Ernest Mandel

First Anniversary Statement to Black Dwarf

(June 1969)

Downloaded with thanks from the Ernest Mandel Internet Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

June 1, 1969

To start Black Dwarf on a mass distribution basis was something of an adventure. But then, weren’t the barricades of May 1968 in Paris something of an adventure, too? Well, DeGaulle is out of the picture now, and Black Dwarf is still alive. So we have to become conscious of the fact that we are living in a period in which revolutionary daring, audacious initiative, can achieve much greater results than ever before.

The reasons for this astonishing turn in objective conditions have to be understood. The crisis of capitalism continues, with its ups and downs – and we are just now witnessing a sharp “up.” The conservative bureaucratic apparatus of social democracy and world Stalinism, which for four decades controlled and canalized the revolutionary mass movements and instinctively anti-capitalist working class aspirations the world over, is losing its grip on the youth, both student youth and working class youth. There does appear a vacuum, which bold revolutionary initiative can fill.

The first example was offered by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara ten years ago. The revolutionary youth movements – some independent, some inspired by the Fourth International – which organized world-wide militant protest actions against American imperialism’s dirty war in Vietnam, and achieved spectacular successes in Japan, West Germany, France, Britain and above all in the USA itself, were a second example. The revolutionary students’ bold initiative which triggered off a revolutionary general strike in May 1968 in France was a third example. Its echoes are still resounding in many countries and have been followed up in a spectacular way by the Mexican and the Pakistani students. The courage and militancy with which the revolutionary students and workers of Czechoslovakia have stood up against the occupation armies of the Soviet bureaucracy and their lackeys was another inspiring example of the same type.

This is the spirit of the age. That spirit inspires Black Dwarf. It is the spirit of socialist world revolution, to call things by their name. The Black Dwarf has tried not without success to throw a bridge between the somewhat insular and traditionalist moods of the British students and radical intellectuals on the one hand, and the temper of “Che”, of the Vietnamese, of the French May on the other hand. It did an excellent and necessary job in that field. That’s why it merits our heartiest congratulations on this first birthday.

Now another bridge must be laid, a bridge between the rising revolutionary mood of the new youth vanguard in Britain too, and the advanced workers of that country, which have a tremendous revolutionary potential.

This means that great attention must be paid to those propagandists and agitational points which present direct links with the working class aspirations: educational conditions of working class children; transfer of the revolt to secondary schools and technical colleges; working out of specific demands for the young workers and apprentices, which are among the most exploited sections of the working class; elaboration of a real strategy for workers control.

This also means that an increasing emphasis must be laid upon organization. Workers, whether young or adult, cannot be attracted to people who just play at politics. For them political activity is a serious business, once they are ready to involve themselves in it. Capitalist production teaches them to take tools seriously. And organizations are tools for the overthrow of capitalism.

Some radical students participate in revolutionary movements today especially, if not exclusively, for purposes of individual self-expression and self-emancipation. They have of course the right to do so – nobody should try to bring them up on charges for their motives. We have to judge them on their activities, and on their verbal radicalism, they are in reality just another variant of reformists, and not a new one at that! Because in the same way as the reformists they believe that within the framework of one capitalist system, of commodity production, of exploitation, of alienated labour, and of degradation for the overwhelming majority of human beings, a niche of individual emancipation can be somehow conquered. They are the more honorable equivalent of those trade union bureaucrats, “socialist” mayors and labour ministers, eager to achieve socialism immediately for themselves, and for themselves only.

Our ambition is a bit larger. We are out to achieve socialism for the working class as a whole, for the whole of mankind. It is a hard and difficult job. It takes the efforts of a whole life, and of several generations. But for anybody to whom the word “solidarity” remains meaningful, it is worth all the effort. The Black Dwarf has shown that this effort can be undertaken in a way which excludes neither irony nor outright fun, neither bitterness nor outright hatred. That’s all to the good. For no human emotions should be left out of that most human of all endeavors, the endeavour at total human emancipation, the endeavour to build a socialist society on a worldwide basis.

So without saying that The Black Dwarf is the red sun in our heart, we shall persist in wishing it a long, long, long, long life!


Last updated on 4.8.2007