There is a section on this Blog called “About RED ANT”. I hope you will read it. By itself, it is inadequate to explain what we are trying to do but it might be a good start. We have just updated it with a new article called “Capitalism: a failed system”.
My short post today is also an effort at more explaining. This too won’t be enough either. Supporters of RED ANT will need to think more and write more. Perhaps as you read materials on RED ANT, you might feel you are also in support of what we are trying to do.
The main reason we are having to think more is that RED ANT is a “start-up” – not in the sense of some entrepreneurial effort to sell some new gadget or app – but because we at the very beginning of a new endeavour – a new endeavour, that is, for those of us producing RED ANT, and, at this stage, there are still only a few of us.
As the first section of our “about” page indicates, we are socialists. To replace capitalism with socialism will require a political struggle that can only succeed if a majority of the population of any country can be won to being a part of the struggle. Socialism can only succeed if it is a thoroughly democratic endeavour, so there needs to be majority support for the struggle to achieve it. History has shown that there is always severe, often violent, resistance to struggles for socialism. Popular power grows from the solid organisation of huge numbers of people, especially those producing the goods and services needed by any society.
How is such a popular majority won to this struggle? At a later stage in any struggle, how this happens is framed by the development of objective conditions, how social contradictions sharpen and explode or boil over. That is not the immediate question we have to answer. The immediate question is how to start up at this specific moment.
One possibility that the reader might ask is why not join an existing socialist group? There are a few in Australia.
Fighting and defeating imperialist capitalism is a big task: it requires bringing about a revolutionary change. Our opponent, though few in numbers, have enormous resources, a consolidated outlook that guides them and experience in keeping things under their control. Moreover, the capitalist classes are integrated into a system which they defend. This gives them enormous social power. The basis and contradictions of this power – its strengths and weaknesses – must be very well understood if it is to be defeated.
The process of winning people to organise for this struggle requires it to be based on a correct understanding of imperialist capitalism (imperialism): how it works, what are its main features, dynamics and contradictions – the basis and nature of its enormous power. As the movement grows, it will need again and again to choose tactics for its struggle, which tactics must be based on the best possible understanding of the system and those who defend it – and indeed also: how the system has also helped form mass consciousness.
In Australia, and in most countries of the world, the number of people committed to organising socialist struggle is still small. The largest existing group probably has 300-400 members in a population of 25 million. The immediate task then is to convince more people. However, it is not simply a question of winning more people to the general idea that socialism is a better system than failed capitalism – although that is always a good first step. It is also necessary to convince people of the correct – the most scientific – understanding of how capitalism works and how the capitalists rule. We need a very large number to understand what outlook, strategy, tactics and methods are mostly likely to succeed.
At the very beginning moment, the most immediate strategic need is convincing other people to get organised. To convince – on the basis of a genuine understanding of a program for change – an extra 50, or 100 or 300 or 1000 or 10,000 people to fight for socialism, requires a growing organised effort of people with more-or-less united outlook on the key questions.. Additionally, even at this re-starting moment, such people need to be ready to participate in struggles as they exist or can be built at the time. At the moment in Australia, this will be mainly struggles for reforms – and the struggle to actually build an organisation.
There are many elements to an analysis of capitalist imperialism and how to fight it that has to be included in a detailed program of struggle. Most of the initiators of RED ANT have been supporters in the past of the programs of the Democratic Socialist Party and Revolutionary Socialist Party. You can find links to those documents on the ABOUT Page also. These programs try to be quite comprehensive and are worth reading if you wish to know, for example, where this writer sees himself coming from. They are rather old documents now and require updating. Any new organisation would need to collectively review these documents to assess what in them remains true, what is incorrect or no longer needed, what requires revision and what new phenomenon, not analysed in them require attention.
In this post, however, I wish to emphasise just two elements of a program that I think are still essential. There are many other elements that are also very important and which we hope RED ANT eventually will also be able to take up. And even the two elements below are presented here only in the briefest summary.
First, even at this early stage a committed, democratic and disciplined organisation of theoretically educated activists (cadre) is essential – an organisation, a group, a party. To be effective in the work of patiently explaining our ideas to others, the work must be organised, with clear direction, division of labour and so on. Such work, as all past party building experience has shown, necessarily requires participation in struggles as they emerge. The assessment of which struggles to prioritise and how to participate needs also to be collectively carried out. Theoretical education should be based on the study of the pioneer thinkers of scientific socialism: Marx, Engels, and Lenin. There is benefit in also critically drawing upon the many others that have based their analysis on the works of these three. Among the latter, in the Australian context, we include the works and contributions of some of the past key thinkers of Democratic Socialist Party (up until 2007) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party.
Second, it is fundamental to understand that capitalism today (and since the beginning of the 20th century) IS imperialism. Imperialism is the form that modern capitalism has arrived at. It is essential to understand that capitalism now constitutes, as Lenin put it, “a world system of colonial [and neo-colonial] oppression and of the financial strangulation of the overwhelming majority of the population by a handful of “advanced” countries.” These “advanced countries” have remained the same over the last 100 years, with the United States now the most powerful of these. Imperialism is not simply the foreign and war policy of the rich countries, nor is it simply their foreign economic policies.
Opposing imperialism is not only a matter of opposing the foreign policies of oppressor countries, including of Australia, or of only campaigning in solidarity with movements of national liberation against such imperialist policies, although it necessitates both. It also requires, to start with, as a fundamental necessity, convincing the working classes of the imperialist countries – the handful of “advanced” countries – that the financial strangulation of the other countries is part of the essential nature of capitalism today. Only on this basis, can people come to understand the origins and also contemporary functions of racism, xenophobia and chauvinism among the working class. All these outlooks play a major role in justifying that a few rich (mainly white) countries continue to plunder and rule the world.
Ruling classes in the imperialist countries need their populations to believe the poor and exploited nations are failed states and failed peoples and inferior or morally suspicious – requiring them to be ruled by superiors. This now is even more the case for those poor and exploited nations who have developed enough to offer more serious resistance to their exploitation and containment. Moreover, the racism and xenophobia that has a material base – in part – in the exploitation and oppression of the poor countries, is also crucial for ruling class efforts in the imperialist countries to internally divide and demoralise their working class. This works to strengthen racist ideas already there as a result of justifying the genocidal policies carried out since the arrival of Europeans against the original inhabitants of the continent.
Explaining this imperialist system is therefore totally indispensable in any effort to organise around a socialist understanding of capitalism and how to fight it. It is a top priority. The more complete the understanding of how the system works in its totality and internationally, the better equipped any movement will be to analyse, understand and fight the widening gap between rich and poor and exploitation of working people within Australia and the struggle between classes here.
Our starting point is that any group to be effective must be built upon agreement with at least these two basic priorities. Of course, agreement would need to be based upon a more detailed and comprehensive program – once again readers can check the DSP and RSP programmes, as examples. The purpose here is to underline what we consider as the key priorities.
I think it is fair to say that the few of us putting out RED ANT cannot yet claim to be “an organisation, a group, a party.” There are too few of us at this time to claim that. As we coordinate among ourselves to write articles, seek out others to write articles, send in reports of meetings and protests we have attended or observed and also search for readers, we do become more organised, but still at a minimal level.
So, to the extent that RED ANT operates as an invitation to others to join up, it is not an invitation to join an already functioning group or party but to join an endeavour to (re)start such a group. If you think you are in agreement with us on at least the two points above, and are more-or-less in tune and relate positively to what we publish, please contact us.Written by Max Lane.