Olivier Laurent

Why I read the WSWS

19 March 2013

In 2004, one of the big issues being discussed by the students at my law faculty was the referendum on the European constitution due the following year. All the teachers, whether left or right, were for a “yes” vote. The issue was of great concern for me, coming from a French family but partially of German extraction. Any project attempting to make impossible another war between the two countries was of major importance in my eyes.

One of the students I often used to discuss with at the time was in the Communist Party (PCF) and the CGT (General Confederation of Labour). His knowledge and capacity to deal with the arguments of the right-wing supporters of the EU (European Union) were impressive.

I was born into a left-wing but not politically active family. My studies had made me aware of some of the basic tenets of Marxism and given me a good knowledge of the functioning of the state. They confirmed my left orientation, but I had never made up my mind to support a party or any organisation.

To sum up my opinions at the time, I oscillated confusedly between anarchism and Arlette Laguiller’s Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle). I saw that the state could only serve the interests of the ruling class, I thought that only the fear of revolution could push the Socialist Party (PS) politicians to do something good, I even knew that if Trotsky had won against Stalin in the 1920s the Russian Revolution would have taken a very different road. At the same time, I still had at the back of my mind thoughts in support of the EU, telling myself that at least as long as the nation-states are bound by this mechanism, they won’t go to war against each other.

This position was linked to my lack of confidence in the working class and to the fact that I did not have a very precise knowledge of the history of Trotskyism. For me, Trotsky had carried out his struggle more or less alone and any attempt to build a big revolutionary party would be bound to fail and degenerate into power struggles and corruption as soon as it became quite large and money started to flow.

Nevertheless, my Stalinist friend had managed to revive my interest in the word “communism”. I decided to find out all I could about it and I am still grateful to him, whatever his opinions now.

It was also the time when I was beginning to be able to use the Internet more and more for information, both at home and at the university. So, I tried to consult the sites of all the “left” parties I could know about, trying to understand their origins, their theoretical positions and what they had to say about this grand unification of Europe through the free market promised by the PS, the Greens and the free-market right.

At first sight my task was enormous, but its difficulty was quickly reduced by the simple fact that most of the organisations I was investigating seemed to have no desire to go into the details of their own histories and their fundamental principles.

Among the articles [on the WSWS] which had the greatest impact on my thinking, I particularly remember, was the public appeal published just before the referendum in France: “Votez ‘non’ au référendum sur la Constitution européenne” and the appeal, which I only came across years later, calling on the so-called far left parties to boycott the 2002 presidential elections: “Non à Chirac et Le Pen! Pour un boycott des elections…”, and which none of them deigned to answer; or again, a quite full article on the Chavez régime “Hugo Chávez, Marx and the ‘Bolivarism’ of the twenty-first century”.

In the process, I had sent an email of support to the PCF for their campaign for the “no” vote and to try to find out what alternative project they had to unite Europe. Their reply was very vague—it was obvious that they had no project.

I found myself mainly using the WSWS (and also the general site marxists.org), which went into its own history as well as that of other organisations. The articles were well constructed, not written in a phony “popular” style which you get in so many “left” leaflets. After a few years consulting the site more and more regularly, after finishing reading The Heritage We Defend, I was convinced and I took the opportunity to get in contact and to have some regular exchanges. Over a few years this developed—I did more and more translations and, when I can, I write articles.

More recently the very detailed series of articles by Peter Schwarz on the failed revolution in Germany in 1923, “The German October: The missed revolution of 1923” … or the articles on the first years of the Soviet regime particularly interested me, but in fact there are so many of them.

For me, the importance of the site, and the party behind it, is undeniable: it alone always tells the working class the truth. It is absolutely necessary to build parties based on its perspective in every country in the world before capitalism in crisis plunges us into the next world bloodbath.

I can only encourage the readers who agree with the articles they read to click on the button “contact” above the article and to come and help us.

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