We watch on our television and read about it in our newspapers. Mass protests the world over. It began a few years ago in Spain, then there was the Arab Spring, on to Greece against austerity and from there to the Wall St and St Pauls Occupy movement. Now it is taking place in Turkey and Brasil. Sadly, however, it is not enough to have millions of demonstrators on the streets.
That's no basis upon which to build socialism as we understand it We argue that socialism should be set up and run through the consent and cooperation of an overwhelming majority of the world's population. Above all the working class must have a clear understanding of what socialism entails and what methods are effective in overthrowing capitalism. A grasp of socialist principles by the vast majority of the workers is a minimal condition for going forward to socialism. The socialist revolution can only be democratic, in the sense of both being what the majority of people want and of being carried out by democratic methods of organisation and action.
The Paris Commune of 1871 where French workers actually created organisations of mass control which challenged the old system for a brief space of time. The Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, when workers and peasants developed similar structures of direct workers' control such as the workers councils and factory committees (the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917 eventually destroyed this, and ushered in a system of state capitalism). Similarly, in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the workers set up workers' councils when they took on their so-called "communist" oppressors. During the May of 1968 in France, workplaces and universities were taken over and in many cases run in a way that is of immense inspiration to socialists.
What happened on these occasions? Certainly they were not socialist revolutions, as some claim. But they were significant in the history of the struggles of our class. They are significant because the sort of people who dismiss the possibility of revolutionary upheavals were dismissing it shortly before these events blew up in their faces. No one is in any position to dismiss the prospect of revolution who has not carefully examined these movements. In none of these cases was a socialist revolution achieved, but in each case there was a fundamental interruption of the ruling order and the appearance of new forms and conceptions of everyday life. To ignore them because of their failure is to miss the point. Individual revolts are bound to fail until they are accompanied by a widespread and growing—and ultimately worldwide—socialist consciousness. Marx's analysis shows that the socialist revolution must be world-wide and cannot be achieved in one country alone. Because capitalism has become a world-wide system the society to replace it must also be world-wide. Class emancipation must mean the "freeing of the whole of society from exploitation, oppression and class struggle . . ."
What these examples show is that real change can be brought about by workers. Socialism is not a utopian dream. It is an ever-present undercurrent in working class practice and at times they erupt without warning, sparked off by something as mundane as protecting some trees or protesting a bus fare rise. That these revolts do not go farther is hardly surprising. What is inspiring is that they went as far as they did. 99 percent of the socialist revolution consists of imbuing our class with the confidence and ambition to succeed, and a revulsion of living as wage slaves whether pampered or ill-fed: once we have this our numbers will carry the day. The capacity for producing abundance has been been increased to a vast degree, yet people are still idle, poverty stricken, homeless and starving, while the machinery of production is misused or neglected. This must change. This will change. This, the 21st century, can be the true century of revolution, of true socialist revolution. A socialist revolution, a democratic revolution without leaders, is an urgent necessity.