Party and class

Build a Revolutionary Party? But What Is a Revolutionary Party?

Marx

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Socialism in disarray, part five


For the rest of the series, click here


Cultural inertia

The precondition for the direct and indirect effect which Stalinism still has on the current would-be left is the fact that a culture, once established, has a tremendous power of inertia.

"Socialism in disarray", part five.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Marxists and mass workers' parties

Author: 

Karl Kautsky

By Karl Kautsky
I. Marx and the political problems of the trade unions

An examination of the relationship between Marxists and mass workers' parties and the different situation in Britain and continental Europe at the end of the nineteenth century.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Jacob Sverdlov, organiser of the Bolshevik party in the Russian Revolution, by Leon Trotsky

Author: 

Leon Trotsky

[Jacob Mikhailovich Sverdlov was born in the city of Nizhni-Novgorod on June 3, 1885. As a boy of ten, Jacob Sverdlov was enrolled in a gymnasium (equivalent to high school) where he studied for five years. At the age of 16, he joined the revolutionary movement.
When the split occurred in the Russian movement in 1903, Sverdlov adhered to the Bolsheviks, in whose ranks he remained until death removed him.

Leon Trotsky in 1925 remembers Jacob Sverdlov, Organiser of the Bolshevik Party in the Russian Revolution

Marxist Theory and History: 

The Bolsheviks, as they were

Author: 

Hal Draper/ Victor Serge/Max Shachtman/Lenin/Trotsky/ Brian Pearce/Karl Radek/ Raya Dunaevskaya/Paul Hampton/ Andrew Hornung/ Sean Matgamna
The Bolsheviks led the greatest revolution in history, but today the mempry of Bolshevism as it really was is still half buried under the lies and myths of both the bourgeoisie and the Stalinists. These pieces present the true picture of Bolshevism and of the Russian Revolution.

Marxist Theory and History: 

"Building the AWL" (1983)

Author: 

Sean Matgamna and Martin Thomas

Document written for a conference of the Workers' Socialist League (a forerunner of AWL) in 1983. It has been abridged here to remove ephemeral references (and "WSL" has been replaced in the text by "AWL").

1.

The working class is unique among all revolutionary classes in that it remains a class of wage slaves until, by seizing political power and the means of production, it makes the decisive stop towards emancipating itself.

Document written for a conference of the Workers' Socialist League (a forerunner of AWL) in 1983.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Women's experience and socialism

Author: 

Pat Longman

The following article is Pat’s polemic, which is still very relevant, against Sheila Rowbotham’s 1979 article “The Women’s Movement and Organising for Socialism”, published in the well-known collection, Beyond the Fragments.

Here we reprint a polemic by Pat Longman, a longtime member of the AWL who died in 2010, against Sheila Rowbotham’s 1979 article The Women’s Movement and Organising for Socialism, published in the well-known collection Beyond the Fragments.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

The class, the party and the leadership: why was the Spanish proletariat defeated?

Author: 

Leon Trotsky

EDITORIAL NOTE: Among comrade Trotsky’s archives were found a rough draft and fragmentary notes which we now publish in the form of an unfinished article.

Why was the Spanish Revolution defeated? An article which Trotsky left unfinished at his death in August 1940

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Trotsky's anatomy of centrism and sectarianism (1934)

Author: 

Leon Trotsky

Click here to download as pdf.
Introduction to Trotsky (SM)

"Why does everything come down to Trotsky — what Trotsky said, what he did...?" A comment not long ago from a renegade Marxist, one of those free-spirited, "clever", emancipated ex-Marxists who thought up the "Euston Manifesto". The truth of course is that nothing at all "comes down" to Trotsky — or Marx, or Lenin, or Rosa Luxemburg, or anyone else.

The working class in successive defeats can lose its historical memory. Layers of the British working class, which fought tremendous strikes in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, will now have to learn again how to organise a strike. Writings like these are historical time-capsules, which can help learn what we would otherwise only learn from raw experience, at great cost, including defeats.

Marxist Theory and History: 

James P. Cannon: "Trade unionists and revolutionists"

Cannon at 19

Author: 

James P Cannon

"The party is the highest prize to the young trade unionist who becomes a revolutionist, the apple of his eye. But to the revolutionist who becomes transformed into a trade unionist – we have all seen this happen more than once – the party is no prize at all".

"The party is the highest prize to the young trade unionist who becomes a revolutionist... But to the revolutionist who becomes transformed into a trade unionist, the party is no prize at all".

Marxist Theory and History: 

The theory of Permanent Revolution and Ireland: is there a socialist quintessence in Irish nationalism?

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

[This is a copy-edited and slightly expanded version of the text in Solidarity replying to Lysaght.]

A dozen years on from the “Good Friday Agreement” (GFA) things in Northern Ireland are far from settled. The Good Friday system is far from stable.

Does a "permanent revolution" perspective - mobilising the working class to lead a not-yet-achieved bourgeois-democratic revolution, and thus to combine it with a socialist revolution - fit Ireland?

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Around the world: 

"Creating Facts" about Vestas

Author: 

Stuart Jordan

"To face reality squarely; not to seek the line of least resistance; to call things by their right names; to speak the truth to the masses, no matter how bitter it may be; not to fear obstacles; to be true in little things as in big ones; to base one's program on the logic of the class struggle; to be bold when the hour for action arrives-these are the rules of the Fourth International." Leon Trotsky, 1938

SWP lies about Vestas

Trade Unions: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

The History of British Trotskyism: An Overview, 1940s to 1960s

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

In part 4 of his series on “Misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and lies about the AWL” Sean Matgamna gives an overview of the Trotskyist movement from the 1940s to the 1960s.


Click here for part 2 of this article.
Where does AWL come from?

We started as Workers’ Fight, a group that emerged in 1966-7 as a response to the crisis of the British and international Trotskyist movement. In Britain then there were four main revolutionary left groupings.

Part 4 of a series on “Misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and lies about the AWL” - an overview of the Trotskyist movement from the 1940s to the 1960s

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

Overview of the Trotskyist movement, 1940s to 1960s (part 2)

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Part 2. Click here for part 1 of this article.

The Cannonites called themselves “orthodox Trotskyists” (as distinct from the “Pablo revisionists”). That was “orthodox Trotskyism Mark 2”, a subsection of the general post-Trotsky “orthodox Trotskyism”.

AWL traces its origins to the Workers' Fight group, set up in 1966-7. What was the background in terms of the record and direction of development of the other would-be Trotskyist groups then?

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

The history of Bolshevism: Trotsky's "prophecy" and Lenin's party

Download as pdf (see "attachment", below).

In a polemic against the book “Three Who Made A Revolution”, by Bertram D Wolfe, Max Shachtman dissects the arguments about Stalinism being a logical continuation of Bolshevism.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Rosa Luxemburg on Britain

Author: 

Rosa Luxemburg

Before we cast a general glance back the discussion about Bernstein's book in the party press, we still wish to treat individually some questions of detail which were particularly stressed in that discussion. This time, let us turn to the English trade union movement.

In this 1899 article, in effect an appendix to Luxemburg's famous pamphlet Social Reform or Revolution, she dissects Eduard Bernstein's praise for the 19th century British trade-union movement as a model of how workers can gain "economic power".

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Trotsky on workers’ control of production

Author: 

Leon Trotsky

In answering your question I will endeavor to jot down here, as a preliminary to an exchange of opinions, a few general considerations pertaining to the slogan of workers’ control of production.

Leon Trotsky, in 1931, discusses Workers’ Control of Production

Marxist Theory and History: 

Clara Zetkin on the workers' government, 1922

Author: 

Clara Zetkin

"The workers' government", by Clara Zetkin, December 1922. First published in 'Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale', Heft 9/10. Translated by Bruce Robinson. Text from: Clara Zetkin, 'Zur Theorie und Taktik der Arbeiterbewegung' , Reclam
Verlag, Leipzig, 1974.

"The workers' government", by Clara Zetkin, December 1922

Marxist Theory and History: 

The Workers' Government: an historical excavation

Author: 

John Stirling

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the typical rendition of the "workers' government" idea in the Trotskyist press in Britain was the slogan "Labour to power on socialist policies", or "Labour government with a socialist programme". Those were the routine "political summing-up" slogans for the more influential and more "orthodox" Trotskyists, the Healy group (SLL/WRP, which collapsed in 1985) and the Militant (now SP and Socialist Appeal).

An article, from no.2 (May-June 1974) of Permanent Revolution (magazine of Workers' Fight, forerunner of the AWL), tried to extricate the "workers' government" idea from its then-current "orthodox Trotskyist" packaging.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Debate on the "Workers' Government" at the 4th Congress of the Communist International, 1922

The Theses of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International (1922) on the "Workers' Government" idea, and the minutes of the debate on that issue at the congress. From "International Communist" (forerunner of Workers' Liberty) no.4, March 1977. Download as pdf (see "attachment").

The Theses of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International (1922) on the "Workers' Government" idea, and the minutes of the debate on that issue at the congress

Marxist Theory and History: 

"What is an Action Programme?" (1976)

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

An article from the preparatory discussion for drafting the manifesto of the I-CL (forerunner of AWL) in 1977. From "International Communist" no.2/3, January 1977. Click here to download as pdf, or read below.

An article from the preparatory discussion for drafting the manifesto of the I-CL (forerunner of AWL) in 1977.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

"The Nature of our Action Programme" (1976)

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

The section from the 1977 "manifesto" of the International-Communist League (forerunner of AWL) which explained our idea of transitional demands and transitional programme. Click here to download as pdf, or read below.

The section from the 1977 "manifesto" of the International-Communist League (forerunner of AWL) which explained our idea of transitional demands and transitional programme.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Workers' Government: what it means

Paris Commune

Author: 

Jill Mountford, Sean Matgamna, Max Shachtman, Leon Trotsky, Nikolai Bukharin, August Thalheimer, and others
  • Britain in 2008: editorial from Solidarity 3/142, 20 November 2008
  • Britain in 1998: excerpts from Jill Mountford, The case for a workers' government, Workers' Liberty 45
  • How Solidarity Can Change The World: Workers' Liberty 46-7, April 1998, with full text of the Transitional Programme and of the Spartacus Programme, and an introduction discussing their relevance today
Articles exploring the "workers' government" idea in different contexts, from Germany in 1922 through to Britain today.

Marxist Theory and History: 

The debate on the "workers' government" in the Communist Party of Germany, 1922-3

A survey of the debate around the "workers' government" slogan in the Communist Party of Germany following the 4th Congress of the Communist International in 1922. Written by the Internationale Kommunistische Liga, an Austrian Trotskyist group of the 1970s, and translated into English in "International Communist" (a forerunner of Workers' Liberty), March 1978. Download as pdf (see "attachment").

A survey of the debate around the "workers' government" slogan in the Communist Party of Germany following the 4th Congress of the Communist International in 1922.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Debate on "transitional demands" at the 4th Congress of the Communist International, 1922

Author: 

Nikolai Bukharin, August Thalheimer

Debate at the 4th Congress of the Communist International, 1922, on "transitional demands"; excerpt from the Theses of the 3rd congress, 1922, on the same question; introduction. All from no.7 of "International Communist", magazine of the International-Communist League, forerunner of the AWL, March 1978. Download as pdf (see "attachment").

Debate at the 4th Congress of the Communist International, 1922, on "transitional demands"; excerpt from the Theses of the 3rd congress, 1922, on the same question; introduction.

Marxist Theory and History: 

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