Founding statement of the Party for Socialism and Liberation

Aug 1, 2004

(August 1, 2004)

We are in a period where the world’s poor and working people are waging heroic struggles against imperialist war and exploitation.

Millions of people poured into the streets in the last few years to prevent Bush and Cheney’s rush to war against Iraq, only to find that this imperialist war had the backing of both political parties of U.S. imperialism, of the big business media, of the corporations and the banks.

The protests were huge—the biggest anti-war demonstrations ever. The anti-war movement spanned the globe. It was an historic demonstration of unity by the people of all continents uniting against U.S. imperialism.

Yet the war machine pushed ahead. Today, tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead. Thousands of GIs, workers in uniform, have been killed or wounded, with more being sent to their deaths daily. Politicians of all stripes promise “endless war” — and it is only because of the fierce Iraqi resistance to the Pentagon occupation that has slowed, but not stopped, the plans for the next war for empire.

If a mass movement of the magnitude of the past years cannot prevent imperialist war, what can? What will stop the next war? Or the war after that?

Since 1945, every generation has been called on to send its sons and daughters to invade foreign lands: Korea, Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Laos, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan. These do not include U.S.-led proxy wars against Cuba, Nicaragua, Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Colombia, the Philippines, Venezuela and others. Nor does it include the two imperialist world wars of the first half of the 20th Century.

Today it is Iraq. Tomorrow it will be others. The U.S. Senate just unanimously adopted the new military budget—$416 billion—in preparation for new invasions, new bombings, new occupations, new slaughters. The Pentagon now has a network of 750 military bases located in 130 countries—not to mention the 6,000 bases inside the U.S. and its territories.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation emerges from this mass antiwar movement with the firm conviction that the source of the endless war drive is U.S. capitalism itself. The solution to war—to finally end the “endless wars”—is to end the system of capitalism. We need revolution.

Socialism is the only answer

Disguised under the label of a free market economy, U.S. capitalism has evolved into the most highly centralized form of state monopoly capitalism. The banks, the concentrated media monopolies, the transnational corporations—especially the oil and energy conglomerates—and the Pentagon have merged into a permanent warfare state.

There is only one solution to the crisis posed by state monopoly capitalism: socialism. To secure lasting peace requires abolishing the dictatorship wielded by the plutocracy and its warfare state.

Pacifist appeals to the ruling class for a “peaceful” or “kinder, gentler” foreign policy is the worst kind of deceit offered up by social democrats and opportunists. Working to elect a new leader to preside over the affairs of the warfare state will have zero impact in reducing the threat of war. As Lenin wrote in 1916, under the system of imperialism peace is merely a prelude to the next war.

Imperialist wars like the invasion and occupation of Iraq are wars for the rich, for the banks, for the corporations. The imperialists wrap themselves in the flag, whipping up chauvinism and racism against targeted countries.

Our Party’s message is that working people of the invaded countries are not our enemies. If, for instance, the resistance in Iraq defeats the U.S. occupation of their country, working people in the U.S. will lose nothing. When U.S. imperialism was finally defeated in its occupation of Vietnam, working people in the United States lost nothing.

There are 130 million working people in the United States—including those workers without jobs, capitalism’s reserve army of the unemployed. We work every day, producing all the wealth of society with our labor. Yet the reality for those that are not sent off to war grows every day more stark: lower wages, no healthcare, growing poverty, racist police violence, union busting, pervasive racism, sexism, and LGBT oppression.

Our party has been created to be a vehicle for the multinational working class in the struggle for a socialist reorganization of society—a society based on the interests of the vast majority of the people, on the basis of human needs, not private profit. The idea that the bosses and the capitalist state’s grip on society can be abolished through any means other than a revolutionary overturn is a utopian fantasy.

There are hundreds, and really thousands, of progressive organizations that carry out admirable and essential work, that fight to mitigate the horrors associated with poverty, war, exploitation, racism, sexism, homophobia and other “realities” imposed by the domination of private property rights. But a revolutionary party is unique in its perspective that the transformation of the social order can take place only through the revolutionary reconstitution of society.

While we will energetically participate in all the mass movements and progressive organizations, our top priority is building the revolutionary socialist party. All historical experience proves that the creation of a revolutionary party, made up of tested organizers with its base in the working class, is an indispensable factor in the socialist revolution.

We adhere to the analysis of capitalism and class society initially put forward by Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels 150 years ago. Revolutionary Marxism, in contrast to all forms of moderating social-democratic interpretations of Marxism, looks to the advance of the actual class struggle as the only way for working people to dislodge the political and economic power held by the billionaire class.

We need a revolutionary party

Revolutionary Marxism requires a revolutionary party to flourish and develop. Marxism is not an abstract doctrine but rather a guide to action. It must be constantly tested by action and in debate.

Without a revolutionary working class party, the achievement of socialism and communism will remain a dream. Unlike the bourgeoisie, when it was a rising but still oppressed class in Europe under feudalism, the working class is not accumulating ever-increasing wealth in its hands. It was the spontaneous accumulation of wealth in the form of capital that made the eventual triumph of the capitalist class inevitable.

But, as Marx showed, the process of extracting surplus value—the foundation of capitalist wealth—makes the working class continually poorer in relation to its class enemy. The rich do, in fact, get richer and the poor poorer.

The small class of large private property owners sought political power for themselves as they accumulated economic power. The working class only appears as a class on the historical stage when it has achieved revolutionary class consciousness when working people realize that they should be the political power in society.

The historic strength of the working class is its ever-growing numbers and its strategic position in society. Yet, these advantages remain only potential strengths, unless the working class is conscious and organized. Today the very numerous and diverse U.S. working class is still largely atomized and unorganized.

A revolution cannot take place without society entering into a revolutionary crisis, a crisis which shakes the foundations of bourgeois rule, provoking a large section of the people to refuse to go on with “business as usual.” How and when such a crisis comes about is outside the control of either revolutionaries or ruling class politicians and generals. Most often in the last century it has been a by-product of war.

What revolutionaries do have some control over is not when a new social crisis will come, but what type of organization will be available when a revolutionary crisis does arise, as it inevitably will. How strong, multinational, experienced, widespread, numerous and united will the revolutionary party be? How steeled will it be in many and widely varying struggles? How has it measured up to challenges, especially in earlier times of crisis?

To the question, what do revolutionaries do in non-revolutionary times, Lenin’s answer was to build the party, to build the organization that can transform the revolutionary opportunity into a revolutionary victory. Build now, because if you wait, it will be too late. From Lenin’s point of view, the entire reason for the party from the very beginning was preparation for the revolutionary opportunity.

Preparation means many things. It means being involved in the most critical struggles of the day, at the points of greatest conflict between the classes. It means fighting to win the movements that spontaneously respond to smaller crises in capitalist society to a truly progressive and revolutionary outlook. It means reading and studying, absorbing the lessons of revolutionary struggle around the world—from the experience of Asian, African, Middle Eastern and Latin American revolutionaries, along with Marx, Engels, Lenin and the other theoretical and practical leaders of the working class and oppressed.

Preparation means organizing the party for the multiplicity of challenges that it will face. It means a commitment to recruiting new cadre from among the many new, and not so new activists, and particularly among the most exploited and oppressed workers.

The long and corrosive history of slavery and racism in the United States places special demands on the party of the working class. In all our preparation, we strive to build working class unity by putting the struggle against racism as a central priority in the day-to-day work of the Party and the movement, and by affirming in practice Lenin’s principles of the rights of nations to self-determination and revolutionary, working-class internationalism. Only a multinational party can create the unity necessary to defeat the most powerful capitalist class the world has ever seen.

Above all, it means the dedication to undertake this most important and most necessary of all tasks—building a new revolutionary workers party in the heart of world imperialism.

While we are in the first stage of creating a new revolutionary party, we have a long tradition as leaders and organizers inside the Marxist movement in the United States, as well as in the anti-war and anti-racist movements, in the labor movement, and in the other mass movements inside the United States. As former leaders and members of Workers World Party, we defend that group’s historical tradition and mission, particularly that of its founder Sam Marcy. Although we believe that the Workers World Party leadership is no longer capable of fulfilling that mission, we still consider it to be a progressive organization with many honest activists.

The prognosis of Karl Marx 150 years ago was that socialism would be achieved first in the most industrially advanced capitalist societies. That is where the material basis for socialism was strongest. Rationally allocating abundant resources to meet society’s needs was possible with the public ownership of the means of production.

Marx’s prognosis was amended by the living class struggle. The socialist revolutions took place in underdeveloped economies where human suffering was greatest and where social contradictions reached a boiling point first, especially as a result of war. While the working class in these societies defeated their ruling classes first, they were confronted by an array of obstacles in achieving socialism that resulted directly from the legacy of economic underdevelopment, colonialism and a world environment dominated by imperialist hostility, sanctions and war.

The ultimate degeneration and defeat of the revolutions in the former Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe, apart from being a historic defeat for the workers in those countries, opened up a period of intense military expansion by U.S. imperialism, intent on monopolizing the new markets and resources on the basis of its status as the world’s sole military superpower.

A new phase of socialist revival

We are convinced that we have now entered a new phase. Capitalist economic globalization and its attendant assault on the working class at home is combining with the rapid global march of the U.S. military machine to create new social and class contradictions that will lead to a revival of the socialist and workers movement inside the United States.

Most of the people in the world today are suffering from economic depression and recession. The U.S. ruling class is holding it breath, well aware that when the U.S. capitalist economy is seized by the next severe crisis or downturn, it is likely to precipitate a global economic crisis of historic proportions. Under those circumstances, the rule of capitalism must face the inevitable challenge of a revived movement for socialism. That is our Party’s orientation. Marx’s prognosis and theory of revolution in the advanced capitalist societies will be validated by the revival of revolutionary socialism in the very center of imperialism.

At the same time as we aim for revolution in the United States, we stand for defense of the existing workers’ states, the national liberation movements and for oppressed people around the world who stand in the crosshairs of U.S. imperialism. Only a party steeled in working-class internationalism can hope to lead a revolution in the United States, the 21st Century prisonhouse of nations.

The magnitude of our tasks will be matched be our determination to win. Workers and oppressed people of the world, unite!

Socialism an integral part of U.S. labor history

Socialism an integral part of U.S. labor history

In celebration of International Workers Day or May Day Liberation School is republishing "Socialism an integral part of U.S. history" by Eugene Puryear. Originally published in 2010 as a response to the mobilization of anti-communist propaganda against Obama to paint...

Socialism an integral part of U.S. labor history

Socialism an integral part of U.S. labor history

In celebration of International Workers Day or May Day Liberation School is republishing "Socialism an integral part of U.S. history" by Eugene Puryear. Originally published in 2010 as a response to the mobilization of anti-communist propaganda against Obama to paint...