The International Marxist Tendency held its first-ever Phoenix Marxist School on the weekend of September 17–18. Socialist Revolution at Arizona State University, the IMT’s student club on campus, co-hosted the event. Since the start of the academic semester, the club has made a profile for itself and a number of ASU students came to the school. The Phoenix Marxist School saw a total attendance of 37 people looking to learn more about revolutionary socialism to fight capitalism’s impasse.
The Phoenix comrades were joined by Socialist Revolution editor John Peterson from New York. Also in attendance were comrades from Flagstaff, AZ, Texas, California, and Mexico. This year’s event was a modest start to what will in the future become a point of attraction for revolutionaries across the American Southwest.
The event was part of the IMT’s broader #CommunismOnCampus campaign. All over the world, the youth are seeking a revolutionary path forward. This includes young people in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun. In recent months, Arizonans have written to our website asking to join because “capitalism isn’t working,” and “the people deserve the power, not big corporations.” The International Marxist Tendency is the only organization in the world whose slogan is “Socialism in Our Lifetime”—we are the only group with the revolutionary optimism to declare that capitalism can be swept aside now!
The school was held in the midst of the 2022 midterm elections, but this year is also the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Soviet Union. No matter how hard the bourgeoisie try, they can never erase the colossal feat of the October Revolution of 1917, the greatest event in human history.
This was the theme of comrade John Peterson’s opening talk on Saturday. He covered the legacy of the Soviet Union, the ignominious role of Stalinism and the material conditions that gave rise to it, and how Lenin’s Bolshevik Party differed from the Soviet bureaucracy that emerged later on. He also explained the basis for workers’ democracy and the withering away of the state on the basis of superabundance for all. Any serious Marxist who wishes to understand this topic should read Trotsky’s classic, The Revolution Betrayed, as well as Ted Grant’s modern analysis of the USSR and its collapse, Russia: From Revolution to Counter-Revolution.
On Saturday afternoon, the comrades then discussed US Perspectives for Revolutionary Socialism in 2022. Comrade Nick Brancaccio, an IMT organizer in Phoenix, outlined the entanglement of inter-imperialist conflict between the United States and China, the war in Ukraine, the upcoming elections, and the complete lack of confidence among the youth in either the Democrats or the Republicans. In the last period, the capitalists used risky measures to extend the post-2008 economic recovery beyond its natural limits. Now, the Federal Reserve has to admit that the working class will experience “some pain” in the next period as the state attempts to combat inflation. The US ruling class has no solution that will benefit the workers or youth, because in order to fix their system, they would need to uproot it and replace it completely.
On Sunday morning, the school took up the important subject of oppression. Comrade Jon D. from Phoenix led off, explaining how only the working class united in mass action can effectively combat oppression. There is no other theory that can organize the workers for this urgent task than Marxism—not Identity Politics, Queer Theory, Post-Modernism, etc. The recent overturn of Roe v. Wade also shows that the Supreme Court is no friend to the workers. Oppression can only be defeated by the working class, united across all national, racial, ethnic, religious, gender, and other lines. Such unity can only be forged in common struggle.
Later that afternoon, comrade Jake Thorpe from California led off on the question of water rights in Arizona and the climate crisis all around the world. The western United States is experiencing the worst megadrought in over 1,200 years, which is a product of capitalist mismanagement and pollution. Many western states, like California and Arizona, have it written into their state constitutions that the public has a right to water access. However, in practice, big businesses get access first, so that cash crops like almonds get priority before people. Recent floods in Pakistan show what the future will look like for nearly one-third of the world’s population, as the planet becomes less inhabitable for all of us. What we need is a revolutionary change to combat climate change, because these crises have been created by corporations and can only be averted with a rationally planned economy under workers’ control.
For Sunday’s final session, everyone’s spirits were raised again when comrade Erica L. from Phoenix explained why a revolutionary leadership on a Bolshevik model is necessary in the United States. We face the greatest crisis of capitalism in world history. As Rosa Luxemburg described it, we are posed with the question of “socialism or barbarism.” The only way out of capitalism’s impasse is through a socialist revolution, which requires that we prepare the necessary leadership for when a revolutionary situation arises. Comrade Erica also announced that over the course of the school, the Phoenix comrades had raised a record amount for a local public event, the surplus of which will go to the IMT’s campaign for a new international office in London.
In the closing remarks, local comrade Devan C. summed up the need to build the International Marxist Tendency, after which we sang the Internationale and Bandiera Rossa. Overall, the Phoenix Marxist School was a great success and we hope to make this an annual event! Over the course of the weekend, the comrades had great discussions with new attendees who had never been to one of our events before, inviting them to join us in the fight for socialism in our lifetime.