On March 17-19, the editorial board of Marxy.com (Arabic website of the International Marxist Tendency), alongside supporters of the IMT in the Middle East and North Africa region, organised an online Marxist Spring University. It was extremely successful, both in regards to its high theoretical level, as well as the number of sign ups, with 254 people registering!
The average participation at any given time (around 40) was quite an achievement considering the difficulty of sustaining internet access in the region, as well as other obstacles. In all, this event was a great milestone for the IMT and for the forces of Marxism in the Arabic-speaking world.
The university consisted of five sessions. On the first day, we discussed world perspectives for 2023. We dedicated the second day to discussions on the situation of women in our region and the fight for liberation, contrasting a Marxist with a feminist perspective; and to the national question in the Middle East and North Africa.
On the third day, there were sessions titled: ‘Marxism vs. the Core and Periphery theory: in defence of permanent revolution’; as well as: ‘How do we organise our struggle? The importance of the revolutionary party.”
A period of profound change
The first session was introduced by comrade Hamid Alizadeh, from the International Secretariat of the IMT. He explained that we live in a period of rapid and massive change, and that the world is full of combustible material, including in the advanced capitalist countries (as can be seen in the protests and trade union struggles in France and Britain, for example).
He stated that the capitalist system is in its deepest-ever crisis, to the extent that even small, accidental events could affect the system as a whole. He said there are changes happening everywhere, and that the working class is beginning to re-enter the path of struggle. Big events are on the way, for which we must be ready.
He explained these big changes that are shaping consciousness, especially among the new generation of youth who have seen nothing but crisis and austerity under capitalism, and that what we are witnessing now is the revolutionary awakening of the international working class.
He also highlighted that Marxism has proved its correctness time and time again, just as the working class has proven time and again its desire and capacity to change the system.
But he also noted that our forces are still small, and that we need to build the revolutionary leadership of the working class if we are to make our voice heard to the workers and youth that are stirring today, so we can lead their struggles to overthrow this rotten capitalist system once and for all.
Women’s liberation and the national question
The first session of the second day was presented by comrade Noureddine from the editorial board of Marxy.com, who dealt with the horrific situation that women live in globally and in our region. He emphasised that women are not mere helpless victims that have given into their fate, but rather fierce fighters for their rights and for change.
He pointed out that women were the spark of the 1789 French Revolution, as well as the February 1917 Revolution in Russia, and he talked about the leading role that women played in revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa region.
Then he moved on to discuss the differences between the Marxist and the feminist perspectives on women’s liberation, both with regards to the origins of women’s oppression, and the means and prospects of fighting it.
He explained that feminists claim the reason behind women’s oppression is a “patriarchal mentality” that is inherent to men, and that the fight against oppression is a collective issue for all women regardless of their class position. Furthermore, they search for a solution under capitalism.
However, we Marxists believe that the roots of women’s oppression are tied to the rise of class society, and we tie the struggle for women liberation with the class struggle. Even though we fundamentally resist all forms of oppression and fight for all possible reforms under capitalism, we believe that no full and permanent emancipation of women is possible without a socialist transformation of society.
The second session of the second day concerned the national question, presented by comrade Mohammad Houssam. He explained that Marxism has paid a great deal of attention to this question, based on a materialist analysis and directed by the interests of the international working class.
He went on to discuss the national question in our region, especially the Palestinian cause. He offered a historical account of the situation, and exposed the bankruptcy of the organisations that made individual acts of terror their foundation, be they leftist or Islamist, as well as the bankruptcy of all the projects that tried to find a solution under capitalism.
He asserted that the only possible solution for the Palestinian cause is through an internationalist workers’ struggle, drawing on the solidarity of the masses in the entire region: cutting across, ethnic, religious, linguistic and all other lines, whether that is in Israel, or in the rest of the countries of the Middle East. He argued for a socialist federation of the Middle East to grant all its peoples the right of self-determination.
The party and the Permanent Revolution
On the third day, the first session addressed the so-called ‘Core and Periphery’ theory. It was presented by comrade Mohammad Said, who dealt with the arguments of Samir Amin, one of its most notable pioneers. Comrade Mohammad explained the theory is greatly confused, and represents a dishonest attack against Marxist ideas.
He went on to clarify the differences between ‘Core and Periphery’ and Marxism, especially the former’s claim about a supposed particularity of the ‘periphery countries’, which are governed by a special historical trajectory for ‘non-capitalistic development’. This notion has been refuted time and time again by events, yet it continues to re-emerge as a ‘new theory’.
He then explained how the theory of Permanent Revolution has emerged victorious through its ability to develop perspectives on the class struggle in ex-colonial countries. The working class is the only force that is capable of leading the struggling masses, from the peasantry to the petty-bourgeoisie, to other oppressed groups, to achieve the pending democratic tasks of oppressed nations.
All other liberation struggles in these counties bet on the so-called progressive bourgeoisie, as well as the liberals, leading to catastrophic results.
The final session on the revolutionary party was presented by comrade Houssam Farag, who explained why building such an instrument is an urgent necessity. He presented historic examples about revolutions that went down to defeat because of the absence of a revolutionary leadership, in contrast to the October Revolution, which succeeded because of the presence of the Bolshevik Party, the party of Lenin and Trotsky.
He also explained how socialism, as opposed to capitalism, cannot be built in an unconscious or spontaneous way. He elaborated that it has to be the result of the conscious and organised intervention of the working class, which in turn emphasises the need for revolutionary leadership.
He then went on to describe the current period globally, which is defined by the deepest crisis that capitalism has seen: a period of revolution and counter-revolution. He explained that the world will offer a lot of opportunities for the working class to seize power. But if we’re not ready, these opportunities will go to waste.
He also invited the participants to join the International Marxist Tendency to fight for the building of revolutionary leadership in our countries, in our region, and on an international scale.
A big milestone!
In his closing remarks, comrade Noureddine highlighted the high political level of the discussions that took place during this university, both by the presenting comrades and the intervening participants.
He also said that it is not a coincidence that the IMT is the first to organise an event of this kind in our region, and he explained that this quality of analysis cannot be found anywhere outside of our organisation.
He then invited participants to take part in the theoretical discussions that we organise on a regular basis, through the different available channels in our region. He echoed comrade Houssam’s invitation to help us build the subjective factor, the revolutionary party of the world working class, and ended this highly successful event by leading a rousing rendition of the ‘Internationale.’
The success of this school would not have been possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of IMT comrades, and was a testament to our faith in our ideas and commitment to building the forces of Marxism in the Arabic-speaking world and beyond!