Socialism or Barbarism!

Political Platform of the Group of International Socialists

“Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism. Today, we face the choice […] either the triumph of imperialism and the collapse of all civilization as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration — a great cemetery. Or the victory of socialism, that means the conscious active struggle of the international proletariat against imperialism and its method of war. This is a dilemma of world history, an either/or; the scales are wavering before the decision of the class-conscious proletariat.” Rosa Luxemburg, 1915


We live in a capitalist system of society which spans the world. The rule of capital rings the entire planet and penetrates all areas of life. Capitalism is based on the exploitation of the great majority of the population, which has no choice but to sell its labour power to the capitalists to pay for the necessities of life. Between those who are dependent on wages and the capitalists there therefore exists an unbridgeable class contradiction. The working class is the only class which has the objective interests and power to overthrow the capitalist profit system. The suppression of the system, the liberation of the working class through the conscious worldwide abolition of the capital relation is the fundamental condition for the removal of all oppression. The barbaric dynamic of capital’s drive for profit has become a shackle on the further development of humanity. The development of the productive forces has long reached the point where hunger, war and domination can be materially overcome. For the working class it is not necessary to go through “democratic stages” or to fulfil “bourgeois tasks”, but, on the contrary, it is only necessary for it to intervene for its elementary class interests. We are against all forms of class collaboration and against alliances with bourgeois forces. Only when wage workers take the struggle for their interests into their own hands and act independently of, and against, the ideologies of the ruling class, can their struggle finally be successful.


The suppression of capitalism is only possible through the solidarity and autonomous action of the working class. As revolutionaries we support all struggles to defend immediate class interests against the attacks of capital. They offer the chance and the potential of breaking up bourgeois ideologie, of overcoming atomisation and lines of division and of developing collective strength against the class enemy. At the same time, we oppose all those “social reformist” forces which pretend that they want to push capitalism back or tame it through compromises with the ruling class. Capitalism can neither be gradually improved, being progressively changed in its essence, nor can it be administered in a decent human manner. It must be overthrown in a revolutionary way by the working class. The working class cannot take over the structures of the bourgeois state apparatus or make them useful for its own purposes. The bourgeois state is not a neutral thing suspended over classes, but is an organ of repression and control for the maintenance and defence of the domination of capital. Without putting aside the state apparatus, without the disempowerment of our rulers through the proletariat’s autonomous action, no new society preparing for the ending of the exploitation of humans by humans is possible.


The liberation of the working class can only be the task of the working class itself. We are against every form of representation. The struggle for liberation cannot be delegated to politicians, institutions or elites. So long as human beings allow themselves to be ruled, then they will remain ruled. The starting point and task of revolutionary politics is, for us, the strengthening of wage-workers’ trust in, and consciousness of, their own power. We mean that real changes cannot be won within the framework of, but only against, the forms of political intercourse and mediation of bourgeois society. For the defence of immediate class interests an essentially anti-institutional strategy is necessary. A strategy which is based on the principle of self-organisation and transnational solidarity and which refuses all the offers for integration made by our rulers. The “rules of the political game”, which are continually pushed by our rulers, must be questioned without respite and broken through autonomous self-active solidarity. Only in this way can real collective strength in opposition to the apparent omnipotence of capital be developed.


Voting changes nothing, otherwise it would be forbidden! There is no parliamentary way to socialism.Parliament has long ceased to play the role given to it by the bourgeois revolutions of the 19th century, of being the central organ of mediation between classes. While the real decisions are made in the non-public committees of the state apparatus, parliamentarism today has for our rulers an overwhelmingly ideological function of cloaking their deeds in a “democratic” robe. In addition, parliamentarism has a structurally integrative function. The “revolutionary use” of parliament or “revolutionary parliamentarism” is something impossible, and therefore a particularly bad excuse for integration into the bourgeois apparatus of domination. All parliamentary orientations lead, sooner or later, to wanting to co-manage the inherent necessities of capitalism in harmony with “public opinion”. For this reason, we categorically reject all participation in the parliamentary spectacle, all calls to vote or election campaigns. They can only lead to the kindling or even cementing of illusions in “bourgeois democracy”. As a classical variant of political representation, parliamentarism stands opposed to the single road to change society, the autonomous action of the class.


The unions emerged in the 19th century as “centers of resistance against the encroachments of capital” (Karl Marx), in order to improve the living conditions of the working class on the basis of solidarity and mutual aid. With the development of capitalism, a social-reformist tendency increasingly dominated the unions, and more and more subjected the union organisations to the logic of capitalism. The unions transformed themselves into state-supporting burocratic apparatuses, making themselves indispensable to capital as partners for negotiation and factors of order. We do not see this process as the work of “bad leaders” but rather as the logical consequence of the “unions’ basic claim” to negotiate the terms of trade for the sale of the labour power commodity on an “equal level” with the capitalists. Today, the unions function on the basis of the political acceptance of the wages system as a bourgeois mediation between workers and capitalists. They no longer see themselves exclusively beholden to the improvement of the working and living conditions of their members, but, in the first place, to the frictionless functioning of the national economy. A real defence of proletarian interests is not possible within the narrow framework of the unions, as this is based on the acceptance of capitalism’s inherent needs. Against the union credo of “a fair wage for a fair day’s work”, revolutionaries put the slogan: “Down with wage labour!”


Capitalism means war! Wars in the imperialist epoch are not accidents nor a deviation from the norm of capitalist daily life. They are not the work of individual politicians, dictators or states, but instead the expression of generalised and growing imperialist competition, “It is the product of a particular stage of ripeness in the world development of capital, an innately international condition […] from which no nation can hold aloof at will.” (Rosa Luxemburg, Junius Pamphlet). In this continual struggle of the ruling class over power and zones of influence, which is always at the expense of the working class, there is neither a “right side” to take, nor a “lesser evil” to support. The working class has no fatherland! The sole perspective against war lies in the end of peace with our rulers, in the transnational class struggle against capitalism in all of its forms of expression. Against all nationalist ideology, every mystification of commodity society — whether in the name of “democracy”, of “anti-fascism” or of “human rights”! For proletarian internationalism!


We are against every form of nationalism. The idea of the nation is a decisive prop for all bourgeois domination. It veils the class character of the social system and transmits the conception that the existing order is an expression of the common interests of the “people”. Nationalism always means the subordination of the proletariat to its “own” bourgeoisie. In the epoch of imperialism, where the domination of capital embraces the entire globe, the concept of specific “national possibilities for development” or “yet to be resolved democratic tasks” is absurd and is, in every way, reactionary. So-called “national liberation movements” embody the interests of bourgeois fractions and currents and act as elements of the intra-imperialist conflict, against the interests of the proletariat. All theories and slogans of “national liberation” or the “right of nations to self-determination” aim at encouraging national lines of division within the class and at subjecting the proletariat to bourgeois forces. As internationalists, we recognise no solidarity with “peoples”, “states” or “nations”, but only with concrete people and their struggles and social conflicts. Our aim is the struggle of the workers of all nations as the sole perspective for the overcoming of all oppression and discrimination.


Racism, the oppresion of and discrimination against human beings because of characteristics ascribed to them is not just a moral obscenity, but also an essential principle for the organisation of capitalist society. Through the kindling and dissemination of racial ideas and prejudices, lines of division in the class are consciously imposed and deepened. Racism consequently undermines the sole basis on which successful resistance to the daily encroachments of the system is possible — class solidarity. The division of the working class cannot be overcome by the “foreign” minorities “conforming” to the dominant German culture. We reject all positive evaluations of “integration” or “assimilation”. Such concepts are always based on the bourgeois prejudice of the higher worth of some “national culture” or language.
To overcome racist lines of division a conscious minority politics with the most oppressed sectors of the class is necessary. Intervention against all racist trickery, discrimination, exceptional laws and adminstrative practices is, for us, an essential basic condition for the production of class unity. The right to human rights is, in this system, only conditionally enforceable and can be attacked at any time. It is worth fighting for this, and it is worth fighting for more. For a world human community, beyond the capitalist logic of the realisation of value!


Exploitation, housework, discrimination and sexual violence — that is the daily reality for millions of proletarian women across the world. The oppression of women has its roots in the division of society into property-owning and propertyless classes. It represents a special relation of oppression, which weakens the working class as a whole. The struggle against sexist discrimination cannot be postponed to day X after the revolution. It is a basic task for revolutionaries to mercilessly proceed against reactionary ideas and ways of behaving vis-à-vis women. We reject the glorification of bourgeois marriage and family, the germ cell of patriarchal oppression, and the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientations which “deviate” from the ruling bourgeois sexual morality. Unlike bourgeois feminists, we are not of the opinion that sexism can be softened or overcome through individual rules of behaviour or even the setting of quotas by the state apparatus. To the same extent, for us, the struggle against the oppression of women is not a “matter purely for women” but is, on the contrary, inseparable from the struggle for socialism. The emancipation of women can only be realised in a society where the tasks of bringing up children, housework, the care of the old and the sick are parts of collective social activity. No socialism without the liberation of women, no liberation of women without socialism!


The experiences of the Russian revolution show that a proletarian uprising cannot continue to survive isolated in a single country. The degeneration of the Russian October Revolution resulted from the defeat of the worldwide class movement and the connected weaknesses in defending the already achieved beginnings of workers’ power against the Stalinist counterrevolution. As a form of rule just as a political movement, Stalinism acted on the basis of a nationalist and state capitalist programme: subjection of the proletariat to the state, sacrificing the revolution and the mass-murder of communists. It was not a somehow degenerated “socialist experiment”, but, on the contrary, the gravedigger of the revolution, an especially perfidious variant of anti-communism. Its thoroughly reactionary character revealed itself in the cultivation of nationalism and anti-semitism, in the propagation of a reactionary anti-woman sexual morality and the glorification of wage labour.
All the theories of a “national road to socialism” stemming from the Stalinist school of falsification are, without exception, inimical to the working class and reactionary. They all aim at maintaining the law of value within the framework of the national state on the backs on the working class. As a world-encircling system, capitalism can only be overcome on an international scale.


The USSR and the other countries of the former Eastern bloc were just as un deserving of the label “socialist” as today’s China, Cuba or North Korea. They were, on the contrary, state capitalist countries, where the working class was subject to exploitation by a class of burocrats. While the basic conditions of capitalist society, commodity production and wage labour, remained untouched, comprehensive state control and compulsion to work were passed off as “socialist gains”. Proletarians remained wage-workers without any power of disposal of the means of production concentrated in the hands of the state. The equation made equally by Social Democrats and Stalinists of socialism with the state ownership of the means of production is a reactionary position which cannot be united with revolutionary Marxism. So-called statification changes nothing of the capitalist character of exploitation, it rather raises it to a higher power. In all of its expressions, Stalinism represents an especially brutal variant of state capitalism.


Socialism or communism does not mean statification, democratisation or even management of capitalist relations. It is not a condition or a programme which can be brought into being by a party or a state decree, but, on the contrary, a social movement for the conscious overcoming of the capital relation, the abolition of the state, of commodity production, of the law of value. It requires equally self-initiative, autonomous action and solidarity. Socialism is the conscious process of the class’s self-emancipation from the yoke of wage-labour. It is not a programme of education but, rather, in its aims and throughout its entire trajectory, a struggle for the realisation of freedom. Only a society rationally orientated towards the satisfaction of need can solve the problems of human existence. The basis of social emancipation is the possibility of free decisions of everyone over every aspect of society. Only in a society of free equals, in which the “free development of each is the condition for the free development of all”, can the formation of real individuality become possible, can future generations not just live in a decent way, but be able to live as humans.


The proletariat is, because of its position relative to the means of production and its capability for organisation, able to see through the totality of capitalism as a temporary society of exploitation, and to overcome it. In view of the domination of bourgeois ideology, the coming to consciousness of the proletariat is no process following a straight line. In capitalist class society the working class is necessarily fragmented. In view of diverse lines of division into branches [of production], occupational groups, nations and sexes, ripeness of consciousness and experience in struggle differ to a great degree. An equally pronounced consciousness throughout the class does not exist. In order to successfully conduct the struggle for socialism, it is necessary to collect the most conscious parts of the class in a party. The revolutionary class party can be neither a withdrawn intellectual circle, nor a populist mass organisation. It is the organisational expression of the conscious Marxist minority of the class. Its tasks consist of the active intervention in the class struggle, the evaluation and generalisation of experiences of struggle and the defence and further development of the revolutionary programme. It must be democratic in its decision-making process, and centralist, in order to guarantee the united execution of its decisions. As the struggle for socialism must necessarily be fought in an international way, the party must make use of an international structure, presence and roots in the class. Such a party cannot be declared by a voluntarist act of foundation, nor can it grow up out of today’s revolutionary and internationalist groups in a straight-forward way. Nevertheless, a revolutionary programme equal to the demands and requirements of the 21st century, can, at least in an elementary way, be developed against the background of the heavy blows left behind by the counter-revolution. Tomorrow’s revolutionary party will only be able to be constructed against the background of sharpening class conflict, through a long drawn-out process of discussion, theoretical agreement and re-groupment of revolutionaries. In this process there will be splits and fusions.


(…) In capitalism’s daily reality we are subjected to demands and compulsion which appear all too often as given necessities, but which are basically relations of domination. These relations of domination can certainly be put in question, analysed and criticised by individuals. However, effective resistance against these relations, the consistent ending of the consensus with our rulers and their perverse ideologies requires collective and solidarity. We therefore regard organisational content as the basic point of departure for the development of revolutionary politics. Revolutionary organisation is not the aim, but, rather, the pre-condition and to the same extent, means, for individual emancipation. We see ourselves as a political collective of people who are rebelling against this system’s daily compulsion and encroachments. This demands commitment, solidarity, and, above all, open, self-critical discussion. Spontaneous, often isolated actions in all kinds of movements, initiatives and associations are subject to very narrow limits. For this reason, we are organised on the basis of firm political positions and political analyses reached together. In contrast to other supposedly “revolutionary” groups and organisations, we do not claim to be the representatives of “pure doctrines”. We are no more and no less than a working association which wishes to contribute to the construction of a new revolutionary organisation. In this, we relate to the experience and theoretical gains of the Communist League, the First, Second and Third Internationals and the currents of the Communist Left. Marxism is, for us, no profession of faith, but, on the contrary, a scientific research method for the analysis of social relations, a guide to action. We seek contact and discussion with other revolutionaries across the world. Discussions, for us, are, however, never an end in themselves, but the initial condition for the possible development of a common praxis. Our pre-condition for common work with other groups is a minimum of political commitment and seriousness, and the readiness to actively intervene in the class struggle.In view of the numerical weakness of revolutionaries, intervention in movements and struggles should, in the first instance, be made dependent on the tactical question of where and how we can best direct our sparse forces for the long-term interests of the working class, the overthrow of capitalism. For us in the present situation, this means strongly stressing the construction of a kernel of Marxist cadres. “Cadres”, as we understand them, are not the order-takers of an omniscient Central Committee, but comrades who can independently develop and examine political evaluations, can represent our politics and intervene with them. The relationship of revolutionaries to contacts with their politics is no one-way street. Revolutionary politics develops when revolutionaries are in a position to learn from the struggles of the class, to spread experiences of struggle and to carry consciousness and perspectives to the movement.Only through a combination of propaganda which is firm in its principles and flexible intervention in movements will it be possible to make substantial steps forwards towards the construction of a new revolutionary organisational beginning in the near future.We invite every to join us who agree with our political positions and are ready to actively participate in the struggle for socialism.

Group of International Socialists