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Revolutionary Road

Alex Callinicos

The Revolutionary Road to Socialism

Why the ‘Socialist’ Countries Aren’t Socialist

Russia – What Went Wrong

The most powerful single objection to socialism is, without a doubt, the fate of the Russian revolution. ‘Go back to Russia,’ socialists are constantly told. And indeed there is a case to answer. What is there to stop another successful workers’ revolution ending up in a tyranny like Stalin’s?

To answer this question, we must look at the historical circumstances in which the Russian revolution took place. Russia was still, at the turn of the nineteenth century, a backward, primarily agricultural country. The bulk of the population were peasants, ruthlessly exploited by the landowning gentry, backed up by the Tsarist state.

In the 1890s the government began to encourage the industrialisation of Russia, fearing that otherwise the country would fall back in the arms race with more advanced powers. An alliance of the state and foreign capital began to build up industry. As a result, a small, but economically and politically powerful industrial working class emerged in the main centres.

The 1905 revolution reflected the explosive impact made by the new working class on the Russian political scene. However, the Tsarist regime retained control of its vast army of peasant conscripts, and so was able to crush the revolution. But in 1917 the soldiers themselves, under the pressure of military defeat and workers’ revolts, brought down the Tsar.

The Bolsheviks were able to take power in October 1917 because not only did they have the support of the industrial working class, but theirs was the only party to call for an immediate end to the war, and to support the peasants’ right to land. The peasants were seizing the land anyway, but once the Bolsheviks took power they legalised these seizures.

The rulers of Western capitalism did not take the October revolution lying down. No fewer than 22 armies invaded Russia in an effort to crush the Bolshevik regime. For nearly three years the country was gripped by a civil war between the new soviet republic and the armies of the counter-revolutionary Whites and their Western backers.

Millions of people perished from war, disease and starvation in these years. The effect of the war on industry was shattering. Starved of markets and raw materials, the factories closed down. Those workers who were not sucked into the Red Army or the civil service returned to the villages from which they came, for there was no food to be got in the towns. The industrial working class, on which the Bolsheviks had based their strength, disintegrated.

The Bolsheviks, when they finally emerged victorious from the civil war in 1921, found themselves in a precarious position. The disappearance of the working class left them suspended in air, controlling the state machine but lacking a social base. The peasants had supported them against the Whites, who they feared would bring back the old landowners, but were becoming increasingly hostile as a result of the Bolsheviks’ practice of seizing grain to feed the towns.

In the spring of 1921 Lenin introduced the ‘New Economic Policy’, which to some degree restored the private market as a way of encouraging the peasants to produce more food. This gave the Bolshevik regime a breathing space, but it did not resolve its basic dilemma.

Lenin and Trotsky had never believed that a Russian soviet republic could survive on its own. They expected the October revolution to spark off a wave of revolutions in the advanced capitalist countries of the West. They argued that no single country, especially one as backward as Russia, could build socialism on its own: that would require the pooled resources of all the major countries.

In line with this strategy, the Bolsheviks launched the Communist International (Comintern) in 1919. Its purpose was to organise world revolution, and to create an international soviet republic. To this end, it set about building new Communist Parties all over the world.

The revolutionary wave which followed the end of the First World War showed that the Bolsheviks’ strategy was realistic. The years 1918–20 saw revolution in Germany, soviet republics in Hungary and Bavaria, mutinies and a police strike in Britain, factory occupations in Italy. But the success of the workers’ revolution in Russia did not spread to other countries. The fundamental reason for this was the absence of effective revolutionary parties other than the Bolsheviks. By the time that the Comintern was launched, the most favourable conditions for revolution in western and central Europe had for the most part passed. The failure of the German Communist Party to seize power in October 1923 apparently closed the doors to world revolution for the time being.

That, at any rate, was the conclusion drawn by a majority of the Bolshevik leadership. By the time of Lenin’s death in January 1924 the party was very different from the workers’ organisation it had been in 1917. As the democratic Soviets had withered with the destruction of the working class in civil war, so too the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as the Bolsheviks were now known, had fallen under the control of a bureaucracy of full-time officials.

The head of this bureaucracy was Josef Stalin, the party’s general secretary. In the years after Lenin’s death he was able gradually to defeat rival after rival, till by 1928 he reigned supreme.

Stalin’s importance lay as the representative of the new party-state bureaucracy which now controlled the Soviet Union. These officials were no longer interested in world revolution. Rather, their chief concern was with the interests of the Soviet state, and of themselves as its rulers. In line with this, Stalin and his immediate supporters coined the doctrine of ‘socialism in one country’. They argued that it would be possible to build a socialist society within the confines of the Soviet Union alone. The task of the Communist parties in other countries was not to make the revolution, but to further the interests of the Russian state. The Comintern was ‘bolshevised’, its national sections transformed into agents of the Russian foreign office.

This abandonment of world revolution was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Again and again in the years between 1917 and 1939, Moscow’s orders led local Communist Parties into disastrous defeats. The two most important of these were in China and Germany.

The Chinese revolution of 1925–27 saw millions of workers and peasants battling against the foreign powers which were exploiting China, and against their local allies. But Stalin, eager for a friendly neighbour country, instructed the Chinese Communist Party to support the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, which hoped to build a Western-style capitalist regime in China. The result was that, once the Communists had served their purpose and the war was won, Chiang turned on them and slaughtered tens of thousands of workers and peasants.

In Germany the Communist Party had the support of millions of workers, although the reformist Social Democratic Party still dominated the labour movement. The Great Depression, when it broke out in 1929, led to a rapid increase in support for Hitler’s Nazis. The Communists, on Stalin’s orders, refused to form an alliance with the Social Democrats to stop the Nazis. Instead they said that the Social Democrats – the equivalent of the British Labour Party – were as bad as the Nazis, calling them ‘social fascists’. These divisions enabled Hitler to come to power in January 1933. The most powerful labour movement in the world submitted to fascism with barely a whimper.

These catastrophes increased Russia’s isolation from the rest of the world. Confronted with the capitalist world system, any socialist regime has two choices. It can either seek to overthrow it by encouraging revolutionary movements in other countries, or it can adapt to that system, conforming to its laws. Russia’s rulers had rejected the first alternative when they adopted the doctrine of ‘socialism in one country’. The logic of their position was that they had increasingly to act like a capitalist great power.

Even before Hitler’s victory the Soviet Union was threatened militarily by the West. To meet this threat the Russian state needed a powerful military establishment of its own. Since the technology of modern warfare depends on heavy industry, the Soviet bureaucracy under Stalin set out to build up this heavy industry from scratch. As Stalin put it: ‘To slacken the pace [of industrialisation] would mean to lag behind; and those who lag behind are beaten. We do not want to be beaten ... We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this lag in ten years. Either we do so or they crush us.’

From 1928 onwards Stalin’s Russia embarked on a programme of forced industralisation designed to catch up with the West. Within ten years an enormous range of heavy industries had been built up. But the price of this great economic advance had been paid by the mass of workers and peasants.

Forced to rely on their own resources, Russia’s rulers could industrialise only by exploiting their working population. They needed to import machinery from the West. The only way in which they could finance these imports was through selling grain abroad. But grain was produced by the peasantry, who were reluctant to hand it over to the West. So Stalin collectivised agriculture, seizing the land from the peasants and forcing them into state-run collective farms. Millions perished in the process, and Russian agriculture still has to recover from its effects.

A similar story can be told of Russian industry. The remaining gains made by workers during the revolution were wiped out. The trade unions were transformed into instruments of management. Piece-rates were introduced, so that workers had to make greater and greater efforts to earn a basic wage. A Russian economist has calculated that the industrialisation of the 1930s was financed by a huge increase in the exploitation of the working class.

By the time Hitler invaded Russia in 1941, the Russian state had become a strong enough industrial power eventually to repel the German armies. But Russian society had been transformed. The vastly increased industrial working class had no more control over the economy than workers did in the West. Although legally the means of production were owned by the state, in reality they were controlled by the party-state bureaucracy. A new ruling class had formed among the ruins of the Soviets.

The process had been a bloody one. Stalin, according to his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, was responsible for the death of twelve million people. Among them were most of the old Bolshevik Party, who perished during the Great Purges launched in 1936. Millions of people were arrested by Stalin’s secret police, and disappeared into the great system of labour camps in Siberia. Most never returned.

The slaughter enabled Stalin to eliminate any vestiges of the workers’ state created in October 1917. But what sort of society had replaced that state? Clearly, it was, and continues to be, a class society. The top of the Russian bureaucracy and their families enjoy a privileged existence, quite removed from ordinary working people. The great wave of strikes in 1980 and 1981 which shook Poland, a society very similar to Russia, revealed the privileges of this new ruling class – their special hospitals and schools, luxury villas and Swiss bank accounts.

What makes these societies tick? Despite their apparent differences from Western capitalist countries, the basic pattern is very similar. We saw that capitalism involves accumulation. In other words, capitalists constantly reinvest profits in further production. The same is true of the Soviet Union. The goal of production is not the needs of the mass of the people. On the contrary, their living standards are much lower than our own. Instead, resources are constantly poured into building up heavy industry. Consumption is sacrificed to production.

Why do the Russian ruling class do this? For exactly the same reason as capitalists accumulate in the West. Because of competition. Except that in Russia’s case the competition is less economic than military. The Soviet state is under constant pressure to keep up a military establishment comparable to that of the United States. This is an enormous burden for an economy half the size of the US and with much lower productivity. So some 15 per cent of gross national product is devoted to defence spending. Everything else is sacrificed to keep up in the arms race.

This is exactly the same sort of arrangement that we find in Western capitalism. There firms are forced to reinvest their profits because if they don’t they will be forced out of business by their rivals. Russia is forced to concentrate on building up heavy industry because otherwise she will be wiped out by America.

The only difference is that while it is firms that compete in Western capitalism, the arms race takes place between states. What we have in Russia is state capitalism. The state owns the economy, and the central political bureaucracy runs the state. It is they who form the capitalist class in Russia.

Anyone who doubts this should look at what has happened in Eastern Europe in the past thirty years. After the Second World War the Russians seized military control of Eastern Europe and used their armed might to transform these countries into state-capitalist societies.

The result has been wave after wave of working-class revolts against the local ruling class and their backers in Moscow – Berlin 1953, Hungary and Poland 1956, Czechoslovakia 1968, Poland 1971, 1976 and 1980–81. If these countries really are socialist, run in the interests of the working class, why has it so often been necessary for workers to rebel against them?

In conclusion, it’s important to stress that this degeneration of the Russian revolution wasn’t inevitable. Things could have happened differently. If the revolution had spread from Russia to the advanced industrial countries after 1917, then the horrors of Stalin’s rule would have been avoided and the working class would have held on to power.

Even after the first revolutionary wave had receded, there was an alternative to the course eventually followed. Leon Trotsky and the Left Opposition in Russia argued that the Bolshevik Party should continue to concentrate on encouraging revolutions in other countries. Had that advice been followed, then the Chinese and German disasters might have been averted, and the history of the twentieth century would then have been very different.

As it was, the Left Opposition was crushed, expelled from the party, and imprisoned or driven into exile. Nevertheless, they kept the cause of revolutionary socialism alive. They served as a reminder that Stalin was the antithesis of Marx and Lenin, that what he achieved was the destruction of socialism, not the fulfilment of the dreams of those who made the revolution of 1917.

Revolution in the Third World

The Russian revolution was the first, and greatest of the revolutions of the twentieth century. The others that followed it have taken place chiefly in what is now called the Third World, the poor and backward countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The most important of these revolutions, China, Vietnam and Cuba, all claim to be socialist, and to some degree to have modelled themselves on the Russian example. How much truth is there in this claim?

The first thing to remember is that all these revolutions were directed against colonial, or semi-colonial exploitation. China had been dismembered and humiliated by foreign powers in the nineteenth century; Vietnam was a French colony; Cuba was effectively controlled by American capital.

The great achievements of the Third World revolutions have been as movements of national liberation. Foreign exploiters were expelled, and national independence achieved. In general the standard of living of the peoples of the countries concerned has risen as a result of these revolutions. In these respects, the revolutions were undoubtedly progressive developments which deserved the support of socialists everywhere.

But they weren’t socialist revolutions, nor are the regimes they have produced socialist. This is most obvious when we look at who was involved in the revolutions. What is striking is how small a part was played by the industrial working class.

For example, the Chinese revolution of 1925–27 was undoubtedly an upheaval in which the labour movement played a central role. But thanks to the bad advice given to the Chinese Communists by Stalin, the revolution was defeated and the labour movement destroyed. Driven from the towns, the Chinese Communists took refuge in the countryside. Under the leadership of Mao Tse-tung they perfected a strategy of guerrilla warfare based on the peasantry.

Once the Japanese had destroyed the Kuomintang regime of Chiang Kai-shek, only themselves to be defeated by the allies during the Second World War, Mao’s peasant armies were able to seize the initiative. They launched an offensive which resulted in the Communist seizure of the country in 1949. The urban working class were reduced, in this struggle, to the status of passive observers.

The Vietnamese Communist Party, in its epic forty-five years struggle for national independence, similarly relied on peasant guerrilla forces. Fidel Castro’s 26 July Movement in Cuba had a much narrower base, being composed largely of middle-class intellectuals. A similar pattern has been repeated in many other countries – Angola, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Zimbabwe, where intellectuals have led largely peasant armies. The ‘socialist’ rulers of Ethiopia came to power as a result of a military coup!

The importance of this lies in the fact that the peasantry are a very different sort of class from the working class. They tend to be small-holders, each household owning or renting its own small plot of land and working it on their own. Therefore, they are isolated from each other and do not have the collective, co-operative strength of industrial workers organised in production and in trade unions.

This means that when peasants rebel, as they have throughout history, their horizons tend to be very narrow. They will seize control of their landlord’s estate and divide it among themselves. But they are unlikely to worry about events outside their village, and so are very vulnerable to the centralised power of the state.

Peasants form national movements only under the leadership of another class. During the Great French Revolution of 1789 that class was the capitalists, who used the peasants to break the power of the monarchy and the landed aristocracy. In Russia 1917 it was the working class who led the peasants. This reflected the weakness of the Russian capitalist class, which was too dependent on the Tsarist state and foreign capital, and too afraid of the working class, to take part in any revolutionary struggle.

In the Third World in the era of the colonial revolutions, both capitalist and working classes were weak. The capitalists were too bound up with the colonial powers to act as an independent force. The workers were a minority of the population without revolutionary class organisations. Neither workers nor capitalists were therefore able to lead the peasants in their battle for freedom from foreign exploitation.

This vacuum was filled by the educated middle classes. This group – schoolteachers, civil servants, lawyers and journalists – had been encouraged by the colonial state to aspire to the same status as their foreign masters. At the same time, racism meant that educated natives were denied the positions to which their qualifications entitled them. The anger and humiliation which this caused pushed middle-class intellectuals into political activity.

Often the middle classes joined the Communist Party. But people like Mao Tse-tung and his Vietnamese counterpart Ho Chi Minh saw themselves as nationalists first, and socialists second. Their aim was national independence. They admired Stalin’s Russia because it seemed to have succeeded in building up a strong national economy, not because it had anything to do with workers’ power.

The nationalist aspirations of the colonial revolutionary leaders are reflected in the regimes they created. In all essentials they were replicas of Russian state capitalism. Most economic activity of any importance was placed under state control, while the party controlled the state. Effective power was in the hands of the central political bureaucracy. Workers and peasants might, at best, enjoy some power at a local level: they had no control over the central government or the levers of the national economy.

To understand the colonial revolutions, it is best to compare them, not with Russia in 1917, but with an earlier wave of revolutions – England 1640, America 1776, France 1789. Marx called these bourgeois revolutions. Their aim was to sweep away feudalism and absolute monarchy, and so create the conditions in which capitalism could prosper and develop.

The Third World revolutions were also bourgeois revolutions, but taking place in very different conditions. Their target was not the overthrow of feudalism, but the destruction of colonialism. In a world economy dominated by a handful of Western capitalist powers, Mao, Ho, Castro, and the many who have tried to emulate them, sought to create strong and independent nation-states. State capitalism, by concentrating all resources in the hands of the government, seemed to be the only way of attaining their objective. But if they have achieved national independence, they have not succeeded in separating themselves from the pressures of the world economy. China under Mao sought to break away in a much more radical way than Stalin’s Russia had ever attempted. Rather than rely on Western technology, the Chinese Communist Party decided to use only their own resources. The most important of these was the Chinese people themselves. The Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s was intended to mobilise the energy and enthusiasm of the working masses behind the goal of building an independent national economy.

But this strategy failed because of the sort of military pressures which had forced Russia under Stalin to industrialise. Only in this case, ironically, the military threat came from China’s fellow so-called ‘socialist’ country, Russia. Armed clashes on the border between Russia and China in early 1969 forced the Chinese leadership to abandon the Cultural Revolution.

Since that time, despite a number of brief U-turns, they have sought to build up Chinese industry by using Western capital and technology. This has led them to encourage foreign investment in China, and increasingly to push its products on the international market (Chinese textile exports are the fastest growing in the world). It has even been announced recently that China will start investing in projects abroad. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

The power of the world system has also been felt by other state-capitalist regimes. Cuba under Castro sought to end her almost exclusive dependence on sugar exports. Yet all she has succeeded in doing is to make Russia, rather than the US, the main recipient of her sugar. Heavily dependent on Russian subsidies, Castro is now busily trying to renegotiate Cuba’s 3.2 billion-dollar debts to Western banks, which he cannot repay.

The goal of building independent national economies has turned out to be an unattainable dream. Every country, like it or not, is a part of the capitalist world-system, and is subject to its pressures. This is as true of those Third World states which have allied themselves to the West, as it is of China, Cuba and their like.

For example, Brazil was the great economic miracle of the 1960s and 1970s. Even during the first world slump in the mid-1970s her economy continued to grow rapidly. Sao Paolo swelled into the largest industrial conurbation in Latin America, with a population of thirteen million producing more than most countries in the continent.

The miracle, however, had been based on borrowing enormous amounts of money from Western banks. When the second slump hit the world in 1980, Brazil found herself heavily in debt to the West, while at the same time her export markets were shrinking because of the recession. The government was forced to turn to the International Monetary Fund. As a price for not calling in Brazil’s 90 billion dollar debts, the IMF and the Western banks demanded tough austerity policies – heavy cuts in workers’ living standards and widespread sackings.

No state can escape from the world system. The only way out is an international socialist revolution. One of the most important harbingers of that revolution is the growth of the industrial working class in the Third World. For example, in Brazil since 1964 the number of industrial workers has more than trebled, to twelve million. In recent years they have begun to flex their muscles, above all in a series of carworkers’ strikes which have forced Brazil’s shaken military rulers to make major political concessions.

A similar story could be told of other countries – South Korea, Egypt, Argentina, South Africa, Bolivia. The working class will be centrally involved in any future upheavals in the Third World.

The Western Communist Parties

The Russian example has not been a model only for the Third World. The revolution of 1917 was an inspiration to millions of workers throughout Europe who flocked to join the Communist Parties after the foundation of the Comintern in 1919.

Although in their earlier years these parties were genuine revolutionary socialist organisations, by the late 1920s they had been transformed into instruments of the Russian bureaucracy. Communist Party leaders in the West became Moscow’s appointees. If they failed to fall into line with every twist and turn of the Kremlin, they would be dismissed, disgraced, expelled, even murdered. It was on Stalin’s orders that, as we have seen, the Communist Parties pursued strategies which led to the defeat of the Chinese revolution of 1925–27 and to Hitler’s triumph in Germany.

In 1935, after the German catastrophe, the Comintern adopted the Popular Front strategy which still forms the basis of Western Communist Party practice today. The strategy was chosen for reasons of Russian foreign policy. Stalin hoped to prevent a German Nazi invasion of Russia through an alliance with the ‘democratic’ capitalist powers, Britain, France, and America.

The Popular Front was designed to achieve this end. The Communist parties should unite against fascism, not just with the Social-Democrats and Labour Parties, but also with ‘democratic’ capitalists opposed to fascism. This strategy amounted to an abandonment of the goal of socialist revolution. For capitalists, however liberal, would always be opposed to the confiscation of their own property. Therefore, in practice, the Communist Parties had to hold back workers’ struggles in order to prevent them from antagonising the capitalist parties involved in the Popular Front.

In France the Popular Front embraced the Socialists, Communists, and the Radicals, the main capitalist party. Swept to office in the 1936 elections, the Popular Front government of Leon Blum found itself faced, even before it was formed, by a wave of mass strikes and factory occupations. Fearful that this display of working-class power would break up the Popular Front, French Communist leader Maurice Thorez announced that ‘It is necessary to know when to end a strike’, and persuaded the workers to end their actions.

After that it was downhill all the way. Blum implemented some reforms, but found further advance blocked by his Radical partners. Eventually he abandoned office, and his successors moved gradually to the right. The parliament elected with a Popular Front majority in 1936 and the full support of the left voted to power the fascist Vichy regime after France’s defeat by Hitler in 1940.

The consequences of the Popular Front strategy were even more disastrous in Spain. When General Franco led a military rebellion against Spain’s Popular Front government in 1936 he was stopped only by a virtual workers’ and peasants’ revolution. In the civil war that followed, the Republican government’s main ally was Stalin’s Russia, while fascist Germany and Italy poured in arms and men on Franco’s side.

Stalin, however, was afraid of antagonising Britain and France. So the Communist Party devoted all its efforts to pushing back the frontiers of the revolution – replacing the workers’ and peasants’ militia with a professional army, restoring seized factories and estates to their owners, and murdering revolutionary activists. But once the revolution had been strangled, there was little left to fight for. In 1939 the surviving Republican areas succumbed to Franco’s armies.

The slaughter of the First World War had led to a wave of socialist ideas and workers’ revolts throughout Europe. In 1945, as the Second World War ended, a similar wave of radicalism again swept Europe. Could socialism again have been on the agenda? But for Stalin the answer would have been yes.

The Comintern had been dissolved by Stalin in 1943 to reassure Russia’s Western allies of his conservative intentions. In Britain, the Communist Party had held back workers’ struggle, opposing strikes because they undermined the war effort. In many countries Communists had led the resistance to German occupation. By the end of the war there were Communist-controlled partisan armies in France, Italy, Greece, Belgium, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia.

But Stalin had agreed to divide Europe with his Western allies. In Western Europe, which he agreed should be an American and British ‘sphere of influence’, the Communist Parties were instructed to support the governments set up by the Allies. The Italian Communists joined a coalition with ex-fascists. The French Communists disarmed their partisans and joined the government of General de Gaulle. Only in Greece, where ferocious persecution from the Western-backed government forced the Communists to take up arms, and in Yugoslavia, where Tito’s partisans were strong enough to ignore Stalin’s orders, was the story any different.

The result was that the wave of radicalism came to nothing. In Eastern Europe, Stalin’s tanks imposed state capitalism. In the West, the Communist Parties sat in coalition governments, until, with the outbreak of the cold war in 1947–8, they were kicked out of office, and forced into opposition, where most of them remain.

Since the war the Western Communist Parties have become much more independent of Moscow. The Kremlin is now a superpower with an enormous nuclear arsenal and can deal with Washington on equal terms without their help. They, for their part, have become conventional reformist parties committed to the parliamentary road to socialism.

Their strategy is still that of the popular front, although nowadays it is usually called the ‘broad democratic alliance’. In the 1970s the Italian Communist Party advocated a ‘historic compromise’ with the main capitalist party, the Christian Democrats, while the Spanish Communist Party proclaimed its support for the monarchy and the armed forces. By the late 1970s and early 1980s even the mass Communist Parties of Italy, France and Spain were suffering from dwindling support.

The British Communist Party, always much smaller, has declined even more severely. During and after the Second World War it was able to build up considerable influence in the trade unions. Since the early 1960s that influence has been used in building ‘Broad Left’ alliances in the unions with members of the Labour Party. The approach was an electoral one – the idea was that the Broad Left should capture official union positions.

Its weakness was that it did not take into account the position of the trade union bureaucracy. It failed to recognise that even the most left-wing official will be likely, because of the very nature of his position, to seek compromises with the employers and hold back or undermine workers’ struggles.

The Communist Party has come to place its hope in a ‘Labour government of a new type’ which would implement, not socialism, but an ‘alternative economic strategy’ of import controls and similar measures. Many of its members have drawn the logical conclusion, and joined the Labour Party. Some of the survivors have taken the notion of a popular front even further, and advocate a broad democratic alliance’ against Thatcher, embracing Labour, Liberals, Social Democrats, and even ‘progressive’ Tories such as Ted Heath!

This steady drift to the right is contained within the very notion of a popular front. For once you adopt a strategy of allying with classes whose interests are opposed to those of workers, ‘progressive’ or ‘democratic’ capitalists, for example, whose interest will always ultimately be profit, then you are bound to try to restrain workers’ struggles.

By contrast, revolutionary socialism recognises first and foremost that the only class that will struggle for socialism, and has the potential to build socialism, is the working class.

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Last updated: 2 June 2015