The Revolution Will Not Be Televised…Nor Will It Be Brought To You By Russell Brand, Oliver Stone Or Noam Chomsky

(By Stephen Gowans)

Not too many years ago, when protesters were running riot through the streets, disrupting meetings of the WTO, G7, and other international organizations, the Canadian newspaper The National Post served up a flattering and generous portrait of young people who had eschewed the streets as a terrain for political struggle and turned instead to what the newspaper considered the responsible and laudatory path of seeking nomination to run as candidates for the mildly social democratic (but in the newspaper’s view, rabidly leftwing) New Democratic Party. This was a curious turn of events, for the National Post, a newspaper founded by the notoriously rightwing, white-collar criminal, Lord Conrad Black, was as likely in normal times to heap praise on anyone associated with the NDP as George Bush was to sing the praises of Kim Il Sung. But these were not normal times. In retrospect it’s easy to see that the protests, demonstrations, and strikes of the time, would fizzle and die, as the Occupy movement would also fizzle and die years later. Lacking a central organizing idea and concrete vision of where they wanted to go, they were too hobbled by anarchist nonsense to achieve much more than to sell a few more copies of Z Magazine and to create a decent phrase about the 1% making off with all the wealth at the expense of the 99%. But it was clear that the editors of the National Post were worried enough to recommend a path other than the streets to those who burned with the desire for political change. That they should recommend electoral politics was predictable. Young people who plowed their energies into the NDP would soon get bogged down in the harmless, ineffectual, routines of political campaigns, and be kept safely off the streets.

The wealthy are keen on electoral politics—when they go their way, as they often do. Elections in capitalist society can be dominated by money, as can the larger political process. Banks, corporations and major investors lobby politicians, fund political campaigns, bribe legislators with the promise of lucrative post-political jobs, place their representatives in key positions in the state, and shape the ideological environment through their control of the media, creation of think-tanks, hiring of PR firms, and funding of university chairs. Those without wealth can hardly compete, except, in principle, by pooling their resources and hoping to tilt the balance the other way against a formidable foe that controls infinitely more resources. The absence of organization and class consciousness, however, routinely assures this doesn’t happen. Moreover, the electoral arena channels dissent into predictable, controllable paths, keeping it off the streets, where it might become unpredictable and therefore dangerous. Additionally, the sway that corporate, banking and investor groups exercise behind the scenes is masked by the egalitarian spectacle of elections. One person, one vote. What could be more equal?

I was reminded of this after reading the Russell Brand-edited issue of The New Statesman [1], not because it was in any particular way an endorsement of capitalist democracy, but because, like the National Post, it defined legitimate political change within parameters favorable to the established order. Of course, Brand wasn’t advocating electoral politics as the National Post was. On the contrary, he spoke out against voting in an interview with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, and called for a revolution. But Brand’s New Statesman went further than the National Post. Where the National Post said that those who fight for political change within the established system are admirable, while those who step outside it are not, Brand, as editor, tackled the larger idea of revolution (the only way, he said, he could get interested in politics. ) Mind you, a mass circulation magazine was not about to become a platform to rally the masses to armed insurrection to overthrow the established order. “The revolution,” observed Gil Scott-Heron, “will not be televised.” Nor will it be found in the pages of the New Statesman. Predictably, the outcome of Brand’s editing exercise was the redefining of the entire idea of revolution, or, I should say, the destroying of it altogether, turning it into something vague and difficult to put your finger on, except to say it was good, and true, and safe to bring home to mother. But not at all like what Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Kim Il sung were implicated in. According to the luminaries Brand assembled to hold forth on what revolution means, revolution isn’t the transfer of productive property from one group to another –from, say, private owners to workers, or colonial settlers to those they dispossessed, or even owners who reside outside a country to the people within. Instead, it means many things, but not what you thought it did. [2] Continue reading

1999 Declaration of the International Communist Seminar

Toilers’ Struggle supports this declaration of principles as a fundamental starting point for the unity of communists on the basis of recognizing the basic theoretical principles of Marxism-Leninism and the rich experiences of socialist revolution which inspire and hold lessons for the struggle for socialism in the 21st century. 

Brussels, 4 May, 1999:

1. Today, communists all over the world are summing up the first century of socialist revolution, in order to prepare for greater struggles to come and to achieve ever greater victories. They will exert every effort for the 21st century to become the century of victory on a world scale.

2. The bourgeoisie struggled for three centuries in order to triumph over the forces of feudalism. The socialist revolution aims to put an end to the long reign of the exploiting classes and to eliminate all forms of exploitation of man by man. The final victory of socialism all over the world will take a whole historical epoch.

3. The twentieth century has witnessed great feats of socialist revolution and construction, but also treason and counter-revolution within communist ranks. The twentieth century has been one of dress rehearsal, during which the proletariat accumulated great positive experiences as well as negative and tragic ones. As long as the communist parties remained loyal to the revolutionary principles of Marxism-Leninism, the world socialist revolution followed an ascending course. As soon as the revisionists imposed themselves on a great number of communist parties, the revolution began its downfall.

I A glorious experience

4. A hundred and fifty years ago, Marx and Engels published the “Manifesto of the Communist Party”. The fundamental principles laid down by this great programmatic document remain valid for the proletariat of all countries.

5. Marx and Engels drew the lessons from the Paris Commune, the first revolution to take the path of socialist revolution, the path of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The different forms of power of the working class essentially correspond to the measures taken by the Paris Commune, and later by the Soviets, so as to allow the workers to become the effective rulers of society.

6. Struggling against social-democratic treason, the Bolshevik Party under the leadership of Lenin defended Marxism and developed the strategy and tactics of the socialist revolution, leading the October uprising and wrenching the workers from the barbarism of imperialist wars and interventions. Lenin formulated the general line for building socialism. The October Revolution created a new situation in the world: bourgeois order had to coexist with its opposite, socialist order: the existence of a large socialist country reminded all exploited and oppressed people that the unjust order of capitalism and imperialism could be overthrown. Basically, capitalism’s area of exploitation of both the work force and mineral resources was reduced.

7. Neither the international bourgeoisie nor the opportunists in the Bolshevik Party believed that socialism could last in one backward country alone. It was the Soviet working class and labouring masses, led by the Party with Stalin at its head, who put Lenin’s political principles into practice and built a great socialist power, the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.

8. The struggle for industrialisation, which mobilised millions of young workers, transformed a backward and feudal country into an industrial power able to stand up to world imperialism. Middle Ages agriculture was transformed, becoming mechanised and collective. Thanks to the cultural revolution, the former country of illiterate moujiks became a country of scientists, engineers and technicians.

9. The Bolshevik Party, under the leadership of Stalin, built the Red Army in a high spirit of initiative and heroism and forged close links between the army and the popular masses. Practically on its own, the Red Army defeated Hitler’s armies.

10. The Soviet Union’s victorious anti-fascist war stimulated the development of the communist movement on a world-wide scale, especially in Europe and Asia. The victory of the Soviet Union over German imperialism gave new impulse to the revolutionary anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movement that shook imperialist domination in Asia and Africa. In several countries, people’s democracy and socialism triumphed.

11. In the wake of World War II, the focus of the world proletarian revolution shifted to Asia, where the most heroic wars of liberation were waged and won under the leadership of the communist parties of China, Korea and Vietnam.

12. By developing the theory and practice of protracted people’s war in the course of the anti-imperialist and democratic revolution in an immense Third World country, the Chinese Communist Party, led by Mao Zedong made a contribution of international importance. He proceeded to transform the democratic revolution into socialist revolution, undertook socialist construction, put forward the theory and practice of continuing revolution to combat revisionism, prevent the restoration of capitalism and consolidate the gains of socialism.

13. At the time of Stalin’s death, the socialist camp and the forces of anti-imperialist revolution enjoyed unprecedented power and prestige. They were on the offensive, the oppressed all over the world could look to the future with optimism.

II The rise of revisionism and the struggle against it Continue reading

Students Made to Pay Down U.S. Debt

This original article by Toilers’ Struggle’s author is being republished as part of the reorganization process. 

As the bosses’ politicians prepare rounds of sweeping austerity, it is education and our future that is under attack.

The events surrounding the debt-ceiling crisis recently came center stage and provoked an intense outpouring of political debate and discussion across the entire country – indeed, the world. US politicians, however, have virtually ignored or severely downplayed the impact their agreed austerity measures will have on the lives of millions of people – especially, the youth.

Youth are an especially oppressed group in our society, often left out of consideration when it comes to deciding on important political and economic matters – like how the change of policies resulting from the  raising of the federal debt ceiling would affect them. And it should come as no shock that the capitalist class has decided to slash education funding and other needed social programs so as to bolster their crises-ridden system. Continue reading