Earlier this month, 80 young, enthusiastic Marxists and members of YFIS from all across Pakistan participated in a three-day youth summer school in Rawlakot, a city in Pakistani held Kashmir. Many of the comrades travelled long distances to get to the city high up in the mountains in order to participate in the school.
When the Stalinist Soviet Union collapsed, the capitalists of the world rejoiced. Socialism and communism were declared dead and buried, and they promised a new era of peace and prosperity—all under the watchful eye of US imperialism. They went so far as to proclaim the “end of history” and expected the workers of the world to meekly accept Margaret Thatcher’s view that “There Is No Alternative” to capitalism. A “New Economic Paradigm” was theorized, in which the boom-bust cycle of capitalism was abolished, and markets and economies would only go in one direction: up. The labour leaders and reformists moved far to the right, abandoning even the pretence of fighting for socialism. The ideas of Marxism and workers’ internationalism were vilified, caricatured, and dragged through the mud.
Against this endless stream of lies and distortions, the comrades of what would become the International Marxist Tendency stood firmly in defence of Marxist theory and the traditions of Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolshevik Party. Ted Grant, a comrade who had been active in the Trotskyist movement since the 1930s, and founder of the IMT, defended the fundamental ideas of Marxism throughout the difficult post-war years and explained that on the contrary, the collapse of the USSR was only the prelude to the greatest economic and social crisis in the history of capitalism.
With the crisis of 2008, Ted’s analysis was proven a thousand times correct. Who can now doubt or deny that capitalism means extreme polarization and inequality, with enormous wealth on one pole, and misery, austerity, cuts, discrimination, and repression on the other? We live in an epoch of war, revolution, and counterrevolution. The capitalist crisis has destabilised the entire planet, and any measures by the ruling class to re-establish any semblance of economic equilibrium can only further aggravate the political and social instability. But the working masses will not take these vicious attacks lying down, and a wave of revolutions is sweeping the planet. In one country after another, there have been uprisings, general strikes, mass mobilisations, and protests on a scale not seen in decades.
The objective conditions for a socialist world exist. The technology, productivity, knowledge, and raw materials are present for a radical reorganization of society. By pooling the world’s resources into a rational and democratic plan of production, distribution, and exchange, in harmony with the environment, we can feed, clothe, house, educate, and provide high quality healthcare to everyone on the planet.
Just 85 individuals possess more wealth than the poorest 3 billion people on the planet. This is an absurd and criminal contradiction. The working class is the majority of the world’s population and is desperately seeking a way out of the impasse of the system. However, the will to struggle and sacrifice is not sufficient for the successful completion of the socialist revolution. As Leon Trotsky explained, what is missing is the revolutionary leadership, which cannot be improvised once a revolution breaks out. Slowly but surely, the International Marxist Tendency has been patiently and persistently building that leadership, in over two dozen countries.
For Marxists, theory is an indispensable guide to action. At a time when those defending Marxist ideas were reduced to a tiny handful, it was necessary to go “back to basics”. In 1995, Wellred Books was launched with the work Reason in Revolt: Marxist Philosophy and Modern Science by Ted Grant and Alan Woods, a brilliant defence of the fundamentals of Marxism and an update on Frederick Engels’ masterpiece Dialectics of Nature. This was followed by Russia: From Revolution to Counterrevolution, and Bolshevism: The Road to Revolution, which set the record straight on the Russian Revolution and the rise and fall of Stalinism.
In 1998, the In Defence of Marxism website at www.marxist.com was launched. It was modestly designed and irregularly updated, but the ideas it defended gradually caught on and won new supporters worldwide. From just a few hundred hits a day, the site has developed into the world’s premiere source of Marxist analysis, with several million visits a year, almost-daily publication of articles, in dozens of languages, on everything from current events to labour struggles to theory to history to science, technology, art, culture, and more. When a major event takes place, thousands of people look to Marxist.com for insight and answers.
However, as Karl Marx explained, the point of Marxist philosophy is not merely to interpret or explain the world—but to change it. Indignation at the misery inflicted by decaying capitalism is not enough. Marxist.com is not merely a news and analysis website, it is the public face of the IMT, an organisation you can join and build. From Venezuela to Russia, the USA to South Africa, Pakistan to Italy, Brazil to Germany, France to Nigeria, and beyond, the quality of In Defence of Marxism’s analysis is possible only because we are on the ground actively building the forces of revolutionary Marxism in the most varied conditions and situations.
The IMT recently held its World Congress in Greece, and the enthusiasm was electric. Young people around the world are thirsty for Marxist ideas and are stepping up to extend the work of the IMT in one country after another. New members are joining daily and new areas of work and sections are developing every year. From work among students and in trade union struggles, to revolutionary mass movements and occupied factories running under workers’ control, the comrades of the IMT are on the front lines of the class struggle.
Marxism is international or it is nothing. And the international is first and foremost its ideas, methods, perspectives, banner, and traditions. The work of the IMT in the difficult years of the capitalist onslaught against these ideas has laid the indispensable foundations of a theoretically trained and far-sighted cadre organisation, steeped in the ideas of Marxism and steeled in the class struggle. But there is much more to be done—and we need your help.
It is said that the best form of defence is a good attack. Capitalism and all its institutions are discredited. It has nothing to offer the workers and youth. They know in the marrow of their bones that a better world is possible, and they are willing to fight for it—provided they are given clear leadership. Now is the time for the Marxists to press forward boldly and with confidence. We are at a turning point in history and the working class needs “all hands on deck”. So don’t sit on the side-lines of history: join the IMT and the struggle for a socialist future!
How you can get involved:
This book by Ted Grant is a unique contribution to the history of British Trotskyism. It begins with the debate on Trotskyism in the British Communist Party in 1924 and ends with the break-up of the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1949 and the beginning of more than thirty years of work within the Labour Party. Ted Grant was the founder and political leader of the “Militant Tendency”, which haunted the Labour leadership, and was eventually expelled along with the Militant editorial board in 1983. A postscript by Rob Sewell, who was the national organiser for the Militant throughout the 1980s, brings this unique history up to date.
The conflict that opened up in the Militant in 1991 eventually led to breaking point. The “Majority”, no longer able to tolerate any form of internal debate, decided to expel the Opposition, starting with Ted Grant, the founder of the Tendency. This act put the final seal on the degeneration of the old Militant. From a healthy, vibrant Marxist Tendency, it had been transformed into a bureaucratic, sectarian and undemocratic outfit. The opposition started to draw a balance sheet of the whole experience and this document is part of that.