Tuesday, 5 April 2011

How we can raise socialist transitional demands in todays society

I've been reading several marxist and trotskyist pieces one of them that interests me greatly is the one of Leon Trotsky wrote on the transitional program which helps us understand and bridge the route between capitalism and socialism and how we can go about getting there. It is a great pice that is well worth reading if you can.

The Transitional Programme by Leon Trotsky is, essentially, a handbook on how to build socialist consciousness, how to go about getting support not just for individual campaigns against issues that make us all angry, but how to link that with the bigger fight.

It's not gospel, and, being written in 1938, a lot of what Trotsky writes about is dated. But what Trotsky offers us in The Transitional Programme is an indispensable tool kit. This is why today, after the second world war, after the fall of Stalinism, in a world that seems very different to the one that Trotsky was writing in, The Transitional Programme is still vital reading.

THE ROOT cause of many problems we face are the result of capitalism, of a society run to create obscene profits for a minority at the top, not in the interests of the billions of ordinary people across the planet.

Low pay, attacks on public services, undermining of our pension rights, war and racism all stem, fundamentally, from the economic base of capitalist society. That's why, as socialists, it's not enough to just campaign on these individual issues.

As well as fighting against the bosses' attacks and for as many reforms as we can claw from them, we need to link this to the need to change society as a whole.

Trotsky shows the use of 'transitional demands', staging posts in consciousness firmly grounded in the day-to-day struggles of the working class, but pointing a way forward and demonstrating the need for socialist change.

By their very nature, these demands are inextricably linked to the period they come from. Some demands that Trotsky puts forward are not practical now, either because workers have won what is demanded or because of a change in the general political consciousness.

But it's not the specific demands that are important about this text; it's the method. Trotsky lays out clearly the method that Marxists have used from the time of Marx himself right through to the Socialist Party and CWI today.

We are currently involved, for example, in campaigns across the country to defend the NHS, one of the greatest victories won by the British working class through major struggle in the period after World war Two.

But Cameron, Clegg and Lansley and their cronies are hell-bent on stripping away these reforms through privatisation and major job cuts. The Socialist Party doesn't just campaign to end job cuts and privatisation.

We demand a reversal of the privatisation already brought in through the back door, but also we demand the nationalisation of the major pharmaceutical industries that make gross profits from people's sickness. These demands lead on to the idea of removing capitalism from society all together.

The Transitional Programme shows how with the correct approach, workers can be won over to socialist ideas by starting with today's solutions and pointing to a future where society is run by working-class people to meet the needs of all.

The direct relevance and practicality of Trotsky's theory makes The Transitional Programme important today. I would urge all socialists and trade unionists, to read this relatively short work, just don't look at it as a set of commandments, but as a method and approach.

I will come back to look at these demands and the transitional program individually in time no doubt but if you wish you can have a read of the full text that Trotsky wrote in 1938 which is very interesting here from the marxist internet archive .

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