Socialist Equality Party (UK)
The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (Britain)

The global capitalist counteroffensive

194. The WRP failed to appreciate that the betrayals of the Stalinists, social democrats and Pabloites had, in fact, provided the bourgeoisie with the breathing space necessary to stabilise its fragile rule and prepare a global counteroffensive against the working class. Around the world, the ruling class demanded the abandonment of Keynesian-style economic regulation and the programme of class compromise based on concessions to the working class—the pursuit of full employment and the provision of social welfare measures. Instead, to offset the tendency of the rate of profit to decline, production was to be enormously concentrated into ever-larger conglomerates, and capital and production exported to those areas of the world economy that offered the cheapest labour and lowest taxes. What had begun as multi-national companies, over time, took on the character of transnational corporations, organizing production on a global basis and able to dictate the policies of national governments.

195. A measure of the WRP’s disorientation was its increasing tendency to invoke what it declared to be the “undefeated nature of the working class” as the essential premise for its analysis of every phenomenon, no matter how disparate. Even if the WRP had been correct in its claim that the working class was “undefeated”, the elevation of such a conjunctural estimation to the status of a timeless axiom represented a political break with essential elements of Marxist analysis. A correct definition of the “nature” of the working class can only be derived from the historical understanding of its role as a revolutionary class, by virtue of its propertyless and stateless position within the capitalist order. It is this that makes it the bearer of new and higher social relations of production, regardless of the ebbs and flows of the class struggle and whether or not it has suffered defeats in an immediate, or even historic, sense.

196. Moreover, the history of the post-war period was far more chequered than the WRP’s formulation suggested. In Indonesia in October 1965, up to one million workers and peasants were slaughtered in a CIA-organised army coup led by General Suharto. This was followed by the installation of a military junta in Greece in April 1967, and the CIA-backed coup against the social democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile, in 1973.

197. The “undefeated nature of the working class” was a Pabloite formulation. It diverted the party away from a serious examination of what Trotsky had insisted was the fundamental problem facing mankind: the “crisis of revolutionary leadership”. The struggle to break workers from their existing leaderships and win them to Marxism was replaced by objectivist commentary, in which every development—including defeats—was interpreted as a fresh confirmation of how the working class remained “undefeated”.