48 pages summarising the AWL's ideas and politics. An activist's guide to changing the world.
An activist's guide to changing the world.
or click here and scroll down to read online.
Northern Ireland is in chronic communal conflict. For there to be a democratic solution, a wider framework than Northern Ireland is needed.
Traduction par Hugo Pouliot
Texte provenant de la brochure We Stand for Workers Liberty (Nous défendons la liberté des travailleurs) publiée par l’organisation trotskyste britannique Alliance for Workers Liberty.
Un texte rédigé par l’Alliance for Workers Liberty (Alliance pour la liberté des travailleurs), une organisation trotskyste britannique, et qui explique leur conception du socialisme.
Le socialisme est sans doute le mot le plus mal compris dans l'histoire. De nombreuses personnes décrivent les régimes meurtriers staliniens en Russie et Europe de l'Est qui se sont effondrés en 1989-91 comme ayant été socialistes. D'autres décrivent les tyrans désormais au pouvoir en Chine, la Corée du Nord et Cuba comme étant socialistes. Mais ces États n'ont rien à voir avec le socialisme.
For most of the 20th century, the common image of "socialism" was the USSR and the other states modelled on it, China, Cuba, and so on.
The Alliance for Workers' Liberty are socialists. We organise our
daily activity mainly around two big ideas:
1. workers' struggles;
2. consistent democracy.
Working class struggle
Karl Marx (1818-83) was born into a middle-class family in Germany.
At university he was one of many radically-minded philosophers. In
his mid-20s, partly under the influence of workers' socialist groups
he met during a stay in Paris, he decided to throw in his lot with
the working class then emerging as a social force in Europe.
When they finally started to push back the militant trade unionism of the 1970s, the Tory governments of the 80s tried to screw down the lid by bringing in laws that fundamentally undermined trade unions' right to organise and take action.
Meanwhile, a wave of privatisations and bankruptcies swept the British industrial landscape. Whole sectors of the economy (coal-mines, machine-tools, docks, newspaper printing, textiles, railways) were shattered and whole communities destroyed.
"The emancipation of the proletariat is not a labour of small account and of little people: only they who can keep their heart strong and their will as sharp as a sword when the general disillusionment is at its worst can be regarded as fighters for the working class or called revolutionaries"
An activist - or member - of the AWL is expected to:
guarantee a regular minimum of participation at AWL meetings (e.g. weekly branch meetings) and public activities (e.g. paper sales, street stalls, distribution of workplace bulletins).
Becoming a revolutionary in his teens, Leon Trotsky (1879-1940) led
the Soviet (workers' council) in St Petersburg during Russia's 1905
revolution. From 1903 through to 1917 he was active in the Russian
socialist movement (mostly from exile), but outside the two main
factions, Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. In 1917 he joined the Bolsheviks
(the party led by Lenin). He was the main leader of the revolutionary
uprising in October 1917, and the main organiser of the Red Army
which defended the new workers' government against Russian
Events in East Germany in 1953, Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in
1968 showed the anti-working class character of Stalinism. But, more
importantly, it demonstrated workers' ability to oppose Stalinism. In
Hungary in 1956, workers set up factory councils and district-based
revolutionary councils to maintain the general strike.
Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) was a revolutionary in his teens and until after the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1920s he became the key leader of that section of the Bolshevik Party who, under pressure of isolation, exhaustion, and the extreme poverty of Russia, were abandoning their socialist ideals and joining up with the state bureaucrats inherited from the old regime.
The AWL and its predecessors campaigned for solidarity with workers' movements in the Eastern Bloc. We've always backed workers against bureaucrats - for example in the early 1980s we made solidarity with Polish workers and supported their call for a boycott of Polish goods when others on the left hesitated.
We supported individuals like the mineworker Vladimir Klebanov, who was shut up in a psychiatric hospital for trying to organise for independent unions in Russia.
Ernesto "Che" Guevara (1928-67) was born into a well-off family in Argentina, became a medical student, and then, after travelling round Latin America, committed himself to a revolutionary group working to overthrow the corrupt Batista dictatorship in Cuba, which at the time was backed by the USA. He became a leader of the guerrilla movement that took power in Cuba in 1959.
In 1965 he left his position in the Cuban government in order to try to lead further peasant-guerrilla-based revolutions in Congo and in Bolivia. He was killed by the Bolivian army, aided by the CIA, in 1967.
Socialism is probably the most misunderstood word in history. Many describe the murderous Stalinist regimes in Russia and Eastern Europe that collapsed in 1989-91 as socialist. Others describe the tyrants now ruling China, North Korea and Cuba as socialist. But those states have nothing to do with socialism.
Vladimir Lenin (1869-1924) was one of many thousands of young students in Russia who joined revolutionary movements there in the later years of the 19th century.
Russia was a stifling dictatorship ruled by the Tsar (emperor). Aristocratic landlords had virtual power of life or death over the peasants on their land, even after the legal abolition of serfdom in 1861.
Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) became a revolutionary activist while still a schoolgirl in Warsaw. At that time Poland was divided into three parts, ruled by Russia, Germany, and Austria. Warsaw was Russian-ruled.
In 1889, Luxemburg left Poland to avoid imprisonment, and went to study in Zurich (Switzerland), one of the few universities in Europe which then offered equal opportunities to women.
We honour the Marxist fighters who died for their commitment to
independent working class politics.
We take inspiration from Russian Trotskyists, the first victims of Stalin's gulags. We remember other Trotskyists such as Leon Sedov, Rudolf Klement, Moulin, Erwin Wolf and Heinz Epe (Walter Held) murdered by Stalin's agents in Europe during the '30s.
We admire Trotskyists, including Martin Monat (Paul Widelin), who organised fraternisation inside the German army during World War Two, produced the paper "Arbeiter und Soldat" and were murdered for their work.
By Mick Duncan
No Sweat, the British anti-sweatshop campaign, became a national network in 2001. Since then the organisation has extended the breadth of its work, which includes drives to pinpoint against sweatshop bosses in the UK and overseas.
Antoinette Konikow (1869-1946) was a founder of the communist movement in the USA, and of the Trotskyist movement too (she led a group in Boston which was expelled before Cannon and Shachtman, and soon joined up with them).
She was also a medical doctor, and well-known as one of the chief campaigners in the USA for women's right to access to contraception and abortion.
Capitalism is a system of exploitation. Capitalism is defined by the production of commodities for profit. Employment levels and living standards depend on the profitability of private firms. Businesses and capitalists make profit by paying workers less than the value they produce.
Capitalism creates economic crises. It also creates ecological degradation. Capitalism is a system that reshapes and reconstructs nature - and destroys the environment while doing so. The thirst for profit makes environmental damage inevitable.
Capitalist firms pollute water, air and soil. Their farming methods have little regard for nature. They introduce chemicals without adequately assessing their impact on the environment, on humans and on other animals. They introduce drugs into the food chain and create disease-resistant organisms.
The hope of changing the labour movement lies with its rank-and-file members. We concentrate our efforts not just on calling for resolutions to be passed and rule changes to be made, but fundamentally on helping and encouraging workers to organise, to stand up for themselves collectively, to develop a collective class
identity, and to fight for control in the workplace. We work to rebuild the unions from the ground up.
As the American Marxist Hal Draper put it:
Socialism can only be the act of the working class, conscious of its own interests. Working class struggle is collective struggle. Its power of numbers gives the working class huge economic and political strength.
But without organisation, collective action is impossible. Without organisation workers will remain wage-slaves, raw material for exploitation. The history of working class struggle is, mostly, a history of the fight to organise - in committees, unions, councils and political parties.
The Labour Representation Committee (LRC) is a movement formed by
trade unionists and socialists to fight for the principle of labour
representation within the Labour Party, the unions and parliament. As
of 2005, four unions - the post and telecom workers' CWU, the
railworkers' RMT, the firefighters' FBU, and the bakers - are
Respect was set up in 2004 as a coalition
consisting of George Galloway, some mosque
leaders, the Socialist Workers Party, and its
friends, including some people from the Muslim
Association of Britain (MAB).
A strike wave began in Durban in 1973 involving nearly 100,000
workers. It shook the racist apartheid regime (where only the white
minority could vote). Students played an important role, assisting
and doing research for workers.
From the early 80s, there was a massive upsurge in working class
struggle. On 1 May 1986, 1.5 million workers "stayed away" from work
to demand an official May Day holiday - the largest strike in South
Karl Marx's daughter Eleanor (1855-1898) was an important figure in
her own right. Active in Britain, she joined the Social Democratic
Federation (SDF) in the early 1880s. When it split in 1884, Eleanor
Marx, with William Morris and others, formed the Socialist League.
We work to reorganise and reorient the labour movement around a fight
for the objective of a workers' government, a government based on,
accountable to, and serving the organised working class.
We work to rally all trade unions and working-class organisations to
fight for - and to back election candidates committed to: