Workers Vanguard No. 988

14 October 2011


The Necessity of Revolutionary Leadership

(Quote of the Week)

The ongoing world economic depression emphatically underscores the need to forge revolutionary workers parties to lead the proletariat to power and sweep away the capitalist system once and for all. This point was stressed in a document adopted at the 1961 Annual Conference of the Socialist Labour League in Britain that addressed capitalism's recurrent crises and imperialist rivalries and the upsurge of liberation movements in the colonial world. The document was endorsed by the Spartacist League’s forebears in the Revolutionary Tendency of the U.S. Socialist Workers Party.

Reformists and opportunists of all varieties echo the spokesmen of the bourgeoisie in supposing, and hoping, that the separate manifestations of the fundamental world crisis can be taken one by one and separately remedied. Marxists claim that this is impossible. All such problems are related because of the inextricable connections between them established by imperialism itself. They do not assume, however, that imperialism will somehow collapse because the contradictions which it secretes will eventually bring the system to a halt. Such an idea of automatic downfall is no part of Marxism. The history of the last 40 years has driven home the lesson so often repeated by Lenin and Trotsky, that there are no impossible situations for the bourgeoisie. It survived the challenge of revolution and economic depression between the wars by resort to fascism. It survived the Second World War with the complicity of the Stalinist and Social Democratic leaderships—which ensured that the working class would not make a bid for power—and used the breathing space to elaborate new methods of rule and strengthen the economy. Even the most desperate situations can be overcome if only the active intervention of the workers as a class for themselves, with a party and leadership with a perspective of overthrowing capitalism, is not prepared in time.

—“The World Prospect for Socialism,” Labour Review (Winter 1961)