Letter to NSF

The following letter was sent addressing the meeting of the NSF at Bagh (POK) to discuss Permanent Revolution :

Greetings comrades,

I comrade Adhiraj Bose, from the New Wave Bolshevik Leninist group, send you my greetings from india. I regret to inform that local compulsions and visa rules have prevented me from joining your meeting on the 26th, while I cannot be there in person, I will strive nevertheless to contribute to the meeting through this writing.

Firstly, I would like to commend you for conducting this meeting on a question that is of most vital importance to the world working class. The greatest concrete challenges today is to overcome the crisis of revolutionary leadership, this of course means the task of building the revolutionary party. But the question then comes, what is a revolutionary party ? and within that the question remains, What is a revolution ?

In 1906 Trotsky when reflecting upon the dynamics of the failed Russian revolution of 1905 concluded that the question of the democratic revolution is not isolated from the socialist revolution. The experience of that revolution had proven for him, that the time of the progressive revolutionary bourgeoisie was over and the task of social revolution chiefly fell upon the shoulders of the working class. The proletariat would have to fulfill the questions posed by the democratic revolution not as part of a bourgeois democratic revolution, but in passing as part of the greater socialist revolution.

Thus, from this conclusion emerged the theory of permanent revolution. While Trotsky in Results and Prospects was only analyzing the concrete realities in Russia in 1906, the theoretical arguments themselves found resonance in much of the world which was at the time still in the throes of feudalism and colonialism. It was thought (and some in the left still adhere to this notion) that the democratic revolution is a task best left to the bourgeoisie, and that the working class would have no part in it or at best a secondary role in it. Trotsky’s detractors have time and again cited the overwhelming burden of the democratic tasks that the backward countries of the world faced, to demonstrate as if that these countries are not ready for the socialist revolution. Their false arguments were washed away by the tide of history that came with the Russian revolution of 1917.

The success of the Russian revolution in 1917 had proven the oneness of the democratic and socialist revolution. However, this lesson has over time been forgotten by most if not all of the would-be leaders of the working class leading to one disastrous turn after another.

Take our present epoch for instance, where not too long ago the Maoists in Nepal had overturned the power of the monarchy in Nepal and had opened the floodgates of revolution in that backward Himalayan nation. The hopes of the Nepali proletariat were never raised higher than they were in 2006, that their nation would be free from imperialist hegemony and finally tread the path of progress and freedom. The events after 2006 would prove otherwise, as the fire of the revolution of Nepal was extinguished by the path taken by the Maoists which have now led them to a dead end. Rule has passed from the monarchy to a republic of comprador bourgeoisies licking the shoes of imperialist india.

Nepali society remains in the throes of backwardness and poverty and for all practical purposes exists as a buffer state of India. At best, the bourgeoisie could transform it into a zone for resource extraction selling Nepal’s valuable Himalayan water and mineral resources for imperial exploitation. The Maoists have fallen themselves into the trap of the Stalinist two-stage theory and have dragged the Nepali working class and peasantry down with it.

That however, is not the only example we can cite. Let us come to the middle east, which has been engulfed in the fires of a trans-regional revolution. While the popular masses and the proletariat scored victories after victories beginning in Tunisia, then Egypt, then Libya and finally Syria, bulk of the world leaderships dilly dallied over which revolution to support and which not to not recognizing the essence of the class struggle. Now with defeat in sight, the cretins among these so-called left leaderships pick straws on who was right about what. At the root of this tragic crisis, is the confounded understanding that the democratic struggle is separate and even counter-posed to the socialist struggle !

The fact of the matter is, that mankind has already gone as far as capitalism can allow it to, but history and humanity move forward regardless. This was the decisive factor discovered by Marx and analyzed further by Lenin and Trotsky, is the contradiction that lies at the core of permanent revolution today. Where the bourgeoisie tries its best to drag back humanity to levels where it can keep its power and privileges, the proletariat tries to push on ahead, breaking the shackles which bind it to the dead and moribund past. Thus, it is that the democratic struggle today, is no longer a bourgeois democratic struggle, but comes as an intrinsic part of the socialist revolution. If we fail to realize this, then we are doomed to fall, and by that I mean fall to the lowest depths of barbarism. World war 1 and 2 and even the calamity in Iraq show clearly what kind of future capitalism has in store for us, if we allow it to continue. Therefore, the question posed before us is short and simple, but brutal, “Socialism or Barbarism”.

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Lenin’s May Day Leaflet

 

The Workers Holiday — May First

Comrades! Let us look carefully into the conditions of our life; let us observe that environment wherein we pass our days. What do we see? We work hard; we create unlimited wealth, gold and rich fabrics, brocade and velvet; we dig iron and coal from the bowels of the earth; we build machines, ships, castles, railways. All the wealth of the world is created by our hands, is obtained by our sweat and blood. And what reward do we receive for our hard labor? In justice we should live in fine houses, wear good clothing, and in any case not want for our daily bread. But we all know very well that our wages scarcely suffice for a bare existence. Our bosses lower the wage-rates, force us to work over-time, unjustly fine us. In a word, they oppress us in every way, and, in case of dissatisfaction on our part, they promptly discharge us. We time and time again discover that those to whom we turn for protection are friends and lackeys of our bosses. We, the workers are kept in ignorance, education is denied us, that we may not learn to struggle to improve our conditions. They hold us in bondage, discharge us on the slightest pretext, arrest and exile anyone offering resistance to oppression, forbid us to struggle. Ignorance and bondage — these are the means by which the capitalists and the Government, always at their service, keep us in subjection.

What means do we have to improve our conditions, to raise our wages, to shorten our working day, to protect ourselves from abuse, to read intelligent and useful books Everybody is against us — the bosses (since the worse off we are, the better they live), and all their lackeys, all those who live off the bounty of the capitalists and who, at their bidding, keep us in ignorance and bandage. We can look to no one for aid; we can rely only upon ourselves. Our strength lies in union; our salvation in united, stubborn, and energetic resistance to our exploiters. They have long understood wherein lay our strength, and have attempted in all manner of ways to keep us divided, and not to let us understand that we workers have interests in common. They cut wages, not everybody’s at once, but one at a time. They put foremen over us, they introduce piece work; and, laughing up their sleeves at how we workers toil at our work, lower our wages little by little. But it’s a long lane that has no turning. There is a limit to endurance. During the past year the Russian workers have shown their bosses that slavish submission can be transformed into the staunch courage of men who will not submit to the insolence of capitalists greedy for unpaid labor.

In various towns strikes have broken out; in Yaroslavl, Taikovo, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Belostok, Vilna, Minsk, Kiev, Moscow and other towns. The majority of the strikes ended successfully for the workers, but even unsuccessful strikes are only apparently unsuccessful. In reality they frighten the bosses terribly, cause them great losses, and force them to grant concessions for fear of a new strike. The factory inspectors also begin to get busy and notice the beams in the capitalists’ eyes. They are blind until their eyes are opened by the workers calling a strike. When in fact do the factory inspectors notice mismanagement in the factories of such influential personages as Mr. Tornton or the stockholders of the Putilov factory.

In St. Petersburg, too, we have made trouble for the bosses. The strike of the weavers at Tornton’s factory, of the cigarette workers at the Laferm and Lebedev factories, of the workers at the shoe factory, the agitation among the workers at the Kenig and Varonin factories, and among the dock workers, and finally the recent disturbances in Sestroretsk have proven that we have ceased to be submissive martyrs, and have taken up the struggle. As is well known, the workers from many factories and shops have organized the “Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class,” with the aim of exposing all abuses, of eradicating mismanagement, of fighting against the insolent oppressions of our conscienceless exploiters, and of achieving full liberation from their power. The “Union” distributes leaflets, at the sight of which the bosses and their faithful lackeys tremble in their boots. It is not the leaflets themselves which frighten them, but the possibility of our united resistance, of an exhibition of our mighty power, which we have shown them more than once. We workers of St. Petersburg, members of the “Union” invite the rest of our fellow workers to join our “Union” and to further the great cause of uniting the workers for a struggle for their own interests. It is high time for us Russian workers to break the chains with which the capitalists and the Government have bound us in order to keep us in subjection. It is high time for us to join the struggle of our brothers, the workers in other lands, to stand with them under a common flag upon which is inscribed: Workers of the World, Unite!

In France, Great Britain, Germany, and other countries, where the workers have already united in strong unions and have won many rights, they have established the 19th of April (the First of May abroad) [Before the October Revolution the Russian calendar was 13 days behind the West-European] as a general Labor holiday.

Forsaking the stuffy factories, they march in solid ranks, with bands and banners along the main streets of the towns; showing the bosses the whole might of their growing power, they gather in numerous large meetings, where speeches are delivered recounting the victories over the bosses in the preceding year, and indicating the plans for struggle in the future. Through fear of a strike, not a single factory owner fines the workers for absence from work on this day. On this day the workers also remind the bosses of their chief demand: the eight-hour working day — 8 hours work, 8 hours sleep, and 8 hours rest. This is what the workers of other countries are now demanding. There was a time, and not so long ago, when they, like we now, did not have the right to make known their needs. They, too, were crushed by want and lacked unity just as we now. But they, by stubborn struggle and heavy sacrifices, have won for themselves the right to discuss together the problems of the workers’ cause. We send our best wishes to our brothers in other lands that their struggle should quickly lead them to the desired victory, to the time when there shall be neither masters nor slaves, neither workers nor capitalists, but all alike will work and all alike enjoy life.

Comrades! If we will energetically and wholeheartedly strive to unite, the time will not be far distant when we, having joined our forces in solid ranks, will be able openly to unite in this common struggle of the workers of all lands, without distinction of race or creed, against the capitalists of the whole world. And our sinewy arm will be lifted on high and the infamous chains of bondage will fall asunder. The workers of Russia will arise, and the capitalists and the Government, which always zealously serves and aids the capitalists, will be stricken with terror!

April 19, 1896.

Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class