Must a Social Revolution be Violent?

Committee for a Workers' Scientific-Socialist Party,
Must a Social Revolution be Violent?
letter to the editor, and the editor's reply
from the New Unionist, July 1993, page 2


Must a Social Revolution be Violent?

The article, "Terrorism Can't Help Cause of the Oppressed," in the April, 1993 New Unionist provides a good refutation of individual terrorist acts by the justifiably enraged oppressed. We also agree on the strategic importance of mobilizing the work-ing class for mass economic/political action to sooner or later achieve real workers' socialism.

However, your view that the working masses can avoid using tactical mass force and violence to achieve this is at odds with historical and current reality generally. Your view is not consistent with the writings of Marx and Engels on the role of force and violence in history. And what makes you think that the U.S. ruling class, historically and currently violent-both abroad and at home-is going to "give up" peacefully just because we mobilize the majority of the working masses democratically?

The examples that you cite for your erroneous generalization, i.e., the "Soviet" Union, Eastern Europe and Iran, are examples of countries in which there has been no fundamental change in the economic system-they are still capitalist countries. The former "Soviet" Union and Eastern Europe are in various stages of transition from state monopoly capitalism to market monopoly capitalism. The working masses are still ruthlessly exploited, and in some ways even more oppressed than before. There are still tiny minority ruling classes in all those countries, although some of the faces have changed.

Also, we must never forget that thousands of reformers and revolutionaries previously were murdered, e.g., by the KGB and the Savak, for trying to achieve varying degrees of social change. Taken as a whole these were not peacefulpo/rfj'ca/revolutions.But, precisely because the revolutions in those countries were only political and not economic, they could occur with a minimum of violence-and here almost entirely against the masses.

We cite the following additional examples for you comrades to consider and comment on: the Revolution of 1776 (armed struggle against colonial domination); Civil War (armed struggle against slavery and for capitalism); October Revolution (armed struggle against feudalism and capitalism, for state monopoly-capitalism); Vietnamese revolution (against imperialist domination, for state monopoly-capitalism).

The U.S. ruling class has been and is particularly violent. Its imperialist, militaristic history against other nations over economic interests is very well known.

Domestically, its use of force and violence includes the Haymarket Massacre, military use in strikes, Palmer raids, Bonus Marchers, Republic Steel Strike, McCarthy era, Vietnam War protesters, Black Panther Party, P-9 strike and CAT strike. And the great majority of the working masses in these events were not seeking revolutionary economic change, but simply to better their lives within the existing economic system.

If the U.S. monopoly-capitalist ruling class uses this level offeree and violence in these cases, doesn' t it stand to reason that it will attempt to use a much greater level against a threatening workers' movement for real socialism? As a matter of principle, why should the working class not defend itself in tactically appropriate ways, including the use of mass-democratic force and violence?

We think that the U.S. imperialist military may be won over and/or neutralized through organizing efforts and mass action, essentially without violence. But the U.S. monopoly-capitalist fascist menace is an entirely different matter. Here we need to gear up our mass organizing and prepare for violence.

-- Committee for a Workers' Scientific-Socialist Party,

c/o Boxholder, P.O. Box 578042,

Chicago, IL 60657-8042