On October 7 and 8, some 200 revolutionaries descended on Manhattan for the largest communist event the city has seen in decades: the 2023 New York Marxist School.
The comrades met up to discuss and learn about key questions of communist theory, history, and strategy. Participants from New York were also joined by comrades from Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston, Vermont, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Connecticut, South Carolina, St. Louis, and more—as well as from Ontario and Quebec, Canada, and London, UK.
This landmark meeting is part of Socialist Revolution’s annual Marxist School series, coming just one week after the highly successful Minneapolis Marxist School, and with two more yet to be held in Phoenix and Bellingham in November.
These Marxist Schools are by no means academic events, but rather, provide crucial training for the urgent tasks faced by communists as the movement is being reborn. Millions feel a burning hatred for the capitalist system and an urgent need to overthrow it to usher in a new and truly dignified era for humanity. As part of that project, the International Marxist Tendency is doing everything possible to find, organize, and train communists.
These schools of communism provide depth of explanation and arm us with the sharpest tools in our arsenal: the revolutionary ideas of Marxism. As such, it was appropriate that the Managing Editor of Socialist Revolution, Antonio Balmer, set the tone from the beginning with a presentation on “What is Communism? Why We Need Marxist Theory.”
30% of American youth view communism favorably. Antonio explained that this fact alone “tells you something about the health of the system. Capitalism is at an impasse and is now in a period of decline. That produces people who do not see a future for themselves under the system … mass consciousness is now catching up to the reality of the impasse of capitalism.”
Antonio also delved into the core ideas of Marxism: dialectical materialism and its application to human history, historical materialism. A successful socialist revolution would mean much more than just the end of capitalism. It would usher in a true beginning of human history, enabling homo sapiens to return on a higher level to the state that we occupied for more than 98% of our time on the planet: a society without classes, exploitation, oppression, private property, money, or the state. On the basis of all the existing wealth and productive capacity, a democratically planned economy under a workers’ government would lay the basis for a world of superabundance, where each contributes according to their ability and receives according to their needs: a communist society.
Next up, Marxist.com Editorial Board member, Jack Halinski-Fitzpatrick, kicked off a discussion of the greatest event in human history: the Russian Revolution. With special emphasis on the outstanding theoreticians of the successful revolution: Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. Touching on countless lessons from the explosive events of 1917, Jack explained how Russia went from a backwards semi-feudal country to the first in space in less than half a century.
He explained that the Leninist conception of a disciplined and centralized Marxist revolutionary organization was the indispensable catalytic element that enabled that inspiring event in human history, in which millions began to struggle for a new world, elevating millions of women, children, and oppressed peoples out of the barbarous conditions imposed on them by world imperialism and the tsarist autocracy.
The day’s official sessions were followed by a lively fundraising social where comrades exchanged ideas and experiences for recruiting and training the “golden layer” of revolutionary communists coming out of the woodwork everywhere.
To begin day two of the event, Socialist Revolution Editorial Board member, Jon Lange, spearheaded a discussion of the second greatest event in human history for Marxists: the Chinese Revolution of 1949. In his leadoff, Jon explained how the revolution ushered in a new epoch for the east Asian country that fully emancipated it from imperialist colonial rule, dealt a colossal blow to global imperialism, gave a tremendous impetus to the colonial revolution, smashed the dictatorship of landlordism and capital, and ended the backward semi-feudal relations that acted as a tremendous fetter on human progress.
But he also pointed out that Maoism is a variant of Stalinism, a deformed caricature of genuine Marxism which bases itself, not on the creativity, independence, and revolutionary potential of the working class, but on the peasantry. Consequently, the Chinese Revolution lacked revolutionary internationalism and workers’ democracy, and gave rise a deformed workers’ state from its inception. China was industrialized on the basis of the planned economy, but by the 1990s, the revolution was reversed and China is now a capitalist country and regional imperialist power.
Following lunch, Socialist Revolution Editorial Board member, Tom Trottier, led off on “Building a Communist Party in the US: History and Lessons.” He explained that “much of the history of the Communist Party (CP) has been wiped out by academia, the mainstream media, and the trade union leaders, because they don’t want people to know the role it played in the history of the US.”
The discussion synthesized all the positive lessons of the CP at its zenith, while analyzing why it degenerated into a small opportunist sect that today tailends the capitalist Democratic Party. The CP had many self-sacrificing and committed comrades, but they were often misled or not trained in the correct ideas and methods. Above all, the CP lacked a solid foundation of the most important element of any revolutionary party: the revolutionary method of Marxism. It is up to the new generation of communists to learn from this history to build a strong nucleus of a mass communist party today.
The school ended with closing remarks from Socialist Revolution Editorial Board member, Laura Brown, who proclaimed the need to reclaim the mantle of revolutionary communism.
How would a genuine mass communist party act today? … It would use its positions to expose the corrupt nature of capitalist politics and both bourgeois parties. It would not act as a “pressure group” or limit itself to proposing reforms. Instead, it would push against capitalist limits and place workers at the center of the struggle by encouraging class-independent mobilization in the workplaces and streets.
She also pointed out that our “Are You a Communist?” campaign is just scratching the surface of the enormous potential that already exists to make this a reality. The human raw material for a mass communist party is already there. History has produced communists by the millions, just waiting to get organized. Over the past few weeks, thousands have written in to join the IMT, and hundreds have joined our ranks.
Everyone has their own particular experience under capitalism, but the common denominator is that life under this decaying system inspires an implacable struggle for its overthrow. To illustrate the point, several comrades from around the country spoke on what led them to get organized for communism: from confronting racism, to women’s oppression, to poverty.
“I’m not only fighting for my loved ones—I’m fighting for the working class,” said one comrade from Philadelphia. “I’m angry, but I can channel the anger into something productive: building the forces of communism. As a class, we need to channel that anger. We can fight back.”
Another comrade from New Haven, Connecticut explained how growing up poor in a segregated Black neighborhood created a feeling of resignation, but the George Floyd protests showed her that people are willing to fight back.
I was shocked that millions were in the streets and cared, so I started organizing in my High School … But once I connected racism and capitalism, I was reading everything I could get my hands on … and then I read an IMT article on Marxism and women, I attended a branch meeting, and everything I already knew was explained in words I could use. Marxism is the way forward.
While these are the words of just some of the communists comrades who have recently gotten organized in our ranks, they express a sentiment and yearning for change that is becoming increasingly generalized. If you feel similarly, the time to act is now. Join the communists and get active in the most important struggle humanity has ever faced: the struggle for socialist revolution in our lifetime!