The Communists Are Here!

Editorial for issue 42 of Socialist Revolution magazine. Subscribe now to get your copy!


In the February issue of Socialist Revolution, we wrote:

The communists are, indeed, coming. And they’re coming, not to reform capitalism, but to abolish it. They’re coming by ones and twos, dozens, hundreds, and thousands, shaped by their life experience in this system. The International Marxist Tendency is working to organize and train them in Marxist theory and Bolshevik methods. History is on our side, and we have nothing to hide. We are proud to reject the status quo and to fight for a better future for humanity.

Fast forward a few months through a summer of climate disasters, grinding imperialist war, defiant labor strikes, and intensifying political and economic instability, and consciousness has been transformed even further. An entire generation of young workers is desperate to find a way out of the impasse. Disillusioned by the cowardice and prevarication of class-collaborationist liberal “socialists” like Bernie Sanders and AOC, millions are seeking far more radical solutions.

An entire generation of young workers is desperate to find a way out of the impasse. / Image: Socialist Revolution

Recent polls have revealed the depth and breadth of this sentiment, with 28% of Gen Z and 22% of Millennials expressing a favorable view of “communism” and even more viewing “Marxism” positively, according to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. And according to the Fraser Institute, 20% of those aged 18–34 believe “communism is the ideal economic system. Reactionary pundits like Sam Abodo of the Washington Examiner lament that “[those] young Americans who view communism favorably are either ignorant or cold-hearted.” He blames a “failure of education” for these shifting views. But the cause of these trends is not a failure of education, but the failure of capitalism.

These polls are not merely anecdotal; they reveal a dramatically shifting worldview. Behind those percentages are millions of young people, seething with discontent and wondering en masse: “Is this really all that life offers?” Three years after the defeat of Black Lives Matter,  disenchanted despair is being transformed into class rage and a burning desire to do something. Not just anything, mind you—but to turn the world upside down.

The strength of these fresh forces lies in their numbers, fighting spirit, and willingness to smash all obstacles to change the world. However, although capitalism creates communists, experience shows that spontaneity and revolutionary élan are not enough, and that a lack of organization and theoretical education can be fatal when confronting the centralized power of the capitalists and their state.

In the years since Bernie’s betrayal, right-populist demagogues have filled the vacuum where combative class politics should be. This has its limits and the right cannot hold that ground indefinitely. However, if a viable Bolshevik alternative is not built the coming period, millions may swing towards the shipwreck of “communist” ultraleftism. By moving too quickly ahead of the rest of the class, even an organization of 100,000 could find itself isolated from the masses and unable to play the role of revolutionary catalyst—with disastrous consequences. The IMT aims to cut across this dynamic by energetically organizing and training thousands of young class fighters in the ideas and methods of genuine communism. If we are to harness all of this energy into revolutionary change, we must come out swinging as the boldest critics of capitalism while offering revolutionary class-struggle solutions and organization.

Socialism went mainstream, but its real content has been watered down. Lenin rebuked the enemies of genuine Marxism who tired to soften the razor’s edge. / Image: Grigory Petrovich Goldstein, public domain

For this we need political clarity, starting with an understanding of what communism is and isn’t, and its relation to socialism. Although socialism went mainstream over the last few years, its real content has been watered down, made wishy-washy and vague by those who think capitalism can be tinkered with and reformed without abolishing private property of the means of production. Instead, they soften its razor’s edge and blur the lines of class collaboration. In his inimitable way, Lenin rebuked these enemies of genuine socialism and class struggle:

The dialectics of history were such that the theoretical victory of Marxism compelled its enemies to disguise themselves as Marxists. Liberalism, rotten within, tried to revive itself in the form of socialist opportunism. They interpreted the period of preparing the forces for great battles as renunciation of these battles. Improvement of the conditions of the slaves to fight against wage slavery they took to mean the sale by the slaves of their right to liberty for a few pence. They cravenly preached “social peace” (i.e., peace with the slave-owners), renunciation of the class struggle, etc. They had very many adherents among socialist members of parliament, various officials of the working-class movement, and the “sympathizing” intelligentsia.

As Marx explained, socialism is merely the “first” or “lower” phase of communist society, the transitional period that bridges the present world of capitalism and the classless, stateless communism of the future. And as Trotsky put it in his comments on The Communist Manifesto:

“When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character.” In other words: the state withers away. Society remains, freed from the straitjacket. This is nothing else but socialism.

Contrary to the fiction peddled by the pro-Democratic Party reformists, genuine socialism is not about modest redistribution within the confines of capitalism. It is revolutionary and internationalist and represents a fundamental rupture with capitalist property relations and the status quo. While the personal property of the vast majority will not be touched, the essential backbone of the economy must be brought into public ownership and planned democratically and rationally. On this basis, we can build a world in which society’s guiding principle is “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Adding to the confusion are those who have usurped and misused the terms “communist” and “Marxist-Leninist.” We must be clear that Stalinism in its various forms was a counterrevolutionary aberration and historical dead end leading only to capitalist restoration. Genuine communism is about human liberation and material superabundance, not bureaucratic privilege, police terror, and scarcity.

Adding to the confusion are those who have usurped and misused the terms “communist” and “Marxist-Leninist.” Genuine communism is about liberation. / Image: public domain

Thankfully, most of the young generation have moved beyond this inanity and are attracted by the real essence of communism, not its totalitarian caricature. Nonetheless, some still harbor illusions in this brand of Menshevik-liberal class collaboration in radical clothing, and have no real understanding of the events that transpired after Lenin’s death. In his classic exposé, “Stalinism and Bolshevism,” written at the height of Stalin’s purges, Trotsky set the record straight on these gravediggers of the revolution:

To be sure, in a formal sense Stalinism did issue from Bolshevism. Even today, the Moscow bureaucracy continues to call itself the Bolshevik party. It is simply using the old label of Bolshevism the better to fool the masses. So much the more pitiful are those theoreticians who take the shell for the kernel and appearance for reality. In the identification of Bolshevism and Stalinism, they render the best possible service to the [counterrevolution] and precisely thereby play a clearly reactionary role…

The present purge draws between Bolshevism and Stalinism, not simply a bloody line but a whole river of blood. The annihilation of all the older generation of Bolsheviks, an important part of the middle generation which participated in the civil war, and that part of the youth that took up most seriously the Bolshevik traditions, shows not only a political but a thoroughly physical incompatibility between Bolshevism and Stalinism. How can this not be seen?

As for Marxism, it is a revolutionary worldview that scientifically analyzes nature and society in their contradictory motion, change, and development. To be a genuine Marxist is to be a revolutionary communist and an implacable enemy of exploitation and oppression in all its forms. It means having confidence in the working class and its potential to transform the world. And Trotskyism is merely the continuation of revolutionary Bolshevism and communism in the interwar period. It is no accident that Trotsky was murdered on Stalin’s orders, along with thousands of other leaders and participants in the October Revolution.

The IMT is proud to trace our political lineage through Trotsky and Lenin to the authors of The Communist Manifesto. History has come full circle in the 175 years since that founding document was published, and on a much higher plane. The objective conditions for socialist revolution and communism are rotten-ripe, and the subjective factor is maturing rapidly. Such historic junctures do not last forever, and we cannot afford to miss any more George Floyd moments. As the pace of history accelerates, humanity is approaching a decisive crossroads, and we must have a sense of urgency! Fortunately, the communists are not merely coming—we are already here—and we invite you to get organized in our ranks.

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