The ICC’s 21st Congress adopted a report on the ICC’s role as a “Fraction”. We publish here the first part, giving the historical context and a reminder of the Fraction as a concept.
“Marxism is a revolutionary world outlook which must always strive for new discoveries, which completely despises rigidity in once-valid theses, and whose living force is best preserved in the intellectual clash of self-criticism and the rough and tumble of history.” (Rosa Luxemburg, An Anti-Critique)
A century ago, on 1st of May1916, at the Potsdam Platz in Berlin, the revolutionary internationalist Karl Liebknecht pointed to the working class answer to the war that was devastating Europe and massacring a whole generation of proletarians. In front of a crowd of some 10,000 workers who had been demonstrating in silence against the privations that were a necessary consequence of the war, Liebknecht described the anguish of proletarian families facing death at the front and starvation at home, concluding his speech (which was also reproduced and distributed at the demonstration in leaflet form) by raising the slogans “down with the war!” and “down with the government!”, which provoked his immediate arrest despite the efforts of the crowd to defend him.
When Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party in Britain he stepped down from being chair of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC), while continuing to support its activities. Opponents of Corbyn have used this continuing connection to attack Labour and its leader. The ensuing arguments have pursued familiar lines with Corbyn and friends accused of being ‘anti-West’ and ‘pro-jihadi’ and his detractors portrayed as ‘bombers’ and Blairites.
In the first article in this series, we gave a brief overview of the origins and function of migration in the capitalist system and how this has changed as that same system began its remorseless historical decline in the early 20th century. In this article, we will examine how these trends developed and became an important factor in the course towards the Second World War, culminating in the horror of the Holocaust.
Floods, caused by a series of severe storms that battered the Northern British Isles this December, have brought the misery of repeated flooding to thousands, not just in the North of England but also in Scotland, and Ireland. They are one of a number of phenomena to hit the world this winter, including unseasonably mild weather on the East coast of North America, Western Europe and the North Pole; El Nino and flooding in South America, with the latter inundating 130,000 homes in Paraguay alone. Equally striking is the fact that the media are not passing it off as an ‘Act of God’ or a purely natural disaster, but apportioning blame to government policy on flood defences and considering the contribution of climate change. They do not, however, recognise the role of capitalism itself.
The brutal slaying of 130 people in Paris on 13 November 2015 was used to justify the stepping up of British imperialism’s involvement in the living hell that is Syria. Even as the massacre was taking place the faction of the ruling class in Britain that for some years has wanted to escalate military action against Islamic State was calling for the overturning of the 2013 parliamentary vote against the extension of British involvement in this campaign from Iraq to Syria. This cold-blooded manipulation of the revulsion at the Paris slaughter was whipped up into an almost hysterical campaign which culminated in Labour’s Hilary Benn’s speech comparing the fight against the “fascists” of IS to the Second World War. The subsequent vote to bomb IS in Syria was presented as Britain once again taking up its rightful place in the world as a moral force.
Militarism and war, central manifestations of capitalism for around a century now, have become synonymous with the decay of the economic system of capitalism and the necessity to overthrow it. War in this period, and into the future, is a central question for the working class.
The longer capitalism continues, the more it undermines the possibility of replacing it with a human society – a society based on solidarity and cooperation. But at the same time, every aspect of its descent into barbarism adds further proof that such a society is both necessary and possible. If the capitalist economy is in crisis because it can’t sell all the commodities it produces, if it can’t generate enough profit from its production, then we need a society where people produce not for the market and not for profit, but for need. If national economies are driven to plunder nature in order to outdo their rivals, or if the same nation states can only advance their interests through war and destruction, we need to replace competing national states with a unified world community. In short, we need communism.
2015 has seen the high profile mainstream film Suffragette, as well the announcement of a new biography of Sylvia Pankhurst. The article we’re reprinting here originally appeared in World Revolution in 1980. At that time, very little was written about the life and politics of Sylvia Pankhurst and her own writings were difficult to obtain. As the article notes, those books that did deal with Sylvia tended to leave a large and unexplained gap from 1914 to the early post-war years; in other words, the period of her break with the Suffragette movement and her internationalist opposition to the war, which led her to enthusiastically support the Bolsheviks in the Russian revolution and to call for soviet power in Britain.