An especially frustrating and destructive facet of being humanitarian in these times is the feeling of hopelessness in damming the swelling stream of lies and ominous news. The proliferation of alternative news media, such as Global Research, is testimony that people around the world can see beyond the veil of disinformation and misinformation, through to the hideous truth of domination by organized anti-social forces. But what good are sharp vision and a good heart if our hands and feet are not brought into the picture?
Most readers here realize that the capitalist economic system long ago ran out of progressive steam, and has now entered a terminally pathological imperialist phase, destroying the planet and its people at an ever-increasing rate. With overwhelming control of wealth, major media and arms, today’s cabal capitalism appears to be securely dominant. Daily revelations of arrogant crime by illegitimate rulers have desensitized and demoralized us, and virtually the entire Left has become overwhelmed with critique, and underwhelmed with solution. What shall we do?
Our mental landscape has largely become paralyzed with fear, despair, and engineered confusion, but in fact, the Achilles Heel of the corporatist new world order is directly before our eyes. Everything we really need to know was figured out by our spiritual great-grandparents, and we must reclaim that knowledge from beneath the iron and blood that has been heaped upon it, or face a future of increasing high-tech oppression and barbarism.
Eminently feasible social goals have not changed in many generations. We want decent work, affordable homes and comprehensive healthcare and education – for everyone. To that can be added universal peace, justice, environmental sustainability and equality.
The cornerstone Marxism is recognition that proletarian socialism is a necessary step in the evolution of human history, if we are ever to achieve liberation from generalized material shortage
Capitalism undeniably institutionalizes this shortage, even including hunger for nutritious food by countless millions. This is essential to keep the masses at their post in the dehumanized factory. From both a theoretical perspective and as proven in practice, no amount of technological innovation or reformist meddling will change this: capitalism dooms humanity to a grasping mindset, where no amount is ever enough, where exploitation of one by another is required, and where gross poverty is a necessity. A particularly disgusting subset of capitalism’s proponents has even elevated these predictable tragedies into virtues. We are led to believe that the diamond-clad elite have earned their privilege, and that the wretched are likewise getting their just desserts.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, Marx’s discovery materialized into the proletarian communist movement. Attempts to reform capitalism (voting socialist-leaning candidates into the capitalist government’s machinery), and utopian approaches (prayer, moral suasion, personal sacrifice) repeatedly proved unsuccessful. When sufficiently desperate, national capitalists granted concessions, but it was never long before these lukewarm schemes were spit from their mouth. Between relentless competition from other countries, and an equally relentless drive for greater profits, it was – and is – a sure thing that, (from the elites’ viewpoint), economically unproductive humanitarian advances will be eroded into dust.
Finally, the Russian Bolsheviks crystallized the wisdom of their predecessors, and executed the only successful workers’ revolution in history, despite their numerical minority in a backward country. Key elements that allowed this profound victory were:
1) a socialist, internationalist political program, firmly based in historical materialism
2) highly disciplined cadre within a Leninist party structure
3) the earned trust of the Russian proletariat
4) recognition that the historical moment had arrived
Ultimately, the Soviet Union and the Third International were mortally wounded by the excruciating circumstances of the time. The united forces of imperialist attack, grinding privation, isolation, and Stalinist treachery starved the revolution, and replaced it with a tyrannical, self-serving bureaucracy, which finally buried the last vestiges of socialism in the 1980s, to be replaced by a nakedly criminal capitalist oligarchy that remains in place today.
But truth is ever-recrudescent and was reclaimed by the Trotskyists. Their socialism of genuine proletarian democracy and internationalism – in which economic production is geared to meet real social needs as opposed to the privileges of a blood-soaked elite – may be ridiculed by popular media mythology, but that changes nothing. The choice is still socialism or barbarism (see Finian Cunningham, Globalresearch). And the path to socialism is still revolution by organized labor.
As Karl Marx noted: capitalism digs its own grave, but it will take the combined efforts of organized working people worldwide to bury it. Capitalist democracy consciously offers no avenue for the necessary great change, even as global imperialist conflagration looms. Wringing our hands, detailing the mechanics of oppression, and even voting in elections are time largely wasted. The latter is but a sham distraction from the hideous truth. The election of Barak Obama, only for him to take the world deeper into war and killing, poverty and misery – while the oligarchy gets ever richer – is testimony to the futile sham of US (and Western-style) democracy (sic).
Heartless imperialist forces still dominate, that is true. But equally a beautiful truth is that it remains uniquely within the power of organized labour to overthrow these self-serving rulers in the name of greater humanity. History often provides moments of revolutionary impulse, as seen today in some South American countries, but without proper leadership, and without global coordination (especially with the working class of advanced economies in North America and Europe), that energy will dissipate, and even result in worse oppression.
The primary task of humanitarians everywhere is thus to become the leadership of a socialist revolution throughout the world, through organized and disciplined political parties. This requirement falls especially upon the workers of the industrial powerhouses. We know what we need to do and why. It is a matter of building political structure that can lead humanity forward. There will be splits and fusions, so each of us must continue to listen, and be open to change as we grow. Still, the starting point is here and now. We must each find a political party worthy of our support, and vigorously advance it. Men and women make history. It is now our time to act.
Walter Crompton can be reached at [email protected]
Finian Cunningham can be reached at [email protected]