It is fashionable among some layers on the left to blame the workers' "low consciousness" for the lack of a genuine left alternative emerging within the labour movement internationally. This is utterly false and represents a lack of understanding of how the working class moves historically. The working class is fully aware of the situation it is in. What it requires is a leadership up to task of leading the class in its struggle to change society.

The celebration of May Day as a working class demonstration evolved from the struggle for the eight-hour day in the 1880s in the USA. The heart of the movement was in Chicago. Workers there had been agitating for an 8-hour day for months and, on the eve of May 1st, 50,000 were already on strike. 30,000 more swelled their ranks the next day, bringing most of Chicago manufacturing to a standstill.

As millions of workers and youth take to the streets world-wide to celebrate May Day as a day of international working class solidarity, we need to reassess our common objectives in the light of a growing world crisis of capitalism. Originally written in 2001.

Here Rosa Luxemburg stresses the fact that the period that gave rise to reformist thinking had come to an end with capitalism entering crisis and war looming on the horizon. First published in Liepziger Volkszeitung, April 30, 1913.

This letter from Frederick Engels to Florence Kelly Wischnewetsky shows his perspective for the development of a labour party in the United States and the way that the Marxists should orient to such a party.  He warns revolutionaries in the U.S. of the dangers of transforming Marxist ideas into a lifeless dogma by taking a sectarian attitude towards such a massive movement of the working class "not of their creation."  Even in this brief letter, there are numerous lessons for Marxists today.

"We must not for a minute lose sight of the fact that the power of American capitalism rests more and more upon the foundation of the world economy, with its contradictions and its crises, military and revolutionary. This means that a social crisis in the United States may arrive a good deal sooner than many think, and have a feverish development from the start. Hence the conclusion: it is necessary to prepare." These words of Leon Trotsky seem written for today's situation!

The present world financial crisis is pushing many people to seek answers, explanations and a way out. That explains why we see more and more items in the media about Marx being "back in fashion" and so on.

Harry DeBoer wrote this pamphlet in 1987 to inspire a new generation of trade union activists with the militant traditions of US labour’s past. As a young man he worked in the Minneapolis coal yards and became caught up and radicalised in the Minneapolis ‘teamster rebellion’ of 1934. As he makes clear, this was a model strike, and it was led by Marxists. (See a review of Teamster Rebellion by Farrell Dobbs, another Trotskyist and strike leader.)

At the last congress of Rifondazione Comunista (2005) the Italian Marxists of FalceMartello presented their own national document. A comrade sent a letter questioning the kind of transitional demands presented. Here we publish the letter with a reply from the Italian Marxists, an interesting debate on what kind of demands should be raised at each turn of events.

Today the word "fascist" has become a general term of abuse hurled at every reactionary bigot. The papers are full of stories about the "rise of fascism" thanks largely to the electoral support of Le Pen in France. Not every reactionary nor every dictatorship is fascist, however. It is necessary to understand the nature of a regime or a movement otherwise the tasks of the workers in relation to it can be confused.

Sunday August 20th is the 66th anniversary of Trotsky's assassination by a Stalinist agent. On this occasion we republish Ted Grant's text Trotsky's Relevance Today, written in 1990.

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