Celebrating the relaunch of the World Socialist Web Site means to recall that its authority has been built over decades of unrelenting struggle against the falsification of Marxism.
The WSWS was launched in 1998, shortly after the dissolution of the Soviet Union by the Stalinist bureaucracy. This event did not end the struggle of the international working class for socialism. Rather, it exposed the nationalist perspective of “socialism in one country” Stalinism advanced against Trotsky and the Trotskyist movement.
The WSWS’s Marxist internationalist perspective set it on an opposed class trajectory to a layer of middle-class parties based on a fusion of Stalinism and identity politics. The ruling establishment constantly marketed this layer as “the left.” An especially confusing aspect of political life in our epoch is this: it is precisely when these supposedly “left” parties exert the most influence that workers suffer the worst defeats.
The WSWS is an irreplaceable source of analysis and perspective for workers to grasp the role of these political tendencies in the class struggle.
In the 2000s, in statements that now appear prophetic, the WSWS warned against parties like Greece’s Syriza party, built on the “left populist” theories of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, or France’s New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA). The NPA asserted that Trotskyism was old, irrelevant and an obstacle to necessary alliances with Stalinist and social-democratic parties.
These warnings from the WSWS were confirmed in the first great revolutionary experience of the working class in the 21st century: the 2011 uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Egypt’s so-called Revolutionary Socialists (RS) party opposed both socialism and revolution. They peddled promises that first a military junta, then Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, and finally the “rebel” Tamarod movement would create “democratic space” in Egypt. Promoted by the international media, they fell silent after Tamarod helped Egyptian dictator, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launch a bloody coup.
As for the NPA, it fraudulently hailed as “democratic revolutions” the imperialist proxy wars launched in Libya and Syria by CIA-backed Islamist militias. These wars have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions to flee their homes.
To identify and explain these parties’ role, the WSWS developed the term pseudo-left. The pseudo-left, the WSWS wrote, are forces using “populist slogans and democratic phrases to promote the socioeconomic interests of privileged and affluent strata of the middle class.” The pseudo-left, it warned, supports capitalism, opposes the class struggle, embraces philosophical irrationalism, and supports neo-colonial wars.
The past decade unfailingly vindicated this assessment.
While the pseudo-left parties hailed the election of Syriza in Greece in 2015, the WSWS alone warned that its election promises to end European austerity were shameless lies. In power, Syriza made no appeal to the European working class to defend Greece against the EU. Instead, even after organizing a referendum on austerity in which the “no” vote won decisively, it imposed billions of euros in cuts and set up a network of concentration camps for refugees.
Today, Syriza’s Spanish sister party, Podemos, is in power. What is its record? It has raised spending on the army and police, implemented austerity, and supported the jailing of Catalan political prisoners demanded by Spanish neo-fascists. Its policy on COVID-19 is herd immunity.
Amid mounting class struggles, from France’s “yellow vest” protests to teachers and auto strikes in America, the pseudo-left is ever more hostile to the workers. It all but proclaims, “Yes, we are the pseudo-left!”
In her 2018 book, For a Left Populism, Chantal Mouffe rejected revolution. “What is urgently needed is a left populist strategy aimed at the construction of a ‘people,’ combining the variety of democratic resistances,” she wrote, adding: “It does not require a ‘revolutionary’ break with the liberal democratic regime.”
Mouffe even explicitly attacked “sectors of the left who keep reducing politics to the contradiction of capital/labor and attribute an ontological privilege to the working class, presented as the vehicle for socialist revolution.”
Against the pseudo-left, we plead guilty of fighting to offer Marxist leadership to the international working class, as the leading force in the socialist revolution. The relaunched WSWS offers unprecedented technology to present Marxist analysis and historical perspective to workers and youth worldwide. It is the basis for a renaissance of Marxism and the construction of sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International, opposing the pseudo-left in countries across Europe and the world.