The Crisis of Capitalism and the tasks of the Marxists – Part Two

In Part Two we look at the impact of the economic crisis on world relations, highlighting the growing contradictions between the different dominant powers. We also analyse the growing revolt of the peoples of the former colonial world, with particular emphasis on the revolutionary developments in Iran and Latin America. [Part one]

World relations

Obama in Afghanistan by LatuffThe collapse of the USSR created a situation unique in world history. The USA was the only super-power, and ruled the world through a kind of Pax Americana. In 1999, when Clinton decided to kick Slobodan Milosevic out of Kosovo, he achieved his objective by American air power alone (although this was only possible as a result of the Russians betraying Milosevic). No country had ever possessed such ability to project power so fast and so massively, to any corner of the globe. The feeling of superiority went to the heads of the men in Washington, leading to a series of foreign military adventures, especially after 9/11.

In the 1930s, Hitler resorted to a massive programme of arms expenditure. In the USA, Roosevelt resorted to the New Deal. This did not solve the crisis in America. What solved the problem of unemployment in America was not the New Deal but the Second World War. The same is true for Germany. Hitler had to go to war in 1938; otherwise the German economy would have collapsed. German capitalism was obliged to try to solve its problems at the expense of Europe.

Hitler invaded Europe and seized all the wealth of France and its other imperialist rivals. However, the perspective of world war now is ruled out. Nowadays, the European capitalists are in competition with the United States. But who is going to fight against the United States? There cannot be a world war under these circumstances. But there will be small wars all the time. Iraq is a small war. Afghanistan is a small war. There is a small war in Somalia. But a direct confrontation between the major powers is ruled out.

The US remains in a class of its own in terms of military – power. Its defence budget exceeds those of its nearest competitors – China, Japan, Western Europe and Russia – combined. Its global military presence is unmatched. But the limits of the power of US imperialism are being reached. In the 19th century, when Britain occupied the same role, capitalism was in a phase of ascent. But now US imperialism has inherited the role of world policeman in the period of the senile decay of capitalism. Instead of benefiting from its role, it suffers a colossal drain.

Russia is only the shadow of the old Soviet Union, burdened by a declining population, mismanagement and corruption. But it is still a major military power, and it is reasserting itself and opposing the advance of US power. Bush thought that Russia would not be able to resist NATO expansion, which was threatening to surround it with hostile bases. He was mistaken.

In September of last year, US President Barack Obama announced that he was shelving plans for missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic in a major overhaul of missile defence in Europe. The earlier plan of President George W. Bush would have put a radar installation in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland. Obama then reconsidered the proposal to use smaller interceptors in the face of Moscow’s threat that it would station Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if Washington went ahead with its original anti-missile plan. The latest revised plan to install Patriot missiles has resurrected Russia’s suspicions about the motive for the strengthened NATO presence near its borders and has therefore decided to strengthen its Baltic fleet as a counterweight to US plans. This again shows the limits of the power of US imperialism.

Obama has a different approach to foreign policy than his predecessor, at least in form, although not in content. He defends the same imperialist interests, but with a bit more subtlety (that was really not so difficult). He has expanded the overall military budget to an incredible $680 billion – an amount only dreamed of by Reagan and Bush. So-called defence spending now consumes 35-42% of the estimated tax revenues of the USA. Add to that the billions handed out without any accountability whatsoever to the already super rich, and it’s no surprise there is “not enough” money for job creation, schools or health care. It is a new version of “guns before butter”. And for this he gets the Nobel Peace Prize!

Of course, the foreign policy of the USA is dictated by naked interest, not idealism. The economic cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is now $1 trillion or more and rising. The cost in lives is also rising and these wars are causing increasing opposition in the USA. Not even the world’s biggest superpower can continue to tolerate such a persistent haemorrhage of blood and gold for long.

The projected deficit for the coming year is nearly 11 percent of the entire economic output of the USA. That is unprecedented in peacetime. During the Civil War, World War I and World War II, the United States ran soaring deficits, but once peace was restored, equilibrium was usually restored. But now things are different. Even on Obama’s own (optimistic) projections, American deficits will not return to what are considered to be sustainable levels for at least 10 years. In fact, in 2019 and 2020 they are expected to start rising again sharply, to more than 5 percent of gross domestic product.

The deficit U.S. federal budget is staggering and can undermine the basis of American power. Obama’s chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, used to ask the question: “How long can the world’s biggest borrower remain the world’s biggest power?” Obama reminded the country that “the previous administration and previous Congresses created an expensive new drug program, passed massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and funded two wars without paying for any of it.” Now US capitalism is trapped between a rock and a hard place: in order to keep the system afloat, it is compelled to resort to intense deficit spending.

This means that the deficits must soar to new heights before they can come down. It represents a profound crisis that is reflected in a deep split in the US ruling class. The Republicans, who maintained a discreet silence about the debt during the Bush years, now refuse to talk about tax increases. The 'worker-friendly' Democrats are cutting or freezing discretionary spending across the board - with the important exception of defence spending..

The US Treasury has borrowed money to finance the government’s deficits at remarkably low rates. This indicates that the markets believe they will be paid back on time and in full. But how long will this confidence last? The USA owes China a lot of money and the Chinese are not sure they will get all of it back. When members of the Chinese leadership visited Washington last year, they asked awkward questions about Mr. Obama’s budget. The Europeans are also worried about the US deficit.

Obama is beginning to draw the necessary conclusions. In early December he announced his plan to send 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan, but he also made it clear that the United States could not afford to stay there for long. “Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power,” he told cadets at West Point. “It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry […] “That’s why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended,” he said then, “because the nation that I’m most interested in building is our own.”

For these reasons, Obama has been forced to recognize the limits of US power. He is trying to get out of Iraq. Instead, Obama is to sending 30,000 more troops to join the 68,000 Americans and 39,000 other NATO forces already in Afghanistan. This is about 10,000 less than requested by his commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. It is hoped that the difference will be made up by greater contributions from NATO allies. This is preparing the way for new political crises in the USA and Europe. But it will not make any real difference to the outcome of the war in Afghanistan.

Obama is attempting a tricky balancing act, simultaneously promising to defeat the Taliban while telling Americans that Afghanistan is not an open ended commitment. His declared aim is to bolster the Afghan government, and train and equip the local army and police. But the Karzai regime is utterly corrupt and the Afghan army would not survive one week without the presence of NATO forces. The numerous civilian deaths caused by US air strikes have caused a backlash against the foreign invaders. The Taliban have almost limitless supplies of volunteers and plenty of arms and money from the drug trade that supplies 92 percent of the world’s opium. It has powerful backers in the upper reaches of the Pakistan state and Intelligence.

Karzai has warned that the Afghan army will not be able to fight on its own for “fifteen, maybe twenty years”. Even that estimate is optimistic. Obama’s generals are pressing him to send more troops to Afghanistan, but no matter how many they send, they will have no more success there than the British imperialists in the past. The latter were compelled to purchase peace by bribing the tribal chiefs. The Americans in the end will have no alternative but to do the same. In the long run it will be a lot cheaper.

The US imperialists cannot win the war in Afghanistan, but they have destabilised the whole region. Washington is compelled to work with the Pakistani government in an unsuccessful attempt to crush the Taliban in Pakistan. Obama has promised that “America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent.” But by entering Pakistan like an elephant in a ceramics shop, the USA has completely destabilized that country.

By invading Iraq, all the US imperialists succeeded in doing was to destabilize the whole of the region. All the pro-western regimes there are hanging by a thread: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and also Morocco. These ruling elites were terrified by the demonstrations that took place during the Gaza war.

Obama would like to make a deal with the Palestinians, it would help his friends in the Middle East, and it would be very useful to him. But the Israeli ruling class has its own interests, which do not necessarily coincide with those of Washington, and they are not prepared to reach a meaningful deal. While talking about a deal, Israel’s prime minister leaked news of a new plan to build 900 homes in the occupied Jerusalem suburb of Gilo. All attempts to find ways to freeze or stop this settlement building have proved fruitless.

In reality, the negotiations are a farce. Netanyahu says: “yes we will accept a deal” but he has put conditions which the Palestinians could never accept. They must be disarmed, in effect, they must accept Israeli control. What sort of state is that? What sort of independence is that? As we have said many times, there can be no solution to the Palestinian problem on the basis of capitalism and within the narrow limits of Israel / Palestine.

The impotence of imperialism is also evident in Somalia. They have been dragged into a conflict there that will get them into even greater difficulties. Now Yemen is going the same way. Developments in Pakistan and Somalia potentially present an even greater threat to the imperialists than Iraq or Afghanistan. But they are unwilling to put in more troops because they are still haunted by the memory of Vietnam. Already commentators are drawing parallels between Afghanistan and Vietnam. The Vietnam War alerted them to the effect that the colonial revolution can have on the masses at home. The adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan could have a similar effect, not just in the USA but in other countries of the imperialist Coalition.

The colonial revolution

The former colonial countries have partially succeeded in getting rid of direct military-bureaucratic rule by foreign powers. But these countries are exploited by the imperialist countries, which have an even greater control through the mechanism of world trade. They bleed them even more than before. In most of these countries living standards were falling even before the crisis. Now a frightful perspective opens up of hunger, mass unemployment and suffering on an epic scale.

estadiosudafricahuelgaThe western liberals talk a lot of sentimental nonsense about the “poor countries”, while continuing to exploit them. These countries have paid back billions in debt repayments, but now owe more than before. The value of the exports of these countries (raw materials and agricultural produce) constantly falls behind that of the manufactured goods they import from the advanced countries. There is no solution to this on the basis of capitalism. This means big explosions in the next period in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

In Africa, the constant threat of a relapse into barbarism is an expression, on the one hand, of the impossibility of solving Africa’s problems on the basis of capitalism, on the other, of the interference of foreign imperialist powers, greedy to get their hands on the huge resources of the continent. Even during the boom there was an absolute nightmare situation Sub-Saharan Africa. What happened in Rwanda was a terrible warning. Similar events can be repeated elsewhere, as we saw in the horrific civil war in the Congo in which at least five or six million people were slaughtered.

Similar atrocities have occurred in Sierra Leone and Uganda. Not long ago Kenya, a relatively stable African country, was on the verge of Civil War. Now a bloody war is taking place in Somalia and the war in Sudan is on the point of breaking out again. There are religious pogroms involving Moslems and Christians in Nigeria. However, in Africa there are key countries where there is a powerful working class: Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, where there have been big strikes in the last period.

The huge strikes of the textile workers in 2007 are an indication of what is to come in Egypt in the future. What was most significant in those strikes is that it was the women, dressed in traditional Islamic clothing, women with the chador, who started the strikes and in many factories went over to the men to ask them why they were not striking. These women participated in the factory occupations, sleeping in the factories overnight with their babies. There have also been other important strikes such as those of the teachers. There is a ferment in Egyptian society, which reflects the growing confidence of the working class, in one of the largest and most developed countries in Africa.

In Nigeria in the past decade we have witnessed eight general strikes, and several other important strikes of doctors, university staff, government workers and so on. The NLC (Nigerian Labour Congress) is by far the most popular organisation among the masses. The leaders of the NLC play a significant political role, but they are conscious of the potential power of the Nigerian working class and that is why they have so far not put their full backing behind the newly formed Nigerian Labour Party. If the NLC were to put its official backing behind this party it would undoubtedly become a major force in Nigerian politics. Instead because of this lack of a working class political alternative, the masses can only choose between different gangster bourgeois politicians. The present regime is in fact extremely weak, and remains in power through inertia, and because there is no credible alternative. But the masses are seething, and it is only a question of time before they move again.

The key country in Sub-Saharan Africa, however, is South Africa. The ANC came to power on the basis of a rotten compromise with the white ruling class. The mass of black workers got hardly anything out of the deal. All that happened was that a black bourgeoisie and a black middle class have fused with the white exploiters and the interests of this bourgeoisie was represented by the section of the ANC led by Thabo Mbeki. He was a Stalinist and he became a complete bourgeois and as a result there was an open split in the ANC.

In South Africa a nightmare scenario opens up on the basis of capitalism. The SACP is pursuing reformist policies. The ANC has gone to the right and is doing the dirty work of the bourgeoisie. There are millions of unemployed and only a small number of blacks have become rich and joined the elite. The only thing in the ANC's favour is the mineral wealth, which is exploited for the benefit of the imperialists. This is very unpopular. The black masses were embittered against Mbeki. Zuma has now replaced him, but now South Africa is severely affected by the economic crisis. The masses still have big illusions in the ANC. But their patience has a limit.

The official unemployment is 23.5%; the real rate is much higher. The mass of black workers thought Zuma was going to be on the left, and that he was going to defend their interests. But these illusions did not last long. There have been big strikes in all the major cities of South Africa, not just the buses but the clinics, the traffic officers, the libraries, the parks and the public sector in general. There have been clashes with the police, barricades have been set up and the police have fired rubber bullets against the workers. We must keep an eye on developments in South Africa.

India and Pakistan

The collapse of Stalinism means that the leaders of the CPs have become even more rotten. In the past they looked to Moscow, now they look to the bourgeoisie. They have abandoned any pretence of standing for socialism. In India the CPI was always a tool of the Congress Party. This led to the split of the CPI (M). But now the CPI and the CPI (M) have the same reformist line. The outbreak of guerrilla war led by the Naxalites in several states of India is a desperate reaction against the class collaboration policies of the leaders of the Communist Parties.

The Indian proletariat is a mighty force. In the last period there have been strikes and general strikes. Within the Communist Parties there is a ferment of discontent. The working class rank and file believes in socialism and communism and is unhappy with the policies of the leaders. A Marxist tendency would rapidly win support among the workers and youth of the Communist Parties. This is on the agenda in the near future.

In Pakistan, the election of a PPP government under conditions of crisis represents a new stage. The position in the country is disastrous: price hikes, unemployment, poverty, electricity, water and gas shortages, redundancies, privatizations and other factors have created a situation for the working masses that is unprecedented in the history of Pakistan.

The PPP leaders, by basing themselves on bankrupt Pakistan capitalism, were compelled to start a series of attacks on the working class. To make matters worse, Zardari promised the Americans total submission that even Musharraf was incapable of providing. This regime has given all-out and blind support to the imperialist aggression that has killed thousands of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The role of our comrades in Pakistan is of extraordinary importance. The Pakistan Marxists have succeeded in building a modest but important force under the most difficult conditions. It is an extraordinary achievement that in a poor, backward Islamic state, the forces of Marxism have made such striking gains. Our comrades are working in very hard and dangerous conditions. They face attacks from all sides and are swimming strongly against the tide. But the tide is beginning to turn.

The workers and peasants of Pakistan turned massively to the PPP after the return of BB. They voted for the PPP in the hope of a change. But their hopes have been dashed. The workers and the rank and file of the PPP are also reacting against the right wing policies of Zardari and the PPP leadership policies. This situation entirely confirms our perspectives for the PPP. The workers had to pass through the school of Zardari in order to learn the real nature of the PPP leaders. And they are learning fast.

Cracks are opening up inside the PPP that will widen with time and experience. We have no intention of abandoning the PPP, but it would be fatal for us to be seen as defending the anti working class policies of Zardari, which are alienating the masses and preparing the way for the return of reaction. Our position is that of Lenin: “patiently explain. This will attract an ever increasing number of people towards our revolutionary ideology.

The Pakistan comrades have remained firm in the face of cruel pressures. This is proof that we have built a viable revolutionary force, capable of fighting and defeating opportunist and ultra left elements and conducting serious work among the masses. In the coming period they will have the possibility of becoming a decisive force, not only in Pakistan but in the whole Subcontinent. A revolution in Pakistan would immediately spread to India, overcoming the artificial frontiers that separate people who speak the same languages and have a common history and culture going back thousands of years.

Iran

election_2009_protests_azadisq

In Iran, the entry of the masses onto the scene signifies that the revolution has begun. This fact is clear to millions of people who have come onto the streets to fight the hated Basij repeatedly over many months. Despite the terrible repression there were one million or maybe two million people on the streets of Tehran in the aftermath of the June elections. It was an astounding revolutionary movement. This is the final answer to all the cowards and sceptics, the cynics, the ex-Marxists, the ex-communists, and all the others who doubted the possibility of revolutionary movements in the present epoch.

From the writings of Lenin and Trotsky we can see what a revolutionary situation is. In “The Failure of the 2nd International” (1916) Lenin explains:

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

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

“Such are the Marxist views on revolution, views that have been deve]oped many, many times, have been accepted as indisputable by all Marxists, and for us, Russians, were corroborated in a particularly striking fashion by the expe rience of 1905.”

Even with the emergence of a revolution (which is a product of the class struggle) there is nothing to guarantee that this will be a victorious revolution. In 1979 we saw the emergence of an extraordinary revolution in Iran. There was even the formation of Soviets. In Nicaragua we had a revolution with the victory of the Sandinista Front. But in none of these cases we saw the victory of the proletarian revolution in the sense of the expropriation of capital. In Iran the revolution was smashed with the establishment of the reactionary regime of the Ayatollahs, and in Nicaragua we saw the establishment of a Popular Front and then a bourgeois government which finally led to the victory of the right wing.

Trotsky in 1940, in the Emergency Manifesto explained the necessary conditions for the victory of the proletariat:

“The basic conditions for the victory of the proletarian revolution have been established by historical experience and clarified theoretically: (1) the bourgeois impasse and the resulting confusion of the ruling class; (2) the sharp dissatisfaction and the striving towards decisive changes in the ranks of the petty bourgeoisie, without whose support the big bourgeoisie cannot maintain itself; (3) the consciousness of the intolerable situation and readiness for revolutionary actions in the ranks of the proletariat; (4) a clear program and a firm leadership of the proletarian vanguard—these are the four conditions for the victory of the proletarian revolution.” (Manifesto of the Fourth International on Imperialist War and the Imperialist War).

In this concrete quotation Lenin uses the term “revolution” in the sense of revolution or successful insurrection. Usually, we as Marxists follow the giants (of Marxism) and prefer to use the term “revolution” as being synonymous with “revolutionary process” or, as Lenin expresses it in this quotation, as being synonymous with a “revolutionary situation”. We therefore speak of the Russian Revolution as the period that includes the events between February and October 1917; or the Spanish Revolution as the time between April 1931 and May 1937.

The regime in Iran is split from top to bottom. As for the second point, the middle class was not wavering, but actually took the side of the revolution. There was some participation of the workers, like the Teheran bus drivers. There was even talk of a general strike, but this failed to materialize, precisely because of the absence of the last factor: a revolutionary party and leadership.

There were two fatal weaknesses in this spontaneous movement. In the first place, it was precisely the weakness of spontaneity. There was no leadership, no plan, no strategy. It is impossible to keep masses of people on the streets without a clearly worked out plan.

Above all, there was no concerted participation by the organized workers. That was the second and decisive weakness. This again shows the limitations of the workers’ leaders in Iran. There have been many strikes in Iran in the last period, but in the decisive moment, where was the leadership? Unfortunately, the so-called workers’ vanguard failed to support the movement and did not call on the workers to join it.

In 1930, when there were big student demonstrations, Trotsky insisted that the Spanish workers and the Spanish Communists must support these demonstrations and put forth revolutionary democratic demands. Unfortunately, in Iran the workers’ leaders did not participate in the movement. An indefinite general strike would have finished this regime, especially if it was accompanied by the setting up of shoras (workers’ councils). But this demand was never concretised, and the opportunity was lost.

On the surface it seemed that the regime had regained control after the June demonstrations, but that was not the case. Nothing has been solved and the splits in the regime deepened. The public criticisms of Rafsanjani were one instance; the splits among ayatollahs were another. The demonstrations continued with renewed force in September (Quds Day) and in November and December, when they culminated with the mass upheavals during Ashura.

The masses showed great courage, clashing with the police, army and the hated Basij on the streets. They went onto the offensive, attacking the buildings of the Basij. There were cases when the soldiers disobeyed the orders of their officers to fire on the demonstrators.

Of course, it would be a mistake to confuse the first month of pregnancy with the ninth, but it is an even bigger mistake to deny that the act of conception has taken place. Despite everything, some “Marxists” continue to deny that there is a revolution in Iran. Some, like James Petras, make the small mistake of confusing revolution with counterrevolution. With such people it is impossible to argue. Others are not so crude, but still deny that there is any revolution in Iran because the working class and the Marxists are not leading the movement. They quibble and split hairs about words and phrases in a doctrinaire fashion. But for the masses there is no doubt whatsoever that what is taking place in Iran is a revolution.

In order to lead the masses, it is necessary to show that we understand the real nature of the movement, which in its early stages is bound to be heterogeneous, confused and politically naive. In Iran, the revolution is still in the early phase of democratic illusions. How could it be otherwise after three decades of the most monstrous dictatorship? Unless the Iranian Marxists are able to connect with the real movement, making skilful use of revolutionary democratic slogans, they will be condemned to the role an irrelevant sect that comments on the movement from the outside.

When we say that the revolution has begun, that does not mean that the workers will take power next Monday at nine o’clock in the morning. On the contrary, because of the absence of the subjective factor, it can be protracted in time, with many ups and downs, advances and retreats. As in Spain in the 1930s, when the revolution lasted for almost seven years, periods of intense activity will be followed by periods of tiredness, disappointment, even reaction. But these periods will be only the prelude to new and ever more explosive movements of the masses.

As Iran approached revolution in the late 1970s, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi vacillated between conciliation and brutal repression, but nothing could save his regime. Now Khamenei the Supreme Leader is in a similar position.

Mir Hosein Mousavi constantly strives for a deal, but all his offers of conciliation go unheard. The Supreme Leader has let it be known that his critics’ only hope of leniency is to repent and throw themselves on his mercy. Some of them might be prepared to do this, but they feel the hot breath of the Revolution on their necks.

More intelligent leaders are infuriated by the supreme leader’s inflexibility. They advocate concessions in the name of national unity. Several times since June, conservative politicians and clerics have proposed measures such as freeing political prisoners, setting up an impartial election commission and pressing the state broadcasting monopoly to reduce its bias in favour of the government. But it is all to no avail. Khamenei has dismissed them all.

Now five prominent intellectual exiles (Abdolkarim Soroush, Mohsen Kadivar, Ataollah Mohajerani, Akbar Ganji and Abdolali Bazargan) have issued a manifesto calling for the lifting of restrictions on political, academic and media activity; and the return to barracks of the Revolutionary Guard. It also proposes that the Supreme Leader should be elected for a fixed term and lose his ability to block parliamentary legislation through the Guardian Council, and to appoint the country’s chief justice. In short, they politely ask the devil to cut off his claws!

This will have no effect on a regime that still has at its disposal a powerful apparatus of repression. The recent funeral of Ayatollah Hosein Ali Montazeri showed that the revolutionary mass movement is still very much alive and not at all inclined to compromise. The slogans were more radical than before, denoting an increase in consciousness. The Economist (Jan 7th 2010) reported:

“On December 21st, the day of the funeral, thousands of middle-class Tehranis converged on the holy city of Qom, a bastion of clerical conservatism. In the streets outside Qom’s great shrine they joined forces with thousands of traditional, provincial Iranians, devout followers of Montazeri’s teachings and rulings, and shouted abuse at some of the Islamic Republic’s leading figures. ‘It was a big day for the city,’ commented one eyewitness. ‘People couldn’t believe they were hearing such slogans being shouted – in Qom, of all places’.”

The demonstrators suffered heavy losses – at least eight dead and many more injured and arrested – but all this repression has not broken the spirit of the masses. On the contrary, there were many reports of demonstrators responding violently to the assaults of the Basij, and shouting slogans against Khamenei. Gone is the talk of non-violence. The movement is becoming more and more radicalised. As the masses lose their fear, there are also signs of cracks in the state’s repressive apparatus. There have been reports of soldiers refusing the order to fire on the crowds.

Mousavi is trying to reach a deal with the regime to halt the movement. He has gone back on his earlier insistence that Mr Ahmadinejad’s government was illegal, and by saying that “not all the opposition’s demands need to be met at once”. But that does not impress the Supreme Leader at all. On December 30th the government organised a counter-rally in central Tehran, in which the crowd demanded that Mr Mousavi and his supporters should be executed for “waging war on God”. Reactionary clerics and conservative newspaper demanded, that Mousavi and Karroubi be executed. The only reason Khamenei has not agreed to their arrest is his fear of turning them into martyrs and provoking new and more violent disturbances.

In reality, the bourgeois leaders of the opposition are the regime’s best hope of survival. In the first week of January Ezzatollah Sahabi, a critic of the regime, issued an open letter in which he warned the movement not to slide towards “radicalism and violence”. “A revolution in today’s Iran”, he wrote, “is neither possible nor desirable.” If moderate and conservatives clerics were forced to choose between a revolution and the status quo, he predicted, they would choose stability. There is no doubt that he was telling the truth. But the fact that “moderates” and “conservatives” all fear the revolutionary movement like the plague is not new and it will not halt the movement.

On February 11th, the official celebrations of the anniversary of the 1979 revolution will see a new outbreak of the movement, when hundreds of thousands will take to the streets yet again. Khamenei will not budge. As The Economist correctly says:

“To make concessions under pressure, the ayatollah apparently believes, is a sign less of wisdom than of weakness. So he has contented himself with vague calls for national unity, even as the Basij bash opposition heads and the nation’s prison officers gain notoriety as rapists and torturers.”

But the same article adds:

“Having survived more than two decades at the top of Iran’s power structure, Mr Khamenei is now looking acutely uncomfortable. By refusing to countenance a fresh election in the aftermath of the June poll, he turned much of the ire that was being directed against his president against himself. As recently as a few months ago, few Tehranis would have dared whisper “Death to Khamenei”. Now that slogan has become a commonplace.” (The Economist Jan 7th 2010)

The overthrow of the regime may be postponed for six months, twelve months or even a longer period. But it is inevitable. And it will open up a very stormy period in Iran. The overthrow of the regime of the mullahs would have a profound effect on all the countries in the region and beyond. Under these circumstances it is necessary to fight for the most advanced democratic demands. It is here that we must raise with all strength the struggle for a Revolutionary, Democratic Constituent Assembly, able to brush to one side the existing institutions and to rebuild the country according to the will of the working people. The struggle for the Constituent Assembly must be combined with the struggle for a nationwide general strike and the building of soviets (shoras). On this basis this regime would be finished, and the ground would be prepared for the transfer of power to the working class.

We cannot be precise about the nature of the regime that will have. It is probable that in the first stages it will be of a bourgeois-democratic type – as in Russia after the February Revolution in 1917 or in Spain after the fall of the Monarchy in 1931. But we can be sure what it will not be: there will not be another fundamentalist Islamic regime in Iran. The Iranian revolution will cut across all the madness of fundamentalism that exists in the Middle East. It will transform the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan and have a major impact in India, Pakistan and throughout Asia. Regimes like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia would fall, one after the other.

The ideas of the IMT have already had an echo inside Iran. Our articles were immediately translated into Farsi, were rapidly distributed in Iran, and, according to our reports, they had an excellent response. We must discuss the problems and perspectives of the Iranian revolution as a matter of urgency in order to work out the correct slogans, programme and tactics, in order to prepare to intervene in the stormy events that impend.

The Latin American revolution

We have discussed Latin America extensively in previous documents. It remains an absolutely key sector of the world revolution. Despite what bourgeois and reformist politicians said, far from being immune to the world recession, Latin America has been hit by it in a particularly severe way. On the one hand, the collapse of the prices of raw materials and oil has affected the countries of the region, many of which depend heavily on those. Mining and oil exports in the entire region fell by 50.7% in the first semester of 2009. The recession in the US and Europe also affected remittances by migrant Latin American workers which in some countries (Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, etc), make up a significant part of their GDP. In the first ten months of 2009, the value of remittances to Mexico fell by 16.5% and in the case of Colombia by 17.5%, with El Salvador and Guatemala registering a 10% fall. Finally, the credit crunch worldwide, has led to a collapse in Foreign Direct Investment into the region, which regional economic body CEPAL calculates could be as high as 45% in relation to 2008. Mexico and Central America have also paid a heavy price for the integration of their economies into the US economy, suffering more than other countries which have more trade links with the EU and China. The economy of the continent as a whole fell by 2.1% in 2009, with countries like Mexico (-7%), Venezuela (-2.9%) amongst the worst affected. But even after these countries recover from the recession in 2010, the number of poor will continue to grow by a total of 39 million. This is the explosive background to the developing revolution in Latin America.

Venezuela

Over the past decade on more than one occasion the workers could have taken power in Venezuela. The problem is a problem of leadership. Chavez is a very courageous and honest man, but he is proceeding empirically, improvising, making up a programme as he goes along. He is trying to balance between the working class and the bourgeoisie. And that cannot be maintained.

Lenin explained that politics is concentrated economics. Chavez was able to make concessions, reforms, the social missions, etc., for quite along time because of the economic situation. The high price of oil allowed him to do this. But that is finished. The price of oil has fallen dramatically, although it has now recovered a little. Inflation is at about 30%. Therefore there has been a fall in real wages. Many of the welfare schemes are being scaled back and unemployment is increasing.

Bi-Centennial_celbrations_2There is no doubt that the Venezuelan workers still remain loyal to Chavez, but there is also no doubt whatsoever that many workers, even dedicated Chavistas, are getting impatient. They are asking: what sort of a Revolution is this? What sort of Socialism is this? Are we going to solve these problems or not? The threat of counterrevolution has not disappeared. The counterrevolutionary opposition is preparing a new offensive to win a majority in the National Assembly in 2010. If they succeed, or if they win a sufficiently large number of seats, the way will be open for a new counterrevolutionary offensive.

The most striking fact about the Venezuelan revolution is the inability of the imperialists to intervene directly. In the past, they would have sent in the Marines to overthrow Chavez. But they have been unable to intervene directly.

In the same way, British imperialism was compelled to relinquish direct military-bureaucratic control of its colonies, because of the high cost, both financial and political, of attempting to do so. Similarly, the cost of the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has stretched US resources. A direct military action against Venezuela therefore seems to be ruled out until it has withdrawn from these countries. However, this does not exclude a proxy intervention by Colombia sponsored by the USA, which has waged a constant campaign to undermine, isolate and destroy the Bolivarian Revolution. The defeat of the coup in 2002 was brought about by the intervention of the masses.

Washington is manoeuvring with Uribe to threaten Venezuela. The agreement under which Colombia granted the United States access to up to seven military bases was an act of aggression directed against the Venezuelan Revolution. The external threat from Colombia is very real. But far more serious is the threat from within. The bourgeoisie still holds in its hands key points in the economy. Ten banks still control 70% of the country’s financial activity. Most of the land remains in the hands of the big landowners, while 70% of the food is imported (along with inflation). Above all, the state remains in the hands of the counterrevolutionary bureaucracy. After more than a decade, there are signs of tiredness and disappointment in the masses. This is the most dangerous element in the equation.

At the First Extraordinary Congress of the PSUV Chavez admitted these things and stated that “socialism had not yet been achieved.” He called for the total elimination of capitalism, for the arming of the people and a workers’ militia. All this is necessary, but if this remains on the level of speeches, it will lead nowhere. The fact is that the bureaucracy is systematically undermining the Revolution from within. The movement towards workers’ control is being systematically sabotaged, and workers who attempt to fight the bureaucracy are coming under attack, as we saw in the case of Mitsubishi. This situation is producing a ferment of discontent and disillusionment that is the biggest danger of all. If this mood is expressed in apathy and abstention in the legislative elections, the scene will be set for a counteroffensive of the right.

In Venezuela the working class broke with the bourgeois parties and threw itself, on the basis of Chavez’s appeal, into the attempt to build its own party, a class party, the PSUV. This party, whose future is not yet decided, is being born in the middle of a revolution, and the masses take it as an attempt to build what we call an independent workers’ party.

The PSUV is born, in a confused way, with the impulse of the class, and in its midst there is a struggle between those who want to build a class party, without bosses, and those who would like to see the PSUV just as a party of order, representing their own wishes as a clique and the capitalist order. The main task of the Marxists in the Venezuelan revolution is to help in achieving a most positive outcome of this struggle, becoming a Marxist fraction of this party and building it energetically, helping its most serious elements to win a majority of the party, expel the bureaucrats and deepen the proletarian revolution which is taking place.

We must pay much more attention to our work in this Party, which is at the centre of the problem of the Revolution. We must admit frankly that the leadership of the Venezuelan section has not paid sufficient attention to this work, and as a result we have missed many opportunities. This is a very serious error, which must be rectified immediately. Trade union work is very important, but it must be given a political expression. Our work with the occupied factories remains a key question, but it will be completely sterile if it is not linked to the fight to transform the PSUV.

The Venezuela Marxists must combine theoretical firmness with the necessary tactical flexibility, always stressing the role of the Bolivarian movement and the PSUV. If we work correctly in the next couple of years, the foundation will be laid for a mass left wing opposition within the PSUV, in which we will participate, fertilizing it with the ideas of Marxism. This is the only way in which we can build a mass Marxist current in Venezuela, as the first step towards a future mass revolutionary Marxist Party.

Mexico, Cuba and Central America

There is a very serious economic crisis in Mexico. Whole areas of Mexico depend on the immigrants working in the United States, whose remittances have collapsed due to the crisis. The bourgeoisie cannot tolerate the continued existence of the reforms and concessions it made in the past. But there is no alternative for the masses except to take the road of struggle.

The attack on the electricians’ union is an indication of how the Mexican ruling class is thinking. They are compelled to attack living standards, and in order to accomplish this aim, they have to smash the powerful Mexican trade unions. This was shown by the closure of Luz y Fuerza and the attempt to crush the powerful Mexican Electricians Union, which led to a mass movement and the National Stoppage (Paro Nacional) in October 2009.

The attacks of the PAN government will provoke a reaction that can lead to a social explosion on the lines of 2006, or on an even higher level. We must be prepared! The PRD will recover on the basis of the unpopularity of the Calderon government. The Party is in the hands of the right wing, and will be shaken by internal crises and splits. It is possible that Lopez Obrador may decide to spit away and join forces with the PT (Workers’ Party). We must be flexible in our tactics and follow events closely in order to reach the most advanced workers with our ideas.

The fate of the Cuban Revolution is directly linked to the perspectives for socialist revolution in Latin America. After the fall of the USSR, Cuba was isolated and under pressure, which has now been intensified. As long as Castro was in charge, they could keep the pro-capitalist elements under control and maintain the situation. But now Cuba is also in serious difficulties. The global crisis of capitalism has hit the Cuban economy, which after the collapse of the Soviet Union is heavily dependant on the world market.

There is a clear danger of taking economic measures which, in the name of "efficiency" would open the road to capitalist restoration. At this juncture, the revolution must be strengthened by unleashing the creative power of the Cuban working people through their full involvement in the running of society and the economy.

This shows the limitations of “socialism in one country” The isolation of the revolution is the source of bureaucratism as well as the pro-capitalist tendencies. The Revolution is faced with a stark choice: either capitalism is overthrown in Latin America, or the tendency towards capitalist restoration in Cuba will acquire an accelerated character.

If the Venezuelan Revolution were to be successfully completed, the situation would be transformed. The objective conditions for revolution are rapidly maturing everywhere in Latin America. What is true of Mexico is even truer of Central America, as we have seen in Honduras. What is required is a revolutionary leadership that knows what it wants and how to achieve it.

The Stalinist two-stage theory has failed everywhere. In order to succeed, the revolution cannot halt at the limits of private property. Beginning with the national-democratic tasks (the struggle against imperialism and the oligarchy, the agrarian revolution), the revolution must carry out the expropriation of the banks and the main industries, which are only the local agencies of imperialism and the centre of the counter-revolution. Last but not least, the revolution cannot halt at the frontiers, which are in any case of a completely artificial character, above all in Central America.

In El Salvador, where the socialist revolution could have been carried out on healthy lines in the past, but was derailed by the false policies of the leadership, the revolutionary movement is entering a new stage. The vote for the FLMN was an expression of this discontent. The election of the first FMLN government in the history of El Salvador showed a deep desire on the part of the masses for a radical change. But the reformist leaders have no solution for the crisis, which can only be solved by revolutionary means, through the expropriation of the land, the banks and the key points of the economy.

In Nicaragua, Guatemala or El Salvador, the crisis of capitalism is a catastrophe. When the immigrant workers in the USA are laid off, they cannot send money back to their families. This is a social catastrophe for the whole region. That explains the convulsions in Honduras where the question of power is posed. There will be similar convulsions in all the countries of Central America. These countries are too small and weak to compete with the more powerful capitalist economies, particularly the North American giant that holds them in a suffocating embrace.

The crisis in the USA has led to a collapse of demand for the products of these countries, and the migrant workers from Central America who provided a reserve of cheap labour for the US economy during the boom are the first to be sacked in the recession. The collapse of the remittances of these migrant workers spells disaster for Central America.

The marvellous movement of the masses in Honduras, which opened a revolutionary situation in the country and which lasted for nearly five months, could not be stopped by repression, curfews, selective assassinations. The situation in Honduras is the direct product of a world situation which combines revolution and counter-revolution in a backward economy dominated by imperialism. Unable to develop the Honduran economy because of their submission to imperialism, the local capitalists are equally unable to allow the slightest flourishing of democracy in the country. The demand for a Constituent Assembly, in the eyes of the masses, appears as a way of expressing themselves and as a way of solving their most urgent demands.

The development of the situation in Honduras is a demonstration of the correctness of the theory of permanent revolution and of the transitional programme. It shows the enormous revolutionary potential which exists in all countries in Latin America. In the days that preceded and followed Zelaya's secret arrival back into the country in September, the masses could have taken power and overthrown the dictatorship by revolutionary means. However, the negotiations opened by Zelaya accepting the conditions imposed by the Micheletti dictatorship led to the weakening of the mobilizations and the resistance, and together with the vacillations of the leadership of the Resistance Front and of Zelaya himself at the crucial moment, meant that the opportunity was lost. Once again, the question of leadership was the key. However, the situation has not been solved, even though it is now contained, as the peoples’ resistance feeds on the international situation that Latin America is living through.

All sections of the ruling class – including Obama – were united in their fear of a revolutionary overthrow of the coup. In the end, through trickery, diplomacy and deceit, they all got what they wanted: the oligarchy and their friends in Washington managed to establish “legitimacy” for the coup through fraudulent elections. Typically, Obama retreated under pressure from the right wing, dropping his objections to the coup and arguing that the election represented the “restoration of democracy”. This little detail clearly reveals the real character of Obama and his “progressive” policies, both at home and abroad.

What happened in Honduras can happen in any other country in Central America. The events in Honduras show that the Central American Revolution is a single, inseparable process. Even on a healthy basis, however, the countries of Central America could not solve their problems in isolation. If it is to succeed, the Central American Revolution must be linked at the very least to the perspective of the Latin American Revolution. A successful socialist revolution in any of these countries would give a powerful stimulus to the socialist revolution, not only in Central and South America and the Caribbean, but in the USA and the other advanced capitalist countries. In the final analysis, this is the only guarantee of its success.

Bolivia, Ecuador and Colombia

The re-election of Evo Morales with an increased vote shows the enormous reservoir of support for the revolutionary movement amongst the masses. The new government will be put under enormous pressure to deliver on all the crucial issues: jobs, land, health care, and education, none of which can be seriously be solved within the limits of capitalism.

This has opened up a period of sharp class struggle in Bolivia, which is not yet resolved, as has been shown by the recent conflicts between the government and the workers’ and indigenous’ movement against whom the MAS has mobilised the peasant and urban petty bourgeois movements resulting in threats being made against the headquarters of the teachers’ trade union in La Paz. Given the particular characteristics of the MAS and the development of the Bolivian revolution, the first result of these latest mobilisations has not been to shift the government to the left but rather to accentuate its own bonapartist tendencies which the sects in their usual impressionistic manner have confused with fascism. The labour movement for its part continues to be trapped between this sectarianism and opportunism, which manifests itself in the attempt of each individual union to achieve, in a corporatist way, its own share of power in the government ministries. The perspectives for Bolivia depend on the speed with which the advanced workers draw the necessary conclusions, which in turn is related to the capacity of the Bolivian Marxists to build strong links with the vanguard and convince them of the need for a revolutionary alternative.

If the Venezuelan workers were to take power, this would have an enormous impact on the revolution and above all on the Bolivian working class. Faced with a revolutionary movement of the masses in several countries, the imperialists would not be able to intervene. On the contrary, if they attempted to intervene, they would be faced with mass opposition movements at home, which would make the protests over the Vietnam War seem tame by comparison. However, if the decisive step is not taken, and the masses begin to tire of years of struggle with no clear outcome, the balance of forces can change.

The Venezuelan Revolution has had a powerful impact on neighbouring countries like Bolivia and Ecuador. Ecuador has closed the US imperialists’ base and now the imperialists are building up their forces in Colombia, which has put seven bases at their disposal. This represents a mortal threat to the Venezuelan Revolution. At some point in the future, Washington may try to engineer a war between Colombia and Venezuela. However, that would be a risky strategy.

The Venezuelans would fight like tigers to defend the Revolution, and the Colombian regime would find itself fighting on two fronts with a renewal of hostilities on the part of the guerrillas, not to mention the opposition of the Colombian workers. It is not at all clear that the agents of imperialism could win such a war, and a military defeat could signify the end of capitalism, not only in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, but in Colombia also.

Brazil

Brazil is the largest country in South America, with a population of around 190 million. It has undergone significant economic growth since the Second World War, and especially in the past 40 years. With this has come also a huge growth in the Brazilian proletariat, which led to the creation of powerful labour movement organisations; in particular the 7 million strong CUT trade union confederation and the PT, the Workers' Party with its one million plus members.

Brazil's $1.75 trillion economy is bigger than those of India and Russia, and its per-capita income is nearly twice that of China. New discoveries of oil reserves are also expected to make the country one of the world's biggest crude producers. Foreign investment ($45 billion in 2008) is three times what it was a decade ago.

Last year Brazil was affected by the worldwide recession suffering a brief downturn in the second quarter (a recession of -0.2% in 2009), but is now expected to grow by more than 5 percent this year, according to a survey of leading financial institutions published in February.

Lula achieved a massive victory in the 2002 presidential elections , and was re-elected again in 2006 extending his term as President until 1 January 2011. At the end of this year the country returns to the polls. Lula has been the most popular president in Brazil's recent history, but cannot stand again as Brazilian law bars him from running for a third consecutive term.

Lula has governed during a long period of economic upswing (the greatest burst of economic growth in Brazil in three decades). Since 2003 8.5 million jobs have been created and programmes such as food assistance for poor families (the Bolsa Familia) have been implemented. This has benefited a large number of families and also explains why his approval rating has reached an amazing 82 percent.

At the same time as these and other compensatory policies advocated by the World Bank have been instituted Lula has not cancelled the previous governments' privatisations and other attacks on previous reforms and continues to privatise motorways, hydroelectric plants, the Amazonian forest, the reform of the social security, and other public services. There is still a wide gap between rich and poor. In fact Brazil is a country of huge contradictions. It has large modern cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, which are comparable to cities in the more advanced capitalist countries, but where a third of the population lives in favelas, or slums. This contradiction is even bigger when we look at disparities between the different regions, the North-East being more akin to “third world” poverty conditions. Much of the land is controlled by latifundistas and national and multinational capitalist companies. This has led to the emergence of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) which organises five million landless peasants seeking land redistribution.

As could be expected, the election of Lula in 2002, and the subsequent economic upswing and reforms, have had the temporary effect of achieving an unstable equilibrium, a kind of “social peace”. Although there have been important strikes, the general level of conflict has been reduced. The workers see the present government as their government. This is something the sectarians do not understand. It is true that the party is bureaucratized, but it is also true that the PT has enormous reserves of social support. The PT was created by the Brazilian working class in the struggles of the metalworkers of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It has deep roots within the Brazilian working class.

The Brazilian Marxists base themselves on this fundamental fact. The mass of workers still see the PT as their party. The huge popularity ratings of Lula confirm this. The fact that the Brazilian Marxists won more than 3500 votes in the recent internal elections and won a position on the national council of the PT confirms the fact that within the party there is an advanced layer seeking a revolutionary alternative. On the basis of events, of the experience of the PT government and a movement of the working class, at some stage the left within the party will be strengthened and the Marxists are positioned to make big gains from this process. Already they have important positions in the railway unions, the chemical and glass workers amongst others. They also have PT councillors in Sao Paulo and Santa Caterina which give them a wider echo within the labour movement. They are also recognised widely within the Brazilian labour movement as the leaders of the Occupied Factories Movement, which gives them authority within a wide layer of the working class. All this positions them well as a respected tendency by many workers and opens up big possibilities for them in the future.

In this situation the Marxists of Esquerda Marxista which are a current in the PT are fighting on the basis of the United Front line, with the demand that Lula and the PT should break with the ruling class (break the coalition government with the bourgeois parties), for a Workers’ Government which, basing itself on the CUT and the MST, on the peoples’ organizations, should carry out an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist program, implementing the most urgent aspirations of the working class in the cities and the countryside.

Argentina

Despite significant economic growth of 2003-2008, with annual rates of 8%, the living conditions of the masses did not substantially improve, and although the working class instinctively rejects the right wing politicians, the government of Cristina Fernández arouses no enthusiasm.

The most significant aspect of the situation is the frontal clash between the government of Cristina Kirchner and the bourgeoisie. “Kirchnerism” is a political variant of Peronism (bourgeois populism) – a fact that differentiates it from apparently similar governments and political movements in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. However, the bourgeoisie cannot tolerate the government's attempt to maintain a certain degree of independence. “Kirchnerism” attempts to limit the more predatory tendencies of big national and imperialist capital, and grant some concessions to the working masses, in order to uphold the overall interests of Argentine capitalism. In the end, it satisfies neither one side nor the other.

Nevertheless, for the present time in Argentina the absence of a political party of the working class gives “Kirchnerism” some leeway to use a leftist demagogy and therefore appear as the only force that can stand up to the right. This allows it to gain the support of a considerable part of the working class which sees “Kirchnerism” as the lesser evil when faced with the danger to the right of Kirchnerism represented by the opposition and its reactionary policies.

The only alternative is to form a Workers’ Party, to carry the political struggle to the broader layers of the working class, within which a Marxist tendency can group together the most conscious and advanced sectors. There are objective elements in the situation which could shape up this perspective, like Proyecto Sur and the Constituyente Social. Proyecto Sur is a political movement promoted by sections of the peronist left, CTA trade union leaders and left activists, and received 25% of the votes in the local elections in the capital, Buenos Aires, and presents itself as an alternative to the left of Kirchnerism. The Constituyente Social is a broad political platform which is proposed by the CTA trade union in order to create its own political movement. But the possibility of a front between Constituyente Social and Proyecto Sur which would give rise to a political movement or party of the working masses, has become in practice ruled out because of the turn to the right of the leaders of Proyecto Sur who are seeking a basis of support in the petty bourgeoisie and not in the working class and who are reaching agreements at the top with well placed political careerists and groups, the majority of whom are to the right of Kirchnerism. This is alienating from the movement thousands of militants, sympathizers and supporters.

The crux of the political problem is the petty bourgeois class composition of the leadership of Proyecto Sur and the indecisiveness of the leaders of the section of CTA which is part of this political movement and which leads the Constituyente Social.

Nevertheless, the CTA remains an important front for agitational work around the issue of the building of a mass workers’ party. In addition to Constituyente Social, which brings together left reformist trade union leaders and thousands of advanced workers throughout the country, there is also around CTA an important layer of anti-bureacratic trade union activists who would view this perspective with enthusiasm and interest. The pressure of the class struggle and of the working class will at certain point break through the peronist dike, as the class struggle is the motor force of history and it is stronger than the counter-revolutionary apparatuses.

It is in this field, today, that it is the duty of Marxists to participate in any mass front which tries to channel the political activities of the working masses, and there to explain patiently the socialist programme, to provide a class perspective, whatever the vacillations, inconsistencies, and confusion of the accidental leaderships of these movements.