Imperialist countries and institutions like the International Monetary Fund are waging a world offensive to impose austerity on the working class, leading to wars in Africa and other parts of the world – generated because of imperialist policies.
Matt Prittlewell and Martin Ralph
The 21st century began with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan supported by Tony Blair’s Labour government, and wars in other parts of the world have been overtly or covertly supported by British imperialism.
Colonial and imperialist domination in the world is creating new levels of desperation and brutal control, while oppressive policies inside the UK are reaching new heights. Capitalism is decaying and is seeking to survive by taking ever more tribute from workers. It is this war on the workers and poor peoples of the earth that is driving the rebellious outbreaks against capitalist rule and the rule of its stooges in oppressed countries.
This permanent offensive in the UK is supported in parliament – introducing PFI privatisation schemes, passing anti-trade union laws, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, Immigration Laws, and attacks by the Department of Work and Pensions cutting housing and other social benefits. These are the means by which successive governments implement wide oppression, which involves terrifying vulnerable people.
Many people now have to get by on minimum wages, terrible conditions and casual contracts, while a vast transfer of money from the working class to the City of London and the multi-nationals takes place.
The aim of the British ruling class is to keep people divided by implementing austerity using the Tory government and Labour councils to break up the welfare state.
Destroying the welfare state
The welfare state was forced onto a ruling class in fear of a working class determined not to return to the 1930s after WW2, and, in fear of the revolutionary advance across the world in the mid-1940s.
It is continually being eroded: food-banks and homelessness have become normalised while 500,000 children go to school hungry. The crisis in public education, housing and health care is due to capitalism marketing and privatising the welfare state.
We support the struggles to stop the further dismantling of social achievements that have been made. But we cannot sit back and rely on so-called parliamentary democracy; a future Labour government will not rebuild the welfare state or the NHS. Only a social revolution by the working class can take these gains and build on them by removing the capitalist vultures. The likes of Virgin must be thrown out and the pharmaceutical companies must be taken in public ownership under workers’ control.
That is why we say only workers’ control and a workers’ government can build socialism. We must defend the welfare state but go beyond it and only a workers’ government can do that.
The post-war Labour government introduced the welfare state, but that same leadership facilitated its undermining by introducing the possibility of prescription charges by the Tory government in the 1950s. The direct result of that is that today a third of people living with long-term conditions have not collected their prescriptions due to concerns over cost.
After the war the Labour government that brought in the NHS, also used the army to break strikes of dock workers and miners to try to keep the working class in check. A future Labour government would act in a similar manner in the face of mass struggle in order to defend capitalism.
The working class in Britain has to overcome all the political and bureaucratic barriers that prevent it from linking with European workers. An international organisation of workers is developing and British workers need to participate directly. With this approach, we defend the struggle for a united Ireland and for self-determination in Scotland and Wales.
We are for the unity of workers in the UK against austerity, and to fight to overthrow capitalism, but that cannot be imposed from above. Only a mass movement seeking its democratic rights in the struggle for socialism can achieve a democratic revolution in Scotland and Wales and to achieve that the working class will have to lead the struggle and take power.
The EU and the UK government have agreement against the world’s refugees seeking safe haven. Therefore, the UK helps the EU in Calais and in countries like Greece to prevent immigrants reaching safe havens or deport them if they do. The EU, with UK support, has an extremely brutal policy to build mass surveillance and detention centres in northern Africa to prevent refugees reaching Europe.
We know that there is and must be an international fight that will demand an end to the Europe of capital, and the European Union which is a weapon of social war for bankers and multinationals, and we fight for a united Europe of workers and peoples.
Neither the EU or UK government! We fight for political independence for the working class from the bourgeoisie, its governments, the political parties of the ruling class and its influence inside the Trade Unions. Only the destruction of the EU can free the oppressed nationalities in Europe but this has to be done on our terms – not those of the ruling class in Britain or Europe.
In order to unite and mobilise the majority of our class, workers must struggle to defend and unite with the most oppressed sectors: women, Black people, immigrants, LGBT and disabled people and put forward their specific demands.
We do not postpone the need to build nationally or internationally but seek to build an international political revolutionary answer. The International Workers League – Fourth International is fighting against capitalisms’ war against the smaller and less powerful nations and against the working people of the world.
We are part of the international struggle of workers and say that struggle has to be based in workers’ democracy against all varieties of trade union and political bureaucracy that everywhere has been selling out workers and preventing workers power from being unleashed.
At the same time, all the so-called revolutionary parties in the UK have failed in not building an alternative mass struggle outside of the Labour party and trade union bureaucratic control. Corbyn was able to take the leadership of anti-austerity movement because not even a small workers alternative had developed.
A Socialist world, possible and necessary
The world has changed since the 1940/50s, the USA no longer seeks to assist a revival of British capitalism, there will be no 21st century Marshall Plan. The crisis, conflict and confusion in the Tory party come from the pressures of a decline in British imperialism, with a very deep structural crisis. It can only survive by dividing the working class and imposing ever harsher austerity.
Another world is necessary and possible, but for this, the working class must expropriate those who control the banks, multi-nationals and financial sector in order to put the economy at the service of working people. The new Labour leadership is afraid of such a programme and thus has no answer to the crisis of the capitalist system.
The Labour party will not form a government of workers and the oppressed and will not liberate the working class by removing the shackles of capitalism.
Reform or revolution
Many equate Corbynism with socialism unaware of the great political history of the working class. There are two fundamental, different outlooks of socialism, parliamentary reformism and revolutionary socialism.
According to reformism, the ills of capitalism can be contained by parliamentary regulation without dealing with its main pillars. Counter-posed to this, for revolutionary socialism the necessity is that the working class must lead the struggle to defeat capitalism to introduce a workers’ government and workers’ control of the capitalist institutions like the banks, industry, transport, telecommunications.
While parliament can be used as a tribune to call workers to action, fundamental change will only come by those actions leading to street mobilisations united in mass struggle. We support the rank and file leading and making decisions in every mobilisation.
Revolutionary socialism means collective action to break down the barriers that exist in the working class nationally and internationally. We fight for the transitional programme that combines the immediate and historic demands by linking them to the socialist revolution.
International Socialist League
The International Socialist League supports the fight against the humiliating and brutal system under which the world’s population live.
We are based in union, community and immigrant groups, and are linked to international struggle. We are for combative and democratic trade unions and workers’ and people’s organisations that defend the principle of class independence and fight against all oppression.
We therefore aim to build a revolutionary party with mass influence to advance the interests and raise the political consciousness of the exploited and oppressed. Our goal is to assist the mobilisation of the working class to take action in the workplaces, on the streets and in our communities and for the class to take power, united with the oppressed, through a socialist workers’ government.
As workers, we understand that our ability to effectively organise to fight for our class interests is directly linked to our ability to construct strong proletarian organisations, capable of giving theoretical and political coordination to our struggles, that are drawn from, and representative of all the groups currently oppressed in our society.
We support the struggle against male chauvinism, racism and homophobia that is extremely widespread throughout society, in our workplaces, unions and political organisations.
In Britain, we reject parties like Labour or the Greens, who in reality defend a pro-capitalist alternative to the Tories. For example, the Labour Party openly protects business interests in Labour councils at the expense of workers and actively undermines and oppresses our communities.
Many workers and youth support the Corbyn-McDonnell led Labour Party as a means to fight austerity. However, despite the rhetoric, the new Labour leadership has reduced the struggles and mobilisations against austerity and cuts.
Where possible we will participate in elections and encourage working-class independent and anti-oppressive groups to do so. We defend this as a tactic and support of those organisations that we may choose to support, only on the basis that such representatives in parliament and local authorities must act as a tribune and support class struggles that fight austerity.
In the final analysis, the working class cannot defeat capitalism through parliament or in the council chamber – it can only do so through mass action on the streets and in the workplaces.
Our party and international has to be a Marxist working class party that does not compromise with capitalist institutions like NATO or the City of London and fights for working class independent struggle.
That is why we urge all those who want to fight austerity to consider joining the International Socialist League. Join us in the struggle for workers’ socialism from below.