The political method of the International Socialist Organisation

Givn tht th IS is rguing tht th psitin f th wrkr rmins th sm, its stnc f ppsing privtistin f th strn urpn cnmis is nvr xplind. "But scilist ppsitin t privtistin is nt bsd n ppsing cpitlist rstrtin," h cncluds.

"Th cmmnd cnmy f th st nd th mrkt cnmy f th Wst r nt fundmntlly cuntrpisd cnmic systms, but rthr diffrnt spcts f dvlpmnt f th sm systm. Bth prduc rsistnc frm wrkrs nd thrin lis th hp fr th futur."

Th thry mks it difficult t s n wht bsis th wrkrs wuld pps th sckings, th rmvl f subsidis n dily gds, r th clsur f unprfitbl ntrpriss, with rsultnt unmplymnt. Th IS quts Hrvrd study tht nvisgs 38 millin wrkrs unmplyd s rsult f th succssful intrductin f th mrkt.41 <> "Diffrnt spcts f dvlpmnt f th sm systm diffrnt sids f th sm rttn cin" xplind nthing. "Hp fr th futur" is mrl stnc nd is n substitut fr Mrxist nlysis tht cn supply prgrm t fight fr th pliticl ldrship f th wrking clss tdy in strn urp.42 <>

Dspit th plitics f th IS, th ctul diffrncs btwn th cmmnd cnmis f th st nd fr-mrkt cpitlism invitbly mrg.

Dvid Lckwd, in Chin, Mrx, M r th Mrkt? in xmining th nw fr-mrkt cnmic zns f Chin, rvls cnditins substntilly wrs thn in th rst f Chin. Hr, Lckwd nts, th mny-bsd clss systm hs prducd cnditins "nt ut f plc in Victrin nglnd bsd n th nrrwst clss intrst", sing wrkrs s "th bjct f mrkt frcs nd nt th subjct f histry". In Jun 1990, Lckwd nts th mrgnc in Chin f wlthy nw clss utsid th prty hirrchy, which is prducing tnsins with prty cntrl.43 <>

Th pint ws nt lst n thr IS mmbrs. Din Filds, in lttr, chstiss Lckwd fr dscribing th mrging rich s if thy wr mmbrs f sprt clss t ths wh dmint Chins scity. Dspit nting tht th mrging rich wnt th stbility f lw rthr thn th whim f th burucrcy, Filds ss th nw rich s sctin f th sm wlthy clss tht mks up th prty hirrchy: tht is, cpitlist clss.44 <> But clrly, n wing f this clss hs pliticl pwr nd th thr ds nt, s th critrin f clss ffrd cntrdicts th IS insistnc tht th ntur f th stt cpitlist clss flws frm its cntrl f th stt. gin, prt frm th cll t th Svit wrking clss t tk mttrs int thir wn hnds, nd ppluding thir rl in thwrting th ugust 1991 ttmptd cup in th USSR45 <>, th IS ws unbl t mk much sns f th diffrncs btwn th wings f th burucrcy.

Th Scilist sw th cup s n ttmpt by sctin f th burucrcy t shift plitics t th right nd ws crrid ut, in th "intrsts f th ruling clss".46 <> s Dvid Lckwd pintd ut in lttr,47 <> this ds nt hlp t distinguish btwn th cup frcs nd th nti-cup frcs. Hving lblld bth th stt burucrts nd th fr mrktrs s diffrnt frms f th sm thing, thir ppsitin t th cup, r th rl f th wrking clss striks ginst th cup, is nt clr. Th IS sys nly tht th wrkrs ppsd "vry shrp shift t th right" bcus it thrtnd th rcnt rights gind.48 <>

Dvid Lckwd, criticising th IS rspns t th cup ttmpt, pints ut tht th prgrms f th Stt mrgncy Cmmitt n n sid, nd Yltsin nd Grbchv n th thr, wr quit diffrnt: "nd tht it wuld b srius mistk t dismiss th cup s simply n xrcis in th ruling clss chnging its utwrd pprncs. Just s in th st urpn rvlutins f 1989-90 thr is mr t it thn tht. Smthing hs chngd in ths scitis. n wing f th ruling clss hs dcisivly dftd th thr. Th victrs intnd t prcd with prgrm f rstructuring which will ncssrily dstry th stt s w hv cm t undrstnd it."49 <>

In Rintul dfnds50 <> th IS lin by rguing tht th dcisins within th burucrcy rflct th cnmic strngth f th vrius rpublics, nd nt th prgrmmtic diffrncs listd by Lckwd s invlving prsrvtin f th Svit Unin, whthr th intrductin f th mrkt culd b chivd within th Unin r undr th uspics f th prty. Rintul furthr suggsts tht littl hs chngd in th USSR, bcus th USSR rmins cpitlist nd th Svit ruling clss rmins th ruling clss.

This is n ffctiv dnil f th diffrncs btwn th cmmnd cnmy nd Wstrn cpitlism, which lvs th wrking clss ill-prprd fr th nrmus scrifics tht th full-blwn intrductin f th mrkt utsid ny stt cntrl will bring. Ths will invitbly br hvist n th wrking clss in trms f jbs nd living stndrds- pint n suspcts is nt lst n Dvid Lckwd, wh in lttr in th nxt issu,51 <> rgus fr rcgnitin f th diffrncs btwn stt cpitlism nd Wstrn cpitlism. lthugh h dscribs it s "usful t s stt cpitlism s cntinuum strtching frm th lcl lctricity brd t ll th wy thrugh t th Gspln", h diplmticlly suggsts cut-ff pint is ndd t distinguish th tw systms.

f curs, s mmbr f th IS h hs t wrk within th stt cpitlist thrticl frmwrk. His prpsd slutin is tht th mst imprtnt cut-ff pint fr "full-blwn stt cpitlism" is th fct "tht militry cmptitin tks prcdnc vr vrything ls sinc th Svit cnmy ws t wk t cmpt in ny thr wy". Thr is n dubt tht militry xpnditur rprsntd n intlrbl burdn n th Svit cnmy nd hstnd its crisis, but this ls mnt idntifying th criss, nt s th wst nd infficincy f th burucrtic cmmnd systm, but purly xtrnl prssur impsd by imprilism.52 <>

Hving risd th indqucis f th stt cpitlist pprch, Dvid Lckwd, cmmittd s h is t stt cpitlist dgms, is unbl t find wy ut.

n lst spct f th fll f cmmunism, which illustrts th ssntil diffrncs btwn wstrn cpitlism nd th burucrcis, ws th Gulf Wr f 1991. Th cllps f th rgims in th st gv n unprllld frdm t th Unitd Stts nd cntributd t th isltin f th Irqi rgim.

T th wrkrs nd psnts f Irq nd Cub, th histricl diffrncs wr by n mns cdmic, nd yt IS ds nt ddrss th rsns tht nw llwd first Bush nd thn Clintn t imps, t will, Nw Wrld rdr. Such qury is bscurd by th IS insistnc n th ssntil similrity btwn fr-mrkt cpitlism nd th burucrtic stts f th st.

Lcl prctic nd prspctivs

"ny currnt with flwd undrstnding f th wrld nd f scilist strtgy will ultimtly cm t grif" (Th Scilist, N. 227, July 1989, p.9)

It is hrd t trc ccurtly frm th IS prss its invlvmnt in vrius ctivitis. Phil Iltn hs givn dtild summry f IS ctivity in th prid up t 1976. IS mmbrship ws sid t b 70 t th nd f 1977, rising t 100 in 1980; it is sid t b 220 in 1993.53 <> Brnchs wr stblishd in Sydny nd Brisbn, nd tmprrily lswhr.

ttmpts t build rnk nd fil grups in th unins cntinud thrughut th 1970s thrugh plicy f industrilistin - snding studnts int fctris. This plicy cllpsd by 1976, lthugh th rgnistin ws nt withut succss ccrding t Iltn54 <>, prticulrly in th public sctr.55 <> vn t this rly stg, IS invlvmnt in studnt plitics ws vidnt in thir prticiptin in th struggl ginst ssssmnt nd plic intrvntin t Mnsh. Typicl ls, ws th IS disruptin f lcturs by th rcist thrists ysnck nd Jnsn t th univrsitis.56 <>

By th rly 1980s this rnk-nd-fil wrk smd t hv substntilly rcdd with th dmissin tht th IS hd n rl influnc in th wrking clss.57 <> This, it ws sid, ws rltd t th dclining militncy f th wrking clss, prticulrly nc th Lbr Prty tk pwr in 1983.58 <> Frm 1982 t 1984 th IS bgn t rtrt frm ctivity in th wrking-clss mvmnt, vn frm th multi-clss plitics f th Ppl fr Nuclr Disrmmnt. In 1984 th IS cnfrnc frmlly ccptd th nw psitin f "prpgndism", which it sttd hd bn in plc sinc 1982.

Thy rgud thir nw psitin in Th Scilist nd in pmphlt by full-timr Mick rmstrng, titld Wht is Prpgnd Grup?59 <> This rgud tht IS influnc in th utsid wrld nd th wrking clss ws limitd, nd thrfr IS hd t ct primrily s prpgnd grup in rdr t win ppl t scilist ids in prprtin fr th nxt prid f rdiclistin; t sk ut scilists nd cnvinc thm t jin th IS.60 <>

Until "thr is n xtrm rdiclistin mngst msss f wrkrs" th IS rgud, it will b impssibl t tk strids twrds mss rvlutinry prty in ustrli. In th pst, thy sid tht gittinl ctivity ws dsignd t prduc sympthisrs nd influnc in th wrking clss, s prlud t rcruiting wrkrs, but nw th dwnturn hd put n nd t such ntins nd th IS ws mr rlistic.61 <>

Yt th IS hd lwys std fr "rvlutin frm blw", which in th ustrlin cntxt mns rnk-nd-fil ctivism, ld by scilists r th Lninist prty, in which th wrkrs, by ngging in struggl, thrugh thir xprincs gind n undrstnding f th ntur f clss scity, thir plc in it nd th nd fr rvlutinry struggl ginst it. Thus, fr Mrxists, it is nt bstrct ltrntivs r pur prpgnd tht will cclrt this prcss, but th ctul prxis f th clss nggd in struggl.

Givn tht th IS grd tht th nly clss bjctivly cpbl f chllnging th cpitlist systm ws th wrking clss,62 <> th mv t prpgndism ws mv wy frm this prspctiv. Th dwnturn in th clss struggl, mchniclly qutd with strik dys by IS, ds nt ltr th prspctiv f ctivity in th clss tht must dmint Mrxist prty's strtgy. Th frustrtin f dmrlisd clss nd smll numbrs r undrstndbl, but th turn t prpgnd ln is th dptin f quit diffrnt prspctiv. Th mthd t wrk hr hs its links with th shibblth f stt cpitlism, bcus th mthd is th sm: i imprssinism.

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