Editorial: Why Marx21? The tasks for the left today

Today humanity faces two different but equally serious threats: On the one hand the rise of Trump, the Far Right and racism internationally. And on the other hand catastrophic climate change. And the clock is ticking for both threats, requiring an urgent response from the revolutionary left to apply the strategic lessons from movements across the world. We must support and help organize anti-racist and environmental movements and develop anti-capitalist politics that challenge the system at its core.

Both of these threats are directly related to capitalism’s failure to resolve the crises it generates. The scapegoating of refugees, Muslims, and all immigrants in Europe and the US are characteristic of the depth of the crisis. Long-held humanitarian beliefs such as the right to seek asylum and of opening the borders to provide relief to people fleeing wars have been directly challenged by xenophobic and racist governments. From Italy’s Salvini to Trump, this recent attempt to blame the victims for the failings of the ruling classes and capitalism have directly contributed to a normalization of racism and in turn has provided the far right and fascists with the political space in which they are recruiting, openly organizing, and murdering people.

An antifascist demonstration in Athens Greece, organized by KEERFA heading to confront a Golden Dawn rally last month.

We have seen that broad social movements can isolate and push back the far right and the fascists in a number of countries in Europe. Greece’s Golden Dawn was the first frightening example of an openly neo-Nazi party entering parliament. But today Golden Dawn is entering a period of deep crisis, mainly as the result of the anti-fascist movement KEERFA (Movement United Against Racism and Fascist Threat), who have fought to isolate them as they are facing a long trial for their racist murders and violent attacks in Greece. Similarly in Austria, the FPO (Freedom Party of Austria) coalition government collapsed partly under the pressure of the anti-fascist movement there. In the UK Tommy Robinson faced a humiliating defeat in the recent European Parliament elections. Robinson himself complained that he lost because wherever he showed up, people would call him a Nazi.

What we have seen is that organizing broad anti-racist campaigns can stop the fascists. This needs to be a lesson that we amplify here in the US as well.

System change, not climate change

A recent report by scientists has raised the alarming prospect that we only have two decades from the “point of no return.” Millions of species are facing extinction. The poor all over the globe will be at the frontline of the effects of climate change. Hurricanes Katrina in New Orleans, Maria in Puerto Rico, the recent Cyclone Idai that devastated Southwest Africa, are just some recent examples of racism and climate change colliding. More refugees are to be expected in the near future — climate refugees. Meanwhile Europe, the US, and Australia are all building fences, walls, and camps to prevent migrants getting to safety.

Extinction Rebellion in Edinburgh in April

Yet Trump continues to call climate change a hoax and give huge tax cuts to the fossil fuel industry. As it becomes clear to hundreds of thousands across the globe that capitalism cannot regulate itself and start reducing greenhouse emissions, a new generation of activists has emerged. Young and old took action recently in what has come to be known as Extinction Rebellion. A direct action movement has emerged, which has shifted the climate movement with strikes and protests (read more about them here).

To hundreds of thousands, it is starting to become clear that capitalism cannot resolve the climate crisis and that doing something meaningful will most likely require ending capitalism. But how? Here is where the left needs to intervene with the understanding of the urgency of the situation and learn from the victories of workers we have recently seen in the US.    

The left in the era of Trump

Despite the deeply reactionary and savage state of affairs in the Trump era, we have seen some very encouraging developments. The meteoric rise and the Democratic Socialists of America and the popularity of socialism among young people is a sign of the tectonic shifts that are happening in the US. The fact that the Democratic Party, one of the the two parties of the ruling class, has now to deal with a social democratic insurgency within its ranks speaks volumes. Regardless of the limitations of such a strategy, the fact that it is happening inside the Democratic Party shows clearly the opening that exists for socialist and radical ideas in the US.

United Against Racism and Fascism-NYC march in New York in May 2019

Revolutionaries need to be able to relate to this leftward shift and not sit on the sidelines and simply point out its strategic limitations, but actively participate in the struggles and pull activists to the left, towards radical anti-capitalist politics.  

At the same time we have seen a series of teachers’ strikes spread like wildfire across the “red states” and win important concessions and victories that we had not seen in decades. Last year alone more workers went on strike in the US since the 1980s. The fact that a strike wave with the very high participation of women can spread across the US even in these dark times and win says a lot about what is possible for the labor movement and the left today.

Not a time to agonize but to organize

Marx21 aims to bring together activists who want to fight for the politics of socialism from below, inside the movements and in the struggles of today. We draw inspiration from the comrades around the globe in the International Socialist Tendency (IST) who are involved in the day-to-day organizing against fascism, against racism, and building unifying campaigns in the unions and our neighborhoods. We believe political tools such as the United Front are key for the left going forward in order to deal with the short-term and the long-term challenge of changing the world and fighting for a socialist future.  We hope that everyone who agrees with this outlook will join our growing network and fight for this anti-capitalist perspective in the movements and in the streets. We need the broadest possible unity in our struggles but also clear revolutionary politics.