This year marks the 170th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto. Yet the content of this booklet has never been more relevant than today. The capitalist system has become a monstrous obstacle weighing down on the shoulders of humanity.
In the Communist Manifesto Marx explained:
“The modern labourer [under capitalism - ed], instead of rising with the process of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly than population and wealth. And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an overriding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society. “
It is a great paradox that at a time when the development of technology such as artificial intelligence and modern robotics could revolutionise production and thus raise living standards, reduce working hours and end unemployment once and for all, the exact opposite is happening. If, as we are told, capitalism is the best system humanity can hope for, then why is only 62 percent of the global labour force economically active while billions rot in desperation? Why do more than 3bn people live on less than $2.50 a day? Why are 22,000 children dying each day due to poverty? Why are 850m people worldwide going hungry?
And while all this is happening, the richest 1 percent of super-rich own more wealth than the rest of the 99 percent of the world’s population, and 8 multi-billionaires hold more wealth than the poorest half of humanity. This is capitalism in all its glory. While this parasitic class is constantly getting richer, the billions who produce the wealth struggle to survive in ever-worsening conditions.
All of this reveals a profoundly irrational system that has reached a dead end. The only way to solve these problems are by a revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist class and by the expropriation of the means of production they control, to be put under the control of the working class as a whole. In this way the enormous productive capacity that capitalism has developed could be used to solve all of the pressing problems faced by humanity in a relatively short period of time.
But as Marx also explained:
“The development of Modern Industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”
Throughout the world there is a dramatic rise in anti-establishment sentiments. In a survey last year covering 580,000 respondents in 35 countries, more than half of all participants between 18-34 years said that they “Would you actively participate in large-scale uprising against the generation in power if it happened in the next days or months”. There is an explosive mood of anger building up everywhere, looking for an outlet.
In some countries it has already found a partial expression, like in Greece through the short-lived movement around Syriza, or the similar movement around PODEMOS in Spain. In the Arab world and throughout Africa, the backlash against decades of capitalist attacks expressed itself via a series of revolutions from 2011 onwards. Again and again, the masses have shown that they are willing to struggle to change society, but none of the movements we have seen have yet solved any of the fundamental problems. The bankers and capitalists maintained a firm control of the state, the protests died down and everything remained as before.
The central problem can be simply stated: it is a problem of leadership. It is an irony of history that the leaders of the mass workers’ parties are clinging to decrepit capitalism and the market even when they are collapsing before our eyes. The workers and youth have done everything in their power to change society. But they can find no organized expression for their efforts. At every step they find their path blocked by the old bureaucratic organisations and leaderships that have long ago abandoned any pretence to stand for socialism.
What is needed is something more than solidarity campaigns, demonstrations and occupations. What is needed is the building of a revolutionary International that is capable of giving an organised expression and political guidance to the struggle against imperialism and capitalism, for socialism. That is the task we have set before us.
The International Marxist Tendency (IMT) is a Marxist revolutionary organisation represented in more than 30 countries. Our website, www.marxist.com (In Defence of Marxism) is the most successful Marxist site and widely read throughout the world with millions of visits each year. From Brazil to the USA and Canada, from Greece to Venezuela, from Mexico to Britain and France, the IMT is building the forces of Marxism.
Throughout last year we celebrated the centenary of the October Revolution. While many on the left buckled in the face of the campaign of the ruling class against the legacy of the revolution, the IMT stood firm in defending its legacy as the best guide for revolutionaries today. Our campaign was hugely successful worldover. We published a series of very important books about the history of the Bolshevik party, Leon Trotsky’s biography of Stalin and the history of the Soviet Union, and also developed a website providing videos, timelines, reading guides and theoretical material for the study of the lessons of the revolution. At the same time the comrades of the IMT organised hundreds of meetings, reading groups and social events involving thousands of participants throughout the world. There is no doubt that the IMT organised the most effective campaign in defence of the October Revolution internationally.
Our success has continued this year where we have already organised two very important events. Firstly the comrades in Austria organised yet another successful Karl Marx seminar, which in the past period have become annual rallying points for many on the left. Then our British comrades organised the Marxist Student Federation (MSF) annual conference, which drew more than 100 participants. It is clear that our firm emphasis on Marxist theory and revolutionary politics has made the MSF the main point of reference amongst revolutionary students in Britain. Finally, our Canadian comrades of Fightback organised their most successful Montreal Marxist Winter School ever, which drew close to 230 people for a weekend of discussions on Marxist theory and revolutionary politics, making it the biggest left-wing event in Canada today.
All of this is on top of all the regular meetings, reading groups, events and interventions in the movement on the ground that our comrades carry out on a regular basis. And we are gaining an echo.
The Marxists were reduced to a small minority during the post-war period, but now history is on our side. The time has never been better for revolutionary politics. However, in spite of our successes, the forces of Marxism are still far too small for the tasks ahead. We need to dedicate our energy on building up our forces. The world needs the ideas and revolutionary programme of genuine Marxism. It falls to us to give these ideas flesh and blood – to build the forces of Marxism internationally to make this possibility a reality.
IMT comrades put a lot of effort and dedication into producing analysis and Marxist educational material in the form of books, high quality articles, videos as well as organising big events such as our world schools and developing new fields of work. We visit and support groups throughout the world in places such as Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa, Venezuela and many more. Furthermore, we have been developing work in new areas such as Honduras, Guatemala, Norway, Poland, Nepal and elsewhere. All of this is putting greater demand on our resources than ever before. Nothing is free under capitalism and we have no wealthy backers. We rely solely on the support and dedication of workers and youth who have a genuine interest in our ideas and our struggle, but we need to strengthen this.
If you agree with our ideas, with our programme, and the struggle we are carrying out to build the forces of Marxism around the world, we ask you to support us financially by making a donation to the IMT, or better still, by setting up regular monthly contributions. We also ask you to consider joining the IMT and participating actively in the struggle for socialism.
With your help we can spread the ideas more widely and build the Marxist Tendency in all countries and prepare the forces to put an end to this barbaric capitalist system once and for all.