Palestine rally Brooklyn New York

Why We Will See a Revolution in Our Lifetime

In popular culture, revolutions are often portrayed as coups or bloody civil wars. In reality, a revolution is when the masses of people—who usually go about their lives without challenging the existing system—emerge onto the scene of history and take their future into their own hands. As Trotsky put it: “The history of a revolution is for us first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.”

Like every socio-economic system that came before it, capitalism is not going to last forever. As Marxists, we understand that once a system can no longer develop the productive forces—i.e., improve living standards for the majority on the basis of advancing technology—it goes into a crisis. We’ve seen this decline play out since the end of the postwar boom. Capitalism’s impasse has expressed itself as a downward spiral.

Minneapolis Bridge Collapse 2007
We can’t say exactly what the coming decades will look like, but it’s clear that the crisis of capitalism is only going to intensify. / Image: Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons

What will the next ten or twenty years look like?

Over the last few decades, there’s been a marked decline in real wages and living standards, endless imperialist interventions, worsening climate change, and dramatic increases in homelessness. This has radicalized many people. There is pent-up class rage, discontent, pessimism, and a search for a way out of the impasse. But since there’s no organized outlet for this building pressure, it continues to accumulate beneath the surface.

Small groups of people can’t artificially create revolutionary upheavals. However, luckily for those of us who want to see an end to capitalism, the system itself is doing 99% of the work for us. The status quo can’t go on forever.

We can’t say exactly what the coming decades will look like, but it’s clear that the crisis of capitalism is only going to intensify, further accelerating the process of radicalization and building up even more pressure. For example, it’s predicted that by 2050, temperatures in Midwestern cities will be more like those seen today in Texas and Arizona. Electricity bills will skyrocket as temperatures rise. It won’t just be rising temperatures, however. This will be accompanied by extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts, and severe storms. There will be droughts followed by intense rain, destabilizing bridges, highways, and dams, not to mention the impact on agriculture.

A new global economic meltdown has been temporarily postponed through a massive expansion of credit. American credit card debt is at an astonishing high of $1.129 trillion. Entire countries, businesses, and individuals will find themselves unable to pay back their debts. The World Economic Forum says that: “To meet debt payments, it is estimated that around 100 countries will have to cut spending on critical social infrastructure including health, education and social protection.”

As the capitalists try to make the world working class pay for this global debt crisis, it will become increasingly clear to larger and larger swathes of the working class that there is no way out of this under capitalism.

Human society is an extension of nature, and similar conditions lead to similar results. All of these pressures and contradictions will eventually reach a head. Eventually, the pressure cooker of American society will explode. The incredible George Floyd movement was just a preview of what’s to come.

A 2022 poll found that 40% of Americans think a civil war is likely in the next decade, with 30% conceiving it as a war between the rich and the poor. A civil war between the rich and poor is just another name for revolution. That’s what’s on the horizon. It’s not a matter of if there will be a revolution, but when. And more importantly, will it succeed in overthrowing capitalism?

Downtown Minneapolis, George Floyd Movement
In a revolution, communists will help to link up these embryonic organs of workers’ power into an organized force capable of taking and holding power. / Image: Chad Davis, Flickr

How does the RCA intend to ensure the victory of the socialist revolution?

When the American masses surge onto the scene of history, they will be burning with desire to change society. However, they won’t have a fully finished revolutionary program or even clearly understand the need to smash the capitalist state and take power into their own hands. Like a catalyst or accelerant in a chemistry experiment, the role of a communist party in a revolution is to agitate and explain the need for the working class to take power and transform society. Serving as the embodied experience of the working class, we can draw the necessary lessons, reduce forced errors to a minimum, and tip the balance of history.

In revolutionary situations throughout history, workers have created councils, soviets, and strike committees to organize the revolutionary struggle. During the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, neighborhood self-defense committees began to spring up in Minneapolis. In a revolution, communists will help to link up these embryonic organs of workers’ power into an organized force capable of taking and holding power. This will be the basis for a new kind of state, a workers’ government that is capable of transforming society.

As communists, we can see the molecular process of revolution developing before our eyes. We understand the need for the working class to take power. It’s our urgent duty to get to work preparing for the success of that revolution.

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