Reformism – a programme which restricts the workers’ struggle to allegedly “achievable aims” and fosters the illusion that society can be transformed by incremental changes over a protracted period – was energetically combated by Marxists from the time of Marx.
In the era of globalised capitalism, with its programme of brutal neo-liberal attacks on the working class, these ideas are more Utopian than they have ever been. This does not mean that Marxists must not fight in defence of every past gain or that they should not struggle for improvements in the conditions of the working class. However, we must constantly seek to explain that, even when victories are achieved, these of necessity are of a temporary character – given with the left hand and taken back by the right when conditions are ‘ripe’. It is therefore necessary to build a powerful working class force that can carry through a socialist transformation in the organisation and running of society.
The forces of socialism and Marxism were thrown back in terms of numbers and support in the 1990s. But the viability of democratic and liberating socialism, as propounded by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, retains its validity even in a period of relative isolation of the forces which argue for them. The march of events, the breakdown of capitalism, creates changes in the conditions and ultimately, therefore, in the consciousness of the working class. It can and will bring these ideas back onto the political agenda. That process is already under way, with the strikes of 30th june and 30th november 2011 and the massive 26 of march working calss demonstration the workers are finally starting to feel their power as a class again, This will develop at a ferocious pace. While fighting for socialism, the CWI is closely involved in the day-to-day struggles of working people.
Unlike others who are prepared just to comment from the sidelines, the CWI has never hesitated to get involved in the day-to-day struggles of the working class. Hence, our achievements in a number of countries. Our British section, a pioneer in many fields, as mentioned above, now has the most successful electoral record of any party to the left of the Labour Party in England and Wales. Moreover, in the trade unions we have a more significant number of members of the Socialist Party on national committees and at the base than any other trend on the left in Britain. This has only been possible because our trade union cadres and our members generally have dug roots in local areas and within some of the trade unions.
At the same time, we have never hidden our ideas and our programme, openly proclaiming ourselves as socialists and Trotskyists. More importantly, we have expressed the general ideas of Marxism in a manner that can be grasped by the most developed working men and women. This is why the CWI, in general, has managed to gather some of the best working class fighters into its ranks, although still too few for the tasks ahead i am convinced this will grow as events unfold.
But as the crisis in capitalism deepens which i have no doubt itw ill do the small timid claims for reformism will become increasingly utopian as the ruling class look to take back all of the gains of the working class in the last period. There is a major shift going on out there and there will be chances for the working class to take power if they are ready and prepared for it. This is another reason why a new mass workers party is needed to fight for reforms but point out they may only be temporary and that a fight for a new society based on peoples needs is our true aim as marxists.