Socialist Equality Party (UK)
The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (Britain)

The fight for socialist consciousness

257. The central issue posed by these developments was the crisis of political perspective in the working class. The inability of the working class to formulate its own response to the restoration of capitalism was rooted in the impact on its consciousness of decades of domination by the Stalinist and social democratic bureaucracies, together with the genocidal assault waged by Stalin against the representatives of revolutionary Marxism. It could only be overcome through a struggle to renew the socialist culture that had given rise to the October Revolution, and to make available to advanced workers all the strategic lessons of the 20th Century. The International Committee’s 12th plenum report in 1992 explained:

“It is true that without the spontaneous development of the class struggle a mass revolutionary party cannot emerge. However, it is very wrong to see the development of the revolutionary party as merely the outcome of the spontaneous economic struggles of the working class or even as the direct and immediate product of the necessary interventions of the party into these economic struggles…. The intensification of the class struggle provides the general foundation of the revolutionary movement. But it does not by itself directly and automatically create the political, intellectual and, one might add, cultural environment that its development requires, and which prepares the historical setting for a truly revolutionary situation”.[1]

258. Since making this appraisal, a major component of the work of the International Committee has been a sustained campaign to subject to a withering critique what it has termed the Post-Soviet School of Historical Falsification. This school encompasses disparate intellectual trends, including ex-Stalinists, nominal liberals and conservative anti-communists. But they are united in their denunciations of the October 1917 revolution as a terrible mistake; their insistence that there is no alternative to capitalist liberal democracy; that Leninism led to Stalinism and that Trotsky was no different, if not worse, than Stalin. A striking feature is the prevalence of British historians such as Eric Hobsbawm, Ian Thatcher, Geoffrey Swain and Robert Service in the Post-Soviet School of Historical Falsification, and their particular focus on slandering Trotsky. This testifies to the continued recognition, within ruling circles and amongst their intellectual apologists, of the danger posed by Trotskyism to their interests.


David North, The Struggle for Marxism and the Tasks of the Fourth International, Report to the 12th Plenum of the ICFI, March 11, 1992, Fourth International, volume 19, no. 1, p. 74.