them although all these bureaucrats and their parties claim to represent the interests of the working class. In this sense, they are an enemy which acts within the workers’ movement. However, they are not the ones who repress a mobilization of the working class. They achieve this by not organizing the confrontation, by giving wrong instructions, by not co-ordinating the struggles and by refusing to give the working class a clear political perspective against the arguments of the government. For example, they refuse to give clear political answers to the ideological arguments of the government concerning the ‘European unification’, the need for ‘sacrifices in order to save the national economy’, the need for ‘national unity’ etc. In this way, they create the preconditions for the defeat. The government exploits these preconditions to smash the militants.However, the ‘free expression of militant dispositions’ would not happen automatically even if the bureaucrats were absent. The ‘dispositions’ are not formed by bureaucrats alone. Above all, they reflect, to a certain extent, the correlation of power between the working class and the capitalists. They are also influenced by the internal antagonisms between the various layers of the working class (workers’ aristocracy, skilled labourers, unskilled laborers, unemployed, lumpen elements etc). At the same time, the ‘dispositions’ are constantly changing. For example, the defeat of a strike spreads pessimism to the rest of the working class as well. On the contrary, a victorious strike raises the morale of the whole of the working class, and makes the workers in other sectors feel confident and more willing to start a struggle against the government. It is evident, that ‘dispositions’ cannot be just the result of the absence of bureaucrats but involves other factors as well.The strength of the bureaucrats lies in the fact that they base themselves on defeats and failures. They express pessimism and the ‘non-violent resolution of differences through dialogue with the government’. Nevertheless, the era of ‘peaceful class struggle’ belongs definitely to the past, together with the era of ‘mutual retreats’. Today, there is no room for retreat. The antagonisms between capitalists forces them to make constsnt attacks against the working class. Instead of reducing working hours, they increase them. Instead of increasing the income the workers, they reduce it. Today, every struggle immediately goes beyond the limits of a ‘peaceful conduct’. Therefore, the ‘disposition’ is not an abstract notion. The morale of the working class is raised when it sees that it can win. Such a victorious outcome depends on an organised plan of what to do with scabs, the riot police, the reprisals (sackings…), solidarity funds. In a nutshell, it depends on whether it is going to successfully cope with the opponent (the capitalists and the government that supports them). It follows that nothing is as ‘spontaneous’ as it seems to be in the first place. What is spontaneous is the indignation about austerity, the specific anti-worker or anti-student policies, repression, which are the result of capitalist exploitation. Without them, there would not be any class struggle. However, ‘indignation’ as a feeling is quite different from ‘indignation’ when it turns to mobilisation of the masses. As a rule, indignation does not automatically turn into struggle due to fear, lack of organisation, lack of trade unions etc.Finally, the ‘spontaneist’ point of view forgets something which is very important. Imagine for a moment that the bureaucrats have disappeared and the people are ‘free’ to express their ‘disposition’ and fight. But who are they free from? The capitalists are still here. Their state and the apparatuses of propaganda (schools, the Press, the Media…) are still here. Won’t these apparatuses continue to exist and influence the consciousness of the people? Won’t they go on saying that our enemies are the ‘foreigners’ and not the capitalists? And when propaganda is not enough, won’t they use the police and the courts of justice? How can we talk about ‘spontaneous reaction’ under these circumstances? When the advocates of ‘spontaneity’ drive bureaucracy out of the heads, they will be surprised to find out that the oppressed will not automatically opt for the revolutionary road. Then they will add to their arguments the arguments of the bureaucrats: ‘the people are immature’. That’s why, they are the other side of the same coin.
The political collapse of reformism has given rise to various left-wing trends, which claim to be something completely new and at the same time they claim that they are not charged with any of the ‘sins’ of the past. They obviously mean the ‘sins’ of stalinism and socialdemocracy.This phenomenon became more intense with the collapse of the degenerated workers’ states in Eastern Europe. Of course, nobody is to blame because they once were members of a reformist party since they then believed that this party represented the interests of the working class and fought for socialism. However, their refusal to take a specific position with respect to the history of the workers’ movement and to differentiate themselves radically from the ‘sinful’ past of reformism is at least suspicious. No matter how hard one tries to avoid the issues by saying that ‘today the conflict between Trotsky and Stalin is irrelevant’, one should at least take a position on the essence of this conflict. Why did Soviet Union collapse? Was stalinism the offspring of Bolshevism or not? Why did Hitler won in Germany and Franco in Spain and how was the Greek revolution of 1944 defeated? Did the stalinist bureaucracy play any role in these or not? It has been proved that he who tries to hide himself from history, will do the same with theory. These ‘new’ left-wing trends avoid to take theory seriously. On the one hand, they borrow their theoretical framework from revolutionary theory but, on the other, from reformism. Under the pressure of bourgeois ‘public opinion’, and in the name of ‘realism’ they dive into the water and are driven away by the current. For them, ‘Bolshevism is not valid any more and, apart from that, it is responsible for stalinism and bureaucratization’. It seems that Lenin and his book ‘What is to be done’ is to blame. ‘This is the womb of bureaucratization which substitutes the spontaneous, independent movement’. We believe that Marxism is of course a living theory which is developing. It is a method which can offer answers to the new phenomena of the class struggle. To the ones that Marx and Lenin did not experience. History presents no gaps. For this reason it is important to take sides with regard to important questions of the history of class struggle. Organisations, political parties and even individual militants cannot just surmount the problems in the name of ‘new phenomena’, which have not been predicted by Marxism. Avoidance to take sides means that the you fail to prepare yourself for the struggles of the future.
Without the organisation of the conscious vanguard of the proletariat, the mass movement cannot go far. Every militant who remains unorganized does not have the opportunity to enter a serious confrontation with the bureaucrats of the trade unions. The only road is for him/her to wait for a mobilisation in which he/she can take part. Most importantly, however, outside the ranks of the marxist vanguard he/she cannot fight for the final solution which is the overthrow of the capitalist system. There is no other way for revolutionary ideology to enter the mass movement but through its vanguard. After all, if the working class remains enclosed in bourgeois ideology, every struggle will be limited to some ‘mending’ of a rotten society. The working class cannot free itself from the influence of bourgeois ideology in a spontaneous way no matter how many fights it may give. Only through the organised vanguard can the spontaneous struggles of the working class contest capitalism. The revolutionists do not separate the struggle for the immediate and everyday problems from the strategy of socialist revolution. On the contrary, they suggest a programme of transitional claims, which set off from current needs and circumstances and lead to the final aim, the conquest of state power by the working class.However, it is not enough to claim that we have the correct programme. Such a programme has very little value if it remains far away from the working class and the young people. Precisely for this reason, the marxist vanguard has got to take part in the struggles of the mass movement, even if it is a small minority. We cannot postpone fighting in the name of further ideological preparation. Those who act like that use the pretext of ‘ideological preparation’ as an alibi in order to avoid taking part in the struggle. They have forgotten that Marxist theory is inextricably linked with revolutionary mass action and without this dialectical relation theory loses its revolutionary character. The revolutionists take part in the movement, they take part in both ‘small’ and ‘big’ struggles, they take responsibilities and only in this way can they learn to lead struggles to victory.