C.L.R. James

The Gathering Forces

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III. What Is Socialism?

What Is Facing Reality?

There are various organisations claiming to be the inheritors of the October Revolution. That is not our concern here. Instead we list the vital documents in the development of our organisation which together correspond to the movement of the world and the social forces transforming it over the last twenty-five years.

The first fundamental work along this line is The Invading Socialist Society published in 1947. The event that prefigured this pamphlet was the Russian collusion with the Germans at the end of World War II to allow for the massacre of the socialist uprising in Warsaw before the Red Army moved into Poland. Two decades ago we declared the Communist Party to be the type of organisation that was prepared. to take power only with the backing of the Red Army. This was because of its organic fear of the creative power and independence of the proletariat as the class which would substitute itself for the State as the central apparatus of economic and social coercion.

In 1950 we published State Capitalism and World Revolution (reprinted in 1956). The immediate occasion was the Trotskyists declaring Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia to be the saviour of Marxism-Leninism as demonstrated by his split with Stalin. The pamphlet asserted that statification of the economy was worldwide in tendency and revolutionary in consequences in regard to the aspirations of the mass of the people to reconstruct society in the most thoroughgoing ways opened up by modern conditions.

In 1958 we published Facing Reality, which combined an appreciation of what the Hungarian workers had tried to do in their rising with an extensive report on the British Shop Stewards’ Movement and parallel experiences elsewhere. It included a description of what our own organisation had done in the preparation and publication of a newspaper produced by committees of ordinary workers and other rank-and-file elements of the American people.

In the present manuscript we reaffirm an old truth and clarify something new. The rising of the mass of the peasantry all over the world has made the deepest public impression since the end of World War II. What is insisted upon here is that this is not a substitute for proletarian revolution. It flows out of the nature and consequences of Russia’s October.

Last updated on 22 October 2020