Statements of Radical Socialist

Radical Socialist Perspectives: National and International

Adopted by the All-India Conference, May 27-29, 2022

            Our historical lineage is traced to those Marxist currents, that were committed to the pursuit of a democratic socialism that transcends capitalism, rejects one-party rule and seeks to institutionalize a much deeper and wider form of democracy in all respects--social, economic, cultural and political—that goes well beyond the limits imposed by the nature of capitalist liberal democracy and resolutely opposed to Stalinism from the left. In this regard it is a historical fact that only certain forces established (relative to all other anti-Stalinist currents) an organized body of resistance howsoever weak that carried the banner of theoretical-political opposition and on the ground practical resistance to Stalinism worldwide albeit it was unevenly spread geographically. Historically, the Fourth International (United Secretariat) was the largest and most important such current, keeping alive the principles and practice of proletarian internationalism. 

1.      Nationally, this means moving towards the overthrow/replacement of bourgeois capitalist rule in which the working class majority and its social allies will for the first time rule through newly institutionalized democratic structures that are both direct and indirect. “Politics is that domain of social life that is concerned with how we arrive at and give effect to collectively binding decisions and rules.”  

            Even among the working class there are sectoral divisions and categories. To maximize popular control and influence over decisions that in closer and more distant ways affect the actual lives of people, RS subscribes to the application of the principle of subsidiarity and therefore of structures that are both de-centralised and united pyramidically. 

2.      The post-capitalist worker’s state that we must strive for will be a ‘transitional society’ and is not a socialist order. We reject the notion of ‘socialism in one country’ since the construction of a socialist order will necessarily be extra-regional and more global involving powerful solidarities between the more developed and less developed parts of the world. 

            As it is, the transcendence of capitalism worldwide has become more necessary than ever before and will require much greater levels of global cooperation between countries as a matter of immediate urgency. This is the only way to decisively overcome the five great evils of our time, two of which threaten in large part or whole, the human species itself.  

            These are (i) Ecological devastation through and in addition to climate change.; (ii) The danger of a nuclear holocaust. (iii) Persistence of mass poverty (undernourishment and malnourishment as well as unmet basic needs) amidst obscenely rising inequalities of income and wealth. (iv) The rise of rightwing /far-right regimes and forces based on the ‘politics of cultural exclusivisms’ in one or more of its variants, namely ethnicity, race, religion, nation; (v) Regularly repeated global health pandemics resulting from a) seriously shrinking distances between wildlife domains and substantial human habitation; b) industrial farming including concentrated factory-based forms of livestock production; c) growing urban megapolises replete with massive slums; d) seasonal and regular migration flows between urban and non-urban areas; e) global tourism. 

            The need to forge an institutional embodiment of a progressive internationalism that is anti-capitalist is more urgent now. We cannot overcome the above evils within capitalism even as we can and must pursue crucial reforms to address these dilemmas. 

3.      The nation-state, however, remains the initial terrain on which bourgeois domination must be defeated. Success here will have a dramatic ‘spread effect’; the bigger or more developed the country in which this takes place, the more powerful its global impact and likely emulation. 

4.      We must recognize the new historical conjuncture of global capitalist development and draw the proper lessons. The first great global crisis of capitalism---the Great Depression---was partially overcome by New Deal type policies and more decisively by the emergence of the war economy in several countries. 

            The mass mobilization of the working class during WWII in advanced countries and therefore its carry over effect after 1945, along with the survival of the USSR and then the breakaways from capitalism of China, Yugoslavia, Albania, Easter Europe (under Soviet tutelage), North Korea, North Vietnam, proved decisive for the establishment of Keynesianism and of mass-scale welfare measures. 

            The Keynesian crisis of the mid-70s onwards and the major political defeats of working class power in N. America, UK and Western Europe in the early 80s enabled the turn towards neoliberalism as the new system of capital accumulation. Here the prior political shift in the class relationship of forces between labour and capital in the advanced capitalist world was the pre-condition for the more secure establishment of neoliberal globalization---an order further reinforced by the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the shift towards state capitalism in China which massively increased the size of the labour market available at much more depressed average wage levels for transnational capital. 

            The last great crisis of global capitalism arising from its internal contradictions was the 2008-12 ‘Great Recession’. However, unlike on previous occasions this time instead of a new system of capital accumulation being inaugurated, there was the re-assertion of the same neoliberal pattern of accumulation. This is because the working class and its potential peasant and other allies have not been able to shift the socio-political relationship of forces in its own favour.  

            Two consequences have followed: a) In response to the continuing impoverishment and inequalities as well as the psychic disorientations caused by neoliberal globalization, in a context where socialist progressive forces have been relatively so weak, has resulted in the rise of rightwing/far-right forms of authoritarian populisms. b) Given the massive political shifts of the relationship of forces in favour of capital against labour, the belief that one can ‘restore’ and ‘stabilize’ the old kind of welfarist-Keynesian order in the advanced countries or that we can succeed in establishing in most of Africa, South and Central America, Asia the kind of capitalist developmentalism that emerged in a few Southeast Asian countries, is a chimera. 

            This is because, to break from this neoliberal order, the shift in power relations in favour of labour will have to be much greater than ever before, given the transformation in the nature of the states themselves that now serve and protect the strongest sections of their respective capitalist ruling classes. This means that the process of reversing this huge political gap in relative class power will have to make such great strides that it will unavoidably threaten the very existence of capitalist ruling classes. That is to say, it will inevitably put the question of transition beyond capitalism on the political agenda, i.e., to reach the level where the working class and allies can successfully threaten the neoliberal system of capital accumulation will at the same time threaten the existence of the capitalist class itself. There is not and will not be an alternative to neoliberal capitalism and the dominance of finance in all the countries—richer or poorer---where it currently reigns. 

            China is the one exception which will not be repeated anywhere precisely because its ruling elites broke away from the capitalist order and later returned to it on their own terms. The political relationship of forces and power between the state and its capitalists (key sections of which are imbricated with and dependent upon the state) make it fundamentally different from all other capitalist countries. It is possible that China might transit over time towards the kind of system of capital accumulation that exists elsewhere but that remains to be seen. 

5.      What is the key implication that follows from this existing reality of the neoliberal capitalist character of the global order? This has to do with what can be called the ‘path to revolutionary change in the nature of the state’. Elections are now held in most of the world’s countries even those that are highly authoritarian or becoming increasing so, such as the US, India and others conventionally characterized as ‘liberal democratic’ polities. The Maoist path of trying to create ‘liberated zones’ from where to launch a “prolonged peoples war” of “countryside surrounding the cities” can, for a host of reasons we do not need to go into here, be considered a dead-end and must be rejected as such. 

6.      This leaves two basic strategies for revolutionaries seeking to transcend capitalism insofar as they correctly understand, as Lenin said, that addressing the question of state power remains central. Each of these two strategies believes that it is the realistic one which has drawn the proper lessons from the course of history in regard to revolutionary struggles and its successes and failures. 

            The first sees revolutionary change including the transformation of the bourgeois capitalist state as only a gradual and accumulative process of achieved reforms. This process must be peaceful and will not involve a violent confrontation with the state which radical forces cannot hope to win and therefore must be avoided at all costs. 

            The second approach sees revolutionary change as both a process and an event. Yes, we have to fight for cumulative reforms but we believe that no capitalist ruling class or its state managers will ever give up its power and position without resort to the armed apparatus of the state. As both Weber and Marx have pointed out---ultimately the state is at rock-bottom 'bodies of armed men'!  

7.      What this means is that a) there has to be a politics of appeal and intervention directed to this armed apparatus that aims to not just neutralize but win over important sections of it. This is possible if one can establish a solidity and scale of mass support precisely at those key times (which can never be anticipated long beforehand) when the state is in deep crisis and its radical overthrow becomes a real possibility. b) Since we have been in a prolonged period of low-level class struggle, a transitional perspective will be to push for left oriented reforms, conceivable only if there is active mass support on a sufficient scale constantly demanding as much. This politics will involve the pursuit of various kinds of reforms better termed as 'anti-capitalist structural reforms' as embodied in the Trotskyist Transitional Programme that not only materially improve the condition of the working class and poor, but actually help to enhance the organizational-political power of the working class, i.e., shift the class relationship of forces in its favour. As times change so also must new reform projects emerge. Thus growing awareness of the ecological devastation requires us, for example, to demand a transition from fossil fuels to renewables even as the current reality makes more necessary than ever  the transcendence of capitalism itself. 

            Since both adherents of the first and second approach have a very long way to go towards the final culmination of their projects, there is no reason why this should prevent a ‘collective long march’ of struggling together for a host of reforms. Of course tactical differences may well arise on issues and struggles but these will also emerge among those who share the same basic long term ‘strategic line of march’ i.e., agree on the path to revolutionary change and victory. We must be alert however to the possibility of sudden and dramatic positive shifts in the relationship of class forces and the opportunities thereby presented. 

8.      This issue of tactics and tactical alliance will emerge and what we do in this regard will be based on the general principles we uphold and the concrete circumstances we encounter. Alliances may well take place on specific issues or sets of demand between revolutionary groups and other left and social democratic groups. Issue based joint struggles can happen even with bourgeois parties and organizations on occasions.  

            In the Indian context, the RS makes important distinctions between Maoist groups, the mainstream left of CPI//CPM (which are basically social democratic parties maintaining a more radical rhetoric while sections are moving rightwards) and left parties with different historical origins, like the RSP, which moved from a position close to revolutionary Marxism to a more parliamentary one; or the CPI(ML) Liberation, which has moved from Maoism to adopting a mass orientation as well as occasionally a pure electoralism, these being parties that have conflicting positions on critical questions. Then there are bourgeois formations which are in their overall programme and practice rightwing but nevertheless qualitatively different from the BJP-RSS-/Sangh which is the most dangerous far-right force either a fascist variant or having pronounced fascist characteristics. However, these other bourgeois forces are increasingly accommodating themselves to the policies and perspectives of the Sangh Parivar. Theoretical agreement on the precise characterization of the Sangh Parivar and its components may differ but it is the programmatic agreement on how best to fight it in the short, medium and longer term that is far more important.  

            We believe that the Sangh is seeking to expand its hegemony and that if it is in the longer term to be decisively and permanently defeated then there has to be the creation in India of a resolutely revolutionary and much more democratically ‘renewed Left’. This can be expressed in the form of a new party or---given the inescapable heterogeneity of the working class---a set of parties that will have to work together. 

9.      RS believes in the necessity of creating a new Left and that history has so far shown that the most important organizational form for the successful pursuit of revolutionary ends has remained the party. RS is committed to the building of such a formation. It does not see itself as the nucleus of such a party which will then grow through a steady accumulation of forces around this ‘true and only’ revolutionary force. Rather more modestly and realistically it sees itself as one element in the pursuit of building such a nucleus or one such nuclei. A process of dialogue and collaborative practice with other revolutionary groups and radical progressive movements is the way that this desired outcome can be realized. 

10.  Internationally, the RS seeks to participate in the building of a revolutionary Communist International.