The Global Communist  Web Site




1.      Introduction   2

3.      The crisis of proletarian leadership   6

4.      Stalinism and Neo-Colonialism    8

5.   A programme of communist demands. 10

6.      Women and the working class  16

7.      Racial oppression   18

8.      Expropriation and nationalisation   19

9.      The national question in the neo-colonies  20

10.          Agrarian revolution in the neo-colonies  21

12.          Strategy and tactics in the neo-colonies  23

13.          The working class and the guerrilla strategy   26

15.          Bourgeois democracy and democratic demands  27

16.          The trade unions  28

17.          Workers’ control and workplace committees  30

18.          From picket line defence to the workers’ militia   32

20.          For the break up of the armed might of the state   34

21.          The insurrection   35

22.          For a revolutionary communist international   36




















The  Programme of the Global Communist Group




Given the global character of capitalism it is necessary for communists to build a  world revolutionary party. Our objective is the creation of a new world party of communist revolution. To build such a party a communist programme is indispensable. The goal of the communist party is the revolutionary destruction of capitalism and its replacement with a world communist federal community.

 As revolutionary communists we are not anarchists nor Leninists. Neither are we Leninists of the Stalinist or Trotskyist variety. We are just communists. We actively support the need for a communist programme and communist party.

1.      Introduction

The communist programme is central to communist politics. The programme is an expression of the essence of communist struggle. It is the form by which theory and concrete practice  gives expression to their integrated unity. Communism has  an inherent programmatic character.


The communist programme consists of a set of aims together with an outline and elaboration of the means by which these aims can be achieved. All communist programmes, independently of any particular conjuncture in which they are lodged, have as their  goal the establishment of communist relations. The programmatic means cannot be inconsistent with the ultimate aim of achieving communist relations of production. Strategic and tactical action can never compromise principled communist politics. Various principled tactics such as workplace committees, the united front, strikes and picketing,   workers’ councils and workers’ militias are deployed under many different circumstances as a means to promote and develop mass mobilization on a  principled revolutionary basis. The communist programme embodies the strategic goals of communism. It focuses on the practical tasks flowing from these  fundamental principles based on the concrete historical conditions that obtain in capitalist society at any given time. It embodies the strategy and tactics to achieve the general goals and does not separate these questions off from programmatic aims.


2.      The minimum-maximum programme

As revolutionary communists we are opposed to the concept of the minimum-maximum programme. Such programmes necessarily imply a stagiest conception of class struggle in which minimum and maximum demands stand at opposite poles. The minimum-maximum programme  is characterised by the rigid separation of the minimum demands (economic or political reforms achievable within the framework of capitalism) and the maximum goal of socialism.

The concept of a minimum-maximum programme is an expression of a way of conceiving of struggle which mistakenly suggests that there obtain demands and corresponding struggles that are independent of the struggle for communism. By bifurcating demands into minimum and maximum ones this programme seeks to divorce the day-to-day struggle of the working class from the struggle for communism. Such an anti-communist conception of struggle reduces the communist goal to mere abstract rhetoric. All struggles necessarily form an integral part of the struggle for communism. Consequently demands cannot be bifurcated into minimum and maximum demands without misrepresenting the essential character of struggle and historical development. To bifurcate demands amounts to changing the character of these very demands and thereby eviscerate them of their reality and inherent revolutionary dynamic. The metamorphosis of the demands of the working class into minimum and maximum forms changes the context in which these demands exist. It is to opportunistically shift the struggle from a revolutionary to a reactionary context.  Consequently the struggle over the programmatic character of the demands of the working class movement is a struggle over the political context in which the struggles of the working class are to take place. It is a struggle concerning the programmatic character of its struggles.  The only demands supported by the communist programme are communist demands. Minimum and maximum demands, by contrast, are idealist ideological constructs designed to disarm the working class movement.

The subdivision of the reformist programmes into two elements, as enshrined in  German Social Democracy’s “Erfurt Programme”, was the basis of the opportunist politics of the developing reformist wing of the Second International. Present day Social Democracy differs from its classical predecessor only in the ever increasing feebleness of its minimal reforms and in the ever decreasing use it has for holiday speechifying about socialism. This development is the concrete realization of the reactionary tendency inherent in such programmes.

In the epoch of classical liberal capitalism the working class, especially in Europe, fought for a series of economic and political rights as part of its struggle to organize and defend itself against the bourgeoisie.

These struggles constituted an integral part of the class struggle. The internal dialectic of these struggles meant that these struggles had the tendency to develop into a direct challenge to capital. This struggle means that the nature of  capitalism and its state possessed the potential of changing from a theoretical to a political issue. Consequently the  seizure of power by the working class was always a possibility. The class struggle, then, has dialectical tendencies of developing into a life and death struggle over class power. Although this revolutionary dialectic is implicit in these struggles it does not follow that these tendencies inevitably manifest themselves independently of concrete circumstances. Their manifestation is a complex function  of the objective and subjective conditions obtaining at that given time and the character of the interrelationship obtaining between them.

At the time in question the objective conditions meant that the manifestation of the revolutionary  tendencies in the form of outright class struggle would have been  weak given that industrial capitalism had only newly emerged as a predominant mode of production. The objective conditions, then, would have militated against revolutionary tendencies manifesting themselves in a pronounced form. At the subjective level, given that the industrial working class was only beginning to find its feet the conditions for a confident revolutionary working class were limited. This would have proved another factor militating against the development of a revolutionary situation. Even theoretically speaking the working class was only in the process of developing a sophisticated revolutionary theory in the form of Marxism.

The most that was achievable was for revolutionary communists to develop their ideas and politics by propaganda and participation in the struggle. In this way they could have struggled to increase and deepen the influence of communism within the working class thereby building up a communist current within the working class movement. In this way a small but decisive communist nucleus in the form of a propaganda cadre group could have been established.

Clearly, then, given the objective and subjective conditions as they existed in nineteenth century capitalism it was no surprise that a reformist ideology and politics  engulfed the working class. However it would have been still possible for a small but significant communist movement to exercise a significant influence on the working class.

In this very process  reformism assumed the leadership of the working class. For this leadership individual elements of the minimum programme were made ends in themselves. This position stood in sharp contrast to that of revolutionary communism for which these demands are the forms by which the needs of the working class are met in the actual struggle for communism. In the course of the emergence of the imperialist epoch the reformism strengthened considerably. The minimum-maximum programme  was the programmatic basis for its enforcement of the rigid separation of the struggle for reforms from the revolutionary perspective for the overthrow of capitalism. The minimum-maximum programme, then, provided the ideological and political basis for Social Democracy’s reformism investing it with a legitimacy. This rendered the task of combating reformist politics more difficult. The minimum-maximum programme provided the reformists with a programmatic base that helped ensure it a position of influence  within capitalism. To this end it attempted to limit the struggles of the working class by transforming parliamentary electoral tactics into a central strategy for obtaining reforms under capitalism. 

The significance of this negative development is one that tends to be neglected. It was one that was to exercise an enormously significant impact on the historical development of the working class. It was to modify the revolutionary character of the working class to  such an extent that the prospects for the emergence of a strong communist working class was seriously impaired. As a result of this negative development the working class was infected, in an institutionalized way, with bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology and politics that was to render the development of a revolutionary culture and politics within the working class a much more daunting task. The inculcation of this reactionary reformist feature in the working class movement constituted one of the more serious defeats inflicted on it. It has exercised a significantly enduring effect on the character of the working class movement.

Stalinism was to use a variation of the minimum-maximum programme to mislead the working class: the programme of stages based on the theory of socialism in one country.  This theory together with its programme was fashioned by the conservative bureaucracy of the USSR in the 1920s during the period of its political counter-revolution against the working class. According to the programme of stages, the existence of the Soviet Union meant that it is possible for revolutions to pass through a democratic stage prior to a transition towards socialism.

The theory argues that this democratic stage (variously called advanced democracy, people’s democracy, anti-imperialist democracy) is rigidly separated from a socialist stage. Capitalism must be preserved during the democratic stage and socialism can then gradually and peacefully evolve according to the unique laws operating in each country. The programme was a cynical policy by the bureaucracy to limit the struggles against capitalism. This variation of the minimum-maximum programme, even in its most “left” form, argues that the implementation of the democratic stage cannot be left to the bourgeoisie but must be realised by Stalinism.

This “democratic stage”  forms part of the counter revolutionary process. This process provides the opportunity for the capitalist class to reorganize and equip itself against the workers (Chile, Portugal, Iran). Alternatively it entails the emergence of a Stalinist regime that sustains itself, and ultimately world capitalism, by liquidating capitalism in a form meant to contain the scale and quality of the revolutionary process by the political expropriation of the working class—as in Eastern Europe, China, Indo-China, and Cuba. The Stalinist or Social Democratic versions of the minimum-maximum programme are a means for obstructing not only the fight for communism, but even an effective fight to win or defend reforms. This is because capitalism can provide neither permanent systematic social reforms nor lasting and fully-fledged bourgeois democracy.

To confine the struggle to minimum demands is to suppress the demand for communism that lies concealed within all demands. To suppress this implicit aspect of the minimum demands is to, in effect, fail to fight for the minimum demands. The only real way to fight for and defend any individual demands is by conducting a struggle that entails fighting for all demands –the communist programme. In effect there is no essential difference between what are called minimum and maximum demands within the programmatic context of communism. To fight for what are called minimum demands is to fight for what are called maximum demands. This is the dialectical character of the communist programme. To fight for any legitimate demand is to fight for communist demands. This is because to fight for minimum demands entails particular methods of organizing and struggling to achieve these demands. But this particular form of struggle is one that implicitly entails the struggle for communist demands.

In contrast to the Leninist, Trotskyist and Stalinist programmes we do not draw distinctions between demands. The Trotskyist programme is a modification of the Stalinist minimum-maximum programme. The only distinction is that Trotskyism introduces what are called transitional demands. Consequently Trotskyists, in contrast to the Stalinists, set up three programmatic layers. Both programmes entail the bifurcation that consequently limits the class struggle. They both conceive struggle as divided into stages. In the case of Trotskyism there are three stages. The stage of minimum, transitional  and socialist demands. The three stages are externally linked to each other. Trotskyism’s essential criticism of the Stalinist programme is really a derivative one of no essential political significance. It is really a criticism of the Stalinist programme from within the Stalinist programme. Unlike the programme of revolutionary communism both programmes lack a dialectical character.  

Communists  regularly, in the light of experience and changing conditions, refine and re-elaborate its programme. They  produce sharply focused action programmes that address the key questions of the day in the context of the struggle for communism.

Our programme forms the only basis from which to build action programmes for particular countries, situations or sections in struggle. Such action programmes contain all of the key elements of the general programme itself sharply adjusted to a particular situation or country. An action programme is, in a sense, the communist programme modified or adjusted  to particular concrete situations.

3.      The crisis of proletarian leadership

Capitalism will not depart the scene automatically. It needs to be consciously overthrown by the working class. For this to happen, a  revolutionary vanguard party must be forged. This vanguard requires theory, perspective and programme.

Capitalism’s inability to meet the basic needs of the masses makes it necessary to transform the defensive struggles of the workers  into the struggle for state power. Yet, because of the political character of reformism, the existing leadership of the working class is unable to carry through such a fight. It is tied to the class interests of the bourgeoisie. The imperialist bourgeoisie seeks to sow divisions within the proletariat.  In Europe, by 1914, the mass workers’ parties had become dominated by the politics of imperialist collaboration. This was true both of parties like the British Labour Party, which has been a reformist party from its foundation, and of the Social Democratic parties which maintained a formal adherence to Marxism. It culminated in the betrayal of the working class by the leaders of the Second (Socialist) International. In 1914 they became recruiting sergeants for the imperialist war. Then, as a wave of revolutions swept Europe (1917-23) they openly sided with bourgeois counter-revolution against the working masses. Social Democracy thus took on its fundamental shape. It became strategically wedded both to the capitalist economy and the capitalist state, albeit in the forms of both state capitalism and bourgeois democracy.

Stalinism’s historic roots lie in the left counter-revolution that took place within  Russia. Stalinism is no less a servant of the bourgeoisie than is Social Democracy.  Through its past political dictatorship of the Soviet Union, and the other degenerate workers’ states, it blocked the advance to communism. It blocked the internationalization of the revolution, spreading chauvinism and class collaboration. It also promoted the potential for capitalist restoration within the workers’ states. Towards the end of the Second World War revolutionary struggles developed (e.g. in Italy, the Balkans and France). However the combined forces of Social Democracy and Stalinism resolutely dissipated the revolutionary spontaneous will of the masses.

The Social Democratic parties and the Stalinist Parties, having performed their role as agents of democratic counter-revolution, were thrust to one side by the bourgeoisie who then installed, wherever possible, openly bourgeois parties at the helm of the booming economies of the 1950s and 1960s. The minimum-maximum programme  is one of the devices used to establish and sustain the democratic counter revolution. The late 1960s initiated a new period of intense class struggle in the imperialist heartlands, invariably started from below by an increasingly confident and relatively well organised working class. Throughout Europe the Stalinist and Social Democratic leaders together with their trade unions successfully fought to contain these struggles, to keep them within the bounds of legality and official organisation. In France, Portugal and Spain, Stalinism and Social Democracy were given the chance to demonstrate yet again their counter-revolutionary loyalty to capitalism. With serious defeats in many countries of Western Europe by the mid 1970s, the European workers’ movement was again thrown back and pacified for the next period. By the onset of the second major recession, that of 1979-82, the existing leaderships had successfully demobilised working class resistance which led to the imposition on the proletariat of the imperialist countries of a decade of austerity, anti-union laws and attacks on democratic rights. In government they were only too happy to preside over and to initiate these attacks thereby abandoning its minimum programme. Thus in the 1980s the crisis of reformism in the imperialist heartlands took the form of the inability of the working class to resist the attacks of the Thatcherite-Reaganite economic liberals. With the onset of the globalisation of capital the monopolistic bourgeoisie abandoned  Keynesian, social-liberal welfarism, with its “mixed economy” and state intervention in the economy, the Social Democratic and Stalinist Parties are thrown into ideological and political crisis. The bourgeoisie no longer requires reformism’s old minimum programme. The inherent nature of the trade unions, as agent of the bourgeoisie, obstructs and dissipates  resistance to the attacks. Yet the working class has fought back against its enemies. Massive and bitter workers’ struggles have marked the 1980s, but not one of them has been able to gain a decisive victory. Indeed the defeat of the miners strike in Britain constituted a defeat for the British working class as a whole. Only a new movement and a new programme can solve the chronic crisis in the workers’ movement of the imperialist heartlands.

The working class of the degenerated workers’ states had repeatedly proved itself to be the most determined force in this opposition. More than once it had hurled itself against bureaucratic privilege and political oppression. In the post-war era this struggle had taken the workers to the brink of proletarian revolution. This has been demonstrated by the creation of soviets (Hungary 1956) and proto-soviet bodies (the inter-factory committees in Poland 1980 and China 1989).  But the absence of a revolutionary party, programme and strategy means that the workers have been defeated in every major  revolutionary crisis. Its spontaneous struggles have led merely to situations that have served both to leave the power of  reformism intact and, in certain instances, to positively strengthen the forces for capitalist restoration.  In Hungary and Poland in 1956 misplaced hopes in a section of the state bureaucracy led the working class to ultimate defeat. Syndicalism and trade unionism, as with Solidarnosc in Poland, led the struggle away from the goal of state power and diverted it into a utopian struggle for independent trade unions co-existing with bureaucratic rule. Even the left wing of Solidarnosc peddled the illusion that self-managed enterprises, rather than workers’ management of the centralised planning mechanisms, could overcome the crisis of the command economy. In Eastern Europe and China, the workers aspire to parliamentary democracy. The bloody slaughter of the forces of China’s “Democracy Movement” by the tyrants of the Chinese Communist Party served only to strengthen the bourgeois democratic current within the opposition movement. These hopes in “democracy”, emptied of a working class content, are fostered by imperialism to ease the passage of the masses of these countries into the camp of capitalist exploitation. Without revolutionary leadership and a revolutionary programme the break-up of Stalinism in its heartlands will benefit both a ruling minority inside these states as well as finance capital.

Without revolutionary leadership the potential for  revolution, embodied in the events of Hungary 1956 and China 1989, cannot be realised. Without such leadership the ruling Stalinist parties served as either the handmaidens of capitalist restoration or the harbingers of military bureaucratic retribution.

4.      Stalinism and Neo-Colonialism

The counter-revolutionary character of Stalinism has been expressed in its violent opposition to the perspective and programme of communist revolution in the neo-colonies and wherever bourgeois democratic questions assume a revolutionary importance.

Social Democracy has been less enduring in the neo-colonies. In these countries the reformism and the trade unions have been less firmly established because of the under-developed nature of capitalism.  From Indonesia through Chile to South Africa today, Stalinism has clung to the perspective of a democratic stage, which excludes the fight for working class power, but embraces all kinds of bourgeois,  petty bourgeois, clerical and military  allies. This popular frontist strategy which ushered in democratic counter-revolution after 1945 has resulted since then in bloody and decisive defeats in key revolutionary situations.

 In Indonesia the PKI, one of the largest Stalinist parties in the capitalist world, entered the left nationalist government of Sukarno in 1965. It claimed to be at the head of a “people’s state”. Unarmed and unwarned by their leaders, the masses of the PKI were then slaughtered by the military. This disaster bears direct comparison with events in China in 1927 and Germany in 1933. In Chile, Stalinism and the Social Democratic Socialist Party led the workers and poor peasants to disaster. Allende’s government, installed in 1970, was a popular front whose programme was limited to reforms. Allende renounced from the outset the arming of the workers and guaranteed the reactionary high command a monopoly of armed force. Nevertheless, spontaneous working class militancy led to the creation of cordones, industrial proto-soviets, and even armed militias.  It led to demands for expropriations which Allende stood firmly against. Economic crisis and sabotage created the climate for a coup d’état by Pinochet in September 1973, which left tens of thousands dead, tortured or imprisoned and hundreds of thousands forced to flee the country.  In Iran, the Stalinist Tudeh Party participated in the mass overthrow of the Shah, only to support the imposition of Khomeini’s Islamic Republic.  In the name of revolutionary loyalty the Tudeh assisted Islamic reaction in the slaughter of masses of workers, leftists and Kurdish rebels. In return Khomeini unleashed his repressive apparatus against the Tudeh itself. As the leading force within the ANC, the South African Communist Party squandered a revolutionary opportunity with its policy of using the township revolts to seek negotiations with the “enlightened” wing of South African imperialism. Tied in with that it has beat a retreat from all forms of revolutionary activity in the interests of the “global stability” that was sought by the Kremlin. Today it has been installed in power as imperialism compliant government

Stalinism with its nationalist theory of socialism in one country obstructs the development of internationalism among the neo-colonial working class thereby capping the class struggle and thereby social revolution. Stalinism and Social Democracy has prolonged the life of bourgeois and petty bourgeois nationalism among wide sections of the neo-colonial working class. Mass nationalist movements and parties remain incapable of solving the plight of the workers and peasants. Their acts of defiance against imperialism are carried out only so long as the working class is absent, as an independent force, from the struggle.  Once challenged by the distinct demands of the exploited, these “anti-imperialists” become the abject defenders of imperialism. Unless a revolutionary party can dislodge all these forces from the leadership of the working class the working class will repeat its mistakes in class battles ahead. To prevent this it is essential that the class conscious vanguard of workers throughout the world are mobilised around an international programme of communism.

5.      A programme of communist demands

The present period is punctuated by defensive mass economic struggles in the imperialist countries and by pre-revolutionary and revolutionary crises in non-imperialist countries. 

Only a communist programme can maximize the chances of the gains made by the masses in individual struggles being built upon and consolidated and not later reversed by the forces of reaction. Only the communist programme can resolve the fundamental contradiction that afflicts the international workers’ movement: the readiness of the masses to defend their gains, and even take the revolutionary offensive, on the one hand; whilst on the other, the reformism demobilizes and betrays these struggles.  A communist programme strives to address this subjective weakness by establishing the programmatic unity of individual struggles of the proletariat. This dialectical unity takes the form of a dynamically interlinked series of demands which, in their entirety, constitute an overt and direct challenge to capitalist rule. Consequently revolutionary communists seek to fight for demands in the context of the revolutionary programme for communism.

It is politically incorrect to counterpose the communist programme to the existing struggles of the masses as an ultimatum. Such exercises are designed to idealize the struggle for communism into an abstraction that exists in independence from the concrete struggle of the proletariat. To seek to dislocate individual demands entirely from the interlinked system of programmatic demands thereby presenting them as thinly disguised isolated demands is  distorts of the communist programme. Such a method is, again, designed to deny the existence of the struggle for communism and the concrete legitimacy of the communist programme. It is an attempt to limit individual struggles by isolating them from their internal dialectical connection to the other forms of individual struggle. By that means it seeks to deny the existence of class struggle in general. Isolating individual struggles is an attempt to render individual struggles ineffective. Similarly any attempt to present communist demands as structural reforms of capitalism amounts to the sowing of utopian illusions in capitalism while denying the revolutionary nature of the communist programme. The very purpose of communist demands is the mobilisation of the masses against capitalism.

The task of communists is to position specific demands of the particular struggles of the masses within the context of a fight for the programme as a whole. In practice this will mean agitation within a particular struggle for focused, relevant communist demands whilst making propaganda for the programme as a whole through the explanation of what the realisation of this or that demand will pose in the next phase of struggle. It also means showing how individual demands are integrally linked to other demands within a programmatic whole.

Communist demands address the fundamental economic and political needs of the masses as determined by the objective situation. Communist demands seek to organise the masses independently of the open political representatives of the bourgeoisie and their reformist agents within reformism and Leninism. This is done through principled work by communists in unions, factory committees, workers’ councils and the revolutionary party. Mobilised around these demands, in such organisations, the working class challenges the rule of the capitalists. Each communist demand embodies a fight for some element of direct workers’ control over the capitalists. In establishing even elementary workers’ control over production in the battle to protect jobs, the struggle will be forced onto a higher level. In turn a successful struggle at plant level puts new challenges before the workers in relation to other branches of industry and to society as a whole.

Communist demands are demands posed within the context of the communist programme. They are demands or slogans posed within the context of the struggle for communism. They are demands made in the context of the revolutionary process. They are made on a revolutionary basis. They are demands made on the understanding that their being met will lead to the development and intensification of the class struggle. They are demands that if met only lead to growing class conflict. Rather than the winning of such demands  leading to stability and growing harmony between worker and boss –the opposite is the case. The bourgeoisie only meet demands when they are forced on them or when it is not presently strong enough to resist the demands without in the longer term loosing more. By granting them they may forestall further efforts by the working class to further advance their class interests.

Given that the working class cannot stop at this stage of the struggle because of the  class dynamic of the situation the outcome cannot be an enduring stability. The working class follow this success up with further demands and further mobilization or else the bourgeoisie recover lost ground. This particular dynamic in the class struggle  manifests itself in the form of  changing institutional and political relations. In the context of class struggle the situation either moves in favour of the working class or against the working class. There can obtain no enduring stability in which the balance of class forces remains the same. At most there are rare exceptional periods when, for strategic reasons, a relatively enduring stable balance is maintained.

Consequently it is a dangerous misconception for workers to believe that they can secure a range of demands or, to put it otherwise, secure structural or institutionalized social changes that are a manifestation of a fair distribution of wealth and a corresponding enduring harmony of classes. This can never be so under capitalism. There is always a struggle between worker and capitalist that leads to instability which are reflected in institutional changes and changes in institutional relationships. However sometimes change is slower than at other times.

When workers appear to benefit from wage increases this is often done to keep the working class or layers off it quiescent while they eat into the living standards of other layers. The bourgeoisie create  privileged layers within the working class to maintain control over the entire class. There is often the appearance of increased living standards while gains are taken back in other ways. These apparent advances are designed to deceive and confuse the proletariat. The introduction of the welfare state and its benefits for the working class was introduced as a strategic attempt to preclude any offensive by a working class that had already threatened capitalism. In some degree it was a preemptive tactic to preserve its existence as a class. It was a response to the challenge of the working class and the weak state in which much of imperialism existed.

Welfarism was developed in such a way as to give the false impression that capitalist society was a system that served the needs of the working class despite its apparent shortcomings. It was consequently believed that much else that was wrong could be repaired in the course of time. Welfarism was also an ideology. It reinforced reformism within the labour movement and gave the worker the notion that the improvements in living standards  were not a result of class struggle but a result of the rational nature of capitalist democracy. Consequently communists were viewed as over the top and out of touch. Many workers then began to perceive society and daily life in a totally class free way. They began to totally  misconceive the character of welfarism and what it signified. They did not see it as a tactic within the class struggle. This was a great success for capitalism. But it could not have been done without the help of the reformist leadership of the labour movement. The material developments in the form of welfarism and the ideology and rhetoric that went with it totally misrepresented the real nature of the situation and veiled the very existence of class struggle. What was a product of class struggle and deeply located at the core of the class struggle was seen as its very opposite. What existed as a result of bitter struggle was seen as the very opposite and the proof that class struggle did not exist. It reached such a degree that ideologues, like Castoriadis, began to now believe that there was no class struggle. That it had died or never existed. What had its source in struggle was experienced as transcending class struggle.

The character of the ideology that accompanied the welfare state reinforced this appearance. This ideology was the bourgeoisie’s way of disguising defeat as victory. It was its way of making a virtue out of necessity by presenting what it had to give to secure its class interests as a feature that freely emerged from within society. It  used the very reforms forced on it by circumstances as a natural evolution. In this way it was able to exploit its reforms as a means to reinforce among the masses the legitimacy of capitalism. It created its own materialist conception of history --the whig interpretation of history. Consequently the masses misexperienced capitalism. Even when the nasty side of capitalism came through the limits of its conceptual paradigm misrepresented it by painting it in bright colours. Consequently when class struggle became explicit it was not recognized as class struggle –instead as industrial unrest. A fundamental shift in language took place as a form of concealment. The ideology had sunk its roots into the masses so much that the working class had lost the ability to think in class struggle terms.

Now when they cut back and push back welfarism the bourgeoisie use the same technique. It employs rationalist ideology. The rational thing to do is to shrink the state, cut costs and reduce waste –all in the interests of the greater prosperity all –whether capitalist or worker. Yet it is a rationalism that is irrational –reason as appearance. There can never be secured a stable regime in which fairness more or less abounds. Workers are lulled into accepting an abstract moral view of society.

 As I have said the class struggle continues unabated under different forms. Sometimes it is more overt and explicit. Other times it is more covert or slower. But it is always a shifting sand. It is imperative that the bourgeoisie conceals the existence of class struggle by forcing it to appear in a disguised form –nationalism, identity politics etc--. Language plays a critical role in this regard. Moving back and forth incrementally or dramatically depending on the particular conditions. This expresses itself in the specific economic and social condition of the working class as a whole and specific layers within it. This expresses itself in the form of improving or deteriorating conditions of work and living standards. It expresses itself too in the level of political and cultural freedom at any given stage. It also reflects itself politically in the political character of the working class. Its level and volume of militancy, class consciousness, its organizational character etc.

The introduction of new technology  restructures the composition of the working class as a means of disorganizing the working class. Technology here is not at all neutral. It plays a hegemonic, ideological or political role. It re-configures and atomizes the working class in a variety of ways thereby undermining its class character.

Against this has to be added the character of the economy. Due to cyclical movements, the political situation or a combination of these living standards of the working class may have suffered a decline. This may lead to the working class going on the offensive with the consequent balance of class forces going in its favour while its livings standards deteriorate. Sometimes the fall in living standards of the working class is caused by cyclical and systemic change that has nothing to do as such with the bosses voluntaristically seeking to cut back in their living standards --although the crisis may lead to this. It may be due to a mechanical cyclical downturn. Just as an improvement in living standards may due to an upturn.

Improving absolute livings standards among the working class has had its cause in falling real values due to increasing productivity. This is a technical matter that has nothing to do with capitalism rationally and kindly deciding to redistribute wealth. Indeed under increasing  productivity leading to improving living conditions caused by accelerated accumulation of capital the profit of capital increases faster than the living standards of the working class. This has to happen otherwise there would exist no motivation to develop technology.

Even under conditions of falling values and the consequent improvement in the living standards of the working class the capitalists will seek to pass as little of this onto the class. Consequently the class has to fight to avail of this. A certain amount may automatically and involuntarily benefit the masses. However the bosses will seek to take as much of this away as possible. In so far as they don’t fully do this is a combination of the strength of the working class, the price the bourgeoisie have to pay to displace any challenge presented by the working class quiescent together with the contradictory irrational character of capital.

No benefits received by the class are due to capital being fair and rational. They are not due to capitalism agreeing to cutting a fair deal with the workers and leaving things be. The living standards and conditions of work of the working class are in continual flux. That flux is a function of a combination of conditions that are inherently related to each other: the specific character of the class struggle, the specific relationship of class forces; the strength of the capitalists; the specific objective conditions obtaining. Because these conditions are in continual change sometimes more change at one time than another the condition of the working class is always in a state of flux

It is incorrect to assume then that the working class can achieve an enduring modus vivendi with the bosses. It is a recipe for disaster that totally misconceives the nature of capitalism and class struggle. What is consistent with capitalism is not increasing wages but efforts by capitalism to reduce wages. It is to think that the situation of the workers or a specific group of workers can be transfixed in a sea of impermanence or flux. It is to rob struggle of its dialectics. For workers to believe that a strike for more pay is an individual issue that is not inherently related to the class struggle and to the general political and economic situation, is a disastrous political misconception. An individual strike for more pay is an individual struggle that inseparably exists in the context of the general class struggle. It is an individual form of the class struggle. It cannot be conceived in independence from the general class struggle. It forms an inherent part of the class struggle. This is why we argue that individual  struggles must be viewed from within the context of the communist programme.

To present individual struggles as merely bearing an external relation to other individual struggles is to promote the isolation of individual struggles from each other. It is to prevent individual struggles from realizing their inherent character as forming an integral par of the general class struggle. It is to prevent struggle from attaining its full potential and rendering itself effective as class struggle thereby denying struggle its programmatic character. It is to challenge history. It is a strategy to fragment the class struggle by isolating individual struggles from each other – rendering secondary picketing illegal is an example of this. Such reactionary strategies render individual struggles less effective –less effective at the level of the particular and the general. This reactionary strategy of reformism and Leninism involves a corresponding ideology inculcated into the masses. It is to fix an individual struggle in its particularity thereby stripping it of its universalizing dynamic --its universal character. These political events reflect themselves in the programmatic difference between reformism, Leninism and communism.

Even when the bourgeoisie succeed in fixing struggles with the help of reformism and Leninism their universal dynamic irrepressibly manifests itself in a distorted form. Indeed reactionary trade unionism invests the struggle with this external unity in order to preempt any emerging revolutionary unity.

Even if the wage increase is won it can be snatched back within six months by inflation, cut backs in social welfare. To defend living standards means seeking to defend them on a class basis –not individually in an isolating form. This is why communists seeks to deepen and broaden individual struggles so that they are generalized. Such an escalation of the struggle on the basis of the communist programme inevitably leads to raising the question of state power. The objective reason for this is that it is not possible for the working class to gain enduring reforms or improvements in their living standards and conditions of work and being in general under capitalism. If such were possible the basis for the communist programme and capitalism would be absent.

In supporting an individual struggle communists must clearly state what needs to be done to increase the chances of winning the struggle. It is not about what appears plausible or is populist. Consequently when an individual struggle breaks out communists must support it in the context of the communist programme and the struggle for communism. Communism must render  struggle’s implicit nature explicit. This is done by actively participating in struggles by propaganda, agitation and organization within the context of a communist action programme. It is not the purpose of communism to engage in opportunist populism by seeking to increase its influence among the workers by opportunist maneuvering and manipulation.  Influence secured in this way is not real influence. It is influence based on communists  abandoning their politics for that of the agents of the class enemy such as reformism  Leninism and anarchism. The aim of communism is to deliver workers to opportunism but to  irrevocably break them away from it. It is the duty of communists to say what must be done if striking workers are to be victorious. It is the duty of communists to outline what is logically necessary for an effective and victorious strike. Irrespective of the circumstances communists are obliged to skillfully present to the working class the reality of a specific situation. If it is greeted with hostility of a particular group of workers then maybe this particular struggle is one that communists may have to distance itself from.

Communists advance  demands because they are the correct demands. While communism is in a incipient stage of its development demands are advanced as propaganda devices. To win the odd worker over while presenting workers as a class with the communist alternative. By joining individual struggles communists  gain fruitful experience in how to understand, actively relate to and organize individual struggles. The more diverse the struggles the richer the quality of their experiences and the corresponding lessons learned. We learn too from the mistakes we make.

6.      Women and the working class

Because of the character of the social conditions imposed on working class women the tendency towards dependency on working class men still exists. The price of their labour power tends to be less than that of their male counterparts. In the world today legal restrictions reinforce continuing dependence of women workers on husbands or fathers. In addition to its role in the reproduction of labour power, traditional family relations play an important role in maintaining capitalist society. The respective roles of men, women and children are influenced by the family institution that legitimizes hierarchy, unquestioning obedience and servility. These conditions generate division, hierarchical relations and passivity  within the working class. Even when the nuclear family may have ceased to be numerically the prevalent form of the family, as may now be the case in many imperialist countries, its  strength as an “ideal” is such that it continues to ideologically influence every aspect of women’s’ lives. From the type of education girls receive, through the jobs women do, to the relationships they seek—all these find their mediation in bourgeois family relations. The roles of men and women in the working class family restrict the development of both sexes while imposing a particularly repressive effect on women.

The family leads to a division within the working class which is maintained by the ideology of sexism. In the labour movement this is not just a question of backward ideas concerning the role of women workers. It can involves the exclusion of women from  unions.  Such sexism leads to a failure to fight for equal pay and refusal to support women in struggle. Whilst women workers’ oppression is not caused by the attitudes of male workers, the sexism of many working men  reinforces it. Often, such as domestic violence and abuse, this happens in the most brutal way.  Male workers tend to enjoy real material benefits as a result of the oppression of working class women. They tend to have a higher status within the household and social life generally.  They tend to secure better jobs and wages while enjoying a lighter burden of domestic chores. These privileges help to reinforce sexist ideas and behaviour within the working class.

To end the oppression of working class women the capitalist separation of domestic labour from  social production must be abolished. Only when women are drawn fully and equally into production, with domestic work being organised collectively in a planned socialist economy, will the conditions of the freedom of working class women from oppression be present. The communist programme is the guarantee that the socialization of housework and child care will be achieved.

In addition part time jobs for women have been used by the bosses to increase the exploitation of women workers through low pay without employment protection while providing a flexible workforce. We demand full employment protection for part time work combined with the fight for reductions in the hours of all workers, with no loss of pay. We demand the provision of socialised care for children and other dependants to allow women to participate in social production equally with men. The working class must fight for the social provision which would enable them the choice of work outside the home. We are for the collective provision of laundries and restaurants, subsidized by the state, under working class control.

Women workers are systematically denied control of their own bodies and are forced into having unwanted children or prevented from having children they do want. Women are also forced into arranged marriages and obstructed from availing of  divorce. In short, women are denied control over their own fertility. Child-bearing must be the subject of a woman’s choice  if they are to participate equally with men in production, social and political life. The provision of free contraception and abortion on demand for all women is essential. 

Where women work alongside men in industry we oppose the call for separate women’s unions or workplace committees. A struggle must be waged to unite male and female workers, whilst defending the right of women to organize within the unions and at all levels of the labour movement. A movement which draws in wide layers of working class women leads to the organization of women  excluded from production. Such a movement, based on women organised in the workplace and the community in general  can fight for the interests of women workers and for the revolutionary overthrowal of capitalism. In the present period, where revolutionaries are not in the leadership of the mass of working class women, the task of organizing  a women workers’ movement still exists. Consequently we may enter in to a united front with the most militant sections of working class women and, through joint actions and communist propaganda, seek to win them towards communist politics. To follow the feminist line of an all-class women’s movement would be to surrender the interests of working class women to the bourgeoisie –the source of their oppression as women workers. 

We oppose the idea of an “autonomous” movement because it excludes the possibility of the women’s movement being won to the revolutionary programme, and seeks to prevent communist women from intervening as disciplined members of their communist organizations. Communist women seek to win the majority of the proletarian women’s movement to support the revolutionary programme.  The slogan of “autonomy” also involves the exclusion of men from the organisations, and often meetings, of women. Working class women cannot destroy capitalism and end their own oppression without uniting in struggle with the rest of their class, namely, male workers. The exclusion of male workers from the activities of a women’s movement places an unnecessary barrier in the path of the fight against sexism. This fight must involve the education of male workers in the process of common struggle with women.

7.      Racial oppression

Modern nations cannot be identified with so-called races. Racial oppression  is the product of the emergence of the bourgeois nation. In the mercantilist period of early capitalism slavery was fundamental to the primitive accumulation of capital in certain countries. The extension of capitalist colonial empires brought with it the systematic denial of basic human rights of the indigenous populations.  Racism has taken its most virulent form in the imperialist epoch. Racism exists as both a feverish fantasy of the petty bourgeoisie and a conscious tool of the imperialist bourgeoisie.  The “race” problem in our century is not one of supposed racial differences but is a function of racism. The victims of this systematic racism are many.  In the forefront stand the Jews, who suffered genocide during World War Two, and the black people of Africa, the Caribbean, the USA and those who have emigrated to Europe.

The post-war boom sucked millions of workers from the neo-colonies to the imperialist heartlands, from one semi-colony to another and from less developed to more highly developed imperialist countries. These migrant and immigrant workers are also racially oppressed. The victims of racial oppression are systematically denied democratic rights.  State racism press down on them. This further serves to encourage violent attacks by individual racists, gangs and organised fascists. The racially oppressed suffer discrimination in education and all spheres of welfare provision. They are subject to super-exploitation at work. Whenever capitalism enters recession racial minorities suffer most from unemployment and low pay.

For the racially oppressed working masses there is no capitalist solution to their oppression. Capitalism’s tendency to integrate and stratify immigrant communities always benefits the petty bourgeois and bourgeois strata at the expense of the working class as a whole. Even this tendency is repeatedly thrown into reverse as capitalism resorts to crude racism and national chauvinism in its periods of crisis

Revolutionary communists conduct agitation and propaganda within the oppressed communities for the strictest separation of the class interests of the workers from the bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie and clergy. For this purpose the revolutionary party may set up special forms of organization. Communists resolutely oppose  separatism.

 In the US the black struggle began with passive protest, led by the black clergy and the intelligentsia. The black resistance developed into mass revolt leading to armed clashes with the police and national guard.  But it was faced with a massive crisis of leadership. On the one side the integrationist petty bourgeoisie were ready to demobilize mass revolt for the sake of reforms and greater access to local and state government. The radical opposition to these sell-outs—the Black Panthers, Malcolm X—was unable to make a complete break with separatism and guerrillaism.  Cut off from the mass of white workers and from the masses of the black community the vanguard was crushed by the US state. After inflicting this defeat US imperialism incorporated a black bourgeoisie and a caste of professional bourgeois black politicians which left the overwhelming majority to rot in America’s disintegrating inner-cities.

Only the overthrow of imperialism, the freeing of the productive forces from the chains of national boundaries, can remove the material roots of racial oppression. The struggle against racism must form an integral part of the programme and activity of the revolutionary party in every period.  It must focus its action programme around the day-to-day struggles of the racially oppressed which hit at discrimination in education, wages, employment and working conditions.  The inherently bourgeois  trade unions  reflect the racism and chauvinism of the ruling class. They are frequently racism’s  instrument.  But there is no road to liberation for The racially oppressed achieve emancipation  through  the general struggle to win the majority of the working class to united action against racism.

Revolutionary communists fight within the workers’ movement for united action against all racist attacks and for workers’ defence squads against racist attacks. We struggle for full citizenship and democratic rights for all racial minorities including immigrant and migrant workers. We fight to abolish all immigration controls.


8.      Expropriation and nationalisation

The communist programme is for the complete expropriation of the capitalist class, the destruction of their state and the establishment of workers’ power. In the imperialist epoch a whole series of state capitalist nationalisations have been carried through either by “consensus” conservative and reformist governments in the imperialist nations or, in the neo-colonies, by nationalist governments. In the former, state capitalist nationalisations have generally been favoured by the capitalist class as whole. They ensure that essential industries survive that are  unprofitable for individual capitalists to maintain.  They usually provide products and services for other branches of the economy at cheap rates. In the neo-colonies nationalisation has been a method whereby a weak or embryonic bourgeois class has gathered together the resources for capital accumulation formerly in the hands of imperialism. It has been essential for the growth of a national bourgeoisie.  

Nationalisation dupes the masses into thinking that this or that part of the economy is “theirs”, whereas in fact it is a deceitful method of managing capitalism, not a method of overthrowing it. At the same time the workers in the state capitalist enterprises are prevented from exercising any control over production.

Where the workers are called upon to co-manage, it is generally to save the skin of the enterprise or of the bourgeois regime that has carried through the nationalisation and finds itself, temporarily at least, in a form of conflict with imperialism (Mexico in the 1930s, Bolivia in the 1950s). The same is true for worker-management “buy-outs” of ailing industries or plants. Here the workers, often in the guise of “co-operatives”, engage in self-exploitation; to maintain employment they are forced to ruthlessly hold back or cut wages. These forms of collaboration with the bourgeoisie do not constitute an advancement of the class struggle but are a means to hinder its development.

When these nationalised sectors are profitable again the capitalist state will have no compunction in handing back to the private capitalist the once nationalised enterprises at bargain prices (Egypt under Sadat, Britain under Thatcher) and the reformists and nationalists.  When the bosses engage in privatisation projects we recognise, despite our criticism of bourgeois nationalisations, that privatisation is  carried through at the expense of the working class. The working class is forced to pay for privatisations directly, through loss of jobs and often through wage cuts. Wage and working conditions and the right to organize are the victims of privatisation. Against reformist and nationalist claptrap we advance the slogan of expropriation under the control of the workers. To destroy the economic domination of the capitalist class the working class needs political power. Nevertheless where the bosses try to close down a plant or even an industry we argue for expropriation under workers’ control with no compensation to the bosses. To successfully challenge the bourgeoisie and its political institutions the working class must be organized and active internationally. The specific support of workers  that are employed by the same company in other parts of the globe constitutes an indispensable necessity. Any successful expropriations poses the need for further expropriation of the capitalist economy. Expropriation of the forces of production under workers’ control entails challenging the capitalist state thereby raising the issue of class power.

9.      The national question in the neo-colonies

Although national unity and independence were political goals for the bourgeoisie, they had a social and economic purpose: the creation of a unified national market, protected against foreign competition, within which domestic capital could expand. Today, despite formal national independence, imperialism’s former colonies and mandates are in reality no nearer to this economic independence than they were at the dawn of the imperialist epoch. They remain oppressed nations. Backwardness and, at best one-sided, dependent industrialisation remain the norm in the neo-colonies. No amount of formal political independence can compensate for this. The chains of economic dependence are formed from capitalist social relations. These chains can only be smashed by the expropriation of capitalism itself. For this reason only the working class has the interest and ability to fully abolish the national oppression of the neo-colonies.

The proletariat is an international class seeking to unify, on a communist basis, the world’s working class through voluntary union or federation. Our general programme is not a platform for the liberation of countries from imperialist oppression through the creation of ever more separate nation states or the breaking up of large “multi-national” states into a number of constituent parts. The  international strategy of the working class means combatting  nationalism.

The proletariat must fight for the global expropriation of capitalism on a revolutionary democratic basis. There can be no solution to the basic economic demands of the oppressed nations through a retreat behind even more limited economic national boundaries. Imperialism’s  policies of “Balkanisation” are designed to promote the rule over weak and unstable nation states through the promotion of division. Communists, on the other hand, advance the demand for a genuine federation of workers’ communes in those lands that are linked by historical ties of language, culture, trade etc.

10.  Agrarian revolution in the neo-colonies

Today in the neo-colonies, taken as a whole, and despite the growth of the industrial proletariat, the peasantry remains an absolute majority of the population.

 Throughout the imperialist epoch the agrarian question has proved to be one of the major, and most explosive, uncompleted tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution. The fight of the peasantry for land has been the locomotive of the fight for the reactionary ideal of national independence. So it was in China in the 1930s and 1940s and in Indo-China in the 1950s and 1960s. Since the Second World War it has been a key ideology and politics underlying the reactionary character course taken by uprisings against ruling oligarchies (e.g. Nicaragua 1979, Philippines 1985). In the imperialist epoch the bourgeoisie, both imperialist and neo-colonial, abandoned any pretence to revolutionary struggle against pre-capitalist landlordism.

The imperialists attempted to curb the proletariat and the peasantry by alliances with the feudal landowners. In this way imperialism preserved the backwardness of the neo-colonies and subjected agriculture to its rule through trade or colonial plantation.  With the dissolution of the colonial empires and the establishment of US world hegemony the fight against the vestiges of semi-feudalism has been joined in the colonies and neo-colonies by the struggle against the effects of finance capital’s deeper penetration of agriculture. Taking as its starting point the creation of a profitable world market for agricultural goods, finance capital spurred on the concentration and centralisation of land in the neo-colonies.  It placed huge territories under cash crop cultivation  aimed at the export market. On the one hand, finance capital helped buy  out the semi-feudal landlords or transformed them into agrarian capitalists, while on the other, they bullied, defrauded and expelled millions of peasants from their land.

As a result countries which were relatively self-sufficient in food have been transformed into importers of the basic necessities of life while huge profits accrue to the landed oligarchies and the multinational corporations. The main dynamic of agrarian discontent today lies in the contradiction between the mass of peasants squeezed into smaller and smaller plots of infertile land on the one side and huge capitalist plantation owners producing for export on the other.  In the post-war decades agrarian reform from above has attempted to avert the mobilization of the agrarian masses by creating a stable strata of conservative middle peasants.

The surviving semi-feudal landlords collude with finance capital to subordinate the peasant economy to the needs of large scale agrarian capitalism. The peasantry is not a modern class with a homogeneous relationship to the means of production. The further it has evolved from communal land ownership  the more it is bifurcated into rich capitalist farmers at one pole and rural proletarians at the other.  Where the peasantry has established a stable hold on small scale private property in the countryside it has always been capable of being mobilised as a mass support base for reactionary  regimes. When faced with a challenge from the proletariat these regimes demagogically portray the working class as the enemy of the small peasant.  Along the path of revolution the urban working class will seeks solidarity with the growing agricultural proletariat who labour on the plantations, farms, ranches.

In the struggle for communism the working class must actively fight for the transfer of land ownership to the working class. There can be no question of the working class subordinating its politics to the politics of the agrarian petty bourgeoisie, in the form of a land grabbing or the national struggle. The former would amount to the promotion of small private property relations. This would be to advocate turning back the forces of production to back to the past. It would be to promote the conditions that negate the conditions necessary for the emergence of the modern industrial proletariat. All land must be owned and controlled by the working class. Under such conditions the peasantry will  cease to exist as a social category.

We put forward a programme for the revolutionary expropriation of all land irrespective of the character of its non working class ownership by councils of workers. We fight for a policy of collectivized state farming.


11.  Stalinism, petty bourgeois nationalism and bourgeois democratic tasks

 In all its forms Stalinism has remained implacably hostile to the theory and strategy of communist revolution. The triumph of Stalinism was marked by the official adoption of the doctrine of socialism in one country by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The idea of a national road to socialism flowed from this theory.

In the neo-colonial and colonial countries this road involved passing through distinct and separate political stages. The first stage is that of the struggle, entailing an alliance with in alliance with the national bourgeoisie. The second stage is the evolution towards socialism when the level of the productive forces are deemed ripe. In the imperialist epoch this strategy means that Stalinism denied the proletariat’s independent class interests whenever the politics representing those interests directly challenged the class interests of the national bourgeoisie. Since the Second World War Stalinism has even tended to abandon any pretence that the second stage is possible for the neo-colonies.  So thoroughly committed to the “democratic stage” has Stalinism been that it has  fused itself with petty bourgeois nationalist formations. We do not rule out that there may emerge “stages” in the living struggle for working class power. But there can never be self-contained stages, each based on a separate strategy for a separate period.

Wherever the working class has spontaneously broken out of the limits that Stalinism has imposed on the revolutionary process Stalinists have become the most fervent advocates of crushing the working class and pressing it back inside reactionary limits. The bitter consequence has often been, not the realisation of the democratic stage, but bloody counter-revolution and dictatorship (Indonesia, Chile, Iran).  As the imperialist epoch has progressed petty bourgeois nationalism has increasingly taken up the mantle of the “national revolutionary” struggle in the neo-colonial era. It has often taken up ostensibly revolutionary methods of struggle (insurrections, guerrilla warfare) in pursuit of a spurious national independence. On some occasions petty bourgeois forces have sanctioned, even if they have not organised, class struggle methods (strikes, occupations, land seizures). Nevertheless, the goal of petty bourgeois nationalism constitutes an idealist utopia that is ipso facto unrealizable under modern conditions.  The fight for an “independent capitalism” which espouses “social justice” at home and “non-alignment” abroad is, in the epoch of imperialism, an illusion.

Where such parties rule for any length of time without overthrowing capitalism (Nicaragua) they rob the workers and peasants of the fruits of their struggle in the attempt to conciliate a “patriotic” capitalist class. This state of affairs tends to degenerate into a conservative counter-revolution (Egypt, Algeria, Iran) entailing the ascendancy of the bourgeoisie or the overthrow of the petty bourgeois regime by pro-imperialist forces (Guatemala, Grenada).

The official pro-Moscow Stalinist Parties actively supported reactionary dictatorships in the interests of the Kremlin’s diplomatic manoeuvres. Bourgeois and petty bourgeois nationalism had drawn strength from this action. This has allowed the masses to be led by  reactionary religious fundamentalists. Thus ideologies which at the dawn of capitalism receded in the face of a confident and rising bourgeoisie such as Islam in the reactionary epoch of capitalism are strengthened.

In Iran such a reactionary ideology hegemonised the majority of the exploited and oppressed even at the moment when the mass movement overthrew the pro-imperialist Shah. In power the full reactionary content of religious fundamentalism has  shown itself: the denial of democratic rights, the persecution of independent proletarian organisations and the oppression of women. Rather than these regime facilitating the growth of the forces of production they have led to its atrophy.

12.  Strategy and tactics in the neo-colonies

Since 1945 capitalism has completed its task of destroying or totally subordinating the remnants of previous modes of production. But despite the penetration of capital into every corner of the former colonial world we have not witnessed the widespread development of strong national bourgeoisies.  While imperialism has nurtured, even created, a neo-colonial bourgeoisie within formally independent states, its domination of the economic or political life of these states has continued. In the early part of the imperialist epoch the young and embryonic national bourgeoisies in the colonial countries experienced national oppression. Imperialist, powers pressed their large scale capital onto the oppressed nations and thereby destroyed many small local independent enterprises. Under these circumstances the colonial bourgeoisie was driven to play an important role in fighting imperialist rule. Using deceitful phrases and false promises, movements such as the Indian National Congress and the Kuomintang could mobilise a mass following of all plebeian classes in their service. Yet these “national revolutionary movements” were under the leadership of a class (the bourgeoisie) which was to show its class nature. Instead of waging the revolutionary war against imperialism it delivered its peasant and working class following into the hands of the imperialist bourgeoisie in one form or another. All it really wanted was a bigger slice of the cake from the imperialist bourgeoisie. Once it got this the struggle had served its purpose. Under imperialism the native bourgeoisie, in general, are incapable of conducting a consistent struggle for national independence. The weakness of the national bourgeoisie with regard to the imperialist bourgeoisie and the modern proletariat means that the objective and subjective conditions render it objectively and subjectively incapable of leading such a struggle.

After the Second World War, under the supervision of US imperialism, the old colonial empires were dismantled and gradually replaced by the neo-colonial system that prevails today. Throughout their empires the old weakened imperialist powers—Britain, France, Holland and Portugal—were forced to grant formal political independence to their colonies. The national bourgeoisie was unable, except episodically, to go beyond the strategy of peaceful pressure on the imperialists to withdraw.  In colony after colony,  petty bourgeois nationalism, often in alliance with Stalinism, led the struggle for independence. Wherever the imperialists held on until the last moment (Algeria, Malaya, Vietnam, Aden, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe) the petty bourgeois nationalists resorted to violent methods of struggle.  Despite promises to the masses to alleviate the crushing burden of imperialist rule, once having achieved state power these same “revolutionaries” used it to repress the proletariat and the poor peasants, to shore up and develop capitalism and protect the imperialists’ interests. Both bourgeois and petty bourgeois nationalists showed themselves incapable of fulfilling even the most basic bourgeois democratic tasks of the revolution against the imperialists. National self-determination remained a fiction as long as the countries’ economies were dominated by imperialism.

Some of the new ruling classes—in Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Iran, Kenya—relied on open collaboration with the imperialist powers to develop their industries and agriculture. These states developed economies tied totally to the world imperialist division of labour. They offered police state controlled labour movements and furnished a labour force that could be super-exploited as an encouragement to imperialist investment.  At the other extreme some neo-colonies experimented with nationally isolated attempts at development, minimising or severely reducing their links with imperialism, often through relying on economic links with the Soviet bloc. These regimes often took on a leftist character, balancing between imperialism on the one hand, and tightly controlled mobilisations of the masses on the other. Consciously modelling their economic development on the experience of Stalin’s industrialisation policy, they pursued major “state capitalist” projects and established large state bureaucracies as an important social prop. Through these methods such regimes sought a road to “independent capitalist development”. This strategy proved an economic disaster in country after country.  Stagnation and imperialist pressure forced a collapse back into the arms of imperialism. Peron’s Argentina, Nasser’s Egypt, Bandaranaike’s Sri Lanka, Nyerere’s Tanzania are just a few examples of where this strategy failed. Autarchy is a utopia and it is always the masses who are obliged to foot the bill for its failure.

Whichever strategy the neo-colonial bourgeoisies pursued, and some, like India tried a combination of both, the result was the same—chronically dependent economies, enormous poverty for the masses, stagnation and growing indebtedness to imperialism. Only in exceptional circumstances such as South Africa did it prove possible for a neo-colonial power to break out of this cycle and join the imperialists as a junior partner. Such cases were due in large to the character of the cold war and the consequent geopolitical position of such regimes in relation to it. The bourgeois nationalists were incapable of achieving real independence and they were equally incapable of maintaining political democracy. While the imperialists hypocritically sang the virtues of “parliamentary democracy”, even bequeathing constitutions modelled on their Westminster or Washington versions, they happily connived at its overthrow if democratically elected governments threatened their economic interests.  Only a minority of the most developed neo-colonies have been able to sustain parliamentary regimes for any significant period of time. And even here, as with the case of Chile in 1973, imperialism has directly intervened to overthrow democratic regimes that it felt threatened its interests.

Confronted with the demands of the peasantry for a comprehensive solution to land hunger, bourgeois nationalists have been unwilling to take any radical measures which  threaten their alliance with the semi-feudal landlords or big capitalist farmers. Where they have been forced to introduce major land reforms—Bolivia, Peru, the Punjab in India—it has always been to avoid a revolutionary solution to the land question. In maintaining exploitation the strategy of imperialism has always been to divide and rule. In many cases  the colonial bourgeoisie, in its promotion of division,  deliberately favoured a particular minority of the population in its colonial apparatus, as in Sri Lanka or Cyprus. In other cases, where remnants of pre-capitalist and religious divisions were still in existence, these were seized upon, cultivated and preserved in imperialism’s interests. For example, the hereditary division of labour upon which the Indian caste system rests was institutionalised by British colonialism and it helped to preserve a measure of rural docility.  Indigenous landlordism and capitalism were able to exploit this system to their advantage. Today, the systematic discrimination and institutionalised inequalities of the caste system remain strong despite the development of modern capitalism in India.

Despite the claims of the “third worldists” and dependency theorists that extensive capitalist development in the imperialised world was not possible, imperialist capital has achieved just this and in the process has created millions of new wage labourers.  In the last two decades this neo-colonial working class has entered the road of militant class action only to run up against the limits of syndicalist, Stalinist and nationalist leadership. There is a crisis of leadership within the neo-colonial working class. In most countries even the nucleus of a revolutionary communist party is absent. This has allowed petty bourgeois political formations of all kinds to come to the head of anti-imperialist mass action and inevitably betray it. In the struggle against exploitation—in the factories, mines and plantations of native as well as imperialist capital—the world working class must use the full range of communist demands and tactics.

The expropriation of the major industries, banks and finance houses, the imposition of a state monopoly of foreign trade and the internationalisation of the revolution must be the first steps of every victorious neo-colonial revolution. But only the proletariat, mobilised in workers’ councils and a workers’ militia can carry out these tasks in a wholly progressive manner.

13.  The working class and the guerrilla strategy

Communists are opposed to the strategy of guerrilla war whether in a “foco” or “peoples war” variant. Petty bourgeois guerrillaism is opposed to the construction of a workers’ party, to workers’ councils and to a proletarian insurrection. It wants to dissolve the proletariat’s interests into the cross-class programme of the petty bourgeoisie. It wants to impose bureaucratic organisations and avoid the development of workers’ councils and autonomous democratic workers’ militias.  Even where it succeeds in downing a decrepit dictatorship (Cuba, Nicaragua) it paves the way for a nationalist solution. Guerrilla victories are always accompanied by the crushing of the proletariat’s independent organisations. Behind an ultra-left phraseology and methodology guerrillaism in fact evinces a tremendous lack of confidence in the working class and a predisposition to make deals with sections of the bourgeoisie. It involves surrendering political leadership to the urban bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie and, in so far as it seeks a mass base for its actions (i.e.  people’s war), it dissolves the independent interests of the working class into that of the petty bourgeoisie. In that sense guerrillaism as a strategy always has the tendency to be an armed popular front. Guerrillaism downgrades economic and political struggle in favour of episodic and often desultory military action. Individual terrorism, the destruction of factories (centres of proletarian concentration) and spectacular military actions are methods counterposed to the strategy of the working class. Against communism’s  dictum that the emancipation of the workers can only be carried out by the workers themselves, the guerrillaists proclaim that liberation will be the act of external saviours.

By its undemocratic and elitist attitude towards the masses they claim to represent, the guerrilla leaders can often leave the masses defenceless in the face of the state’s superior military forces or of vigilante groups.  To withdraw the most fearless and combative fighters from the factories, the urban centres and densely populated rural districts, is to strip the workers’ and peasants’ organisations of their cadres and their leaders.  Guerrillaists may also attack the workers’ organisations themselves, as in the case of Sendero Luminoso in Peru.

For revolutionary communists guerrilla action is a tactic that can be used in the communist struggle against capitalism under specific circumstances. We do not reject forming a tactical alliance with petty bourgeois guerrilla armies or entry work within such armies.

14.  Against bourgeois militarism, against imperialist war! 

The proletariat is an international class which has no interest in defending the bourgeois nation state. In the imperialist countries workers must therefore be unswerving in their defeatism. Defeatism is based on the principle that the main enemy of the working class is the bourgeoisie in it own country. We must fight against working class participation in the war effort. The workers’ organisations must turn the imperialist war into a civil war.

There exist vast arsenals of nuclear warheads, of biological and of chemical weapons capable of destroying humanity. Posed with this threat, the reformists of Social Democracy and Stalinism preach to the working class about world disarmament and the banishing of war from the planet. The question is not an abstract one of disarmament, but one as to who is to be disarmed and by what means? Wherever the pacifists lead sections of the workers and the petty bourgeoisie in a disarmament campaign revolutionaries participate in such campaigns. They make clear their complete opposition to the utopian politics of the pacifists while advancing our communst programme of demands on war and militarism.

15.  Bourgeois democracy and democratic demands

In the imperialist countries, as long as they can maintain social and economic stability, the favoured form of rule is bourgeois democracy. It is the specific form of rule that the bourgeoisie, in its revolutionary epoch, developed as a means of enlisting the support of the masses in the struggle against feudalism.

Through parliament a democratic facade is erected to disguise the actual dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. By means of parliamentary democracy the bourgeoisie throws sops to the working class, grants it the right to vote every so often and incorporates its leadership into the state. Through the media and the press the capitalists have a powerful propaganda machine at their disposal capable, for whole periods, of deceiving the masses and tying them to the illusion that under this system the people rule. But behind the facade lies the reality of capitalist state power—the executive, the unelected (or where it is elected the unaccountable) judiciary and bureaucracy, the police and the armed forces. When the capitalists feel that their property or their rule are challenged by the working class, the full force of the repressive apparatus is brought into play.

We strive to expose the parliamentary sham to the working class and build organisations of proletarian democracy. The recurrent crises of the present period do indeed oblige the capitalists to attack the democratic rights won by the workers. In the imperialist epoch there is always a tendency towards the negation of bourgeois democracy and its replacement with openly dictatorial forms of rule. This tendency is becoming more acute, throughout the imperialist heartlands. Anti-union laws, the curtailment of freedom of speech, the ability to enact laws by circumventing parliament altogether, the strengthening of the repressive apparatus, all represent embryonic forms of open dictatorship. In all such cases revolutionaries fight to defend the basic rights won by the workers’ movement under bourgeois democracy: the right to strike, free speech, the right to free assembly and to form unions.

Under conditions of deep social crisis the bourgeoisie can use a fascist movement in order to maintain their rule against the working class.  Fascism is a reactionary mass movement mainly recruited from the ranks of a petty bourgeoisie and lumpenproletariat. It has as its goal the destruction of the workers’ movement and the establishment of the rule of finance capital unfettered by any elements of bourgeois democracy whatsoever. It is a last resort for the bourgeoisie since it involves the suppression of its own parliamentary representatives. As Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy show, it is a regime that is established if the situation demands it.

From the moment that fascism emerges the working class must wage a merciless struggle to defeat it. Fascism is only outrightly defeated by the destruction of the capitalist class.  We strive to organise workers’ defence units to combat fascist attacks on the racially oppressed and the workers’ movement. The struggle to defend the democratic rights of the workers and to combat fascism does not in any way form a separate and distinct series of tasks from the communist programme as whole. The struggle against fascism will only be finally won through the realisation of the programme of communist demands in its entirety.

16.  The trade unions

In much of the world trade unions are durable mass organisations within which is located much of the working class. Despite the reactionary character of the trade unions revolutionaries must have a central orientation to the unions. A correct revolutionary intervention into the unions requires a clear understanding of their nature and their limitations. A coherent strategy for their replacement by a federation of workplace committees is communism’s aim.

Trade unionism on its own represents the class struggle carried on within the boundaries of capitalism. The trade unions  have constituted themselves as elementary organisations for the defence and even improvement of the living standards of the working class.  As such, pure trade unionism accepts the wages system. Pure trade union consciousness is a bourgeois reformist current within the working class movement. However the system of capitalist exploitation generates spontaneous struggle by the working class against exploitation. It does so because the bourgeoisie, forced by its nature, strives to increase  the rate and intensity of the exploitation of labour power. The character of the class struggle provides the objective conditions for a challenge to  trade unionism with its inherent reformist limits.

The working class resorts to forms of the class struggle that challenge the bounds of reformist trade union solutions. This objective fact highlights the bourgeois limits of trade union organizations. The revolutionary potential of a working class compelled to use strikes, occupations and picket lines, workplace committees and workers’ councils constitutes the very dialectical antithesis of the trade union form of organisation. The bourgeois limits of the trade union organisation reveals itself in many ways. Even with the expansion of the proletariat in the neo-colonial world the trade unions still only organise a minority of the international working class. The unions tend to organise the skilled and more privileged sections of the class. They reflect the sectionalism and narrow craft consciousness of such layers. They demonstrate a tendency to formally spurn politics, in the name of ostensible neutrality. At the same time the leaders often deliver union members’ votes to reformist or liberal bourgeois parties.

Unions are generally dominated by a reformist bureaucracy. In the imperialist countries this bureaucracy arose out of the organised skilled workers. In many neo-colonies a bureaucracy has also arisen out of the organized skilled workforce albeit one smaller and with fewer material privileges than that of the imperialist countries. This has been patronised by bourgeois nationalist or reformist forces interested in securing a base in society for themselves (as in Mexico, Argentina). In other cases, where a privileged skilled labour force has either not yet developed or is not sufficiently significant to influence the unions or reformist/nationalist parties, a reformist bureaucracy has constituted itself often through links with the trade union movement  of the imperialist countries.  The trade union bureaucratized leadership is a distinct social layer that owes its position and economic privileges (no matter how marginal they may be) to its role as an ostensibly independent negotiator between workers and the bosses in the ongoing struggles of the day. Its privileged position is often enhanced through its incorporation into the lower echelons of the capitalist state.

To maintain its position this leadership has an objective interest in maintaining the system of class exploitation and consequently strives to limit and thereby betray struggles. It acts as the labour lieutenant of capital inside the working class. By contrast the rank and file of the unions has no objective interest in maintaining the system of capitalist exploitation. Consequently communists can work within the trade unions movement to organize on a revolutionary basis the rank and file. The rank and file’s fundamental interests are not merely distinct from those of the bureaucratized leadership layer but also in direct contradiction to the trade union organizational form. To develop the elementary class consciousness of the rank and file into revolutionary consciousness it is necessary to fight for the establishment of workplace committees that exist independently of the trade unions.

We strive to build communist fractions within the unions seeking to openly challenge its leadership on the basis of the revolutionary communist programme. To achieve our goal of challenging the trade unions we advocate rank-and-file workplace committees. These committees will be committed to rank and file democracy, the election and accountability of all representatives and the struggle against all  bourgeois imposed divisions of the working class within the workplace. In the struggle to establish workplace committees on the basis of the communist programme communists are not opposed to building communist fractions within the unions. It is an organizational form within which communists constitute a fraction but seek to become a mass force, and through which they seek to gain leadership on the basis of an action programme. It is the form of the united front suitable to the unions where the communists constitute a minority but have the possibility of mobilising non-communist workers. 

A history of reformist betrayal and the corporatist integration of  unions into the state has led elements within the left to abandon these mass organisations and build purified trade unions, or “red unions”, which do not comprise the masses or even significant sections of the working class. In general this policy of dual unionism abandons the masses to the bureaucracy and increases division within the working class. Our general policy is one of working within the trade unions in the struggle against the capitalist while simultaneously undermining the trade unions by winning workers over to the workplace committee. In that we pursue our programmatic task of winning the working class over to communism.

 Nor are we trade union fetishists. Trade unions organisations by their very nature must seek to unite the broadest layers. They are heterogeneous, including backward as well as advanced layers of the working class. In contrast to syndicalists or industrial unionists we do not see the unions as ends in themselves or as substitutes for workplace committees, workers’ councils or the communist party. Only the party can represent the strategic interests of the entire proletariat. Only the party by centralizing, concentrating and unifying the many diverse forms of the class struggle  can lead the victory of the working class over the bourgeoisie.

17.  Workers’ control and workplace committees

The system of capitalist exploitation requires that the bosses control every aspect of the production process. They realise higher profits by increasing the rate and intensity of the exploitation of labour power within the production process. Consequently the working class is obliged to counter capitalist control with workers’ control in the fight to advance and guarantee the demands of the organized working class. For this reason the communist programme places the struggle for workers’ control at the centre of its propaganda and agitation. Against capitalist exploitation we fight for workers’ control On the other hand we reject the diverse schemes for worker participation  advanced to increasingly integrate the working class into the process of production. These schemes are designed to secure agreement for attacks on jobs, wages and conditions.

Workers’ control at the factory level is incomplete if it is not extended to capitalist production as a whole. Workers’ control is the next step on the way to the workers ownership of the capitalist production process.

Workers’ control is a form of struggle and an institutional form designed both to protect and improve both the living standards and conditions of workers. It is fought for in order to advance and protect the needs of the working class. It is a form of struggle designed to push social relations to their limits as a means of undermining them while protecting the class interests of workers. It is a form of struggle meant to expose the limits of the social relations of capital and demonstrate the contradiction between the social relations and the forces of production. It is a means to concretely demonstrate the historically obsolescent character of the social relation of capital and the historical necessity of its replacement. The extension of workers control is concrete evidence of the obsolescence of the bourgeoisie and the necessity of the transferal of power from the bourgeoisie to the working class. Workers’ control is evidence and proof of the need for this new social form that is the antithesis to the bourgeois social form if the needs of humanity are to meet. It is proof that the bourgeoisie cannot fulfill basic historical tasks and that it is superfluous. Workers’ control is not a reformist means to achieve the socialist planned economy from within capitalism. It forms part of the revolutionary struggle for power in society as a whole.

The workplace committees are the organizational forms for conducting the struggle for workers’ control. By organizing all the workers in a factory regardless of trade, shop, union affiliation or membership, the workers’ committee is able to unite the whole workforce directing it towards a daily struggle  to challenge and control the power of the boardroom. They also serve the struggle by replacing the unions with the revolutionary organizations of the working class. These workers’ committee must be based on direct democracy, with delegates who are recallable and in daily contact with the workers elected by shop and mass meetings.

They constitute—as the factory occupation does—a challenge to management’s right to manage. They are also a challenge to capitalist private property and the power of the reactionary unions over the workers.  They establish a regime of dual power in the factory and their presence demands an answer to the question—who rules the factory, the workers or the bosses? As such they are characteristic of intense periods of class warfare. And, just as dual power in society cannot last for a protracted period, nor can it in the factory. Workers’ committees are compelled to advance, ever more audaciously, in the fight for workers’ control. If it does not it risks either disintegration or incorporation. 

18.  From picket line defence to the workers’ militia

The preparation of the working class for insurrection against the capitalist system passes through a series of demands and actions. The working class has been met with violent attacks  at work when it has attempted to fight for its rights.  In the face of such attacks it has developed its own means of defence—the picket line. The bourgeois state tries to restrict the picket line to an ineffective protest. Workers have tried to build the picket into a mass force capable of overawing strike breakers, company and state police alike. But no matter how large it is, the picket line is insufficient to ensure either its own total effectiveness or the proper defence of workers in struggle. The workers must organise their own defence. The first step is the defence of the strike picket line, and of the factory. Every time the workers try to enforce their will they are met with repression. Whether the strikebreakers and their protectors are the police (Western Europe), the army (many of the neo-colonies), or paid gun-thugs and “national guardsmen” (the USA), their function is to physically smash the workers’ picket line. In conditions of extreme crisis the bourgeoisie will resort to fascist gangs on the model of Hitler’s brownshirts or to shadowy “death squads” linked to the armed forces in order to break the fighting strength of the working class.

The strikebreakers join the fray with confidence because they feel they have the full weight of the bourgeois state behind them. But their successes are, in large measure, in direct proportion to the lack of organisation inside the working class. Special units of strikers, supported by the mass but specially drilled for the purpose of armed combat, can destroy this confidence and put the scab rabble to flight.  Thus the picket line can be transformed from either a purely token gesture or a disorganised demonstration, into a disciplined and effective squadron of the working class army. Thus, too, can the first elements of a workers’ militia be assembled.

19.  Workers’ councils and the struggle for working class power

If the workplace committee is the organ of dual power in the workplace, then the workers’ council, co-ordinated on a national basis, is the organ of dual power in society as a whole. Workers’ councils arise when society enters a revolutionary crisis, when the masses outgrow the confines of their traditional organisations and turn to revolutionary forms of struggle and organisation. A revolutionary crisis exists when society reaches an impasse: the bourgeoisie is divided and stricken by governmental crises, the masses refuse to tolerate the old regime and repeatedly demonstrate their will to sacrifice all to defeat it.

Throughout the history of capitalism there have been a series of revolutionary periods, consisting of an extended series of economic and political crises which were resolved only when a fundamental defeat had been inflicted on one of the contending classes. Thereafter a radically new economic and political relationship of forces allowed for the stabilisation and further development of capitalism. Periods of revolutionary crisis embrace one country, a continent or the whole globe. They vary in longevity and depth, with the most severe being related to wars, successful revolutions or counter-revolutions. A revolutionary period can consist of several shorter phases, or situations.

A pre-revolutionary situation exists when a profound economic crisis induces massive inflation (or deflation), unemployment and bankruptcies. Through these catastrophes the moribund nature of the capitalist system is exposed to millions. A pre-revolutionary situation may also arise from military defeat, as in Russia during 1905.  Such situations of crisis tend to produce a political crisis, forcing the bourgeoisie to resort either to more authoritarian methods of rule, or to co-opt the workers’ leaders into solving the crisis at the expense of the working class. Divisions within the ruling class over which course to take give an added impulse to the proletariat to embark on more and more militant and generalized forms of struggle. Inherent in this situation are tendencies towards the emergence of a revolutionary situation. In a pre-revolutionary situation the tasks of the revolutionary party centre on posing the generalized slogans (general strike, workers’ self-defence, the building of embryonic workers’ councils such as councils of action, strike committees, united front committees).

Should the working class fail to make a victorious revolution then the counter-revolution will triumph either in the form of open dictatorship over the working class  or a more limited form of the democratic counter-revolution. The latter leaves a bourgeois democratic constitution more or less in operation but subjects the revolutionary vanguard to military, police and judicial terror. These counter-revolutions clearly terminate the revolutionary period. What ensues may prove to be a long counter-revolutionary period such as followed the defeat of the German workers in 1933 or the Chilean workers in 1973. On the other hand if a fundamental relaxation of the economic and political crisis occurs then a non-revolutionary period, a period of social stabilisation may occur.

In conditions in which the proletariat has not suffered a historic defeat an inter-revolutionary period may open. Then an interval exists before battle between the two classes breaks out again. The recognition of qualitative changes in political conditions can be critical to the growth or even the survival of a revolutionary party. It is essential to adopt the appropriate tactics and methods of organization.  Russia February 1917, Germany 1918, Spain in the 1930s and many other examples demonstrate that if the proletariat succeeds in establishing its own armed power but without simultaneously totally smashing the armed power of the bourgeoisie, then a situation of dual power comes into existence in which two regimes of different classes confront each other. This dual power situation is inherently unstable.  It exists in a situation in which the armed power of the workers is strong and the bourgeoisie has lost control over substantial sectors of its own armed forces and fears defeat. We struggle to replace dual power with the proletarian dictatorship established through the armed insurrection. This goal can only be achieved if the revolutionary party wins leadership of the workers’ councils. Only then can counter-revolution be defeated and the slogan of “all power to the workers’ councils” actually be realised. Embryonic workers’ councils can emerge in many different forms—from workers’ committees, or from action councils built around particular struggles. There is no substitute for organs of struggle that express the essence of the workers’ council.  We seek to develop and direct the differing forms of embryonic workers’ councils to become actual workers’ councils. All of those actively engaged in struggle are represented in such councils. They are made up of delegates from the factories, the unions, all the workplaces, the working class districts, the peasant committees, the workers’ parties.

Workers’ councils break down sectional barriers and put  class-wide unity in their place. They have a territorial character drawing in all of the exploited and oppressed within a town or region. Through regular elections and recallability the most democratic form of representative organisation of the workers in history is created. Free from pre-existing bureaucratic apparatuses they are immediately sensitive to the changes in mood, political outlook and militancy of the masses. Workers’ councils are the surest means by which the will of the struggling proletariat is finds organized political expression. Workers’ councils are the administrative base of the future workers’ state. They are organs of working class power.  Likewise the workers’ militia will be transformed from the tool of insurrection to a bastion for the defence of the workers’ state against counter-revolution. Every revolutionary situation has proved that the working class cannot simply lay hold of the existing state machinery and use it to build socialism.

New proletarian organisations must take the place of the capitalist state.  The workers’ councils --which in a dual power situation are obliged to exercise control over production, public life and distribution--  are ideally suited to the task of running the workers’ state. They are both revolutionary instruments in the struggle for power and revolutionary organs of power.

20.  For the break up of the armed might of the state

To smash the power of the bourgeois state the armed forces of the ruling class will have to be broken from within as well as from without. As every revolutionary situation has shown, in a decisive showdown with the working class, sections of the armed forces (police, army, navy, air force) have wavered and broken with their capitalist masters. The nature of the armed forces and police organisations differ in many parts of the world. In general the police forces constitute the day-to-day repressive apparatus of the capitalist state. In emergencies, martial law situations and under military regimes the army will also play this direct repressive role. We oppose the utopian idea that these bodies of armed men/women can be democratised or transformed into a neutral force or ally of the working class. They must be smashed and replaced by a mass popular militia based on the workers and poor peasants.

However, the variation in composition and organisation of the armed forces (professional or conscript armies, poor peasant or proletarian recruits) requires different tactics to break them up. But all the tactics aim at destabilising and breaking the chain of command and discipline within them. To this end the class struggle must be prosecuted within the military. The officer corps constitutes the most unreformable and dedicated anti-working class vanguard of the ruling class within the armed forces. The workers must fight to organise the rank and file soldiers and the non-commissioned officers against the authority, the privileges and corruption of this caste. To guide this work we endeavour to build communist clandestine cells within the armed forces.


As well as undermining discipline it is essential that communists support the legitimate grievances of the rank and file soldier. In this way the repressive role of the armed forces be undermined and the rank and file solidarise with the working class by, for example, refusing to attack demonstrations and pickets and refusing to torture prisoners. Therefore, we demand the right of rank and file soldiers and police to organise themselves independently of the state apparatus and to circulate political literature and to strike.  To this end we fight for an end to the barracks system and for the election of all officers by the rank and file. We fight for tribunals of the rank and file to try officers accused of brutality, corruption, plotting and reactionary coups. In pre-revolutionary situations we agitate for the soldiers to form councils and to send delegates to the local, regional and national workers’ councils of the workers. Revolutionary communists go into the armies where the workers are found and work for the revolution from within.

21.  The insurrection

The task of the revolutionary party in the workers’ councils is to channel all struggles towards the goal of smashing the capitalist state. To realise this goal the general strike and the armed insurrection are key weapons. Insurrections have proven successful without a general strike. The general strike is, under many circumstances, a key revolutionary method of struggle since it paralyses the entire functioning of the capitalist enemy and its state.  It poses the question: who rules society, the bosses who own it, or the workers who run it? It places the struggle for power at the top of the agenda. But in itself a mass withdrawal of labour cannot answer the question, who rules? Therefore a general strike must prepare the way for the armed insurrection.

History shows that the proletariat can only deprive the bourgeoisie of state power by violent means. Of course, the amount of force needed will vary according to the relationship of class forces on the eve of the insurrection. It will particularly depend on the extent to which the armed forces have been won to the side of the revolutionary proletariat. Clearly, without a revolutionary situation in which the masses stand fully behind the revolutionary party, an insurrection led by a revolutionary minority is an adventurist putsch. The party must have won over the majority of the organised workers of the major cities and towns if the new regime established by the insurrection is to be stable and permanent.  Insurrections have, historically, occurred in two forms. First the “February revolution” (France 1848, Russia 1917): spontaneous mass insurrections against dictatorial regimes where no dominant conscious revolutionary party leads the masses. Here the outcome can be a democratic bourgeois regime, a dual power situation or, in rare and exceptional circumstances, a Paris Commune type triumph of the workers under a leadership that either does not wish to hold power or does not know how to consolidate or extend it.

The attitude of the revolutionary minority to such a spontaneous uprising is to participate fully in it, seeking to give it conscious leadership, especially through the fight for workers’ councils and a revolutionary workers’ government based on them. The other type of insurrection is the conscious, planned forcible transfer of state power to the proletariat. The carrying through of the insurrection is a technical task which demands conspiratorial planning. The workers’ councils have to be won to the goal of insurrection and the workers’ militia and the pro-working class regiments are the means of carrying through the rising.  But the revolutionary party alone can provide the general staff to direct that rising. While the party can utilise the aid of the non-commissioned officers the command of such officers must always be restricted to military actions, monitored by elected company and regimental committees. The seizure of the key installations, the organisation of the new regime’s defence, the distribution of arms and the allocation of proletarian insurgents cannot be left to the spontaneity of the masses or “enlightened officers”. The party is decisive in co-ordinating this action. But on the morrow of a successful insurrection the rewards of such preparation will be clear: the smashing of the capitalist state and the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship on the basis of workers’ council power.

22.  For a revolutionary communist international

To make social revolution a world revolutionary party is indispensable. Only a revolutionary communist party, which wins over the majority of the organised working class in the revolutionised unions, the workplace committees, workers’ militias and workers’ councils, can take power. Only by means of the party can the working class hold onto power against counter-revolution, protect the degeneration of the revolution while extending the revolution internationally. The building of a communist party in each country is the fundamental task of revolutionaries. The communist vanguard party functions on the basis of democratic centralism. Communists must ensure that democracy is maximized and centralism minimized. The relationship between these two aspects of party organization mutually support each other in a dialectical unity. This means that the relationship between democracy and centralism is a dialectical one. Consequently it is an ever changing relationship. The specific conditions influence this relationship.

When serious and prolonged differences emerge in the party the formation of organised tendencies and even factions may be necessary. Therefore the right to form tendencies and factions is an indispensable feature of the party. Centrally organized discipline is the essential means of concentrating all the force of the revolution on the bourgeoisie and its state. It renders each action of the party more effective. When political disputes are resolved by a vote inside the organisation then it is the duty of all members to carry out all decisions and actions that flow from this vote. It is entirely permissible to review the policy that has been under dispute. Such genuine democratic centralism is essential at all stages of party building. Very often the initial stages of party building will be devoted primarily to propaganda. Where there are only a handful of revolutionaries in a given country the main task will be to clarify the most fundamental questions of programme. As the organisation grows to become a fighting propaganda group it will increasingly take part in mass struggles in which it fights for leadership. Under these conditions we always aim to test and apply our programme through intervention in the class struggle.

The passage from the fighting propaganda group to the communist combat party cannot be achieved by shallowly launching a handful of cadres into “mass work” or by making opportunist adaptations in situations of heightened class struggle. A genuine revolutionary party exercises a strong influence on the vanguard of the class. It is composed of communist cadres, has a sizeable national implantation in the advanced sectors of the proletariat, and is able to organise mass struggles. In revolutionary and pre-revolutionary situations the party must develop into a mass party in order to organise the masses for the seizure of power.

The End




bourgeois, 37


capitalism, 37

capitalist, 37

capitalist class, 37

class consciousness, 37

class struggle, 37

commune, 37

communist, 37

communists, 37

community, 37


defence, 37

demands, 37

dictatorship, 37


economic, 37

Erfurt programme, 37

essence, 37


fascism, 37

federation, 37


global, 37

globalisation, 37


hegemony, 37

historical, 37


ideological, 37

ideology, 37

internationalism, 37



labour movement, 37

labour power, 37

leninist, 37


Marx, 37

maximum, 37

middle class, 37

militia, 37

minimum, 37


national, 37

national question, 37

nationstrikes, 37

natiopicket line, 37


objective, 37

oppression, 37


party, 37

perspective, 37

popular front, 37

practice, 37

pre-revolutionary, 37

production, 37

profit, 37

programme, 37

proletariat, 37


racism, 37

racists, 37

revolution, 37

revolutionary, 37


social democracy, 37

social relations, 37

social relations of production, 37

socialdictatorship, 37

sociinsurrection, 37

soviets, 37

stalinist, 37

state, 37

strategic, 37

strategy, 37

struggle, 37

subjective, 37


tactical, 37

theory, 37

trade unions, 37

transitional, 37

trotskyist, 37


united front, 37

uprising, 37


valorisation, 37

value, 37

violent, 37


wages, 37

women, 37

working class, 37

working conditions, 37

workplace committees, 37

world, 37



The Communist Think-Tank