Brexit Vote – Another Sign of Global Capitalism’s Deepening Crisis

The British referendum on the EU may be over but the debate still rages. Let’s just get one thing out of the way first. Nowhere in the UK has the working class anything to gain from Brexit and “Remain” equally meant nothing to a class already suffering the pain of austerity. A vote for either is a vote to give the national capital a blank cheque for more austerity. Britain is “divided” all right, but the division is not between London and the provinces, England and Scotland or young and old. The real divide is between those who want to boost their profits and those who pay for this in lower wages, precarious jobs and generally lower living standards. All those campaigning in the referendum (whatever their claims for Remain or Leave) were campaigning on the nationalist and capitalist agenda of “what’s best for Britain?” As we wrote back in November

“Our position as Internationalist Communists is crystal clear. The real choice for workers is to act in our own interests. Don't be drawn into the bosses' phoney debate”.[1]

We will return to the referendum and the working class later but for the moment it is clear that the dust has not yet settled on the consequences of the Brexit vote. Cameron’s resignation without invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon has opened up a period of uncertainty. This means that the consequences of the vote look like being long-term and drawn out for not only Britain and Europe but also the wider global capitalist world. Undoubtedly the key imperialist players - including UK, US, French, German states and respective national/transnational firms - will use the time to find a solution that best matches their separate and common interests.

The first question we have to address is how did the British ruling class let it happen at all.

It’s not the first time in history that a ruling class when faced with a growing political and economic crisis has let short-term political expediency get in the way of its longer term strategic interests and then regretted it. The classic case is perhaps the decision of the Tsarist state in 1904, beset by rural riots and waves of political strikes to opt for the distraction of a “short victorious war” as the Minister of the Interior Plehve put it. So they picked a fight with those “little brown monkeys” (Nicholas II) in Japan only to find that Japan was light years ahead in technology and the ensuing war, though “short” was anything but “victorious”. Worse still its immediate consequence was the very increase of social unrest which the regime had been trying to avoid and which almost overthrew Tsarism in 1905. The 1905 Revolution gave the world “soviets” or workers’ councils and paved the way not only for the fall of Tsarism but also for the October Revolution of 1917.

The consequences of Brexit for the British capitalist class might not be quite so dramatic (we can dream) but the same short term calculation by the Conservative Party leaders has massively backfired in the face of the referendum vote that they allowed. Although the British bourgeoisie has long been divided over belonging to the EU its rather contradictory evolution has largely been in the direction that most British capitalists are happy with. The British have been in Europe for what they can get economically from it but don’t like any of the schemes for further supra-national integration which some European politicians openly espouse. However Britain had opted out of almost all the important EU policy areas: the euro; the Schengen zone of passport-free travel; justice and home affairs; and the charter of fundamental rights.

Economically for British capitalism it made no sense at this point to withdraw from a union which in general brought it more benefits than costs. The access to the world’s biggest market brought in direct investment from Japan, the US, China, Thailand etc. If it were not for the fact that the UK was their entry point into the EU these firms would not be here (as Nissan workers were told by their Japanese bosses). 45% of UK exports go to the EU as a result. The journals that tend to represent the mainstream of the capitalist class (the Economist and Financial Times) constantly warned that an “Out” vote would be an economic disaster for the UK and for the rest of Europe, a position echoed by the vast majority of economists and most of big business. In short the British ruling class had the kind of relationship with the EU that they wanted so the question that screams out is why would the British bourgeoisie’s favourite party want to risk that in the unpredictable lottery of a popular vote?

In fact the collapse of the Soviet Union allowed the British to push the agenda for “broadening” (rather than deepening) the EU in to Eastern Europe. Broadening meant that with 28 members any schemes for further integration would have great difficulty in passing.

None of this matters to the UK’s anti-Europeans. There has always been a strain of thinking (and not just in the Conservative Party) that for the UK to enter the EU (or EEC as it was at the time) was always a bit demeaning. After all the British Empire once covered a quarter of the world’s land area and “we” were on the winning side in two devastating world wars. They remember the time when British foreign policy was based on standing up (with carefully chosen European allies it has to be said) against the potentially dominant power in Europe throughout history whether it was Napoleon’s France, Nicholas I’s Russia or the Germans’ Kaiser and Fuhrer. What these little Englanders don’t get is that the fighting of those two world wars drained the UK economy and in the end undermined its imperialist domination. The British Empire was sold off to the USA which, even now, dominates the world with a new form of colonialism (which did not involve the costly occupation of much territory). Despite the never-ending propaganda about the “special relationship” the US extracted a high price in terms of handing over assets for its loans in both wars.

Nostalgia for empire really does form the background to the die-hard eurosceptics mentality but they are also fighting other battles from the past. What scared them in the 1980s was the ambitions of Jacques Delors to deepen European integration and create a “social Europe”. They in fact see themselves as true heirs of Thatcher in that they don’t much like state regulation of the economy in any shape or form. Whilst they see the EU as a failing institution they also fear any proposals currently being discussed to make the EU more accountable or “democratic”. The report of the Presidents of the 5 main EU bodies, published in June 2015, calls for reforms towards economic, financial, fiscal and political union. This is to be achieved in two stages the first to be completed by 2017 and the second by 2025. The report argues that unless these reforms are implemented the EU may not survive the next crisis, the outcome which the Brexiteers want above all. More powerful in the Conservative Party than in the ruling class as a whole, they became a serious problem for the party leadership once the UK Independence Party (UKIP) began to win more votes. The threat that Tory supporters would defect to UKIP before the next general election was a real one. So offering a referendum “in the next parliament” seemed the best way to hold the party together in the coalition with the pro-European Liberal Democrats. It was clearly in the minds of Osborne and Cameron that they would not get a majority in 2015 so they expected that the promise would not have to be acted upon. In the meantime it kept the party together and limited the defections to UKIP (which got only 1 MP in the 2015 election). However Labour’s electoral meltdown in Scotland brought the Tories narrowly to power without their Liberal Democrat allies. Thus, despite even most Tory MPs being against a “Brexit” Cameron was still left with nothing other than to go ahead with the promised referendum.

Even here the incompetence and arrogance of Cameron’s strategy was unbelievable. No attempt was made to stipulate that for a massive constitutional change such as leaving the EU a two thirds or clear majority would be required, as is done in most other countries. “Lucky Dave” got away without such a stipulation in the Scottish referendum so why not in a UK one? And then there was the timing. It has been quite clear since the global financial meltdown of 2008 that Project Europe has run into all kinds of problems from the euro crisis through the Ukraine war to the refugee crisis in Syria, which has been grist to the racist mill of UKIP and the Tory Right. Everything pointed to a need to delay any referendum as long as possible. However with a majority of only 12 in the House of Commons and a stagnant economy (despite all their boasts) the Tory leadership decided that they would try to lance the eurosceptic boil before it festered further. Cameron thus called the election for June 23 and set off for Brussels to “renegotiate” the UK’s position in the EU in February. His special deal from the European Council allowed the UK to dock in-work benefits to EU citizens (most EU citizens in the UK never claim them) and absolved the UK from the goal of political integration and “ever closer union”. It was too little for the euro-sceptics in his own party and the UK was thrown into a dreary campaign which became one of the nastiest on record (culminating in the murder of a Labour “Remain” MP by a white supremacist and British nationalist) and which still goes on.

Behind this political cock-up by arrogant Tories however there lies a number of deeper issues about the current political and economic hegemony of capitalism. In the first place it is part of a wider phenomenon of the traditional ruling class losing its grip everywhere. In turn this is due to the fact that capitalism is in an economic dead-end. The fact that a UK exit from Europe is possible now is symptomatic of the general global crisis of a system that is economically stagnant. The end of the speculative bubble in 2007-8 has only revealed that the apparent growth of the previous two decades was based on an exponential expansion of debt. In short the future has been mortgaged and the political parties are running out of quick fixes to disguise the current crisis resulting from the reduced profitability of capital. As we have written many times what capitalism really needs is a massive devaluation of capital. Such devaluations require the destruction of a lot of value – the kind that can only be achieved by a generalised major war amongst the leading imperialist powers. Despite increasing tensions, rivalries and local wars across the planet, all the conditions for this are not yet in place. In the meantime the capitalists have two polices. The first is to bail out the banks (quantitative easing, low or negative interest rates etc) in order to save the financial backbone of the system and stimulate investment. This has not worked as the rate of profit is too low for investment and the funds have gone into speculation. The second is to boost their rate of profit by making workers work longer hours for less money or to put it technically to acquire more absolute surplus value from the working class.

Even many capitalist economists see the problem in the way that we pose it (there is much speculation about the next global meltdown in the posh papers). But in a system where the ruling ideas are those of the ruling class via their control of the media they don’t focus on such systemic problems.[2] The fault has to lie elsewhere. With a rabid tabloid press headlining and deliberately linking the economic problems of the UK to immigrants[3] and then to the fact that this is due to UK membership of the EU the anti-immigration card was, and is, the key to the victory of the Brexit campaign. Since Thatcher’s time large sectors of the old working class have seen the loss of their better-paid manufacturing jobs as the casual restructuring of the 1980s meant those jobs went abroad where the bosses found cheaper labour costs. Under Blair Labour largely ignored them (attempting to buy them off with benefits) as New Labour sought the middle class vote and pursued identity politics. Then, as a result of the global economic crisis came austerity policies since 2010 which have hit the low paid and vulnerable, a situation which the tabloids are hardly going to dwelling on. Much easier to find someone or something to blame. The capitalist left blamed it on the banks (rather than on the system as a whole) whilst the right say it’s the EU and migration. This is a transparent lie (and Brexit will not solve the problem) but to those who are the victims of the crisis and feel left out by the system it sounds plausible. Generally the working class voted against austerity and the decline in their living standards and this translated into a cross for “leave” on the ballot paper. Many who had never bothered to vote in the past now turned out to vote against immigration. One unemployed male with a family in Leicester affirmed that he had never voted before and would never vote again. He did not think that anything much would change but “anything is better than what we have now”.[4] There is a certain irony in this Brexit alliance between raving free marketers like Farage, Gove and Lawson and the victims of their free market ideologies but that contradictory fact seems to have been the backbone of the vote for “Leave”.

Some consequences are already coming home to roost. The SNP leader in Scotland has already called for a new referendum on independence for Scotland (which voted massively for “Remain”) and in Northern Ireland (which also voted decisively to “Remain”) the Good Friday agreement is being questioned with nationalists calling for a United Ireland once again. The Protestant heartlands around the North East of Ulster voted for an exit and so once again the community sectarianism is back on the agenda. 2 million plus people at time of writing have signed a petition calling for the referendum to be rerun given that the margin of victory for Brexit was only 1.3 million votes out of 34 million cast. There are precedents for a second referendum when capitalists regard the result as wrong, as in the case of Denmark over the Maastricht treaty and Ireland over the Nice and Lisbon treaties but such a request is unlikely to be granted in the immediate circumstances. At this stage trying such a blatant reversal of a referendum would expose the true charade that is “capitalist democracy”.

In any event the Brexit vote means that the incoherence of the European project has now been further revealed after the earlier eurozone debt disasters and the failure to deal with the migrant crisis. More challenges to Europe on a nationalist basis can now be expected. In economic terms there is much uncertainty and the effects are likely to be more long-term. However HSBC has already announced that it is moving its Euro operations (and 1000 jobs) to Paris whilst Tata has put a question mark over the saving of steel jobs as it pulls out. International credit rating agencies are in the process of downgrading the UK’s credit rating (making borrowing costs higher and thus undermining the reduction of the deficit).

Some things are clearer. The standout issue is the way that this has obliterated any working class independent movement. This whole campaign has been a campaign against the very idea of the working class in several ways. In the first place it has allowed both sides to whip up that notion of defending the nation, the epitome of capitalist rule. Rabid English Irish and Scottish nationalism all will now get extra force.

Then there is the very fact of holding referendums themselves. The UK does not hold many such voting exercises so two inside two years is something of a departure. What they have done is breath new life into a political process which was clearly losing its legitimacy.[5] Like the Scottish referendum the only choice here for the working class is about which set of political gangsters will administer a system which exploits you all the same whoever is in power.[6] Whatever the outcome of the vote the “debate” remained and remains a capitalist one. Not only has this been useful in keeping class issues off the agenda (what do we learn of the French strikes in the British media just now?) but will define a new nasty nationalist and racist political culture well into the future. The UK is not alone here. The rise of the Front National in France, the AfD in Germany, the Freedom Party in Austria as well as the victory of the ultra-nationalists in Poland and Hungary (the British Tory Party is in alliance with some of them like the True Finns, the Danish People’s Party and the Polish Law and Justice Party)[7] all indicate that we are in a nightmarish period in history. Imperialist machinations have created living hells across the planet from Afghanistan to Africa. These wars have driven over 65 million people across the planet out of their homes. Eventually some flee towards the supposedly more stable environments of the states that started the devastation in the first place. Many die on the way and the survivors are herded into camps or become victims of various mafia. And the racists and nationalists in the rich states play on this for their own immediate ends. It’s a vicious circle which turns the spectre of rising nationalism into another threat to the future of humanity. Only an international and internationalist working class that recovers its class voice and its capacity to fight capitalism can oppose it.


26 June 2016

A longer version of this document which will deal more widely with the international repercussions, as well as the political fallout for the ruling class, will appear in Revolutionary Perspectives 08 (due out in July).


[1] This was in the article “EU Referendum: More Capitalist Choices to Reject” [] and we recommend it to readers.

[2] We have written many articles on the precise causes of the economic crisis of capitalism which can be found on our website but the most comprehensive is .

[3] And not just the tabloid press. Cameron and his cronies as well as the entire ruling class have played a hypocritical game on immigration to divide the working class. See or or and many more.

[4] Speaking to Channel 4 News 24 June 2016

[5] The actual voting went 17.4 million for “Leave”, 16.1 million for "Remain", 12 million abstained and 7 million more did not even bother to register to vote meaning that the “Leave” decision is based on the votes of 33% of eligible adults. The participation rate at 72% of the registered electorate was the highest for a long time and up from 65% at the 2015 general election.

[6] See

[7] See

Monday, June 27, 2016


That was another tediously long read. As workers get short of time as well as money, please apply the art of precis, make the few key points briefly, clearly and use emboldened subheadings. Well, you will continue to do things your own way on your own website of course, but workers have more than one website to investigate these days.

If you find our stuff tedious we do have advice for you ...

That’s a very sad and pointless comment T34. I am sure you have read enough of the cwo material to know that they don’t expect to create a revolution by a few strong words and frankly neither should you by now either. Perhaps you should try writing 2 sentences that would reach and influence workers, but then you would also have to do a book explaining how and why you failed to get any workers to listen let alone change their behaviour.

The article is a good one and clearly raises many significant issues to be understood about the present situation. So T34 whats important now is an analysis of the situation that makes us think and discuss and understand what is happening. We don’t have the influence to change the actions of the working class at present.

The EU issue has been complex to understand and the vote simply emphasises for me the ongoing strength of populist nationalism even in a global economy – or perhaps now its become because of it. It has changed the dynamic in the conflict between free market and demand management economics of the old parties and appears now to be pulling both parties apart.. Nationalism has clearly overridden all need to understand the intricacies of the global economy and led workers into siding with the British us against the European them and thereby forgetting all about class struggle.

Underestimating the power of that nationalism is something we should be very wary of. The power of the nationalist ideology and the lies that improvements in living conditions for british workers can only come about through efficiency savings to help the british ruling class are very powerful at present and clearly have had a major impact keeping workers passive.

Ever since the vote last Thursday I have been longing for somebody to start explaining what has happened. This article does it, so thank you for that. And my advice to Little Englander T 34 who sounds more disgruntled than he should, given that the out vote was primarily against immigration and migrants, should take his own advice and find a phony working class leftist website more suited to his political views.

Behind this political cock-up by arrogant Tories however there lies a number of deeper issues about the current political and economic hegemony of capitalism. In the first place it is part of a wider phenomenon of the traditional ruling class losing its grip everywhere. In turn this is due to the fact that capitalism is in an economic dead-end. The fact that a UK exit from Europe is possible now is symptomatic of the general global crisis of a system that is economically stagnant.

I take some comfort from the fact that the ruling class is losing its grip everywhere, that capitalism is festering up its own dead-end, and that the stink from the system's stagnant existence spreads world wide. How long before the stench triggers a reaction?

I think T34 criticised the styling of the article and not the content as "tedious".

Which I do have to agree that some minor style edits could make the article nicer to read. Bold subheadings, for example.

The article itself is very good in my view, I think it's the only article on the Brexit vote on any Communist website at the moment which really takes on the issue from an Internationalist view, not siding with any side in this Nationalist & Capitalist referendum while having a clear Communist analysis of the referendum's aftermath situation both in and out of the UK.

Sadly many so-called Communist organisations have fell into choosing sides in this referendum that we as workers have nothing to gain from, no matter what side, and this participation in the referendum was seen in the content of their posts/articles.

I'm going to read this with a group of comrades later today and, frankly, currently this is the only text I can say I'm comfortable with sharing with my reading group.

Sorry if my English is bad, it's not my first language.


I agree with you Meir. The article is very good. I hope the comrades you read it with later appreciate it too and survive the lack of sub-headings.

Yorkshire CPGB-ML comrades campaigning in Wakefield and Leeds for a Brexit vote. Another step towards weakening British imperialism and moving towards revolution.

From their facebook page.

So their perspective presumably is something like brexit is bad for (British) capitalism therefore something to support.

This is something akin to revolutionary defeatism expressed by hoping one's own side loses.

I would say those are flawed perspectives. In the interimperialist confrontation, weakening one side is strengthening another and vice versa. Unless one is an active supporter of one imperialist camp, there is no gain.

No support for any capitalist faction.

No war but class war.

Such slogans are crystal clear and further class consciousness.

As an aside to T34, the CWO produce a variety of materials with a variety of styles. I was critical of the CWO for being over academic in its presentation but now accept that its spectrum of output is correct.

OK, OK, I shouldn't have sounded off so fast in the midst of numerous pressures, which remind me of a saying that if someone wants to put a curse on someone, may they be born in interesting times ! I wasn't criticising the content of the article, which, regretably, I had only skimmed through, and apologise for seeming to have generated apparent turmoil amongst the faithful, so presumably should steer clear and let you all get on with whatever you see appropriate, at least for the time being, though that might not be sufficient to suit Charlie. Never mind. Actually, already getting back to the latest stages of the brexit saga, without invoking Trotskyism (he said!), there seem to me be some questions not just as to whether or not JC should lead the LP, but whether you know who should be leading various CPs, but those questions will generate thousands of others: oops !

Briefly responding to a link re the word 'populist', it worries me that the media persists in referring to various racist organisations as 'populist', whereas racist fascist organisations were very UNpopular with all who were being bombed by them in WW2 etc. Also, the media now keeps displaying the exact words being shouted by racists at football events. But what else can be expected of the bourgeois media, you'll probably say ! Yes, it's steadily got worse.

Cleishbotham, responding to your comment of 27 June 2016, no doubt you would offer advice to me, but I should expalin that if you intend to influence the views of very large numbers of workers, on the assumption that history only changes when we/they are actively involved in whatever it is that you recommend and/or foresee,, then it seems to me that you will need to ask yourself whether or not you are currently going about it in the optimum way, allowing for limited resources for doing so. Would it not be better to produce shorter texts with some bold subheadings, then with the final sentence summarising the whole text in a memorable way ? Presumably you are essentially running a propaganda campaign rather than a diverse debating society for those already variously largely convinced. Personally I'm not convinced, but in the course of examining CWO views I ger insulted time after time. Charlie dismisses me as a "Little Englander", but that is exactly the sort of remark that confuses some fondness of whereabouts with jingoism, a very different thing, and that sort of confusion in dangerous for the working class. The working class in the UK today is not responsible for the whole history of the British Empire and should not be obliged to abandon all respect for all that is good where we live, amongst all that is bad. Workers in Britain helped to build all sorts of material benefits, working in all sorts of trades, factories, mines and so on, and that should be remembered, even though opposing imperialism.

The comments from readers about the need for presentational changes (paragraph length, sub headings etc) need to be considered in a positive and fraternal way. I am sure that will happen.

The article is absolutely right that for British capitalism genuine separation from the EU would be an unthinkable reversal of more than 40 years of global strategy. How then to explain the sudden recovery of the British shares index and currency value since Monday, 27th?

The answer is simple. Precisely because "the key imperialist powers will ... find a solution that best matches their separate and common interests". Just as the populist OXI vote in Greece was the immediate prelude for imperialism to regroup for fresh attacks on workers in Greece so the Brexit vote is a moment in increasing the austerity suffered by workers in Great Britain. It is clear that the capitalist power brokers, despite sabre rattling and angry words, are preparing deals to maintain "business as normal" (insoluble crisis!) whether or not with an eventual second referendum.

Already British workers are experiencing foul racist acts now that the bourgeoisie have let the xenophobic genie out of its already porous bottle. Fire bombing of a Halal butchers shop and distribution of material attacking "Polish vermin" are just the first ripples of the "referendum dividend" that we will suffer. Eternal shame on those self-proclaimed socialists who encouraged their followers into the referendum trap!

I used the word populist in the sense of simplistic politics being used by any political grouping to attract support and i used it with regard to british nationalism in the previous post because i feel that the Us UK and the Them EU has been a potent stream in britain to contain the working class and put the blame for all ills on the EU. This has got much stronger over the past couple of decades and from what i can see will continue to be used as negotiations to leave go forward to distract workers from the real issues. I wanted to make this point but I dont understand why you relate populism just to racist and fascist organisations and bombing in WW2. Surely Populism can be ascribed to both left and right wings of the bourgeoisie and to both sides in WW2

Sorry i thought my last comment is a reply would link to T34s comment above at 23.18

Since the days of the original referendum when a union of European states had been thought to be a way of reducing the likelihood of wars between them, the situation has become a direct threat to peace, though of course remembering that capitalist imperialism is a threat to peace anyway. Any business needs orders for its products. If there is a drop in the amount of orders, owners of businesses, especially those of the giant arms industry, provoke apparent needs for weaponry, in order that they won't just accumulate unsold goods, but sell increased volumes of them. Examples are of what happened to Yugoslavia and the Middle East. The arms industry uses NATO and the EU as outlets for its many and varied deadly products. EU states are used for the siting of bases from the Baltic to Romania, which of course are regarded as a threat by Russia. If anyone knows what war is like, it's the Russians ! There is not any sort of 'communist' government in Russia now, so any talk by 'the West' of a communist military threat is just bourgeois ideological nonsense. For these reasons, any and all who were aware of them and voted against remaining in the EU made a useful important point, however much that was misinterpreted by the capitalist media and others.

So we should have voted for Farage, IDS, Boris and the like because there are military bases in Europe?

Seriously T34, no one who shares the CWO perspective is denying the obnoxious, imperialist character of the EU, but our perspective is that the only way out of the worsening situation for the working class is to take the path of revolution.

There are no better days for the working class this side of revolution.

There is no way this side of revolution to prevent the growing threat of a generalised interimperialist conflict (WW3) which is the only capitalist "solution" to the crisis of capitalism.

We could also mention unstoppable climate change as another threat to the existence of society which cannot be resolved under capitalism.

If all scenarios under capitalism only allow for a deterioration of the working class condition, what is the point of pursuing one capitalist variant over another, struggling for a change which does not challenge capitalism itself?

We need to pursue the path of proletarian autonomy, not choosing the “skin” which capitalism wears.

We need to break with all illusions that there is some progressive variant of capitalism which will either ameliorate our conditions or provide a stepping stone to proletarian revolution.

Marxist theory does not advocate support for the bourgeoisie once capitalism is established. Once it was correct to support the bourgeoisie in its task of becoming the ruling class by deposing feudalism, but that historic task is done.

Now the working class needs to run its own struggles and it needs a class party.

Supporting capitalist variants is not the Marxist programme.

Howdy! Got to say reading the above, I was very pleased by the approach, although I did find the text a little dense (sorry guys). I boycotted the referendum myself for the exact class-based reasons you mention above (and got quite some stick for doing so) so I was shocked to find that many members of my own group, which publicly took the same stance, in private voted for Remain. On the 'sensible' grounds that in had more benefits to the working class than out or was 'anti-racist'. I was originally quite disgusted by the delusions of the vast majority of the far Left opting for Leave but frankly I am now quite as appalled by the Remainers. This Referendum has been an exercise in smoke and mirrors which supposed progressive people on both sides have been taken in by. Your remarks above help maintain a much needed class perspective. Many thanks.

Thanks to all comrades for their commments (including about the clunky style!), especially to the vast majority of them about the real significance of this episode. As it says somewhere it is only an initial draft to respond to requests we were getting from across the globe and a longer version will appear in RP08 (with subheadings!).

Replying to stevein7's comment of 2016-06-30, as you claim that only revolution will do, what do you envisage by it ? Do you or do you not imagine that a proletarian revolution, here in the UK for instance, and maybe internationally, will necessarily involve military means ? If it does, than what quantities and types of weapons and ammunition will be needed, and to what extent will civilians be needed to be trained to use them, to the extent that they will be able to militararily defeat the existing and trained forces of the capitalist class ? I hope that we shan't just get the sort of reply from you to say that it is too early to say, and/that it will just be up to workers at the time of revolution to decide matters when that time comes. You are arguing already that there is no alternative to revolution, so you had better make clear exactly what you mean by that, to have any credibility with the working class.

As I see it there may well be a fairly protracted process whereby the revolution breaks out in one territory or several simultaneously and then extends. It is not possible to give a precise time frame to this.

The initial breakthrough may not be decided by military means. A mass action with obvious huge popular support may well be enough to win over important sections of state forces who abandon the bourgeoisie.

But that is just the beginning and then the arming of the revolutionary masses will take place.

So we will use whatever weaponry and expertise we can get from the state forces of the territory which we control to maintain the proletarian dictatorship in the face of massive opposition both internal and external.

No one is saying an isolated bastion can hold out indefinitely, but there is no way of knowing in advance how long a world divided between a capitalist area and a nascent revolutionary area can last.

There is an alternative to revolution which we are going to experience- a situation of decline and regression to conditions thought forever gone as capitalism attempts to restore profitability. In all likelihood we are nowhere near the proletarian revolution yet, so despite your criticism, the answers to many questions on specific details remain unknown, as do the conditins we will face in coming decades which are likely still capitalist decades. My previous argument was that there is no brighter day for the working class this side of revolution, but this does not mean revolution is imminent.

The problem of timescale also raises the issue of climate change. Unless the proletarian revolution occurs within a very few decades , then it is likely that runaway climate change will be instigated.

Thank you, stevein7, for your reply. But let us see as to what the following in the present situation might relate to the future. The CWO in the ICT is not Stalinist nor Trotskyist nor pacifist, but you think of (quote) "A mass action with obvious huge popular support. "..(end of quote). However much less than satisfactory ideologically the more numerous leftist organisations seem to be from the ICT points of view, and of course the Labour Party's latest Corbynist tendencies, how do you reckon, if you do, that a mass action, satisfactory to the ICT in its orientation, can develop and occur, if without the backing of the forementioned organisations ? It is difficult to see how you can simultaneously be both politically outside and at the front of mass revolutionary developments.

Mass action like mass strikes are the product of developing class consciousness and certainly not the products of any bourgeois organisations be these Stalinist, Trotskyist, Corbynite etc. or otherwise.

Without class consciousness, which will also produce the Communist Party, whose function everywhere is to push forward the development and spread of class consciousness internationally, the revolution will never get sufficiently beyond bourgeois modes of thought to start to succeed. Class consciousness and the Party, if these are manifest and growing in a sufficient quantity are the main weapon of the proletariat and finally stronger than all the murderous destructive weaponry of the bourgeoisie, the use of which anyway will only go further to convince the world's workers of the clapped-out, quaint and backward looking frame of mind of the former ruling class with their war and money obsessions.

As I see it, the job of the Party isn't to lead the class by directing its actions and telling it what to think - this would only be to defeat the emergence of the new humanity with all its new ideas at its moment of birth - but to ensure that as far as possible the class avoids making mistakes based on the re-emergence from time to time of bourgeois modes of thought and influence, which are not so easily eradicated

Charlie, responding to your interesting comment of 07-02 04:55, I'm not sure that we should be too certain, even picky, as to how consciousness develops. There is also some doubt as to whether or not a Party can minimally or largely cause it to develop, and then, whether or not it should tell workers what to think. There are so many strands of stimuli arriving in workers' brains, including those re politics and various beliefs, that it is not so easy to see which resulting thoughts will become dominant in certain circumstances, such as prior and during revolutions. In a revolution, and then following its success, surely there can be expected to be a need for a Party to definitely tell (in the sense of strongly advising) workers what to think and do. But then we get on to what is meant by a 'dictatorship of the proletariat'. Any emergence of a completely 'new humanity' is hardly consistent with materialist thinking, because whilst new scenarios can develop politically and economically, they aren't gigantic leaps from, and totally clear of, whatever has gone before, as was shown in the revolution in Russia. There is a sort of ongoing interrelationship between mechanical and organic aspects of developments. If communism is going to be and/or can only be a world wide system, then it won't just be somewhere else, but wherever workers live, which means that every place will (need to be) run by communist-minded workers, Cheltenham, Darlington, Sheffield etc being no exception. The idea of workers councils will certainly need to come into play, but as the word 'council' has so many connotations with what Borough Councils are like today, it might be an aid to consciousness to call them something new, such as maybe something like your and/or our local workers control organisation etc. Whether or not you regard 'Stalinist, Trotskyist, Corbynite etc'organisations as 'bourgeois organisations' I suppose you would agree that plenty of maxist propaganda ought to boost the growth of consciousness, whilst of course recognising the specific views of the ICT and the influence of changing capitalist circimstances on the ways in which workers think.

We need many more revolutionaries. These will then become the seeds for workplace groups. These will be able to confront the pro capitalist unions and argue for extension of struggle and the like.

We need a working class responsive to the perspective of revolutionaries.

All of this will be made possible by the mounting crisis of capitalism and the deterioration of the conditions which maintain passivity/acceptance.

None of this is guaranteed but neither is the alternative which essentially leads to the destruction of humanity.

"As I see it, the job of the Party isn't to lead the class by directing its actions and telling it what to think" I would say that the party cannot impose its will on the class but it offers a perspective which cannot be generated by the working class by its own efforts in the heat of the moment. The working class can choose to ignore the revolutionary perspective (and fail) or it can identify with the revolutionary perspective and carry out the revolutionary programme. The revolutionary party cannot force the working class to do or think anything but only by the acceptance of revolutionary theory, revolutionary class consciousness, a consciousness beyond that which spontaneously arises, can the working class abolish class. No revolutionary party, no revolutionary class seems to succinctly sum up the message.

I've noted stevein7's comments of 22.19 and 22.28 of 2016-07-02. As many of my own comments have contravened the very advice I gave about not presenting lengthy texts, I guees it's time for me to give mine a rest. Cheers.

"Whether or not you regard 'Stalinist, Trotskyist, Corbynite etc'organisations as 'bourgeois organisations' I suppose you would agree that plenty of marxist propaganda ought to boost the growth of consciousness, whilst of course recognising the specific views of the ICT and the influence of changing capitalist circumstances on the ways in which workers think." None of us were born internationalist communists and it would be foolish to say we learnt nothing of any consequence until we came across Marxism and the ICT, but all other perspectives involve either renunciation of the revolution, support for some capitalist formation or a confused localism. So in the journey to revolutionary consciousness, the input of many organisations outside the ICT can play a part but they will only take one so far. If the perspectives of the ICT are not adhered to by a mass of the class, then I cannot see how the revolution can have a successful outcome. This is not to say that there will only be one political grouping with influence within the workers' councils, nor that we would seek to impose the rule of the future party which embodies the perspectives we uphold.

Stevein7 wrote:

If the perspectives of the ICT are not adhered to by a mass of the class, then I cannot see how the revolution can have a successful outcome. This is not to say that there will only be one political grouping with influence within the workers' councils, nor that we would seek to impose the rule of the future party which embodies the perspectives we uphold.

I would have preferred Stevein7 not to limit revolutionary perspectives to those of the ICT alone, but to include the wider Communist Left. After all, are not most of the perspectives of the ICT - especially the CWO, though I think not necessarily some of our ICT Italian comrades? - shared with those of the ICC? Or, if not "shared", very similar?

Charlie's comment of 2016-07-04 06:51 makes me wonder if there is any known way of finding out the extent to which ICT, ICC and communist websites of all sorts are being visited, whether daily, monthly, yearly or just very infrequently. If so, then there is the question as to whether or not the figures can be interpreted to indicate support or even active or passive membership of any of them.

Somewhat separately, is any data known to be available as to the size of print runs of any of their publications ?

These two main questions, together with reports of latest numbers of workers on demonstrations and /or on strike might, perhaps, give us a clue as to the extent of communist consciousness from time to time.

Charlie (and anyone else)

Can I just point out that all the contributions to this thread are made by sympathisers of the communist left in general. The only CWO/ICT contribution so far made is by me. I don't understand the comment that we have "shared" or "similar" perspectives to the ICC. Indeed I consider the difference in perspective has been the real dividing line between us. The ICC was founded in 1975 (same year as the CWO) on the belief that proletarian revolution was not far distant. The CWO shared this until the end of 1976 when we concluded that this was not the case (it led to the first split in the CWO although it was politically more confused than that). The ICC however insisted that "the working class was undefeated" (whatever that meant) and it only needed to be demystified from leftist ideas and they would make the revolution. When the working class was facing the massive attacks of capitalist restructuring they insisted that the resistance demonstrated "waves of struggle". Our reply was yes they are waves of struggle but on a retreating tide. In the UK we posed the question of the miners' strike as a key moment in the working class defeat (our paper Workers Voice insisted and tried to argue that the miners strike was everyone's strike and to miners we said "coal not dole" was a daft slogan since it isolated their struggle. The ICC at the time dismissed the miners' strike as a mere "corporatist conflict" (although I later read that they modified that view in the years that followed). I could go on but the ICC did not change their triumph of optimism view until the collapse of the USSR when they adopted the idea that the class war had been a draw and neither side had won so we were now facing decomposition (which in a crisis is always true). This seemed like a convenient way of avoiding saying "we go it wrong". Now they appear to be demoralised (if I understand their talk of being a fraction today) and they are certainly invisible in the real world in the UK (although I believe they are having a day school in London on July 16 to which our comrades will no doubt go.)

I would have preferred Stevein7 not to limit revolutionary perspectives to those of the ICT alone, but to include the wider Communist Left.

To the extent that other groups share and propagate the perspectives we hold, they make a positive contribution, but to the extent that they deviate, then it is fairly obvious that, for those sharing the ICT perspective, they are wrong.

Personally I do not subscribe to a generic communist left.

I think some of the perspectives propagated by those who claim to belong to that camp are very wrong.

In some ways, Bordiga was a Stalinist, for example.

There is much yet to be answered, no organisation or party is absolutely correct.

Referring back to stevein7's comment of 07.02 22:28, he mentions 'a revolutionary programme'. What is that ? If it is not already available, then when is it to be made so, and by whom ?

A revolutionary programme is one which advocates a course of action involving revolution. I suspect you are looking for a detailed list formulated years in advance regardless of the conditions we will actually face.

Marx advocated a revolutionary programme. He clarified that the existing capitalist state has to be smashed. The proletariat erects its own organs of power, the councils.