2022 Atlanta Marxist School: Building the Forces of Marxism in the American South

On October 22–23, Socialist Revolution organized its first-ever Southern Regional Marxist School in Atlanta, GA. The weekend was an exciting and important step forward for building the forces of Marxism in the region. Twenty-two people attended two days of discussions on Marxism and the fight for socialism, with comrades participating from Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, TX, Louisville, KY, Raleigh-Durham, NC, and Fort Mill, SC, along with comrades from Chicago and New York.

Twenty-two people attended two days of discussions on Marxism and the fight for socialism. / Image: Socialist Revolution

The school kicked off on Saturday with a discussion on Bolshevism vs Stalinism, in commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the USSR. Bryce Gordon led off the discussion, explaining the significance of the Russian Revolution and the revolutionary wave that followed across Europe and the world. This was the first time in history that the working class took power and began the socialist transformation of society. But as Bryce explained, the Russian Revolution became isolated in the years that followed, and in those conditions of severe economic hardship, famine, and wartime destruction, the young workers’ state started to bureaucratize.

Headed by Stalin, the bureaucracy eventually drowned the revolution in blood, exterminating all vestiges of the Bolshevik Party in order to consolidate their rule. But the chief conquest of the October Revolution, the nationalized planned economy, remained. And despite the political counterrevolution of Stalinism, the utter superiority of a nationalized planned economy against the anarchic market economy allowed for rapid industrialization and modernization of the Soviet economy, raising living standards substantially and transforming it into a world superpower in a matter of decades. While the USSR has since collapsed, it is still vital that all Marxists understand this history, as a necessary precondition to fight for future victories.

Brandon Whitfield led off the second session on perspectives for socialist revolution in the US. He described the world situation since the end of the postwar boom and the relative decline of US imperialism. American and world capitalism are at an impasse which can be felt and observed at all levels of society. The representatives of the bourgeois are unable to stabilize the situation. Events and experience are transforming the consciousness of the working class, especially Gen Z and Millennials, who are poised to eventually transform the labor movement. The recent wave of unionization efforts by workers at Starbucks, Amazon, and elsewhere are a sign that class struggle is back on the agenda, and the prospect of revolution in the US no longer appears as a far-off perspective, but rather, a development we will see in our lifetime.

The second day opened with a discussion on Class War vs. Culture War, led off by Danielle Anderson. There has been an immense collective effort by the ruling class to confuse and divide our class with all kinds of identity politics and alien class ideas—of both the right- and “left-wing” variety. This is an example of the tactic of “divide and rule,” pursued by the ruling classes for millennia. In the US in recent years, in response to the rising tide of class struggle, there has been an attempt to blur the class line by posing political issues in “cultural” terms. This obfuscates the real problem: the capitalists and their system. The Marxists must fight to forge working-class unity and fight all forms of oppression and exploitation, and explain that the fight is tied to the overall fight for emancipation of the working class.

The second day opened with a discussion on Class War vs. Culture War. / Image: Socialist Revolution

The second session on Sunday, led off by Ysabel, was a discussion on the climate crisis. The threat of climate change is an existential question for civilization, which can no longer be ignored. The bourgeoisie of various countries are ostensibly making pledges and commitments to do something to combat this threat, but in their actions another story is told. Various conferences and summits are held each year, but the profit motive, private ownership of the means of production, the nation state all stand as barriers to the collective human action needed to address this crisis.

This stands in complete contrast to what would be possible with a democratically planned economy under a workers’ government. The technical means to address this threat are available now, but the logic of capitalism has meant that the climate crisis has gone unaddressed for decades. Only the working class can effectively mitigate it. This is yet another reason we must rapidly build a revolutionary leadership for our class.

Finally, the last session of the weekend was a discussion on Building the Revolutionary Party, led off by Kevin Nance. Kevin explained why a revolutionary party is needed, and how the course laid out by the Bolsheviks contains the key lessons needed to apply to our work today. He explained what it means to be in a revolutionary organization, to be a cadre, and the responsibilities and skills needed to build an effective cadre organization.

Contrary to the pessimism that pervades most of society, now is the best time to be a Marxist! Revolutions are being prepared everywhere. After a period of lull in the class struggle, the Marxists are now starting to swim with the changing stream. But we must consciously build our forces in preparation for the events on the horizon. This was an inspiring, sobering discussion to close on, which laid out the tasks ahead of each one of us, and how we must take the reins in building the Marxist tendency in order to achieve socialism in our lifetime.

Fueled by the ideas of Marxism, comrades will return to their cities and continue building an organization that can tap into the revolutionary potential that exists throughout the region. / Image: Socialist Revolution

The school was wrapped up with an inspiring Fighting Fund Appeal which raised pledges and donations from across the region, as well as rousing renditions of the Internationale and Bandiera Rossa.

Throughout the weekend, there was enormous excitement about the progress being made in the cities represented at the school. Comrades in the American South have a long road ahead, and there is a huge amount of work to be done to build the Marxist tendency. But fueled by the ideas of Marxism, comrades will return to their cities and continue building an organization that can tap into the revolutionary potential that exists throughout the region. We invite you to join us!

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