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Why we need a revolutionary party

By: 
D'Arcy Briggs

February 15, 2019

If you want to change the world you run into some common questions. Why can’t mass movements simply overtake the system? Can’t we simply vote in the changes we want to see? Is a revolutionary party really necessary?

Electoral political parties at worst seek to expand the wealth and privilege of the capitalists, or at best believe that capitalism can be made into a ‘humane’ system piece by piece. As revolutionary socialists, we know that neither approach will lead to a better world. Oppression and environmental destruction are built into the capitalist system, and any political agenda that seeks to operate within this framework is in support of these tendencies.

Meaningful victories within the capitalist system have been won through grassroots struggles. Student movements to stop tuition hikes, struggles for civil rights, and victories gained through unions have never been handed down freely from top. The over-efficiency of capitalist production relies on the maximization of exploitation. Through uniting within a movement over a common cause, political victories have been won for the oppressed of the world. This does, however, mean that disparate ambiguities can be revealed within and between movements. Varying goals and politics can lead to different outcomes. There is constant debate within movements regarding the merits of reform or revolution, or to what degree intersectionality and solidarity should play a role. Movements can look for short cuts and tactics other than mass movements where working people organize themselves to fight for change. Or movements can be so concerned with smaller and smaller reforms that they are essentially towing the capitalist line.

The solution to these problems is the creation of a unified and organized revolutionary party. The goal of this party is not to affect change through reforms themselves, but to better unify movements in which they are involved and to help the self-emancipation of the working class. Indeed, we do not work counter to radical movements, but work within them to increase the profile of socialists politics. The revolutionary party does not seek to be the leaders for the working class and oppressed, but of the working class and oppressed. We believe that workers should and must be in charge of their own labour power and take control of the means of production. We believe that oppression and exploitation can end when self-actualization and self-activity are used for the benefit of society as a whole, and not simply to help the 1% increase profits.

As revolutionary socialists, our ideals are to act as, Lenin wrote in What is to be Done? (1901), “the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression.” For those who seek to do more than simply reform the system in hopes it becomes more palatable, they must be someone “who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat.” This means that revolutionary socialists must fight alongside other workers to build their political confidence at every level of political struggle. This will include struggles inside and outside of the workplace, joining struggles to improve living standards, fights against oppression, war, climate chaos and more.

The aim of the revolutionary party is to unite those who seek to fight on every front against exploitation, oppression, and systematic destruction of resources and people. This means educating ourselves on the history of workers’ struggles, learning from and being involved in current day struggles, and creating unity through revolutionary theory and practice. If you agree with these ideas, please join the International Socialists and help build a better world.

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