|SocialismToday Socialist Party magazine|
Issue 200 July/August 2016
200 editions of Socialism Today
This is the 200th issue of Socialism Today, which was launched in 1995 as the monthly magazine of the Socialist Party. As we go to press, the repercussions of the EU referendum vote are beginning to reverberate throughout Britain, Europe and the world.
This momentous development confirms the analysis of this magazine from the start: that the capitalist powers of Europe would be incapable of overcoming national boundaries and unifying the continent. Some progress towards union was made in a period of economic upswing. Now the EU has been plunged into an intractable crisis. No doubt this will be a major theme in coming issues.
The EU crisis is connected with the economic malaise of world capitalism. The ‘recovery’ from the 2007-09 downturn – the worst since the 1930s – has been weak and uneven. The slowdown in China, the turmoil in Brazil, the plunge of world oil prices, etc, all point towards a new crisis in the next period.
This provides the backdrop to recent events pointing towards a revival for socialist ideas and a renewed recognition of the reality of class struggle.
In the presidential primaries in the US, twelve million people voted for Bernie Sanders, who is a self-proclaimed socialist, though his conception of socialism is quite limited. Nevertheless, his support shows the searching for radical change and rehabilitates the idea of socialism.
Unfortunately, Sanders does not understand the need, which we have long advocated, for a complete break with the Democratic Party, which is a capitalist party tied to big business. The formation of a new party, based on the labour unions, minorities, community campaigns, etc, is long overdue.
In France, the ‘socialist’ government of François Hollande is attempting to implement further neo-liberal measures, especially the abolition of fundamental employment rights. One of Hollande’s ministers recently lectured striking workers that the class struggle was dead, that there was no longer a war between workers and the market. On subsequent demonstrations called by the CGT union, however, workers carried placards saying: ‘I am in the class struggle’; ‘The struggle is about class against class’.
In our statement of aims in our first issue in 1995, we reaffirmed the need to fight for "an anti-capitalist programme based on the ideas of Marxism and the perspective of a socialist transformation of society". The events of the last period have demonstrated time and again that workers’ interests cannot be effectively defended unless the day-to-day struggle is linked to a socialist programme that offers an alternative form of society to capitalism. Again, this will continue to be one of our most important themes.
We have continued to follow the development of new (or relatively new) workers’ formations, such as PSOL in Brazil, Syriza in Greece, and Podemos in Spain.
We have also covered many aspects of capitalism’s global environmental crisis in our regular column, Global Warning – and, to coincide with the United Nations climate summit in Paris last December, produced a special edition under the heading, Socialism or Ecological Catastrophe.
There has been a variety of historical articles (on the Spanish civil war, for instance, in this issue) including special editions of the magazine on the first world war (issue No.180), 1968 (No.118), the collapse of Stalinism (No.133) and the legacy of Leon Trotsky (No.49). We have carried articles and reviews on art, literature, films, science and other cultural issues.
A new period
In the period following our launch in 1995, we set out to provide activists in the international workers’ movement with an analysis of the collapse of the Stalinist states after 1989 and especially the ideological consequences of that momentous development. We believe that Socialism Today provided indispensable guidance to activists at the time.
Now, we are moving into a new period. Capitalist triumphalism is replaced by protracted economic crisis, with some capitalist experts gripped by fear of ‘secular stagnation’, in other words, long-term depression.
Politically, capitalist institutions and political parties, which include former traditional workers’ parties, are suffering a profound crisis of legitimacy and rejection by wide sections of the working class and middle class. At the same time, as mentioned, there has been a resurgence of workers’ struggles internationally and, most importantly, a revival of interest in the ideas of socialism.
We believe that Socialism Today can play an important role in arming a new generation of activists with analysis of new processes and events – and help in the vital task of arming the movement with a clear socialist programme.