Hot on the heels of shutting down Turning Point USA at ASU on November 1, the Phoenix comrades of Socialist Revolution organized the biggest communist event in the American Southwest this year. Over 90 communists came from as far as Los Angeles, San Diego, Chico, Denver, Dallas-Fort Worth, and New York to Arizona State University, to participate in the 2023 Phoenix Marxist School. Some comrades drove for as long as 17 hours to come to the Valley of the Sun, demonstrating the revolutionary sacrifices members of Socialist Revolution and the International Marxist Tendency are willing to make in order to prepare a new generation of class fighters for the struggles to come!
This year’s event was more than twice the size of our 2022 school. For over half of those in attendance, this was their first opportunity to meet communists outside of their local areas, which was evident from the enthusiastic conversations in the hallways between sessions. Everyone wanted to continue learning and discussing what they had absorbed! This hunger for revolutionary theory was felt early on at the school’s bookstore, where shortly after opening for the event, we sold out of a number of books and booklets including the IMT’s Revolutionary Songbook.
The school was brimming with not only enthusiasm but also indignation—against our right-wing detractors, against local homophobes and transphobes, and particularly against the murderous ethnic cleansing in Gaza. This revolutionary zeal flowed through all of the discussions, beginning with local comrade Erica Low’s summation of the German Revolution of 1923. Marxist theory is the generalized experience of the struggle of the working class, its successes and failures, and the rising generation of communists must learn from the German Revolution’s costly lessons.
It has been 100 years since the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) failed to prepare for power when a pre-revolutionary situation was emerging. Since the KPD had burnt its fingers on ultraleftism in 1921, its new leaders Brandler and Thalheimer hesitated to rally the German working class to take power at a time when hyperinflation had eroded the workers’ illusions in bourgeois democracy. Moreover, many workers were seeking a revolutionary way forward against French imperialism’s occupation of the industrial Ruhr Valley. The KPD leaders, and their mentor Zinoviev, lacked the theoretical vision to understand the situation, and the potential for revolution in Europe closed for a whole period, isolating the Russian Revolution and laying the conditions for the consolidation of the Stalinist bureaucracy.
Next, Editor-in-Chief of Socialist Revolution magazine, John Peterson, led off on the current crisis in Gaza. Marxists always stand on the side of the oppressed because the exploited and the oppressed of the world have far more in common with each other than with the rulers of their own countries. To cover up the barbarism of US-Israeli imperialism, the capitalists seek to obfuscate this conflict with every tool at their disposal, in order to divide the workers around the world.
The US, Britain, and other “democratic” governments have offered uncritical support for Israel’s right to “self defense” following the October 7 attack. As of this writing, the Israeli Defense Force and Israeli settlers have killed 11,000 Palestinians, including thousands of children, who they call “human shields” for Hamas. The western capitalists merely urge “restraint” and propose a series of “humanitarian pauses.” There is no solution to the conflict on a capitalist basis, because the Israeli state is driven by the material needs of imperialism.
The communists, on the other hand, call for intifada until victory! By this we mean the revolutionary mobilization of the Palestinian masses, along with the workers of the entire region, to establish a Socialist Federation of the Middle East. As for workers in the United States, we must organize a mass communist party, in order to oppose US imperialism, the state of Israel’s greatest patron. We must sink roots into organized labor so that we can shut down arms manufacturers, shipping, and other industries through class-based methods: mass demonstrations, strikes, and general strikes.
The rousing discussion and summing up was followed by a lively social which included raucous singing and live music by the Revolutionary Jam Band. From Solidarity Forever to The Internationale, and Rage Against the Machine’s Killing in the Name, the comrades let their hair down and rocked the house!
On the second day, local comrade Jon Dupuie opened the morning session on the role of women in the Russian Revolution of 1917. In tsarist, pre-revolutionary Russia, women were chained to the family hearth. However, on International Working Women’s Day of 1917, the women of Petrograd rallied their working-class brothers to join them in the streets, demonstrate against World War I, and ultimately topple a centuries-old monarchy! Women formed the vanguard of the incipient revolution.
After the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks abolished the old tsarist penal code and women achieved legal equality with men. They also extended voting rights to women without property restrictions (1917), established equal pay for equal work (1918), legalized abortion rights (1920), and much more. On the other hand, women in the United States today, the “greatest country on earth,” are victims of voting discrimination, the gender-wage gap, and the Supreme Court’s attack on abortion access.
In Russia, these rights came under attack under Stalinism as the forces of counterrevolution gained the upper hand, which demonstrates the shared interests of the general working-class struggle and the struggle for women’s emancipation. The discussion itself drew out a wave of stirring interventions on misogyny, sexual slavery, and queer liberation. All the comrades highlighted the need to unite the struggles of the oppressed, because an injury to one is an injury to all!
The school ended on Sunday with a discussion on “Why Communists Should Be Preparing for Power,” introduced by comrade Nick Brancaccio from Phoenix. Many times in history we have seen the potential for revolution, as in Germany 1923. More potential revolutions are yet to come, and a scientific study of society shows that there’s a whole generation of communists coming to the fore. As we’ve commented many times in Socialist Revolution, there are tens of millions of American youth who consider themselves communists. Organized labor is on the rise in the United States, and more than ever, young people are sick of the two-party system. However, there is yet no mass political alternative to challenge the Republicans and the Democrats.
It is critical that we understand the relationship between the potential and the actual, the transformation of potentiality into probability, and probability into inevitability. Millions of Americans know why they hate capitalism, and all the material conditions for socialism exist in the United States today, but the US proletariat needs political leadership to channel all that class hatred into a program. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden offers platitudes like “what history shows is this: the antidote to hate is love.” Actually, what history shows is the struggle of irreconcilable classes.
Communists today must organize a militant, mass communist party, because the struggle is inevitable, but our victory isn’t guaranteed without painstaking preparation. During the course of the enthusiastic discussion, it became clear that Socialist Revolution has recruited some extremely fiery agitators for the class struggle.
The energy remained high throughout the school’s two days. What’s more, guests walked away feeling inspired and excited to see real-life revolutionaries doing the necessary work to build a mass communist party. Many of them have since set up their dues and joined the IMT!
As the working class across the globe begins to mobilize—fighting here for Palestinian liberation, there for workers’ rights—bourgeois democracy is in desperate straits. It finds it more and more difficult to hide its class interests. Only a mass communist party steeled in revolutionary theory can guide the working class to power, the only class capable of radically transforming society into one free of oppression and exploitation.
The 2023 Phoenix Marxist School stands as yet another testament to the unwavering commitment and dedication of the communists of the IMT to build this party. If you’re a communist or simply feel inspired by the success of the growing communist movement in the United States, now is the time to get organized. Join Socialist Revolution today!