Editorial to Special Issue of Socialist Appeal (July, 2002)

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In June of 2002, the Workers International League was officially founded by a group of workers and youth from around the US. This marks an important step in the reestablishment of the genuine revolutionary traditions of Marxism and Trotskyism in America. In political solidarity with the ideas of the international Marxist tendency grouped around the In Defence of Marxism web site at www.marxist.com, these comrades have worked over the past period to establish a Marxist, working class alternative in the heart of world capitalism.

After the events of Sept. 11, the entire political and social face of America was changed forever. All the horrors of world capitalism came crashing onto America’s doorstep, and overnight, millions of people were shaken into the realization that all is not well in the world. The need for a genuine Marxist alternative was more acute than ever. The launching of the WIL was announced, and the first edition of our newspaper Socialist Appeal was produced. Now we have held a formal founding congress of the WIL, and we are confident that in the convulsive period that opens up before us, our ideas will reach an ever-wider audience.

It is important to emphasize that a Marxist tendency is first and foremost a program, policy, and method. The organization is the tool with which we implement and spread these ideas. The WIL bases itself on the political and organizational ideas and methods of revolutionary socialism – the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky. These ideas are the foundation of the WIL, without which we could not build a genuine Marxist tendency. We have the ideas; now our task is to build the organization – to sink roots into the working class, fighting shoulder to shoulder with them for the improvement of their conditions of life, and for the socialist transformation of society.

The US working class has a proud and militant tradition. We look to the accumulated experiences of the American labor movement – the great railroad strikes, the mine wars, the struggles of the Teamsters, the Flint sit down strikes, the formation of the CIO, and more for inspiration. We look to the heroism of William Sylvis, Albert Parsons, Mother Jones, Joe Hill, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Big Bill Haywood, Eugene Debs, and the millions of rank and file workers who led and participated in the great struggles of the past. We are confident that the greatest days of the US labor movement are still to come.

In this special issue of Socialist Appeal we focus on the US Perspectives document which was discussed and endorsed at our founding congress. The purpose of such a document is to explain the current economic and political situation, and to sketch out the most likely course of events in the coming period. Through a series of successive approximations, we will continually deepen our analysis and understanding of events, correct our errors, and sharpen our perspectives for the US and the world. We don’t have a crystal ball, but by applying the dialectical method of Marxism, and through a careful study of the historical process, we can get a broad picture of the main trends developing in the economy, politics, and the labor movement. We can then orient our activities around these perspectives, and more efficiently build the organization.

Since we wrote this document, events in the US and internationally have moved quickly. Just months ago, we were told by the media that the economy was recovering from a minor recession, and that all was well. But the collapse of WorldCom and downward spiral of the stock market, combined with rising unemployment and a steep drop in consumer confidence make a recovery less and less likely. In fact the very opposite is happening – our perspective for a “double dip” recession, stagnation, and a downward curve of development appears most likely. Tens of thousands of people have lost not only their jobs but their entire life savings. On the trade union front, the threatened strike of the West Coast longshoremen signals growing militancy of the working class – although the bureaucracy still acts as a brake on the rank and file. Bush and his cronies continue to beat the nationalist drums of war, but the flagging economy and growing crisis of confidence in big business is steadily decreasing his inflated approval ratings.

The tumultuous period we have entered calls for clear, unambiguous policies and alternatives for the working class. Our program of transitional demands is outlined on the back of this paper. The purpose of these demands is to raise in people’s minds the need for a fundamental change in society. They serve to link the immediate struggle for improved wages and conditions, with the only lasting solution – a democratically planned socialist society in which the workers themselves decide what is produced and how – in the interest of human need, not profit.

We invite our readers to contact us with comments, questions and criticisms of our perspectives for the United States. We hope this document helps clarify the many issues confronting working people and youth. We also encourage letters from our readers. Let us know what you think of Socialist Appeal, and tell us about your working conditions and struggles to defend the interests of the working class.

In the coming years, literally millions of people in the US will be searching for an alternative to capitalism. Only the ideas of Marxism and the revolutionary transformation of society along socialist lines can provide a solution. We call on you to join the WIL in the struggle for a better world for working people and the youth in the US and around the world.

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