Editor’s note: Central to our ideology is the idea that in order to understand and prepare for the class struggle in the U.S. we must first take the global situation into account, understanding that the interconnectedness of global and national politics is primary and dialectical, constantly changing and bursting with contradictions. In this document we assert this thesis and undertake an examination of the global class struggle as it has ebbed and flowed from 1945 until the present. We look at the upsurge of socialist and national liberation struggles from 1945-1979 and their impact on the class struggle in all countries, before turning to the era of counterrevolution that we find ourselves in today. We conclude with a few remarks on moving from counterrevolution to revival, which we believe are particularly important given the election of Donald Trump.
The following was initially written as an internal document to facilitate discussion within our party as we headed into our 2nd Party Congress in 2013. As such, it does not account for the changes in the global situation that have taken place since then. The historical arguments and the general theses put forward, however, regarding the primacy of the international situation, the periodization of the global class struggle, and the relationship between global and national politics still hold.
Marx and the primacy of the international situation
When Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848 they and the other young revolutionaries in Europe (Marx was 29 and Engels was 27) believed that continental Europe was on the verge of revolution. The revolution would of necessity be directed against the monarchist regimes of the old ruling classes. They anticipated that both the proletariat and the liberal bourgeois democratic forces would be in the streets and at the barricades. They were not wrong.
Even before the Manifesto could be printed the revolution broke out in February 1848 in France, Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Both Marx and Engels were activists and leaders in the conflict. Engels personally participated in the armed struggle in France.
That great revolutionary tide of 1848-1849 was the consequence of an international phenomenon; specifically, the great commercial crisis (recession) that plunged the workers, peasants and smaller capitalists into a dire crisis. The well-known potato famine (starting in 1845) that took so many lives in Ireland was just one component of a larger agricultural crisis and famine caused by colonialism, landlordism and the capitalist market.
The great 1848 revolutionary tide was eventually defeated. The capitalist class broke ranks from the proletariat and joined the monarchists and reactionaries of the old order, and the workers’ revolutionary movement was drowned in blood.
After the setback a great debate ensued in late 1849 among the proletarian revolutionaries about what to do next.
One group of leaders argued that the basic issues of the workers remained unsolved, that mass suffering was dominant, and thus the conditions for a new revolutionary rising were just as necessary, compelling and possible as they were in February 1848.
Marx took issue with that prognosis. He and Engels wanted a revolutionary upsurge as much as anyone but Marx believed that the revolution had not only been defeated but that a new uprising was now (in 1850) impossible.
Marx argued that the revolutionaries in France and Germany must not only analyze the condition of their own working classes and gain a deeper understanding of the functioning of the capitalist system, but analyze the international or global situation to correctly provide an assessment of the opportunities for the domestic class struggle. This was not an academic question being pondered by dilettantes who were impressed with their own intellectual capacities. Marx and Engels were revolutionists. Above all else they were fighters. They engaged in this debate because its outcome would determine the tactics of revolutionaries in Europe in the 1850s.
Marx argued that a new upsurge in Europe was no longer imminent because of the change in the international prospects of the capitalist system.
Specifically, new discoveries of vast quantities of gold in California and Australia, coupled with the advent of new technologies in transport and communications, rapidly reshaped the world market and with it the fortunes of crisis-ridden Europe.
Even as Marx and Engels were putting on the finishing touches to the Communist Manifesto in January 1848, gold was discovered in faraway California. “From January 1848 to 1860, the streams flowing out of the Sierra Nevada produced a flood of gold … from San Francisco to China, from Australia to Western Europe, the social, economic and political effects of California gold were profound.” (Common-Place, “The California Gold Discoveries,” Malcolm Rohrbough, April 2006)
The era of global upsurge of socialism and national liberation and the dialectical impact on the class struggle in all countries
The U.S. communist movement was essentially crushed in the period after World War ll. The repression against the communist left during the witch hunt was comprehensive enough that there is little that might have been done by the communist organizations to mitigate its damage.
The repression against the organized left organizations inside the United States and the complete demonization of socialist ideas coincided with a sharp increase in the living standard of a considerable sector of the U.S. working class (mostly among white workers) that politically fastened a substantial part of the population to the ruling class at the moment it unleashed the anti-communist hysteria.
This combination of factors reduced the communist movement fairly quickly. The Communist Party had approximately 100,000 members in 1945 and lost more than 90 percent of its members within a decade. Millions of sympathetic people who were not members but supporters of the CP also distanced themselves from the Party and the movement out of fear of government backlash.
Under these unfavorable objective circumstances, it is possible that there was nothing the communists could have done that would have significantly altered the negative outcome.
But the left was fundamentally unprepared politically for the blows from the ruling class. Its members were stunned by the repression and the social ostracism that befell those identified with communism.
The Communist Party was heady about its prospects just prior to the anti-communist onslaught. The wartime alliance between the Soviet Union, the United States and Britain (1941-1945) had made the Soviet Union respectable in bourgeois public opinion. Stalin, who became completely demonized in the West once the Cold War began, was treated with respect in the media during World War II. The U.S. ambassador to Moscow even went to the media to show support for the position of the Soviet leadership during the purge trials of the late 1930s.
Not only workers but intellectuals, artists, entertainers and academics joined the Communist Party. The Communist Party USA domestically was still frequently labeled as “anti-American” by the right wing but it was not confronted with the same level of ostracism on the home front during World War I.
The CP had a patriotic orientation during the war. In the name of fighting fascism, winning the war, defending the USSR, etc., the CP supported the no-strike pledge by the unions during the war years.
The Soviet leadership was also signaling the United States and Britain that it was hoping for a post-war period of cooperation rather confrontation.
The Communist International (Comintern) was dissolved in 1943 by the Soviet leadership. The Comintern had been founded under the direction of Lenin in 1918 to promote worldwide socialist revolution. Its dissolution in 1943 was understood as a political signal to the United States and Britain that the Soviet leadership hoped that good relations with the Western powers could be maintained after the conclusion of the war.
The Communist Party in the United States changed its name in 1944 to the Communist Political Association. A party seeks to take political power while an association seeks to influence the government and other political parties.
The Communist Party, under the direction of Earl Browder, felt that by further moderating its political goals it could gain additional respectability as a radical but not revolutionary or “subversive” wing of the labor movement.
Again, the communist movement in the United States — at least until June 1945 — had an optimistic outlook for the future growth of their movement based on what they considered to be a favorable international situation. The victory over German fascism was predicated on the military alliance between the Soviet Union, the United States and Great Britain. Moreover, it was well recognized that it was the military achievements of the Soviet Red Army that had been decisive in the defeat of fascism in Europe.
A principal reason for optimism was the inauguration in 1946 of a period of militant labor fight back inside the United States immediately after the conclusion of the war.
Wages had been frozen during the course of the war while profits had soared. The CP supported the “no-strike” pledge agreed to by many unions, including those under CP leadership. Returning veterans reentered the labor market determined to make up for years of lost wages through the exercise of militant strike actions.
In 1946, the U.S. labor movement initiated a period of intense labor militancy and strikes. More work days were lost to strikes in 1946 than in any previous year — including during the period of labor upsurge in the 1930s.
The “Cold War” and anti-communist hysteria
But instead of a period of revolution, the United States was about to be plunged into a period of anti-communist hysteria and a witch hunt that fundamentally broke the back of the U.S. communist movement.
Instead of maintaining the wartime alliance, the United States launched a worldwide effort to roll back communism and subvert or destroy Soviet influence in Europe and Asia. Revolution was spreading everywhere and U.S. imperialism was determined to preserve the world capitalist order. It resuscitated even its defeated capitalist rivals — Germany and Japan — and made them junior partners in a worldwide imperialist alliance. Inter-imperialist rivalry that had led to two world wars was replaced by inter-imperialist unity against a common foe of all capitalist exploiters: communism!
The U.S. ruling class and the government initiated the vicious anti-communist witch hunt as a domestic expression of their global offensive against the USSR and the rising tide of communism, socialism and anti-colonialism that was sweeping the world. The communist movement was labeled as a fifth column or as a domestic instrument of world communism at the very moment that U.S. imperialism had made anti-communism the primary feature of its domestic policy and global strategy.
The strike wave of 1946 led not to the emergence of a revitalized and ever-expanding communist movement, but to a phase in the struggle that included the almost complete purge of communists from the U.S. labor movement and its leadership, and the near destruction of the Communist Party. The Communist Party in the United States had a membership of 100,000 when 1946 started, and a decade later had contracted to approximately 5,000 members. Leading leftist and communist intellectuals were purged from academia, Hollywood, and the literary, arts and science establishments.
The international situation impacted on the U.S. political and class struggle in a decisive way.
Ironically, the same constellation of global politics that led to a period of intense anti-Communist witch hunt inside of the United States continued to act as an accelerant for the socialist and anti-colonial struggle worldwide. The ascension or victories for communists and anti-colonial national liberation movements did not follow a straight line. There were many setbacks too. The defeat of the Greek revolution between 1946 and 1948 was just one example.
But in general, the tide of revolution continued to rise.
A new world: National liberation movements and the socialist bloc
Revolutionary governments took power in the northern half of Korea and Vietnam. The assumption of power in both countries was not only a reflection of the strength of the indigenous revolutionary movements but also a byproduct of the new global political situation.
The victory of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949 was an event second only to the Russian Revolution of 1917 in terms of its impact on the global class struggle of workers and peasants everywhere.
The cementing of a mutual friendship treaty and formal alliance between the Soviet Union and the newly founded People’s Republic of China in 1950 meant that two-fifths of the world’s population lived within countries governed by the Communist Party.
In addition, the newly created socialist bloc included East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, North Vietnam and North Korea. Yugoslavia had been a member of the socialist bloc but was formally expelled from the alliance in 1948.
The entire international network of colonies and semi-colonies, held by various imperialist countries, unraveled. In the same years following World War II, there were major revolutions in Egypt in 1952 and in Iraq in 1958. Throughout the Middle East, communist parties, and radical nationalist and radical socialist organizations struggled to defeat pro-imperialist monarchies and puppet organizations. The Algerian Revolution, known as the revolution of 1 million martyrs, overthrew French colonial rule.
Of course, in the Middle East too, the ascension and victory of progressive and anti-colonial forces was not without setbacks. In Iran, for instance, the progressive bourgeois nationalist regime of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh was crushed by a CIA-British coup d’état that led to the retaking of power by the puppet Shah monarchy. In Iraq in 1963, the right-wing of the Baath Party, supported by the CIA, briefly took power and carried out a mass slaughter of Communists.
But in general, the global surge of socialist revolution and national liberation movements contributed to the strengthening of revolutionary, communist, radical socialist and secular nationalist movements in almost every country.
Later, the surge of anti-colonial and socialist revolution in the East and in the South eventually helped create a new radicalization within the very center of imperialism — in the Western countries, including both Europe and the United States.
Imperialism was on the defensive globally and revolution was on the offense throughout the planet.
The reason we are reviewing this phase of the international situation is to make the point that the global movement towards revolution accelerated the revolutionary process within every country (including the United States eventually) and it strengthened the position of revolutionary communism and socialism, as well as the forces of secular, bourgeois nationalism.
Rise of the Black civil rights and liberation movements in the United States
Within the United States, the witch hunt and anti-Communist repression of the late 1940s and 1950s was eventually dissipated by the rise of the U.S. Black civil rights movement. And it is well known that as this movement grew in breadth and depth it was also in turn influenced by the international situation, especially the politics of anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism. The Black civil rights movement in the United States — or at least key trends within the movement –evolved dynamically in the direction of revolutionary socialist and nationalist consciousness.
It is hard to overstate, for instance, the impact of the anti-colonial and socialist revolution in Cuba on the Black civil rights movement in the United States.
When Fidel Castro first visited the United Nations in New York City in 1960, he checked out of a downtown bourgeois hotel and took the entire Cuban revolutionary UN entourage to stay at the Hotel Theresa in the center of Harlem. Tens of thousands of people in Harlem came into the streets during Fidel’s visit there.
As the African-American civil rights struggle continued to intensify in the early 1960s, many, especially among the young militants, put the struggle into the context of the worldwide movement against colonialism.
The Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China openly promoted the struggle of the African-American nation for equality. They reproduced the works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and circulated his writings and the writings of others from the civil rights movement.
Robert Williams, the leader of the Monroe, North Carolina, NAACP promoted the righteousness of the concept of armed self-defense in the face of KKK terror. He was indicted and only able to avoid arrest by escaping first to Cuba and then the People’s Republic of China in the early 1960s.
When the mass rebellions in the inner cities of America took shape in 1964 and 1965 (and continued through 1968), the socialist bloc nations publicized these uprisings as movements of oppressed people against racism.
Within a few years, the Black Panther Party emerged and proclaimed that its revolutionary orientation was connected both in spirit and ideologically to the Chinese Revolution, and the writings and thoughts of Chairman Mao, as well as the teachings of other revolutionaries in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
Even the sector of the Black civil rights movement that was considered to be more “moderate” acknowledged that the communist-led movement for national liberation in Vietnam was part and parcel of the global struggle against racism and colonialism.
Vietnam, Black liberation and mass radicalization
Dr. King, when he came out against the Vietnam War, recognized and explained the role of Ho Chi Minh (the leader of the communist North Vietnamese government):
So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again. (“Beyond Vietnam,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speech at Riverside Church, April 4, 1967, New York City)
The dialectical and interdependent relationships between the global revolutionary surge and the internal political struggle within each country were particularly evident between 1968 and 1972.
In January 1968, the National Liberation Front in Vietnam launched the Tet (Vietnamese New Year’s) offensive. Its effect was stunning. It created an instant recognition that U.S. imperialism could not win in Vietnam. That shook the confidence of the U.S. ruling class and led to deep splits and divisions within the establishment. Tet caused Lyndon Johnson to decline to run for reelection, something no U.S. president had done for a century. The mass media, as a result of the emerging division within the ruling-class establishment over the conduct of the war, started to allow anti-war voices to be heard and the anti-war movement became stronger rapidly.
In April 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated and more than 120 cities experienced rebellions and insurrections. Students began seizing campus buildings, including many of the most elite universities like Columbia, Berkeley, Michigan, etc.
In May 1968, the French student movement connected to the broader French labor movement and France witnessed a full-scale general strike that, if it were not for the reformist leadership of the labor movement and the French Communist Party, could have evolved into a revolution.
The June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy — after it was clear that he would be the likely candidate for the Democratic Party in the 1968 presidential election — led to greater division and demoralization within the ruling class. The Democratic Party Convention in Chicago in August 1968 became the scene of a massive police riot against anti-war protesters and led to an even-greater radicalization within the United States.
In May 1970, the invasion of Cambodia and the killing of students at Kent State and Jackson State led to the most massive student strike in U.S. history.
In the spring of 1972, the National Liberation Front in Vietnam, fighting alongside regular troops from North Vietnam, launched what was known as the Spring Offensive. They were now openly fighting to liberate all of South Vietnam and to reunite the South with the North Vietnamese socialist workers’ state.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, mainly young people, poured into the streets to show solidarity with the Vietnamese struggle during the Spring Offensive. At mass demonstrations in the United States, young people were actually celebrating the victories of the Spring Offensive against their own government. On May 10 and 11, 1972, upwards of 10,000 people throughout the United States were arrested and brutalized as they took to the streets in solidarity with the Vietnamese people, and in opposition to the Nixon administration’s decision to mine the harbors of Hanoi and Haiphong. In the winter of 1972-1973, one-quarter of the U.S. Air Force’s B-52 bombers were shot down as the Vietnamese answered the U.S. “Christmas Bombing” campaign with recently acquired Soviet SAM (Surface to Air Missiles) missiles, forcing the U.S. to sign the Paris Peace Treaty.
By that stage of the anti-war movement, many in the United States were waving the flag of the National Liberation Front rather than the American flag as they mounted their protests.
Tens of thousands of young people in the United States joined or formed communist and socialist organizations, or identified with Marxism and socialism.
In 1975, U.S. imperialism was officially defeated in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
Vietnam’s victory and a new wave of revolutions
The dialectical impact of the Vietnamese Revolution on the political struggle inside the imperialist countries was the most dramatic but not the only expression of this global phenomenon.
One year earlier, the Portuguese fascist government was overthrown by a profoundly radical social revolution.
The dialectical interaction between anti-colonial revolutions in the East and South and their impact on politics in the Western countries was dramatically demonstrated, in fact, by the Portuguese Revolution of 1974.
Fascism still ruled in Portugal, supported by the United States and NATO, just as it did under Franco in Spain. It was the national liberation movements in the Portuguese colonies of Africa that had the greatest impact on the eventual weakening of Portuguese fascism. And when the old regime was finally toppled by the revolution in 1974, the new Portuguese government almost immediately proclaimed the independence of Portugal’s African colonies — Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. And in each of these three former colonies, revolutionary socialists and communists were the leadership of the anti-colonial movements that then took state power in the mid- to late-1970s.
The influence of communism seemed to be almost at an all-time high. In 1977, communist revolutionaries took power in Ethiopia.
In 1978, a socialist revolution took place even in overwhelmingly agrarian Afghanistan, which had a tiny working class. While popular in Kabul, the revolution was under siege from the beginning in the countryside where social relations remained as they had for a millennium. The point here though is not about the feasibility of socialism in Afghanistan. Rather, it is to emphasize that it would have been impossible for any party to consider the prospects of creating a socialist revolution in Afghanistan if it was not for the accelerant of radical socialist revolution and national liberation that had dominated the global world situation since 1945.
Even where imperialism seemed to be strongest, especially in the Western Hemisphere, the tide of revolution intensified before a number of heavy defeats took their toll. And even then new revolutions succeeded and others grew in magnitude.
A socialist/communist united front government was elected in Chile in 1970. When it was drowned in a bloody CIA-backed military counter-revolution in 1973, it seemed that the fortunes of the socialist movement had been set back not only in Chile but throughout the continent. Thirty thousand leftist workers and youth were murdered in Chile. The Argentine left also suffered a grave defeat at the hands of a U.S.-backed fascist military dictatorship in 1975-1976. Thousands were massacred there. In Uruguay, the CIA-backed military and death squad forces had succeeded in defeating the Tupamaros.
But in 1979, the Sandinistas took power in an armed revolution in Nicaragua and the Marxist-led FMLN was on the offensive in El Salvador, engaging in armed struggle against the pro-imperialist military dictatorship.
Also in 1979, a mass people’s revolution smashed the Iranian monarchy that had been a principal prop of imperialism in the Middle East. The revolution included revolutionary communists from among the youth and from pro-communist sections of the Iranian working class, as well as from religious and bourgeois nationalist forces. The revolutionary left, however, suffered a defeat of historic proportions at the hands of the religious-led government that assumed the power.
The Iranian Revolution was anti-imperialist to the core but represented something of an anomaly compared to all of the other nationalist and anti-colonial revolutions that had taken place in the post-World War II era. In nearly every other case, the movement was led by either radical, secular bourgeois nationalists or communists, or both. Iran represented the first victory for Islamic-led parties.
The end of the global revolutionary movement and the beginning of counterrevolution
1979 represented a watershed. It marked the end of one era and the opening of a new era in global politics.
Starting in 1979-1980, a period of global counter-revolution and political reaction became a dominant trend and it too impacted on the political and social struggles that have taken place in every country in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
The three-decade-long global trend toward counter-revolution will come to an end, but it has not fully ended yet. The counter-revolutionary overthrow of the governments in Iraq and Libya, and the similar war to oust the Syrian government, for instance, are stark indicators that the international relationship of forces still resides with imperialist-backed counter-revolution.
The resurgence of revolutionary anti-capitalism, coupled with the revival of socialism as a global movement, will be the hallmark of a new phase that replaces the current counter-revolutionary dynamic.
It is critical that we have an accurate and unflinching estimate of the international political situation and how it was transformed in a counter-revolutionary direction after 35 years of advance by the forces of socialism and national liberation.
Socialist governments, including the mightiest of them all, have been overthrown. From the Soviet Union to Eastern Europe to the Horn of Africa to Central Asia, socialist governments have been toppled and replaced by the most reactionary forces. Independent bourgeois nationalist governments have been smashed in the Middle East and in Africa. Others are fighting to hold on.
Even in the “Arab Spring,” which was the unleashing of the revolutionary potential of the Arab masses in the struggle against repressive dictatorships and neoliberal economic policies, the absence of revolutionary socialist and consistently anti-imperialist leadership has allowed imperialism and reactionary regional forces to divert the struggle into reactionary channels.
In Egypt, the center of the revolutionary storm, the new government that arose in 2012 is a reflection of one of the politically conservative and even pro-imperialist movements that existed in Egypt and throughout the Middle East following World War II. The Nasser-led revolution (1952) and the strong communist movement that existed inside of Egypt considered the Muslim Brotherhood to be a retrograde and pro-imperialist force in the late 1940s and subsequently.
The fact that the heroic Egyptian Revolution could be channeled as it has been is an indication that the global political picture, which has been characterized by anti-communism and counter-revolution for the last three decades, continues to leave an indelible and reactionary imprint even on the most progressive social developments and struggles.
Of course, the Egyptian Revolution is not finished; it continues. The final outcome in Egypt will have a profound impact on the entire region and perhaps the world.
But imperialism has been able to use the popular social upheaval in the Arab world to intervene and destroy independent nationalist governments. The destruction of the Libyan government and the imperialist-supported civil war against the Syrian regime continues the dominant thrust of U.S. foreign policy, which is to destroy independent, nationalist, as well as socialist governments that have their foundational roots in the era of global socialist revolution and national liberation (1945-1979).
The invasion of Iraq and the destruction of the state and government in 2003 is treated by liberal critics as an anomaly carried out by Bush, Cheney and their zealous neoconservative faction. But that is wrong. The Iraqi government was targeted for destruction during the Clinton years. The U.S. Senate, for instance, voted unanimously in September 1998 that “regime change” was the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq rather than the curtailment of weapons of mass destruction. That was five years prior to the invasion ordered by Bush. Today, every independent government in the region is under extreme threat.
Latin America: Radicalization but not revolution
Mainly in Latin America there has been a renewal of socialism. For distinct causes, and continent-based political particularities, there has been a renewal of socialism, interest in socialism, and victories for pro-socialist parties and movements. But even these profound advances in Latin America have been conditioned (i.e., moderated in their aspirations toward taking state power) by the reactionary anti-communist global situation. Neither in Venezuela nor Bolivia nor Ecuador nor elsewhere has the working class been able to seize the power, expropriate the bourgeoisie, and create a new socialist government and economy. Hugo Chavez and his closest comrades are trying mightily to accelerate the process but they have not attempted to directly seize the economic and social power from the capitalists and big landowners, and create a dictatorship of the proletariat to replace the current class system.
While Latin America has moved in a progressive direction, this is a still-fragile process. Lacking state power, except in Cuba, the role of individual leaders is even more decisive. Lenin was “the leader” of the Russian Revolution but his untimely death in 1924 (just seven years after the revolution) did not jeopardize the ability of the Bolsheviks to retain state power. The revolutionary and radical social movements in Venezuela and elsewhere do not possess state power. It is true that some of the radical socialist leaders hold office, including the highest office of president, but nowhere outside of Cuba has the dictatorship of the proletariat been established — a necessity to provide a basic foundation for the future growth and development of socialism.
The retention of state power by the Cuban Communist Party has been an anchor and an inspiration to the leftist forces in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and throughout the continent.
Although the leftist trend in Latin America has been the most pronounced, there are also major communist movements in Nepal, India and the Philippines. There has also been an increase in the size and the magnitude of the Greek communist and radical socialist movement.
But the global counter-revolutionary trend that became ascendant in 1979 and gathered momentum throughout the 1980s, eventually leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union, has had a profound impact on the prospects for new revolutions in Latin America and on Cuba. It is nothing short of a miracle that the Cuban comrades have withstood the loss of all of their primary allies.
Cuba, which has been able so far to withstand the global counter-revolutionary onslaught and retain power, has had to make many concessions simply to survive. The Cuban leadership has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to navigate through the most treacherous waters. It has been able to retain power despite the seemingly impossible problems caused by the collapse of the socialist bloc nations. But in their struggle to survive, many of the foundational elements for socialism have been weakened. Socialized agriculture, the monopoly on foreign trade, a planned, centralized economy — all of these pillars of socialism in its first stages have been compromised.
In fact, the economic reforms instituted by the Cuban government have had to be more in the direction of opening the country to market forces and to investment from foreign capitalist entities rather than in the direction of communism. The decisions made by the revolutionary government in Cuba are based on the necessity rather than the virtues of the dominant political and economic situation in the world. Cuba cannot live by itself and build socialism on one island without the need for interaction with the rest of the world economy. And the reality is this: There is no longer a socialist bloc of industrial countries working to provide an alternative to the global capitalist economy that provided support, aid and sustenance to all the member nations of the socialist bloc.
From counterrevolution to revival!
When the Party for Socialism and Liberation formed in 2004, we were well aware that the dominant global trend was still reflecting the collapse of the socialist bloc countries, the contraction of the world communist movement that had existed after World War II, and the triumph of bourgeois ideology over socialist ideas.
We were fully aware that the defeat suffered with the collapse of the socialist bloc was of a historic magnitude. Setbacks of this type are not reversed or overcome immediately or even over a considerable period of time. The triumph of fascism in Europe, for instance, in the 1930s constituted a historic setback for the working-class movement in Europe.
The counter-revolution that triumphed in Indonesia in 1965 was, likewise, of a historic character. The defeat of communism in Chile from the bloody counter-revolution in 1973 was of such magnitude that it was clear it would take decades for the movement to rebound.
The overthrow of the Soviet Union by the forces of capitalist counter-revolution was characterized by Fidel Castro as the greatest defeat or setback in the history of the entire working-class movement. The PSL agrees with Fidel’s assessment.
When we formed the Party for Socialism and Liberation, we did so with a full consciousness and comprehension of the existing global reality.
We decided it was a necessity to build a new revolutionary organization in 2004 because we anticipated a revival of the anti-capitalist struggle and we felt that the other socialist parties in the United States were progressive at best but incapable of rising to the challenge of a new era. They too had suffered from the effects of political and organizational degeneration caused by the global contraction of the revolutionary trend.
Our optimism and commitment to the creation of a new party was rooted in a dialectical appreciation of reality – that the existing global counter-revolutionary political trend would give way over time because the global crisis of capitalism would be the basis and the imperative requisite for new socialist revolutions to end the political supremacy of the capitalist bankers and their state.
We asserted that it would be necessary to build a revolutionary organization before and not after the outbreak of a new upsurge in the mass movement and class struggle.
Now, as we move forward in the coming period (2013-2016), we assert the following priorities: to assist in the reformation of the world communist/socialist movement by creating an ever-more-powerful communist/socialist movement in the heartland of world imperialism.