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Future Socialist Society

John Molyneux

The Future Socialist Society

4. Spreading the revolution: the international dimension

It would be enormously to the advantage of socialism and the working class for the socialist revolution to occur more or less simultaneously in a number of countries. Nevertheless so far in this pamphlet I have assumed a revolution occurring first of all only in one country.

This is realistic. The experience of revolutions up to the present suggests that, despite the drawing together of all nations in the modern world, the differences in the national patterns of class struggle are such that the revolutionary breakthrough will probably at first be confined to a single country.

This being the case, the spreading of the revolution beyond these boundaries will be a task of paramount importance for the young workers’ state. This task is not just a matter of internationalist duty, but also absolutely vital for the self preservation of the revolution.

Socialism cannot be built in one country. Indeed a workers’ state cannot survive indefinitely in one country. Of course, it is possible to hold out for a period against the weight of international capitalism, just as workers can maintain a factory occupation or an uprising in an individual city for a time. But sooner or later, unless the revolution spreads, it will go down to defeat. Either world capitalism, which as long as it exists remains stronger than the isolated workers’ state, will crush the revolution by military intervention, or the threat of such intervention, combined with intense economic pressure, will eventually oblige the revolutionary state to compete with capitalism on capitalism’s terms. This will mean a competitive struggle to accumulate capital.

If the latter variant occurs, as it did in Russia at the end of the 1920s, then a new exploitative class will emerge as the agency of capital accumulation, and capitalism will be restored by internal counter-revolution.

Overthrowing the whole of capitalism, however, may seem a daunting task. So the question we must ask is whether it is possible.

In this, as in all other areas of the class struggle, it is naturally impossible to give any guarantees. But there are a number of factors which permit us to say confidently that it can be done.

The international nature of the capitalist economy makes its crises international too. So the crisis lying behind the revolution in one country will already be affecting other countries. The first revolutionary breakthrough, provided it is in one of the larger economies, will greatly deepen this crisis.

A socialist revolution in South Africa, for example, will not only have a devastating effect on world gold and diamond markets but also completely transform the situation throughout southern Africa. All the economic power that has been used to keep the working class in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana in subjection will become a factor for revolutionary progress. A Brazilian revolution would have a similar effect on the whole of Latin America.

The political impact of the revolution will be even more important-as shown by the shock waves that circled the world after 1917, sparking strikes and uprisings as far apart as Glasgow and Seattle. The very existence of an example of real workers’ power and workers’ democracy will cause an ideological crisis in the ruling classes both East and West. In the West it will dramatically challenge our rulers’ all too successful identification of socialism with tyranny, and in the East it will fatally undermine the belief that the former Stalinist bureaucracies represented genuine socialism.

At the same time the revolution will give inspiration to workers’ movements everywhere. It will show that the working class can take power into its own hands and thus make the case for revolutionary socialism infinitely easier to argue. Also many of the divisions and splits in the ranks of the socialist and revolutionary movement will be healed, because there will be concrete proof of the strategy and tactics necessary to achieve victory.

All of this will be greatly aided by modern communications. After the Russian Revolution (the last time there was a real chance of international revolution) it was months before even the most involved revolutionaries in other countries had a clear picture of what had happened. After a future revolution the reality of workers’ power will be flashed around the world on television screens.

But of course the victorious revolution will not just sit back and wait for all this to happen. It will bend every effort to speed the process.

This is not a matter of trying to impose revolution by invading other countries (though the new workers’ state will certainly be prepared to give military assistance to other revolutionary struggles). It means that the workers’ state will use its authority to appeal to workers worldwide to overthrow their own rulers. It means organising a revolutionary movement internationally.

The new workers’ state will form – if one does not exist already – a workers’ international to build, coordinate and unite revolutionary workers’ parties in every country.

Moreover, once workers’ power spreads to several countries all the factors outlined above will be greatly magnified. An irresistible momentum will build up. In the 1960s the strategists of US imperialism feared the ‘domino’ effect of Vietnam and other national liberation struggles. The domino effect of workers’ revolutions, with an internationalist outlook, will be far, far greater.

At this point let us make a leap and assume the victory of the socialist revolution worldwide. It is a huge assumption – but not, as I have tried to show, a utopian one. It is worth considering some of its implications.

It will mean that the threat of capitalist counter-revolution will be ended once and for all and that the threat of nuclear annihilation is lifted from the human race.

It will mean that national wars, which have claimed well over 100 million lives this century, will cease.

It will mean that the problems of world poverty and underdevelopment can be tackled and overcome in a coordinated way, that people will move freely over the face of the globe and that the roots of racism will be destroyed.

It will mean that international socialism, the harnessing of all the world’s resources for the benefit of united humanity, will become a reality.

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Last updated: 15 November 2015