Workers Vanguard No. 937

22 May 2009


New Spartacist Pamphlet

Economic Crisis: Karl Marx Was Right

We reprint below the introduction to the just-released Spartacist pamphlet, Capitalist Anarchy and the Immiseration of the Working Class.

The anarchy and brutality of the capitalist system has been revealed again in a global economic crisis, which threatens to reach the proportions of the Great Depression. As millions are thrown out of work, as massive numbers of foreclosures throw people out of their homes, as hunger stalks the poor, black people and other minorities, the sick and vulnerable, the U.S. has seen a bitter winter of deprivation. The impact of this crisis extends far beyond the U.S., threatening the lives and livelihoods of the working class and oppressed internationally. It is left to revolutionary Marxists both to explain the roots of the current crisis and to provide the program necessary to put an end to this barbaric, irrational system through the emancipation of the proletariat and establishment of its class rule, thus laying the basis for the construction of a socialist planned economy as a transition to a classless, egalitarian and harmonious society on a global scale. That is the purpose of this pamphlet, composed of articles previously published in Workers Vanguard.

Leon Trotsky’s The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (also known as the Transitional Program), adopted as the basic programmatic document of the founding conference of the Fourth International in September 1938, is particularly relevant and urgent today. The political situation of the late 1930s and that of the post-Soviet world in which we live today are quite different, to be sure. But Trotsky’s declaration that “under the conditions of disintegrating capitalism, the masses continue to live the impoverished life of the oppressed, threatened now more than at any other time with the danger of being cast into the pit of pauperism” could have been written about conditions in Detroit and elsewhere today. The same is the case with the call in the Transitional Program that: “The Fourth International declares uncompromising war on the politics of the capitalists, which to a considerable degree, like the politics of their agents, the reformists, aims to place the whole burden of militarism, the crises, the disorganization of the monetary system, and all other scourges stemming from capitalism’s death agony upon the backs of the toilers. The Fourth International demands employment and decent living conditions for all” (emphasis in original). Such transitional demands, as Trotsky wrote, stemmed “from today’s conditions and from today’s consciousness of wide layers of the working class” and unalterably led “to one final conclusion: the conquest of power by the proletariat.”

Against the tried and failed stratagems pushed by liberals and fake socialists—from the Keynesian project of “benevolent” intervention by the capitalist state to the British Labour Party’s bourgeois nationalizations in the post-World War II period—we Marxists understand that no amount of tinkering with the existing system can wrench it into serving the needs of the proletariat and the oppressed. The 1997-98 Workers Vanguard series “Wall Street and the War Against Labor,” reprinted here, takes this up in the U.S. context. It also deals with the labor movement in the U.S. and the roots of its historic economic militancy and political backwardness—a backwardness due not least to the continuing oppression of black people as a race-color caste, integrated into the industrial proletariat but at the same time forcibly segregated at the bottom of society.

The more recent articles reprinted in this pamphlet put forward our revolutionary program against those who purvey illusions in the Democratic Party and its current Obama administration as well as for class-struggle opposition to the pro-capitalist trade-union bureaucracy. Part and parcel of such a struggle is a fight against nationalist, chauvinist protectionism, anti-immigrant racism and the anti-Communist poison spread by the union tops against those states where capitalism has been overthrown, centrally China but also the other deformed workers states of North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam. Our program is that of unconditional military defense of those states against imperialist attack and internal counterrevolution and for proletarian political revolution to replace the nationalist bureaucratic regimes that undermine their defense. Our model remains that of the victorious October Revolution of 1917 led by Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolshevik Party. For class against class! For new October Revolutions!