Why I read the WSWS: Letters from Readers
The World Socialist Web Site invites readers and supporters to write in describing your introduction to and experience with the WSWS. When did you start reading and why? Which articles have had the most influence on you? How has the site affected your political development? Submit your comments here.
Musician and restaurant worker, Ithaca, New York, USA. WSWS reader since 2009
25 May 2013
Oddly enough, it was through art that I realized the plight of the working class. I sat down to view Fritz Lang’s magnificent Metropolis and the real life parallels were impossible to overlook. A good neighbor and friend happened to stop by and pointed me to the WSWS, where I found there simply is no other news source so thoroughly dedicated to being objective, honest and thorough when it comes down to upholding the true foundation of American politics. It’s nearly impossible to endure another news source without finding some ulterior motive or an obvious agenda to keep the public distracted with petty squabbles over ever shifting morality and matters of identity politics. I have a sincere admiration for the SEP and their uncompromising dedication to principle.
Soon after I finished college with a degree in creative writing, I found myself working on a large micro-chip manufacturing line and was confronted head-on with the oppressive nature of today’s political environment. What I found there ranged from reluctant complacency to full blown misery. It was openly acknowledged by lower management that we were not going to be given any opportunity to advance through the corporation’s vast and intricate ranks. We were simply there to push the buttons and keep the gears running for 12 hours at a time for as many years as it takes to become eligible for retirement— of course unless they decide to lay us off instead—a thought which was deliberately kept looming over our heads. I realized that this life was actually a goal for a lot of people, a beacon of hope. We were the lowest paid workers in the entire chain of command, yet we were the backbone. Without us the company would produce nothing.
Seemingly in direct spite of us, I come to find out the CEO, (who produces what exactly?) had doubled her own absurd salary. I tried to mention to my co-workers that there is a group of people speaking out and sticking up for us, but the mere mention of the word “Socialist” seemed to turn people green with a sheer pop-media-fueled misunderstanding. I look forward to a day where the principles of the SEP are common knowledge and the working class not only fully realizes but achieves the long overdue credit we deserve.
Archivist, Houston, Texas, USA. WSWS reader since 2002.
20 May 2013
I started reading the World Socialist Web Site in 2001 or 2002. The first article I read was an interview with American Civil War historian James MacPherson. The emphasis placed on historical matters is what originally attracted me to the WSWS. When I was in college, I majored in history; later, I became a professional archivist, in which my duties involved the preservation of historically significant documents. Part of the reason I entered this field was because I became aware of how little understanding there is among the general population of history, and how the distortion of historical facts is used for political purposes. Thus, I have a special interest in the issue of historical falsification, and was very surprised to learn that historical truth is a cornerstone of Trotskyism.
It’s not just the particular historical facts that interest me, though, but also the theory that underlies them. The Trotskyist movement’s insistence that class is the most fundamental division of humans, and that the class-based system we live in is international, was again something I felt strong agreement with. I have read the articles relating to theory with particular interest. One thing I find fascinating is how disputes that have arisen in a tiny political movement are indicative of massive changes in conditions that have taken place in the international socio-economic system (for example, the events within the ICFI that occurred in the mid-1980s).
I find the arts reviews to be extremely useful in this regard. While they have caused me to see certain movies or read books that I might not have otherwise, they have also caused me to reevaluate the careers of certain artists of whom I once had different opinions. In a broader sense, though, the arts reviews are a demonstration that the underlying theory can be used to evaluate virtually anything.
Such is the case with my own family’s history. My father’s family immigrated to the United States from different parts of Germany in 1850, following the suppression of revolutions across Europe. After they moved to America, they were supporters of the Republican Party during the Civil War, and became members of Milwaukee’s German-American community. German-Americans had a vibrant community in the 19th and early 20th centuries. German was widely spoken in many parts of this country, German-language newspapers thrived, and many aspects of German culture were adopted in the general American culture.
World War I put an end to all of this. This period was a very traumatic time for German-Americans in general and for my ancestors. Once the US entered the war, what can only be described as an anti-German psychosis took root. Anything that was perceived as being pro-German was targeted. This included banning use of the German language in public and banning German-language instruction in schools, to acts of violence against people who were outspoken with their anti-war views. (This extended beyond the German-Americans, and included anyone who was considered anti-war or radical.) The pressure to conform was enormous. In my own family, my grandfather fought in the war. I also had a great-uncle who did not see eye-to-eye with my great-grandfather on a number of issues, and apparently ran away from home before the US entry into the war and joined the Canadian army. He never returned.
I believe this period influenced the psychology of numerous members of the family, some of whom became alcoholics, while others suffered from depression. Members of subsequent generations were affected as well. While certain factors, such as biology, genetics, or culture may predispose some people to addiction or mental illness, it seems clear that American-style capitalism creates very fertile ground for problems such as these to crop up.
Politically, there were contradictions in the positions that different family members had. My grandmother was a supporter of the Republican Party for most of her life, with the exception of the 1930’s when she supported Roosevelt and the Democrats. By the time I knew her, she was a staunch anti-communist, and had supported the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy. She was very fearful of the Soviet Union; I remember her justifying her position by quoting Khrushchev’s famous comment of “We will bury you.” My grandfather, on the other hand, knew Frank Zeidler, the former socialist mayor of Milwaukee. My father met him several decades after my grandfather died; Zeidler remembered my grandfather, and was complimentary of him.
In addition to reading the website, I have read numerous books published by Trotskyists and others, including Isaac Deutscher’s trilogy, the Socialist Starter bundle [from Mehring Books], the Stalin’s Terror bundle [from Mehring Books], History of the Russian Revolution, The Revolution Betrayed, and others. I find that I am able to independently analyze many topics I come across using the tools I have learned.
I regret that up to now, I have not been able to join the Socialist Equality Party. I do not feel that I have been in a position to devote the time and energy that would be required of me. This does not mean that I will not apply for membership at some point in the future. I have met a number of SEP members, and they all seem like fine people. I continue to read the WSWS daily and donate a small amount each month. Keep up the excellent work!
Student, Detroit, Michigan, USA.
18 May 2013
Why do I read the World Socialist Web Site? To answer that question I must first ask another: What is the first thing that all socialists must do and do without hesitation? Socialists must tell the truth. I read the WSWS because it is the only news source that tells the truth and tells it consistently.
When the ISO defends the CIA-backed, Islamic-militant Syrian rebels, the WSWS tells the truth about their nature, their roots, their backings and their actions. When so-called leftists like Michael Moore defend blatantly pro-torture films like Zero Dark Thirty the WSWS provides accurate appraisals. While the intellectuals, academia and the pseudo-lefts invent and focus on non-issues, redirecting genuine opposition to war and austerity into dead channels, the WSWS stands like an unrelenting cliff against the waves of lies constantly threatening to drown the working class.
I read the WSWS because the WSWS tells, without qualifications, the truth. It is only in seeking the truth that genuine progress can be made. Galileo spoke the truth when he stated that the Earth traveled around the Sun—paving the way for huge advancements in astronomy and our understanding of the universe. Locke spoke the truth when he proposed that human beings were born tabula rasa (“a blank slate”) and paved the way for a material understanding of the human psyche. Darwin spoke the truth when he rejected the notion that life was unchanging, and stated instead that species had evolved over a long and gradual process—providing us, for the first time, with a true understanding of where we came from. And above all else, Marx spoke the truth when he stated that all of the inequality, in all of the civilizations of mankind, was the result of class distinctions in society and that no society could ever eliminate the problems of poverty and war without eliminating these class distinctions. In doing so he paved the way for a mass, revolutionary socialist movement of the people.
The WSWS carries on this tradition. And that is why I read the World Socialist Web Site.
Durham, UK. WSWS reader since 2005
15 May 2013
I have been reading the WSWS for the past eight years and find it to be essential reading for anyone on the critical left who wants to see a Marxist analysis combined with a realistic strategy to fight back against the austerity programme of the global capitalist class.
For too long the working class has been hampered by so-called left groups who refuse to build a revolutionary alternative to the gamut of reformist parties and their trade unions. In the UK, from where I am, there is a whole melody of left organisations who are in the process of forming their own front bodies such as the “Peoples Assembly” of Counterfire, the “Unite the Resistance” of the SWP, the “TUSC” of the Socialist Party, and finally the dreadfully named “Left Unity” of the other fragments of the ACI, CPGB, Workers Power. What each and every one of these organisations rely upon is a gamut of celebrities of the left—Owen Jones, Tariq Ali, Mark Serwotka, Bob Crow et. al. to somehow inspire millions of workers who are experiencing the brutal attacks on our wages and benefits.
For me, the WSWS’s great contribution in building an alternative to these pathetic attempts at politically misleading the working class, is to highlight the class position of the groups as being from the petit bourgeoisie in pamphlets such as The Theoretical and Historical Origins of the Pseudo-Left .
What I find the most fascinating is the coverage of the current Syrian civil war. Only the WSWS has clearly portrayed this tragedy for what it is—a civil war between various fractions of the Syrian bourgeoisie armed and abetted by US Imperialism and the Gulf Monarchies. The tragedy is that so many workers are suffering, and paying with their lives in either defending a dictatorial regime or being pulled into fighting with what are deeply reactionary Muslim organisations such as the Al-Nusra Front. Or even worse, being caught in the crossfire. All of the pseudo-left groups support this civil war as being somehow a part of the revolutionary process. Maybe they should revisit Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution to understand the dynamics of revolution.
There’s much more I could praise, such as the art pieces and the science pieces, but I won’t. I’ll stop here to wish another successful fifteen years, or even better—that in the coming fifteen years the various SEPs develop and grow—unlike the bankruptcy of the pseudo-left, as is shown in their inability to stop the austerity attacks while at the same time their leaders are living a comfortable life. The working class, especially the youth will see that if we are to avoid a catastrophe of the worst order, then a revolutionary Marxist organisation needs to be built.
14 May 2013
I hope you will forgive me for opening this testimonial with a bit about myself. My name is Thomas Scripps. I’m 17 years old and a member of the Socialist Equality Party in Britain. And it is down to the determined and sharp commentaries of the WSWS that I can say that today.
Coming to socialism in the years 2008-9—as have many of my generation—I was disappointed and to some extent demoralised by the lack of perspective offered by many so-called left wing and socialist parties. The clear analysis offered on the WSWS was not only an exceptionally rare (I’d go so far as to say unique) find but also an example of the very highest level of Marxist thinking. Simply the inclusion of multiple languages raised it above the narrow nationalism—farcically opposed to the global nature of the internet—of so many other sites, and to the level of ingrained internationalism indicative of a genuine and powerful socialist movement. The breadth of topics and depth of discussion, too, reminded me of the respect shown for working people’s understanding so prominent in Marxist literature.
When I first started reading the site regularly, I was astonished at the resounding sense of each article. At no other time in my life did I feel I was really drawing together a concrete idea of how the world functioned. Initially dubious about the necessity of revolution, this was put forward article by article, case by case. That is one of the key strengths of the website: its ability to put forward the arguments for socialism and revolution on a daily basis, based on daily world events, demonstrating through factual example the inescapable logic of its conclusions.
Continued reading eventually gave me the confidence in my own understanding to apply for membership of the Party and it has since been my very great honour to write for the site. Despite my close association, though, what continues to astound and impress me is the persistence, the clarity and the quality of publication.
My political consciousness has been shaped and continually sharpened by the precise analysis of world events offered on the site every single day: the WSWS is a tool of immense political power. As I have learned more about the history of the socialist movement, it has strengthened me to draw the parallels between the immense collaborative effort and intellectual community the WSWS represents and the international socialist organisations of the past.
In a world dominated by the multi-million media of the elite, a non-corrupt news publisher committed to the defence of the working class—and the exposure of assaults against it—is essential. As the time comes for a mass movement, the revolution will look to the WSWS for direction and its performance so far shows that it is more than up to the task.
Photographer, South East Asia. WSWS reader since 1998
11 May 2013
I would like to offer my congratulations to the WSWS for its 15 years of unequalled insights into the ongoing developments in the capitalist crisis and the struggles of the working class.
My involvement in political activity began in the early 1980s when I joined the Workers Revolutionary Party, then the British section of the International Committee of the Fourth International. My political education, however, only started during the split in the movement in 1985, the period when the International Committee was able to provide a clear historical analysis of the national opportunist degeneration and betrayals of the WRP leadership and elaborate on what were the real issues at stake: the defence of the programme, perspectives, and heritage of the Fourth International. This is powerfully explained in “How the Workers Revolutionary Party betrayed Trotskyism.”
For genuine Trotskyists the 1985-86 split was of immense historical importance and laid the political foundations for the extraordinary advances made by the International Committee since and, in particular, in the development of the World Socialist Web Site.
In 1998 when the WSWS began publishing online I did not have a computer and would travel for about 30 minutes to visit a friend who had a PC so I could download articles to read later. I obtained my first computer soon after and for the sole purpose of accessing the WSWS every day. I encountered some hostility to the turn taken by the Trotskyist movement to publish on the Internet. Members of my family initially thought it was a “betrayal” to stop producing a newspaper, but over time this attitude changed as the site became an absolute must-daily-read.
I’m currently in South East Asia and depend on the WSWS for accurate and honest reportage. It is the only publication able to provide a clear and coherent analysis of the fast moving political events—in this region and internationally—and the unfolding global economic crisis and the drive towards war.
As a documentary photographer, I was delighted to have the WSWS cover my exhibition on migrant workers at Oxford University in February 2011. In 2008 I had the opportunity to be part of a WSWS team which travelled to central Australia to report and photograph the impact of the Australian government’s Northern Territory “intervention” on Aboriginal communities. (Rudd Labor deepens Howard’s assault on Aboriginal communities) The “intervention” was not only a direct assault on the democratic and social rights of Aboriginal people and their communities but a testing ground for future attacks on all welfare recipients, indigenous and non-indigenous alike. The experience left a deep and lasting impression on me.
We are about to enter a profound period of enormous class struggles on a global basis. What has been made clear over the past 15 years is that the WSWS is the only publication that shows a way forward for the international working class.
Yorkshire, England. WSWS reader since 1998
10 May 2013
I am a longtime supporter of the International Committee of the Fourth International and started reading the World Socialist Web Site in 1998, a few months after its launch. I previously read the International Worker newspaper, which was excellent but only came out every two weeks so it was always a few weeks “behind”, whereas the WSWS can give analysis of the latest developments instantly and can provide an enormous archive of articles.
It’s hard to imagine what it would be like not to have the WSWS. Recently I was really appalled to hear someone say he finds it hard to watch the television news because “it’s all about wars and bad things happening … it’s so depressing.” It made me think of Spinoza: neither to laugh or cry, but to understand.
Without the WSWS one would be left at the mercy of the latest lies and distortions of the capitalist media, or, maybe worse, the twisted bunkum of right-wing conspiracy theorists on the net.
I read the WSWS every day to get a Marxist perspective on everything that happens. I always make sure I read all the editorials, lead articles and perspectives documents, such as the resolutions of the last congress of the German section of the ICFI which I found particularly well argued and clear. Nick Beams’ articles on the economy are vital; I often find Jean Shaoul’s articles very illuminating such as those on UK government spending and the Private Finance Initiative. I read most of David Walsh’s film reviews and I support the struggle against the guys who “prefer to leave their brain at the cinema door”—and I’ve got the scars to prove it! In general I try to understand and remember as much as possible so I can explain things to other people.
One article that stands out was a letter by Dave Hyland following the death of Corin Redgrave. Dave goes over a fascinating history of his experiences in the revolutionary movement, and he shows a remarkable understanding of the position of educated middle class personalities working in a proletarian milieu. He argues that Redgrave’s artistic talents should have been used to educate others but instead Redgrave was more or less destroyed by Healy.
These days I seem to keep meeting young people who say they want to travel in order to understand the world and find their place in it. I can’t help feeling they’d do better to just stay home and read the WSWS. It would give them a much better understanding of the world and who knows, they might decide to take part in the struggle to change it!
Retired university lecturer, Mt. Lavinia, Sri Lanka. WSWS reader since 1998
8 May 2013
I am a 68-year-old retired lecturer in Sociology from the University of Colombo, after teaching the subject for 41 years. In my first year (1965), as a student in the same university, I was elected as a member of the Arts faculty’s student union, representing the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP). By then I was a sympathiser of that party.
Later, as the LSSP’s role evolved within the coalition government of Sirimavo Bandaranayake (1970–1977), I got disillusioned with the LSSP and began to sympathise with the Revolutionary Communist League, forerunner of the SEP (Socialist Equality Party).
Once the WSWS was inaugurated by the SEP in 1998, I started reading it as and when time permitted me. As a university teacher, I was much impressed with the critical articles on sociological theories such as modernism and post-modernism, and identity politics published by the website. Critical perspectives put forward by the website on such widely prevalent sociological theories helped me to be critical of my university colleagues who were blind followers of such theories.
Since retirement in 2010, I keep on reading the website and I am very much impressed with its contribution to building up the Marxist revolutionary party internationally—to usher in international socialist revolution, which is sine qua non to redeem humanity from its current quagmire.
The website’s impact on me is multifaceted. I am trained to think of the other human being who comes into contact with me as my equal. Training imparted to me by the website as a reader has empowered me to think of global capitalism quite contrary to established academia both locally and internationally.
Being influenced by the website, I have been able to differentiate the pseudo-left from the Marxist revolutionary organization which is the SEP based on ICFI’s [International Committee of the Fourth International] perspectives. This positive impact of the website helps me to live a decent but arduous life, with a conviction that humans have no alternative other than getting rid of global capitalism through working class revolution—to have a life with basic needs—to march forward along the path of development socio-economically and culturally.
Former teacher, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA.
7 May 2013
My introduction to the WSWS, and socialism in general, came as the result of being a public school teacher. I was a teacher for nine years, and every year I saw declines—whether it was in the form of increased classroom size, laying off of teachers and support staff, reductions in salary and benefits, or reduction of class options for the students.
I started off as a liberal, seeing the Republican Party as the party to blame; but it did not take long to realize that the Democrats were putting forward policies that were equally destructive to public education, including their continual support of the thinly-veiled for-profit charter schools and high-stakes testing.
However, the most egregious actions came from those who claimed to be the stalwart defenders of the teachers—the union. Every year we saw declines, but instead of vigorously fighting the system that was bringing about these declines, the union engaged in activities whose actions I can only surmise were designed to isolate and pacify the people they were supposed to defend. All the different working groups (secretaries, administrators, custodial, etc...) negotiated their contracts separately and at different times. When other, nearby districts were getting bad contracts we were told there was nothing we could do. When a bill that attacked teachers was proposed, we were told to “contact our legislator.” When we were offered a contract with cuts, we were told to wear black and hold up placards before and after school. Everything was designed to make our actions as feckless as possible and never was there any talk about joining forces with other groups, let alone a strike.
I could see all these things going on but I could not explain why it was happening. The typical explanation that I would get was that people, especially politicians, were just “being stupid.” It was not until I started reading the WSWS that I came to an understanding of the class forces at work and the tie-in of what was going on in public education to the broader world in which capitalism has propped up a parasitic layer that was determined to maintain its power at the expense of the working class. It was only the WSWS who could intelligently address my questions about why the “American dream” had failed. It was only the WSWS who could explain how unpopular wars based on lies could be propagated by the whole political system. In a world where news is filtered by financial interests, I have learned to depend upon the WSWS to provide the unfiltered version of events.
Musician, Los Angeles, California, USA. WSWS reader since 2010
6 May 2013
When I was little I thought that when countries go to war there is a good side and an evil side, and usually the good one wins. Moreover, we always happened to be the good guys, thank God! And that frame of mind didn’t just belong to me, but to the majority of people.
Growing up, by reading history books, I started questioning these dynamics because I had a feeling that things weren’t that simple. Later in life, by traveling, I was able to confront myself with people from different countries, who often shared very similar stories and doubts, from their own perspectives. More and more, it felt odd that those people were to be considered my enemies, in any circumstance...
By the time the first Gulf War happened, and even more so with 9/11, years later, the official explanations didn’t make any more sense to me. It was clear that those events were revealing something different, something that the current establishment would never be ready to talk about, because it would undermine its own foundations.
Looking for better answers, I found the WSWS, where I learned about the contradictions of the capitalist system, and how they lead to horrible events such as local and world wars, which ultimately no one wants. The WSWS’s scientific standpoint was an eye opener for me and many others, who simply couldn’t find an acceptable explanation to the dualism between imperialistic expansion and the need to rely on foreign labor, or the fact that profit is private while debt is public, and many other dichotomies.
One true thing we’ve been told though: that we are all living in a very delicate era, a period of crisis. But no one besides the WSWS has ever elaborated on that to the point where it’s the actual worldwide economical and political system to be put in discussion, in order to understand and solve the issue. And thanks to this site we can all access precious information and build a worldwide working class consciousness, opposing it to the prevailing one which only defines good and bad on the basis of national, racial, sexual differences and so on.
4 May 2013
I have been a revolutionary socialist since the late 1960s, having received a copy of the Communist Manifesto from my dad when I was 15 years old. He was a member of the Communist Party of Ireland in the late 1920s.
With the rise of Stalinism and the degeneration of the Soviet Union I began to read various New Left publications to try to understand why such a magnificent event as the working class taking state power for the first time in history turned out the way it did.
I joined the International Socialists (later Socialist Workers Movement in Ireland) and it seemed to me that their explanation of what happened in Russia made more sense than the other left-wing organisations. Their position on internationalism (“neither Washington nor Moscow”) and their stress on the role of the working class seemed to be keeping the ideas of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky alive.
At times, as events changed, the stress on the importance of the working class was sidelined to suit the level of consciousness in the various campaigns such as the womens movement, student campaigns, gay rights, the “national question” etc. These were then and now important struggles, but inequality and oppression can only be overcome when we challenge the system itself and break with capitalist solutions.
Having taken a break from politics for a couple of years, I rejoined the SWP (Ireland) about five years ago. I could not believe the shift to the right that had taken place. Certain words and descriptions of reality such as “Communism”, the “working class” and “Marxism” were discouraged at meetings. With the election of Richard Boyd Barrett (SWP and United Left Alliance) to the Dail (parliament) the whole effort of the SWP was now geared towards electioneering and playing down the fact that the movement considered itself socialist. It ended up with a representative in parliament elected on opportunist positions who was stressing the need to “regulate” capitalism in a “fairer” way for the “ordinary people”.
So I began to despair that there was no left-wing party or group keeping the ideas of Marxism and the Communist Manifesto alive. I began browsing the web and came across the WSWS. Here at last was a website that viewed the conflicts throughout the world from a Marxist perspective. I found articles on Ireland, Spain, the threat of global war, and the role of the European fake left most informative. The analysis of the WSWS was rooted in a genuine Trotskyist alternative and placed the working class as central to the struggle for socialism.
I am now a regular reader of the WSWS and congratulate the ICFI on its 15th anniversary, and for continuing the struggle of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky at a period when the working class are suffering attacks in every aspect of their lives leading to poverty, suicide and homelessness.
The WSWS has been a guiding force to me in the fight for world socialism.
Teacher, Los Angeles, California, USA. WSWS reader since 2010
3 May 2013
I started to become radicalized before encountering the WSWS, and during the intervening period I was plagued by unanswered questions. While it was clear that mass resistance against the “war on terror” and the financial oligarchy had become necessary, I had no conception of what form such a movement could take.
I read works of today’s “radical philosophy,” from the pseudo-Marxism of the Frankfurt School to the subjectivist ravings of the post-1968 postmodernists. Despite the apparently “oppositional” stance of these thinkers towards bourgeois society, their rejection of rationality, progress, and science was intensely demoralizing.
Only when I encountered the WSWS’s philosophy page did I begin to understand the underlying socio-economic processes which produced these trends of thought. The pessimism of these thinkers sprang not from their insights into human being but from their class position as the petty bourgeoisie within the framework of the postwar order. Their rejection of socialist revolution derived not from science, but from their privileged position under capitalism.
On the other hand, the WSWS has introduced me to the tradition which contains the highest accomplishments of human thought: classical Marxism. In a single chapter of Frederick Engels one finds more truth than in a thousand of today’s fashionable academic philosophy. Encountering this mighty tradition after wandering in the wasteland of pseudo-Marxism has been life changing. The WSWS has collected and organized the foundational texts of this tradition. The site’s archives contain careful refutations of the distortions and falsifications of Marxism that are constantly cropping up.
The WSWS is the vehicle that will bring the great tradition of classical Marxism to new generations of workers and youth. The combination of scientific rigor with active struggle which characterizes this tradition will win the hearts and minds of millions in the coming years. In particular, the Historical and International Foundations documents produced by the various SEP sections enable young people to assimilate the historical experiences and theoretical conquests of the workers’ movement as efficiently as possible.
The WSWS provides readers with a theoretical perspective on the great problems of the 20th century. The WSWS article “ Imperialism and the Political Economy of the Holocaust ” helped me to understand the truth about this event, and about genocide in general. Genocide is not produced by “instrumental rationality” as the Frankfurts have it, or by totalitarian “meta-narratives.”
The Trotskyist perspective of the WSWS grasps that the genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries are products of the death crisis of world capitalism. Today’s world system is murderous in its essence…
The WSWS’s coverage of the Iraq war has been of major importance to my political education. Against the apologetics and cheerleading of war carried on by the petty bourgeoisie, the WSWS has exposed the sociocidal reality of the occupation, as it enforces the will of the predatory oligarchy which controls our society. Only the WSWS has drawn the necessary conclusions from these developments, posing the choice for the working class: socialist revolution or barbarism and global war.
The first decades of the 21st century have seared new names into our collective memory: Fallujah, Haditha, Najaf, Sirte. The WSWS has armed us with the knowledge necessary to comprehend and confront these traumatic developments. By enabling youth and workers to understand the objective cause of imperialist war - the revolt of the productive forces against the obsolete, bourgeois state system—the WSWS affirms that where mankind confronts problems, history provides material for the solutions.
The scientific framework provided by the WSWS enables one to approach these horrific developments without giving in to despair. As a daily reader of the WSWS, I am optimistic for the future of humanity; equipped with a scientific understanding of politics, the working class will overcome these catastrophes and create a new society.
Photographer, London, England. WSWS reader since 2012
2 May 2013
I have only been reading the WSWS for a little while. Sometimes you believe in something, but don’t really see how much until someone opens your eyes and I guess that’s what happened with me here. I’ve always agreed with socialist ideals at heart, stemming from my family really, but I had never really looked into them properly until recently when a friend pushed me towards this website thinking it would be of interest to me. I started reading articles on the WSWS and realised this was what I agreed with and this is what I want to participate in.
Over the last few years I’ve become extremely disillusioned with my government. Mostly I hate that my choices in voting come down to voting for someone awful or someone a bit less awful. They do not speak for me or anyone working class and it frustrated me that I was seemingly participating in a system that was there to make people feel like they matter, rather than actually benefitting anyone at all. I didn’t want to buy into this illusion anymore and I figured there had to be an alternative that I could not only agree with but also actively participate in. Through reading the WSWS and going to some SEP meetings I think I’ve found that.
Having grown up in an Islamic background (but not being Muslim myself) I have seen firsthand the effect false media campaigns can have via people in my family having to deal with a lot of persecution post 9/11. I’ve always been looking for a source that was unbiased and trustworthy. WSWS provides me with articles on news that is happening around me but explains the truth of these situations. This is especially important to me when it comes to issues about the Middle East. I am constantly frustrated with news sources ignoring or misreporting stories from there. There is a lot that goes on around me that has confused and annoyed me for so many years and the WSWS has offered clarity, which I really needed.
The website is also helping me get my head around the history of this all. There is a lot to take in, and I want to learn as much as I can so I can start taking part more. I’ve got to a point in life where I know I want to do something and I want to fight back and without the WSWS I’d not be as focused. As someone who is learning about socialism still, the WSWS is an essential source for me.
Los Angeles, California, USA. WSWS reader since 2008
1 May 2013
I wanted to write this quick letter to hopefully help highlight the importance of the WSWS in the fight for socialism, by sharing my experience in the International Socialist Organization (ISO), one of many pseudo-left groups that one can find today lining up behind US imperialism in Syria. The ISO has played, and continues to play, a key role in torpedoing any working class struggle by building up the authority of the unions, and it propels a perspective according to which the working class could pressure the Democrats to make change through sufficient protest. It is important the working class knows that groups like the ISO are an obstacle in the struggle for socialism.
I joined the ISO simply because they were the first group utilizing socialist rhetoric that happened to cross my path. But as my time and experience in the ISO went on and I started independently reading some of Trotsky’s and James P. Cannon’s writings, it was becoming clear that I had some political differences with the ISO. For instance, I was against affirmative action (a position that, it seemed to me, divides the working class) and I was strongly against support of the Green Party. The relationship with the Greens the ISO called a “united front.” It seemed to me that far from the united front that Trotsky had called to establish in specific historic circumstances, the ISO’s type of united front was more like the Stalinist “popular front.” If I stayed in this group it was only because the only other group around at the time was the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) and I couldn’t stomach the idea of being around open Stalinists.
I came in contact with the WSWS around 2008 while looking for stuff to read on the civil war in Sudan; then read the SEP (US) Statement of Principles and the SEP program that moved me and finally led me to break with the ISO. The SEP program rejected positions that I myself rejected in the ISO, while at the same time the program powerfully showed me the way forward for the working class. Like many workers at the time, I had doubts about, and was confused by the destructive role of the unions. I couldn’t get my head around the uncritical support the ISO continued to give the unions and their leadership. The ISO argued that we must stand with the union leadership because “to be against the unions is to be against the working class.” However, this argument didn’t seem to fit with what was happening all around the world. The unions and their leadership were playing a part in the attack on the working class. One case in particular in Los Angeles, where I live: the UTLA fought to convince teachers to accept furloughs by claiming that they will save teachers’ jobs. The ISO, along with the union leadership, supported and pushed to get teachers to accept furloughs.
It’s not the case that the ISO made a mistake—the ISO is fully integrated with the same union leaders who are helping with the destruction of teachers’ jobs. A.J. Duffy, the UTLA’s former president is a good friend of the ISO. The ISO presented A.J. Duffy as a fighter for the working class, and invited Duffy to speak to workers at immigrant rights rallies. Today, A.J. Duffy, supposedly a “fighter” for the working class, is starting his own charter school. He even wants to make it harder for teachers to keep tenure protection, by requiring that teachers demonstrate that they remain effective in the classroom.
For anyone who wants to get a fundamental understanding of what is happening in the world, and decides they’d like to change it, then reading the WSWS is essential.
South African living in the UK. New reader of the WSWS
30 April 2013
I am a new reader of the WSWS. I first contacted the Socialist Equality Party and the WSWS by attending a meeting on the situation in Greece. I knew nothing of socialist internationalism until I met the SEP.
The meeting addressed questions I had been asking myself about the present situation compared to what I saw when I first came to the UK in 1990. It also gave me a chance to read the WSWS and find answers to other questions that had not been answered before, such as what is socialism and where will it take us?
I arrived here from Tanzania, where I had been for nine years as an African National Congress refugee from South Africa. I came on a Walter Sisulu scholarship.
I have always been interested in Marxism which I was exposed to by the ANC. I was taught that Tanzania was what was called “African Socialism”.
The ANC didn’t live up to our expectations and confused people like me because they were talking about socialism on the one hand and the National Democratic Revolution on the other as if they were the same thing. But they are not.
The ANC leadership claimed that they would build a system to suit African conditions, taking what is good from all systems, accepting moral and political support from all over the world, especially the west.
They also talked about “non-antagonistic contradictions” that would exist during the reconstruction of the country. This is why I say they confused me. They justified themselves by trying to say that when we take over, things will change, but very slowly.
There were great hopes when Mandela became president. But now the majority in South Africa are terribly disillusioned, because the living conditions for the masses have not improved. Nothing has changed since the end of Apartheid.
There have been three black presidents, Mandela, Mbeki and Zuma and everyone in the country knows that the situation is getting worse. People are suffering terribly. The gap between rich and poor is widening daily. I realise from the WSWS that the working class all over the world is suffering as a result of the crisis.
When I arrived in this country in 1990, I met many people who were politically active, including South Africans. I asked them, “How many socialisms are there?” There was Chinese socialism, Russian socialism and socialism in Tanzania. I saw the poverty in Tanzania and thought, “How is socialism operating here?”
So what does the term socialism mean?
I went to a Socialist Workers Party meeting at the university and came away very disappointed because it was all slogans. I never went back. But I still didn’t lose interest in politics and I wanted some answers.
Through reading the WSWS I have learnt what the word socialism means and how the crisis of capitalism affects us globally and how socialism can address these problems. To me, international socialism is the only socialism to overcome this capitalist crisis. I just don’t see any other way.
We need a revolution, a revolutionary party and a complete change of the system.
I love my country but don’t like what is happening there. So I may as well stay here and learn.
Dublin, Ireland. WSWS reader since 2011
26 April 2013
I was a member of the Socialist Workers Party in Ireland since my mid twenties but I found myself more and more disillusioned with their movement toward “broad front” politics and away from what I considered at the time to be the SWP’s core politics. I found more and more that the Socialist Worker was becoming a more nationalist paper and headlines such as “Irish Resources Not For Sale” were further confirming that this paper/website was missing the bigger picture.
In spite of my concerns I was reluctant to leave the party as I was not aware of where else I could look to get a concise, accurate editorial of worldwide events. Thankfully I found the WSWS.
The WSWS gives the reader a full and honest history of major and minor international events. It gives insight into all manner of issues and for the most part has articles on news “just broken”. I find the historical research which goes into the WSWS articles extremely educational and often they clearly portray the corruption of capitalism through recent history which has led to its disastrous results today.
I have relied on WSWS to be my main source of world news over the past couple of years and will continue doing so. Keep up the good work!
Graduate, San Diego State University, California, USA. WSWS reader since 2008
25 April 2013
As I entered college as a cynical misbegotten youth at 18 years of age, I longed for answers regarding the misery encompassing the world. Throughout high school I always considered myself a “leftist,” opting for a Rage Against the Machine album or a book on political prisoners to encompass my time as opposed to the latest video gaming console. My friends ran within anarchist circles and I became acquainted with the “lifestylism” of CrimeThInc. and the like. While all of these various analyses offered something, I found myself wanting the entirety. I knew that there was an explanation to war, poverty and social misery, but missed it entirely.
I first came into contact with the World Socialist Web Site through the avenue of the (then) International Students for Social Equality (ISSE). I was just a freshman at San Diego State University in 2008 when the financial crisis sent the world into an economic tailspin. The media flew into a frenzy as the politicians hoped to make the eventual massive cuts palpable. The words “shared sacrifice” became commonplace and seemed inescapable.
Opposition began to mount within the schools as proposed fee increases were set to take effect. As a means to conceal and maintain this frustration, universities launched “Vent at the Tent” demonstrations. These consisted of large tents where students and faculty could express their animosity through recorded video messages and pre-drafted forms that would be sent to Sacramento. This was an implied strategy of begging the Democrats in Sacramento to “listen to our pleas;” I was confronted with protest politics from the ground. The only organization on campus that offered answers other than this dead-end was the ISSE.
Two reporters asked to interview me. After expressing my frustration with the Democrats and the unions, they directed me to look at the World Socialist Web Site for an analysis of world events and as a way to fight for a new world system, one which was based on public interest and not private profit. Cynical as I was, I began to browse the website at my leisure.
The most impactful of all articles that I came across and the single-handed reason why I continue to read the WSWS today was David North’s piece on the Columbine High School tragedy entitled “ American Pastoral... American Berserk .” As I looked for answers on why it seemed the world was afire around me with catastrophe after catastrophe, North and the WSWS offered an explanation, stating:
“...the concentration on individual warning signs will be of little help in preventing further tragedies. Attention should be focused, rather, on the social warning signs, that is, the indications and indices of social and political dysfunction that create the climate that produces events like the Columbine HS massacre. Vital indicators of impending disaster might include: growing polarization between wealth and poverty; atomization of working people and the suppression of their class identity; the glorification of militarism and war; the absence of serious social commentary and political debate; the debased state of popular culture; the worship of the stock exchange; the unrestrained celebration of individual success and personal wealth; the denigration of the ideals of social progress and equality.”
Since reading this in 2009 it is unfortunate to say that these words have only been proven in the negative. Sandy Hook, the Newtown massacre, the Colorado shooting massacre and countless other seemingly “random acts of violence” have peppered the national news. Today, the White House debates ways in which to prepare for another incident, not to prevent another one. Throughout the world, war ravages with a multitude of illegal wars having been launched since Obama’s ascension to the presidency in 2008. Today we await the conflagration between North Korea and South Korea, which, just as in 21st century remakes of 1950s disasters, only promises to be graver.
While the WSWS has illuminated the misery we face today, it offers a way forward. If the problems we face today are systemic, the solution we must fight for is systemic. What is the counter-pole to bourgeois media but working class media? What is the counter-pole to capitalism, a system based on private profit, but socialism, a system based on social need? In the short 4 years of reading it, I have seen the WSWS grow in readership, in coverage and in its analysis. Time and time again, its unwavering, principled nature has proved that there is a meta-narrative that explains society. And all the more crucial, there is a solution to the problems we face.
Retired, Seattle, Washington, USA. WSWS reader since 1998
24 April 2013
I read the WSWS to understand what is going on all over the world and why. But more importantly, I read it to see how the struggle for socialism is going, how the party is doing. You have every right to celebrate the web site since it is a great achievement. But I can see clearly that previous political struggles prepared the way for this. For example, when I first met Bill and Jean Brust they went on and on about Pabloism and the split in 1953. I didn’t understand at first but I learned. They would be so proud of the WSWS today, but they would also have the right to say that they helped. I was amazed at the destruction of the SWP but not surprised since that is what was predicted in the struggle with Pabloism. Today all the other so-called socialists are lost and end up supporting the system.
San Diego, California, USA. WSWS reader since 2010
23 April 2013
I think it’s true that those of us in the working class naturally possess a potential to know something that the bourgeoisie cannot. This potential starts with the fact that, having no buffer between personal experience and economic reality, the working class is constantly put in touch to understate the actual, hard truth of an economic system that places profit over human need.
So when I first came across wsws.org about 2 and a half years ago, I recognized right away something quite familiar. The direct, clear and precise writing style really spoke to me on a deep level and kept me coming back. And little by little, while getting acquainted with the actual, hard reality of today’s politics—especially the true role of the trade unions here and around the world in subordinating the working class to the bourgeoisie—I naturally began viewing politics primarily in terms of objective forces and events.
Then I began reading David North’s The Heritage We Defend and had an epiphany of sorts. I was reading about how the Pabloites subordinated the class struggle to the conflict of the Cold War and how as a consequence “the real underlying conflict between the world bourgeoisie and the international proletariat” eventually “receded from the political consciousness.”
This explained much about today’s official silence, confusion and estrangement from reality exhibited by the bourgeoisie during, for instance, the deepest jobs crisis since the Great Depression. Suddenly, I was no longer thinking in terms isolated from a broader class struggle. For me that comes down to finally knowing exactly what I’m up against, exactly who’s up against it with me, and exactly what kind of political weapons and leadership we need to prevail. In other words:
“They will find in the political biography of Comrade Keerthi Balisuriya an inspiring example of courageous and principled political struggle. Even more importantly, in the Marxist political conceptions that he defended and developed they will find the theoretical and political weapons to guide the struggle for the political independence and revolutionary mobilization of the international working class.”
Los Angeles, California, USA. WSWS reader since 2008
22 April 2013
I started to read the WSWS in early 2008 and, although I was to a certain extent already familiar with Marxism, it took me some time to develop a higher understanding of dialectical materialism, the very core of Marxist thought, the key to understanding society and its trends. That was possible through the constant reading of the WSWS.
A few months later, with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the consequent bipartisan enactments such as the bailout of the banks at the expense of the American population and the beginning of an era of social devastation, vindicated the uncompromising class analysis of the WSWS.
As a matter of fact, the election of an African American president, if on one hand it was presented by most “left” newspapers as a lesser of two evils, when not directly as an upward turning point for the working class, the WSWS placed that election in its historical context and stated the following at the conclusion of an article about the victory of the Democratic Party :
“Whatever satisfaction the Democratic Party draws from its victory is tempered by the realization within President-elect Obama’s inner circle, the party leadership and the political establishment that the mass expectations and hopes aroused by the election will not be easily contained. The outcome of the election sets the stage for a new and protracted period of intense class conflict in the United States.”
After more than four years into the crisis, the reality for the working class not only in the US but internationally, has gotten worse. The claims that there’s a recovery in place is exclusively about the stock market, bankers and speculators, not for the ordinary worker. Hence the growing discontent that can’t find expression within the present establishment.
The immense amount of knowledge contained in the WSWS can’t be fully described in a letter like this; nonetheless I still want to mention some articles by which I was particularly impressed, such as the obituary of the pope Wojtyla, an article that, among various aspects, exposes the devastating role of the church in the dismantling of the USSR in favor of the soon-to-be Russian oligarchs; an article on the book “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, where the writer (Joe Kay), while welcoming such a publication, also demonstrates with scientific accuracy, its limitations. A remarkable point is when he puts in direct relation the progress of human society with the retreat of religion .
One extremely important article, that can actually be considered as the watershed that separates the WSWS from what is considered “left,” is the one called Anti-Americanism: The “anti-imperialism” of fools. The article exposes the ideological rot of the various pseudo-left groups that in one way or another blame the American working class for the crimes of US imperialism, instead of seeing it as a victim itself.
As we enter a period characterized by stronger class conflicts, it becomes an urgency to develop the readership of the WSWS.
University student, Isla Vista, California, USA. WSWS reader since 2007
20 April 2013
I discovered the World Socialist Web Site in 2006 or 2007. When Bear Stearns collapsed in March of 2008, the wsws stood virtually alone in clearly and accurately predicting the depth of the crisis that would ensue. After the Bear Stearns takeover I began reading the wsws regularly, and it was my guiding light over the next several months of economic turbulence. I knew very little about capitalism when it began crumbling down around my ears in 2008, but I understood that I was living through a momentous event and one that would prove consequential in my own life and those around me. I struggled to understand the crisis not just on the surface, but also at the level of its root causes. The articles by the wsws, especially Nick Beams and Barry Grey, cut through the financial esoterica and explained the economic collapse in a way that was clear and understandable.
More importantly, the website offered satisfying explanations of the longer term causes and consequences of the crisis. Through reading the website I came to see that the historic meltdown was rooted in the inherent general contradictions of the capitalist system and in the long decline of American capitalism specifically. While the bourgeois media still insisted the financial collapse was a temporary aberration, the wsws said in no uncertain terms that it marked a historical turning point in global capitalism, and that any “solution” to the crisis would entail shifting the economic burdens of a recovery onto the working class. The ruling class has forced workers throughout the world to accept a permanent reduction in their standard of living in order to restore the profitability of the capitalist system. This restructuring of class relations has entailed, among other things, a disturbing growth of the bourgeois police state. The wsws has spoken out in opposition to every step in the deterioration of democratic rights.
Throughout these years of crisis, the wsws has continually exposed the lie of recovery not only through serious economic analysis, but by telling the stories of the workers whose stories get left out of the mainstream media. At a time in which the bourgeois press has become a scripted affair, the wsws has carried on the lost art of original reporting. I have been particularly impressed by the increasing use of video clips interviewing workers. I commend wsws reporters for allowing workers to tell their stories at length, without interruption. The effect is often powerful and moving.
Autism therapy worker, California, USA. WSWS reader since 2005
19 April 2013
I would first like to congratulate all those who contribute to the World Socialist Web Site on this fifteenth anniversary. It is truly a social and cultural milestone.
I was a freshman in High School when the 9-11 terror attacks happened. I was horrified by the events taking place of course, but I was left confused by my teachers and the corporate media as to why they took place. It didn’t make sense to me how a person like George W. Bush, who stole the election and was to me, an illegitimate president, could become a world-class statesman overnight. Nevertheless, I, along with many, was swept up by the jingoism promoted by the government and the media to bomb Afghanistan, the poorest country on the planet.
The Taliban fell, “democracy” had arrived to that part of the world we were told, and one didn’t hear about Afghanistan for a while. Then came the drums for another war, this time against Iraq. I remember when the Democrats caved in to Bush and voted to authorize the war what a huge disillusionment that was for me. I was raised in a family of Democrats and we were all against the war but I was perplexed as to why this “party of the people” had collaborated with Bush.
When war came, my whole bourgeois upbringing was shattered. My government, which from an early age I always loved and respected, was now something on par with the Third Reich. Far from being the underdog, I realized the US government was the biggest threat to world peace, not tiny, Iraq. Something was seriously wrong with the world.
I searched for the truth and read everything I could, but the events of 2003 demonstrated to me that CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, et. al., were nothing more than media arms of the State Department, dutifully reporting (and not reporting) what they are told. In the midst of all this, I read many “counter-cultural”, “liberal-left” websites and magazines and this greatly increased my understanding of politics and what was really going on.
But there was one publication I kept coming back to again and again. The World Socialist Web Site was not only international but highly readable. The articles struck me as serious and humane. I could tell their writers were speaking to the highest qualities of their readers; they respected their audience and their intelligence.
By the time I was in college, I was no longer a Democrat and by 2006 I no longer supported Ralph Nader or the Greens. I realized if I voted for anybody it would be for the Socialist Equality Party. The decisive political moment for me came in early 2007, when the WSWS published a statement entitled “ For an International Mobilization of Workers and Youth against the War in Iraq .”
The WSWS was the only website that called for a break with the two parties of big business, for an independent movement of the working class fighting for international socialism, something that I was waiting to hear all my life.
The last statement in particular, “We make a special appeal to the youth—those who will, in the first instance, bear the terrible cost of war—to fight for this perspective,” felt like it was written especially for me.
Upon reading this I came to the conclusion that it was not enough to simply just read the website and agree with the analysis. If I truly agreed with that analysis, I would help and join the WSWS to make socialism a reality.
Filmmaker, Sri Lanka. WSWS reader since 1999
17 April 2013
[ Editor’s note: Prasanna Vithanage, veteran Sri Lankan filmmaker, has been acclaimed both nationally and internationally. Apart from several striking films such as Purahanda Kaluwara, ( Death on a Full Moon Day ) and Ira Mediyama ( August Sun ) he has also produced and directed several stage dramas including Debiddo (Dario Fo’s Trumpets and Raspberries ).]
If I may recall my first encounter with WSWS, it was during the time I screened my second film Pavuru Walalu ( Walls Within ) in January, 1999. A colleague informed me that WSWS had published a review of my film and recommended to read it. In her film review, late comrade Piyaseeli Wijegunasinghe, explored how man is being deprived of socially harmonious relations and development within the existing social environment. I was then interviewed by the WSWS in order to examine the connection between the artist’s self-expression and the social reality expressed in his artwork. That was how I started to follow WSWS and I continue to benefit from its analysis.
I thank WSWS for its principled and courageous campaign waged against the banning of my next film Purahanda Kaluwara ( Death on a Full Moon Day ) by the government. Through that campaign, many international artists and intellectuals came forward to defend the rights of artists and the freedom of art. I think that campaign was one of the major reasons for lifting the ban on my film.
I follow WSWS diligently, its art reviews in particular. I have found the web site to be a knowledge generator on all aspects of social existence. I would like to draw special attention to David Walsh’s The Aesthetic Component of Socialism which has helped me immensely whenever I become sceptical about my own work. I have read it many times to understand the roots of the problems faced by artists in this consumer society.
When I meet fellow filmmakers, we talk about international films. In these discussions, I base myself mostly on the reviews of WSWS and they have vastly broadened my own knowledge on art and cultural issues as well as others. So, I always recommend WSWS to my colleagues. At the same time, WSWS is the only organ that I have come across that fights against the idea currently dominant among many artists that the struggle for socialism is futile.
The value of WSWS is not limited to the field of art. When you consider the situations in either Egypt, or in Libya and Syria, the analysis of the WSWS stands opposed to any position of despair. People have shown their readiness to engage in struggle but they are maneuvered by reactionary forces with the help of pseudo left groups. WSWS explains the reasons behind this situation. The main issue is the lack of a genuine socialist perspective.
The recent Sri Lankan Socialist Equality Party document on its historical foundations published on the WSWS make it clear that many historical problems created in the island and the region stem from the liquidation of the Bolshevik Leninist Party of India, abandoning Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution. Today we face complex issues that emerged after that betrayal. I would like to claim that without having this historical knowledge on what happened in the world, an artist cannot make a contribution to society. I believe that although the art work is a self expression of the artist it always has an objective basis.
Finally, I would say without any doubt, WSWS has been the most influential cultural organ in shaping my vision of life. So, I wish WSWS a long life on its fifteenth anniversary.
Oak Park, Michigan, USA. WSWS reader since 2000
16 April 2013
I first picked up a copy of the old World Socialist Web Site Review at a news stand just outside Detroit. It wasn’t long after the US-Balkan war had concluded and the first article I read was about that war. I immediately bought several more issues. I was quite impressed by the clarity of the writing and the analysis. I’ve been a regular reader of the WSWS ever since.
I remember puzzling over what “World Socialist” meant. I was pretty familiar with Marxism and I had the notion of the class struggle down cold. It took a while but then of course it began to make sense, a world movement, an International was what was necessary and probably always had been.
For the actor, observer, or student of current affairs, history, or in fact the entire social and political world, the WSWS is an indispensable resource and presents a serious and contemporary Marxist and Trotskyist viewpoint to the world working class.
The year-by-year review easily supports this point and the sheer body of first-rate writing already on display is indisputable proof of it. This review itself will provide the reader with a history, documentation, and digest of the last fifteen years—years of savage, murderous reaction worldwide. The birth and life of the WSWS during this period is a signal achievement and an important historical development in the struggle to bring political understanding and consciousness to the world working class. All credit is due those who have made it happen.
I don’t believe I speak too highly by also saying that if the consciousness of the working class is a party which upholds the socialist revolutionary rights, interests, and traditions of both party and class, the World Socialist Web Site is a first-rate voice of that consciousness.
Retired and self-employed, Sydney, Australia. WSWS reader since 2012
15 April 2013
For most of my life I have been interested in politics but in recent years I have found it more and more difficult to relate popular Australian political parties and their stories to my world view, spiritual practice and personal values. I doubt that I would have even been attracted to the SEP story had I not already been “spiritually liberated” in a way that I believe Marx and Trotsky would approve of.
My belief is derived from the compassion I find within Marx’s “opium of the people” statement wherein he recognises the human being’s right to cling to “spirit” in a “spiritless situation” and to “heart” in a “heartless world”. And in the declaration made by Trotsky in 1938, when celebrating the founding of the Fourth International: “We are not a party like other parties. … Our aim is the full material and spiritual liberation of the toilers and exploited…” Of course I can only speculate that the likes of Marx and Trotsky would approve of my particular kind of “spiritual liberation”. I do so because it has little or nothing to do with the established oppressive religions that these two great political leaders so rightly condemned.
Unfortunately, Marxism has confused the established religions with “spirit” and thereby unintentionally turned millions of people away from the economic and social analysis necessary to clarify and change their situation.
My “spiritual liberation” was arrived at via the objective observance and celebration of planet Earth’s orbit around the Sun and its spin around an axis both of which result in planetary seasonal moments known as the Solstice and the Equinox. Added to this is a contemporary scientific understanding of my place and sense of belonging within a seamless Universe experienced as an Earth based “spiritual liberation”.
After reading regular updates of the WSWS for about a year I decided the SEP was for me the only plausible political story and party I could now relate to and be inspired by. After making a modest financial donation to the WSWS, I was encouraged by a member of the SEP to attend a public meeting in Sydney as part of the 15 year review and celebration of the WSWS. During this meeting I was further inspired by the main speaker David North, so much so that I have decided to join the SEP and to support the party to the best of my ability.
Student, USA. WSWS reader since 2006
13 April 2013
I started reading the WSWS in 2006 at the height of the Iraq war. I was in the Middle East at the time and was repulsed by the US atrocities and the bloody suppression of Iraqi resistance, as were vast sections of the population as well.
Pro-western political tendencies and the media portrayed the “Iraqi mess” as caused by blunders of the Neo-cons or the meddling of Iran. Other tendencies that were traditionally against US intervention were incapable of offering a consistent analysis of the underlying causes of the eruption of US militarism in the region and were ultimately rooting its origin back to the expansionist attitude of the Neo-cons and the interest of the oil companies.
The existing conceptions of the US wars of occupation in the region were a reflection of the views of various political tendencies in Europe and the US. The common denominator of all these views was a disregard for the historical economic decline of US imperialism and the massive geopolitical changes following the disintegration of the USSR. Hence it was convenient for these various tendencies to blame one section of the US political system as “insane” or “evil” to whitewash the complicity of the other major party of US imperialism in these bloody wars, i.e. the Democratic Party. I found the analysis of the WSWS totally different.
So it was the consistent exposing of the Democratic Party, based on an objective assessment of the US position in the world economy and the inherent weaknesses and the class character of the anti-war movement that made me appreciate more and more the unique role of the WSWS as the tribune for saturating the workers and youth with analysis of major political, economic and cultural developments from a class perspective.
The intensification of the assault on the living conditions of workers and youth combined with expansion of US military interventions under Barack Obama, which was uniquely anticipated by the analysis of the WSWS, strengthened my support for the SEP and WSWS.
I think the main obstacle in forming an independent socialist movement in imperialist countries is the confusion prevalent among the working class about the nature and the role of the Democratic Party and various social democratic and labor parties in Europe. The WSWS has quite correctly placed the struggle against these factions and their pseudo-left supporters at the forefront of its analysis.
Telecommunications worker, British Columbia, Canada. WSWS reader since 2006
12 April 2013
A co-worker introduced me to the WSWS, and not knowing exactly what to expect, I started reading the website articles and commentary of current events. The articles were like nothing I've ever read before. It was all so new to me. Never before have I read such detailed analysis of how workers are attacked by policies of a ruthless ruling class.
It stated so clearly how these anti-worker policies came from both the Republicans and the Democrats. My eyes were also opened wide when I realized how the unions, and my union, were selling out workers in various ways. I had previously thought that the capitalist system could be reformed by tinkering with regulations that could benefit the working class, but I now realize this is impossible. The forces of the corporations have infiltrated the decision makers in government and they stand together, ready to extract from the working class what little benefits they have left. The unions follow on their coattails pretending to defend workers but end up betraying them by accepting sell-out agreements and isolating their struggles.
In my own union, I have witnessed huge layoffs, dramatic increases in contracting out, the introduction of tiered wages, reduced job security, reduced overtime pay and increases in benefit premiums. Wages are not keeping up with inflation, but the CEO’s pocket book keeps growing by the millions. The added value created by the rank and file workforce is syphoned off into executive pockets and into speedup programs which act like the whip against the backs of the workers. Meanwhile there isn’t enough money to feed back into the company to keep it running properly or provide better service to customers.
I wish the WSWS the best of luck in fulfilling its aims to unite workers worldwide within a socialist framework. Thank you.
Local government worker, London, UK. WSWS reader since 2001
11 April 2013
I began my conscious orientation towards a leftist perspective during the miners’ strike in 1985, while I was living in South Wales, and then took in anti-imperialist struggles led by (mostly) African liberation nationalists.
Vaguely searching the Net hoping to find some “socialist daily news” in the months after 9/11 and the imperialist invasion of Afghanistan, I stumbled across the World Socialist Web Site. My life turned one of its most important corners of my mature years.
I read the website daily and where I do not get the opportunity to read and digest the articles, I print off the remaining articles (or re-read them) once a month to create my own pamphlet. I don’t consider myself to be an advanced worker by any means, just a worker driven to search for objective truths.
The website, in my opinion, is the single most progressive act of this generation; the comments in the “Why I read the WSWS” section are a strong testament to this. My view is based not only on the quality and perspective of the reporting on daily events, but also on the focus on empowering the cognitive processes in the mind of the worker, to develop the individual capacity to critique the life lived in capitalist society, to activate and elevate the consciousness of the worker to prepare him/her to take on their historical tasks, nothing less.
I refer here to the articles/essays on historical analysis including human development, film reviews, exhibitions, philosophy, science and popular culture. As someone who aspires to write I can recommend in particular:
along with the many articles written in defence of historical truth, and so many more …
I would like to see the website grow and feature regular articles/reportage from the underdeveloped nations, states and regions, but I recognise that this is a question of resources and accept that the project is a work in progress. The opportunity to mark the occasion of the website’s anniversary has compelled me to revise my commitments to it, and accordingly I am pleased to say that I have set up a regular financial contribution to the site and I urge comrades to do the same.
Home health aide, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. WSWS reader since 2010
10 April 2013
I found the WSWS in early 2010. I had voted for Obama and had witnessed a year’s worth of “change you can believe in,” enough to recognize that it was no change at all. At that time the outline of his health care reform was taking shape. It had been drawn up behind closed doors with the pharmaceutical industry in meetings somehow immune to Freedom of Information requests, much like the Bush Administration began its reign behind closed doors with the oil industry.
When single-payer health care was somehow deemed by the Democrats “off the table” or a “non-starter” to negotiations, I sought out my usual sources for answers. Perennial guest of the news program “Democracy Now,” Michael Moore, offered the explanation that since Obama is black, he had to move to the right to show Wall Street and white people that his presidency wouldn’t be as scary for them as they may have thought. Obama, he said, had to work under that constant burden and Michael Moore “got that about him.” Apologies, once again, for the Democrats kowtowing to big business on every issue, and I had had it. I considered myself a socialist from that point on, not knowing exactly what that meant, but encouraged to learn more.
A Google search brought two prominent results, the Socialist Party of Michigan, and the WSWS. I called both. The Socialist Party invited me to a screening of, you guessed it, Michael Moore’s “Capitalism, A Love Story,” and the WSWS called back with a serious and biting analysis of the role of the Democratic Party. I made my decision.
Over the next few months I became a regular reader of the WSWS and started attending meetings. The first major event I followed on the website was the BP oil spill. The extensive and concrete analysis provided confirmation to me that the profit system was the root cause not only of that environmental and social disaster, but of the lack of affordable health care, unending war and poverty, and ever-diminishing democratic rights.
While other news outlets and organizations could at times describe the numerous symptoms of the problem, they never got to a serious discussion of, “What are we going to do about it? How are all these issues related? Why is a discussion of capitalism itself off the table among left-liberals and ‘progressives?’”
The answer to these and other fundamental questions that was demonstrated daily for me on the WSWS in news articles, perspectives, the ICFI Library, as well as at Mehring Books and in the many conversations that came out of my initial decision to write in to the website was simple yet profound: Workers must build independent organizations of struggle on an internationalist basis against the big banks and corporations and their big business parties.
I had previously volunteered and worked on behalf of many political organizations and some unions, but my political work did not begin in earnest, on a thoroughly principled basis, I had to conclude, until I contacted the WSWS. There are a lot of young, and not so young, people who want to do something, who want to fight back, but unfortunately many of these individuals are being derailed out of high school and college like I was into the professional activism industry and the union bureaucracy, and become foot soldiers for the petty bourgeoisie and therefore ultimately for capitalism. One can only imagine what will happen as the sincere and best of these elements turn, as they are turning, to socialism instead. I urge other workers and young people to do as I did and write in to the website, and make the decision to build socialism.
Music teacher, Wicklow, Ireland. WSWS reader since 2008
9 April 2013
Throughout my adult life I have always considered myself a socialist. It was very much a part of my family tradition. My father had fought hard in the 30s on the streets of Dublin against the Blueshirts which were a Catholic fascist organisation which tried to overthrow the then Fianna Fail republican government. When I was in my twenties I read Marx and James Connolly, and joined the SWP which was a small group in Ireland in the 70s and 80s.
I was a shop steward for many years and was blacklisted on two occasions and found it hard to get work. Whatever the shortcomings of the SWP at the time I believed that they at least stood for a number of principled positions. In short, they championed the working class and I believed that they were seeking a revolutionary transition to socialism, and they would not sell out workers and their struggles as the Labour party had done.
Because I was blacklisted, and possibly through demoralization, I drifted out of the SWP but I still considered myself a socialist and a revolutionary.
In 2007, at the beginning of the capitalist crisis and banking crash in Ireland, I decided to get stuck into some activity which would advance the cause of the working class. I believed (very naively I must add) that as the crisis of capitalism unfolded, groups such as the SWP or SP would offer a lead to working class people and fight to put the struggle for socialism on the agenda. How wrong can one be.
What now passed for the left was a couple of parliamentary representatives (Joe Higgins from the Socialist Party and Richard Boyd Barrett, SWP) who made it perfectly clear with every public statement that capitalism needed to be regulated and reformed into a “fairer” system.
Indeed, constant meetings with the troika (the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) on a regular basis and the constant use of nationalist terminology such as “our nation” and “the way forward for Ireland” reinforced a number of conclusions that I formed from watching them in action.
Firstly, they had dropped the struggle for socialism and trying to raise workers’ consciousness like a hot potato. Out went Marx, out went Trotsky, and in came the most horrible opportunism to get a few votes at election time. The gallop to the right to me was astonishing. These people were now part of the establishment.
But the second thing which struck me was that for these so-called socialists to betray the working class and the historic fight for socialism, something rotten and very twisted must have been running through them from the very beginning. How could organizations such as the SWP and SP end up as they are now? How could they end up making alliances with bourgeois politicians, and meeting the troika to discuss managing capitalism a little better?
It only became clear to me after reading the WSWS and investigating the politics of the ICFI. The disgusting move to parliamentary nationalism and Labourism must have been rooted in their false and fake politics and their split from the international Trotskyist movement.
The WSWS outlined in great detail how these groups served the interests of a middle layer in society which is hostile to any genuine international workers’ fight against capitalism. At first quite naively I thought it was an Irish phenomenon, but these groups internationally now accept capitalism and have become totally counterrevolutionary and hostile to the struggle for socialism.
The WSWS must be congratulated and supported in its coverage of the fight against the capitalist system and in its coverage of the sell-outs of the fake left. A fake left which has abandoned the working class with its half-truths and lies. A fake left which has made its peace with capitalism.
I only began reading the WSWS five years ago. I wish now it had been 15 years ago. It’s a brilliant and truthful website.
Los Angeles, California, USA. WSWS reader since 2009
8 April 2013
I began reading the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) in early May 2009, at the urging of my fiancé. In the beginning of our relationship, we had many long arguments about politics; I was a staunch Republican and he was a socialist. I finally gave in to him and began reading the site. At first I totally resisted the class approach of the articles. I come from a solid middle class, Catholic background with parents who rose to a level of affluence significantly above their parents. I struggled to understand bourgeois ideology and class warfare and attributed my own—and others’— financial setbacks to individual failing and weakness.
By the beginning of 2010, the WSWS was increasingly becoming my go-to source for news and information because I realized that the WSWS and its reporters are the only news source that presents the most thoroughly investigated and politically accurate stories.
I was especially impressed by the WSWS coverage of the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In the coverage of that event and its aftermath, I found that the WSWS was the only site that was providing accurate accounts and analysis of the devastation. Through those articles, I really began to understand the powerful social forces behind the destruction of the environment, the control of natural resources and the subjugation of the working class to the financial elite.
That was the beginning of my turn to socialism as the way forward for working people. Compelled by the continuing economic decline, I started submitting my own articles for publication and I eventually applied for membership in the Socialist Equality Party.
I cannot bring myself to imagine the fate of the working class if the WSWS ceased to exist. That is why I support the website with a monthly donation.
Sales assistant, Wicklow, Ireland. WSWS reader since 2011
8 April 2013
I was introduced to Marxism in my 20s by my future husband. Coming from a working class Catholic family I was always aware of Catholic oppression and the unequal capitalist society. Even though my introduction came from the SWP [Socialist Workers Party, UK], I was able to weed out the real politics of the fake left groups only by coming across the WSWS and the politics of the ICFI. They are the only party that has upheld the struggle for socialism and internationalism.
I have learned that the trade unions and their nationalist spokespeople in parliament have no part to play in the struggle of the working class. The Irish working class are suffering and forced to live in poverty and pay for the reckless gambling of the ruling elite. The Irish working class will learn from the struggles of the working class worldwide. From reading the WSWS my ideas have changed drastically. I am now clearer on the need to build a truly world party to struggle for socialism. A Trotskyist party which tells the truth to working people is now an utmost priority. The WSWS offers a guiding force which offers real hope for future struggles against capitalism.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. WSWS reader since 2011
6 April 2013
I started reading the WSWS in 2011 after seeing a poster and attending a conference called “The Fight for Socialism Today” in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was 3 years out of college and had just moved back to my home state after quitting my job installing computer hardware for a huge corporate IT firm in Chicago, where I had begun my career in July 2008, just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers. That process had been very politicizing for me. Chicago is a very unequal city, and I was able to get a close look at both very impoverished areas as well as sit in on corporate meetings in lavish offices where high-level managers and executives made very shrewd money-based decisions. My company soon laid off thousands of workers and forced speedup and longer hours on myself and the veteran workers that hadn’t yet lost their jobs. Some of our clients were huge banks that I could see were responsible for ruining the economy. I felt culpable just by participating in the system.
The situation literally made me sick, but I didn’t have an understanding of how it all worked. I was absolutely desperate to behave in a socially conscionable way, but was utterly confused about what was to be done. I initially became interested in identity politics and protest politics. To me it was all a moral problem, and people’s subjective ideas had to change first and foremost. And though I didn’t recognize it at the time, I had a thoroughly post-modernist outlook.
Enter the SEP and the WSWS. They really had their work cut out for them with me!
I was very impressed with the news articles on the website from the beginning. No one else seemed to be paying such close attention to the crisis from every angle. But I was very critical of their attitudes toward identity politics, and toward the trade unions, who I naively believed were the representatives of workers. I began attending ISSE [now IYSSE] meetings, but was very combative. Somehow these guys were the best news source around, but their whole approach seemed stubborn and unrealistic to me. Didn’t they realize that most people weren’t ready for such radical ideas? That they had to meet the masses at their current level of understanding? That to denounce identity politics and the unions would turn off huge sections of youth who had been brought up to support these things? Couldn’t they work with other liberal and left groups instead of criticizing them?
What I lacked—and what the website and certain indefatigable party members were finally able to help me attain—were a class perspective, a knowledge of history, and an understanding of dialectical materialism.
The perspectives throughout Obama’s campaign and first term were of immense importance, as here was the quintessential example of the bankruptcy of identity politics in action. The coverage of Occupy Wall Street, the explanation of the class forces at work, was another instructive episode. I had very high hopes in Occupy at first, but quickly saw the WSWS perspectives coming true. Also important was the coverage of the Quebec student strike. I was able to follow it in real time from beginning to end and watch as the WSWS warned presciently of the betrayals being prepared, and analyzed the perspectives of those leading the strike. And a number of articles on union betrayals here in the US were critical for me. I could see the class analysis of the WSWS being vindicated over and over again, like clockwork. Without the consistent and scientific stance of the WSWS I would not have been able to make sense of these events.
I also especially appreciate whenever a WSWS reporting team interviews workers on the street, on strike, locked out of a factory, etc, and provides their photos and quotes of their own words, what they themselves think of their situation, and how they respond to respectful, patient and truthful points made by reporters. One such article that moved me followed up on a police massacre of a mentally ill homeless man who had stolen a cup of coffee in Saginaw, Michigan. The working class is much better than they are portrayed in the mainstream media.
David Walsh’s social commentaries—recent examples include the shooting death of a bus driver in Alabama, and the Steubenville rape case—explain how individual consciousness flows from objective conditions. It may sound cliché, but these stories and many others really restored my faith in humanity. No other news source is capable of this type of compassionate—and correct!—analysis, because no one else proceeds according to dialectical materialism, from the really existing world to its reflection in the minds of individuals. Post-modern quackery about conflicting “narratives” explains nothing and only serves to confuse.
I could really go on and on. I feel like I’ve hardly scratched the surface of the value of the website in this short essay. The art, music and film reviews have completely changed the way I appreciate and assess art, and I’m happy to have been able to contribute some of my own writing to this section of the site. No other publication attempts to put art in its complete historical trajectory and consider it as the most complicated and sensitive part of culture, the cognition of life in images. The recent article on George Bellows is outstanding, but there are many others.
Essentially, without the WSWS and the ICFI, my correct feelings about the rotten state of society would still be misdirected into this or that safe channel while the ruling class continues its counterrevolution unimpeded. Instead, I’m working hard to build political consciousness in workers and youth, and myself, to fight for a permanent socialist revolution, equality, the end of war. … It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of what the ICFI and WSWS are doing for the future of human society.
Greek, living in London, UK. WSWS reader since 2003
5 April 2013
I started reading the WSWS regularly in 2003. More than anything else, I was attracted by its internationalist perspective which was openly declared as a matter of principle. I was born in Greece a few years after the Second World War and as I was growing up I gradually realised how nationalism was only the other side of the coin to religious obscurantism, backwardness and the impoverishment of large sections of the working class (not to mention its disorientation by the Stalinist left!).
All this was, of course, consolidated and formed the basis of my political education during the seven years of rule of the colonels’ junta (1967-1974). As the junta ended I became a supporter of the Workers Internationalist League (the Greek section of the International Committee of the Fourth International at the time). It might seem a bit ridiculous now, but the main reason for my support for the WIL was that it was the only left party that did not have the word “Greece” in its title.
However, during the 1985-86 split the WIL walked away from the ICFI confirming that it had a nationalist outlook like any other Greek political party. In the years that followed I tried several times to understand the significance of these events.
In 1989, I relocated with my family to the UK. Even though I stopped being actively involved in politics, I tried to educate myself by reading the Marxist classics. I particularly enjoyed re-reading Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution and the way he uses the materialist approach to effortlessly transform seemingly chaotic events into a majestic panorama of the masses rushing onto the stage of history.
The WSWS is using the same method to analyse and make sense of the events in politics, art, science and much more from the standpoint of the defence of the historical interests of the working class. In recent years the coverage of workers’ struggles has been expanded with on-site reporting, videos, interviews etc. which prompts many readers and supporters to write back with their own comments and views. I find this of great interest and I hope that eventually all workers’ struggles across all continents will get the same detailed coverage. This would then be the first time that the great theoretical discovery of Marx and Engels about the independent role of the working class as an international class in the transition to socialism would be documented on a worldwide scale.
As we enter the new epoch of struggles of the working class it is increasingly clear that this is truly a vast project. There is every reason to be confident that the WSWS and the ICFI have everything that it takes to carry forward this task. Their long history in defence of revolutionary Marxism against all kinds of revisionism, opportunism and nationalism has made possible the current WSWS project which will make abundantly clear to all and sundry the immense power of the working class, the bedrock upon which its world party is being built.
Student, Lower Columbia College, Portland, Oregon, USA. WSWS reader for seven months
4 April 2013
Less than a year ago as a recently ex-Libertarian, I read Marx and Engels seriously for the first time. Soon I was reading Lenin (and coming up on the boundary of my ability to understand Marxism on my own) and determined that if I was serious about this, I would need to join a party to put it in practice and further develop my consciousness. I did what any young and naïve person might do and sought out the Communist Party, USA. When I began reading their newspaper, People’s Daily World, I was struck by the incessant cheerleading for Obama and the Democratic Party in the election. This was not an organization I wanted to be involved in. I first came across the Socialist Equality Party in a campaign video showing Jerry White in Findlay standing with workers and outlining the basis of his candidacy and principled politics, to which I was very attracted. I was moved by the way he spoke bluntly and truthfully about the issues facing both the American and international working classes. This is how I came to read the World Socialist Web Site.
Reading the WSWS was a watershed moment in my development as a Marxist. It was like uncovering a treasure trove of smart analysis, clear perspectives, objective reporting, and pointed commentary. It was almost too good to be true and I was skeptical at first that such a resource could really exist. The WSWS really is that good though. Their eye toward the context in which events occur guides their analysis, a feature lacking in virtually every major news source. The ability to put out such a high quality publication truly speaks to the power of the perspectives behind it. It was through the WSWS and SEP that I first encountered the life and ideas of Leon Trotsky. The WSWS was and continues to be absolutely essential to my development as a Marxist, as it has been for so many people, especially young people like me. This is a testament to the great foresight displayed by the ICFI in undertaking this project 15 years ago.
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA. WSWS reader since 2001
3 April 2013
The World Socialist Web Site is literally the first thing I do every morning upon waking up. Before I even get out of bed I scan the headlines and usually read an article or two. Then, with my first cup of coffee, I usually read another article. Only after this do I feel adequately inoculated to read, watch, or listen to the bourgeois perspective oozing out of every pore of the mainstream press.
Having discovered wsws.org in the days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, I found that it was the only media outlet that provided a sensible explanation of this historic turning point in world history. The editorial board correctly and accurately predicted at the time that the response of the American ruling class would be to seize upon this horrific crime, whoever was behind its planning and execution, to pursue a policy of US military hegemony in the Middle East in an attempt to seize resources, counter the rising influence of China in the region, and offset the historic decline of the post-WWII American economic powerhouse.
The Democratic Party would fall in lock-step behind the Bush administration to show solidarity with the blood-thirsty aspirations of the American ruling class. The pseudo-left would lead the anti-war movement down the dead end of the two-party bourgeois political system. The unions would assist in that effort to ensure no organized response from the working class would be possible.
No other publication in the world could make such statements, since completely vindicated by the events of history. And these were made in the days immediately after September 11th, 2001! These are not statements that were made in hindsight but in foresight.
How is wsws.org able to do that? The answer is in the perspective of Marxism, on display in every article on the website everyday.
I support wsws.org with a monthly contribution because I understand I can’t get analysis of this level of quality and integrity anywhere else. In an era in which the ruling classes of the world are systematically lowering the living standards of billions of people and the major powers are on the verge of a global military conflict with dire consequences for humanity, this perspective becomes more important with each passing day. Join me and support the World Socialist Web Site now with your contributions and your support.
UK. Daily WSWS reader since 2011
3 April 2013
When I was at university I became involved with the British Socialist Worker Party (SWP). Even then I found the SWP’s paper lacked any real substantive commentary or analysis, consisting of simple and often banal reflections on extremely serious events that I felt required a much deeper analysis than was ever offered.
In the final year of my undergraduate degree, while writing my dissertation on Lenin and the Bolsheviks, I was lucky enough to be in contact with an SEP member who advised me to read Trotsky’s opus, The Revolution Betrayed. I found this gave me a deep insight into the revolution, but more importantly, the degeneration of the Soviet Union under Stalinism.
Around the same time I was also advised to start reading the WSWS. Initially I read a few articles, but over the next year and half my interest grew substantially. It provided a reasoned and well constructed analysis, in a readable and accessible way but without being reductive, generalised or over-simplified.
The WSWS was a central reference point to the events of 2011 including the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa, the riots across the UK and the Occupy movement. It showed the relation they had to the global capitalist system, their historic foundations and the perspective required to unify the international proletariat.
During my postgraduate study in Modern History I took a far deeper interest in the Russian Revolution. In Defense of Leon Trotsky by David North, which I had first discovered on the WSWS, and several other lectures and articles on the site were very helpful in grounding my academic study as well as my political outlook. I read The Historical and International Foundations of the Socialist Equality Party (the US and UK versions) which gave me a fantastic understanding of the heritage of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI).
I have now finished my Masters. I’ve become more and more involved with the ICFI and since 2011 have read the WSWS on a daily basis. I’ve found it to be the most important, up-to-date and reliable news source available and highly recommend it. By using the Internet over the last fifteen years the ICFI has given a far greater scope of exposure to its revolutionary perspective.
Michigan, USA. WSWS reader for seven months
3 April 2013
I read the WSWS because it tells the truth. It doesn’t matter what section of the website you’re on, or who wrote what article, every single thing published is honest. I’ve read a lot of disgraceful material from other so-called “leftist” groups, and have found that, over time, their articles have gotten more and more reactionary, more and more politically correct. I’m proud to say that the WSWS is my main news source because educating people and raising a higher consciousness among the working class is the only way to get a true proletariat revolution underway. Reading the WSWS is important for any person because there is no awareness or definite facts that can be known without the WSWS to abolish the misconceptions the capitalists throw at us. The ruling elite seeks to keep us held down by ignorance. The WSWS is our biggest weapon against this.
The WSWS is necessary for any goals that we, as Marxists and Trotskyists, may have. The liberation of the working class cannot be obtained without it.
Canadian university student. WSWS reader since 2011
1 April 2013
The WSWS was first brought to my attention in January 2011. A friend of mine had suggested that I read the site because, unlike the mainstream liberal media and other “left”-wing sources, the WSWS critiqued the Obama administration from a principled, left-wing perspective.
As a high school student in the mid-2000s, I had read the Communist Manifesto and I had a rudimentary knowledge of historical materialism. Although I read widely and I considered myself “left-wing,” my political perspective lacked any coherence. The lack of a lucid, systemic political perspective made itself abundantly clear in the reformist policies that I uncritically embraced. Until as recently as early 2011, I believed that reformist measures like proportional representation would be enough to sufficiently change the system. That, however, changed with the eruption of the “Arab Spring” in January 2011.
My first response to the revolutionary convulsions in the Middle East was perhaps similar to the reaction of many members of the ostensible “left” in North America. My naïve evaluation of the historical events unfolding in the Arab world could be summed up in this simple phrase: “How lovely! Everyone wants a peaceful transition to representative democracy!” This opinion, widely held amongst many of my “progressive” colleagues, was identical to the bilge that was spewed out by bourgeois media outlets. With the onset of civil war in Libya, however, my views changed.
At first, I uncritically embraced the “analysis” that was promulgated in the bourgeois press. The Libyan people were, after all, being butchered in the streets according to the New York Times. Lacking a rational, systemic, and scientific method of analyzing the events in Libya, I accepted the official propaganda. It was upon my reading of the WSWS, however, that I finally realized how hollow my existing views were. The WSWS pointed out correctly that the NATO “humanitarian intervention” in Libya was just another imperialist war for plunder and for a means to project imperialist power in a region that was rapidly heading in a direction contrary to the aims of Washington, Berlin et al.
Two years later, the results have vindicated the WSWS’ principled position. Contrary to other “left” sources, the WSWS never failed to point out the class nature of the Libyan bourgeois uprising. The WSWS’ adherence to Marxist analysis allows it to see past the smoke and mirrors of the bourgeois press and, ultimately, get to the root of history as it unfolds.
The breadth of content on the site is unparalleled. I have been particularly impressed not only by the coverage of geo-political and macro-economic events, but also by the coverage of the arts, philosophy, and science. The arts in particular are vilified as, to quote one of my bourgeois acquaintances, “nothing more than a hobby.” The fact that the WSWS actually covers the arts, and not just “Entertainment,” helps to underscore the fact that contrary to the philistine attitude cultivated by the Stalinists, true socialists are not anti-arts.
While the tone of the WSWS is, to borrow David North’s words, “blunt, uncompromising, and unforgiving,” the coverage is always of the highest calibre. It never fails to analyse the objective conditions on which our socio-economic and political systems rest. I have found the tone of the WSWS to be refreshing, especially when contrasted with bastions of liberal hypocrisy and sophistry like the New York Times in America or The Globe and Mail in Canada. Mainstream bourgeois media outlets feign objectivity, perhaps as a façade for their class orientation; there is, however, no need for the WSWS to feign objectivity, for, to borrow the words of Karl Marx, they, “disdain to conceal their views and aims.” For me personally, the WSWS has played an inestimable role in the development of my political perspective and I would like to commend the International Committee of the Fourth International for their admirable work.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. WSWS reader since 2010
1 April 2013
I came across the World Socialist Web Site after having spent the 2008 and 2010 election cycles working for the Democratic Party—the latter cycle as a full-time staff member for a statewide candidate.
After the election of Obama, for whom I voted in my first election as an eligible voter, I noted with consternation the administration’s enthusiastic continuation of the policies of the Bush administration. Candidate Obama reneged on his cynical promises to end the wars and dismantle the anti-democratic national security apparatus, and furthermore, his administration oversaw a massive transfer of wealth from the working class to the banks and corporations. This permanently shook my faith in the Democrats, in the Democratic campaign for which I was working at the time, and in the politics of the capitalist class.
I began reading the WSWS in late 2010 after seeing a flyer for the Socialist Equality Party on my college campus. Immediately, I recognized the principled, historical focus which the website takes to current events and the arts. Conditioned by the corporate media that I was used to reading, I was initially shocked by the honest approach that the WSWS takes to political and other issues. Though credit for the content and management of the website belongs with the editorial board and with the dozens of talented contributors to the WSWS, the true strength of the website lies in its class foundation—it stands as the only major news source which puts the world around us in a working class perspective.
And how important is that perspective, as imperialism spreads its tentacles around Western Africa and as the events in South Africa, Egypt, Greece, Spain, and elsewhere have vindicated Leon Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution?
The events of the past years have made clear that the only way forward for the working class is to develop socialist consciousness and unite under the banner of international socialist revolution.
That is why the work of the World Socialist Web Site is so important in developing the world socialist revolution. The website is more than a discussion group of the most important issues of the day, it is the political organ of the world proletariat.
In a similar pre-revolutionary period, Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Party, posed the following question to those who doubted the historical importance of the party organ:
“[W]hen bricklayers lay bricks in various parts of an enormous unprecedentedly large structure, is it ‘paper’ work to use a line to help them find the correct place for the bricklaying; to indicate to them the ultimate goal of the common work; to enable them to use, not only every brick, but even every piece of brick which, cemented to the bricks laid before and after it, forms a finished, continuous line? And are we not now passing through precisely such a period in our Party life when we have bricks and bricklayers, but lack the guideline for all to see and follow?”
Former psychiatric nurse and building worker, Scotland
1 April 2013
I see the WSWS as being the educator and organiser of the working class for world socialist revolution. I think it is a very good web site; the best there is. What struck me when I first saw it was that it was a world socialist website. I have always based myself on an internationalist outlook.
I particularly like the economics articles by Barry Grey and Nick Beams because I have a lot of difficulty understanding the financial aspect of imperialism and capitalism. Also I find it very uplifting to read about socialist activity in other parts of the world like Sri Lanka and Australia. I have never come across such a detailed analysis of where capitalism has taken us in the last few decades and where we are heading.
The first time I got involved in anything political was when I was working as a nurse in Montrose. I started up a union there. Afterwards I moved to London, where I joined the Labour Party, but following its wholesale capitulation to the bourgeoisie during the 1980s miners’ strike, I left and joined the Workers Revolutionary Party (WRP). I took part in a few activities such the “Release the Jailed Miners” march but drifted away during the crisis that erupted in 1985.
After a while, back in Dundee, I came across a seller of the Workers Press (newspaper of Cliff Slaughter’s WRP). I became involved in the Dundee Committee for a United Ireland and the Timex strike, which consisted of supporting the nationalists in Sinn Fein and trying to find “lefts” in the Labour Party.
I also supported the WRP’s Workers Aid for Bosnia, but I had my reservations. It ended up siding with Croatia’s Tudjman. I felt there should be unity of Yugoslav workers to overthrow the regimes of Tudjman and Milosevic but there was no turn to the working class. It was the WSWS that opened up my eyes to what I hadn’t seen … about Bosnia, the bombing of Serbia, and the Kosovo Liberation Army, which Slaughter’s WRP supported.
It is the same with the entire website. It keeps us up to date with the world situation, the breakdown in Europe, the situation in America—the biggest capitalist country in the world, offsetting its demise by military means. It is very important what happens there, and in Africa—the scramble for Africa—and the conflict between China and Japan.
Greek living in the UK. WSWS reader since 2003
28 March 2013
I was introduced to the WSWS in 2003 by my father who was already a reader and had been a member of the Greek section of the International Committee of the Fourth International before the split in 1986. The article he showed me was about a recent mathematical discovery. This made a pleasant change from mainstream left publications such as the Socialist Worker, which had always struck me as shallow and wishy-washy.
It was also during this period that I became radicalised by the war in Iraq and participated in campaigning for the anti-war protests organised by the Stop The War Coalition. I harboured the illusion, following the two-million strong protest on 15 February 2003, that if that momentum was maintained, the illegal decision to go to war could be overturned. In the end, like many others, I grew disappointed with the leadership of the Stop The War Coalition.
The analysis by the WSWS, however, offered a different, more devastating perspective. According to the WSWS, the decision to unwind the anti-war protests was a conscious decision by the leadership of the various radical organisations within the Stop The War Coalition which sought to steer the movement into harmless channels while at the same time vying for positions within the periphery of the establishment in return for this service. The launching of the Respect coalition and the state-funded European Social Forum were cases in point. What also intrigued me about the WSWS’s analysis of the Iraq war was the fact that it placed it within a wider objective context, that is, the crisis of world capitalism and the decline of the United States as an economic power.
Since then I have become an avid reader of the website and am always impressed by the breadth and depth of its content. Its economic analyses in particular surpass the best of what the bourgeois media has to offer. If anyone acts as a tribune for the working class and oppressed masses of this world then it is the WSWS. Like Ernest Everhard in Jack London’s The Iron Heel, it doesn’t merely question the elite’s morality, but “menaces their money-bags” by exposing their historical bankruptcy.
Finally, the WSWS has offered me a different take on what genuine internationalism means. Having grown up in 1980s Greece, I was subjected to a fierce nationalism and parochialism that I found difficult to shake when I moved with my family to the UK in 1990. Eventually I grew fond of London’s cosmopolitanism and preferred to observe Greece from afar. Hence, while I have always been genuinely interested in historical questions dealing with the Greek class struggle, this felt uncomfortable when it became more than an academic interest, since from a personal standpoint it felt like taking a step backwards. The crisis in Greece has, however, underscored in my mind that such efforts are necessary if one is to build a genuine internationalism in the working class that has a firm footing beyond a vague appeal to solidarity. As part of this effort I have been twice to Greece with a WSWS reporting team to help with translating, have assisted in the WSWS coverage of Greece by translating material from the Greek press used in articles and, with my father, have also translated David North’s In Defence of Leon Trotsky into Greek.
Student, USA. WSWS reader since 2008
28 March 2013
I became a regular reader of the WSWS in 2008 (my senior year of high school) while looking for sources related to a school project. Before finding the website I identified myself as a socialist and had read a number of Marx’s writings. Instantly I became intrigued by the articles on protests in Greece since they had been given little to no attention in mainstream media at that time.
However, when I initially found the website I felt an extreme skepticism and disagreement with numerous positions being put forward. My sharpest disagreements were with the rejection of the trade unions as workers’ organizations, and the ICFI’s critique of national separatist movements. I started to study these questions based on articles posted on the WSWS and attending meetings of the SEP. Very quickly I began to find myself in agreement with the WSWS’s analysis.
All of my political experiences have confirmed the perspectives posted on the WSWS. One example of this took place during a brief visit to England where I witnessed a strike for the first time. It was a pitiful one-day strike of Royal Mail workers that left several major cities unaffected. While I was there I witnessed a high-ranking Communication Workers Union official being interviewed by a reporter. After the cameras were turned off I was amazed by the kind of things the official was saying to the reporter. One line that has been embedded in my memory was “Management loves us, it is the workers that hate us.” Later that day I witnessed a leading member of the UK Socialist Workers Party drop everything he was doing to shake hands with this union official.
No other news source has provided an analysis so extensively confirmed by the experiences of the past five years. This has been confirmed by everything from the right-wing policies of the Obama administration, the unions in South Africa supporting a government that has massacred workers, and the failure of the formation of South Sudan to bring about peace.
I would like to thank the ICFI and all those contributing to the WSWS for helping shape my political development. You have helped clarify both historical and recent experiences to me, and grounded my thoughts in reality. I congratulate the WSWS on its 15 years, and hope to see it last until capitalism is abolished from the face of the earth.
Recent university graduate from Newcastle, Australia
27 March 2013
I was born and raised in the city of Newcastle Australia, and my family have always been Labor voters, believing the Labor Party to be the lesser of two evils. In this vein I followed suit and voted for Kevin Rudd in 2007, my first experience voting in an election. My main concern was for the gross levels of inequality facing Aboriginal people and refugees across Australia, and it was on these platforms that I cast my vote.
The months and years rolled on from when Kevin Rudd was elected and not only did his government continue the attack on these oppressed people, it sharpened the assault. This illustrated clearly to me the hypocrisy of Rudd’s apology to the Aboriginal people and the complete contempt the government had towards those in the lowest socio-economic levels in society.
This mentality was confirmed internationally in the response of governments in the developed countries around the world to the global financial crisis. The detest I witnessed by governments for the most oppressed levels of society, through the bailing out of those responsible for the crisis on the backs of the people who were most deeply affected by it, revealed to me the repugnant nature of the system we were living in. I began to search for alternatives.
I heard on the radio a shock-jock calling Australia a “socialist” country and this sparked my interest. What was socialism and how was Australia a socialist country? I looked up the definition of the political ideology of socialism and found an outline of what socialism was, which concluded that it “only works in theory”. This frustrated me. I thought “how can it be that society can be crumbling and the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer and the one progressive political ideology, whose foundations are based in social equality, be but a theory to be forgotten”? “There must be,” I concluded “a party that fights for this social change.”
I had previously met the Socialist Alliance at the University of Newcastle. I had signed up to their mailing list in 2008, but had found them deplorable. I could not fathom their lack of organisation and complete jumping from protest to protest with no clear line. This, I concluded, is no way to form a system of reorganising society.
Within this context I encountered the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) at the University of Newcastle campus in 2010. Far from stating that socialism was merely a failed “theory”, the party explained to me that socialism is in fact the only option for the working class. The party outlined to me that Aboriginal people and refugees were part of the working class and their struggle was bound up in the class struggle, not the road of “identity politics”. Far from the disorganisation I witnessed in the Socialist Alliance, the SEP was a disciplined organ of the International Committee of the Fourth International. This discipline and organisation was made most evident to me in the premier journalistic calibre of articles I read on the World Socialist Web Site.
The website provided me with clarification on the topics that troubled me the most. I read some articles on the election of Rudd, such as “ Australian media uses Aurukun Aboriginal child rape case to push right-wing agenda ”. This gave me clarification over the historic class character of the Labor government and the agenda behind the Rudd government. I also read articles clarifying the necessity of minority groups to understand their class character and take up the struggle of the working class such as “ Australia: Inquest evidence shows Rudd government policies caused refugee deaths ” and “ Australian government sets new precedent in Aboriginal land grab ”. I also read many articles on the role of the pseudo-left groups and began to understand them as the enemies of the working class, who work consciously and perniciously to destroy the socialist movement.
Now, as we enter a period of wars and revolutions; while all governments internationally and domestically turn ever rightward in anticipation of the emerging social tensions; while the pseudo-left groups and unions unite with these governments against any proletarian movement, and military tensions escalate, the WSWS continues to provide the only voice for the working class and the essential lessons of the twentieth century, which the working class must study to break the shackles of capitalism and reshape the world on a socialist basis.
“Retired” teacher from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. WSWS reader since 2005
27 March 2013
I came of age in the ’60s (I am 64), and I was radicalized by the struggles of the era. I was in, out of and around left organizations for decades, and as a topical singer/songwriter performed for many of them. However, during all that time, persistent political questions nagged at me, and I could not find adequate answers in the milieu that I was in.
Due to my eclectic reading, I could rattle off the crimes of capitalism, but I could not come up with a way forward. My hopes kept being dashed by events in China, Chile, Nicaragua, the USSR and other countries, as well as in the US, where one protest or election after another resulted in official politics inexorably moving rightward. It seemed that leftism meant resigning oneself to repeated disappointment.
By the early 2000s I had joined the Greens, which made matters worse. (Just how do bike paths help the working class?) So in about 2005, out of frustration, I googled “socialist” on the Internet. After visiting a number of party and organization web sites, I happened upon the World Socialist Web Site.
Reading the WSWS was a revelation. It rejected wishful thinking, subjective impressions and word mincing for solid Marxist analysis based on a thorough knowledge of working-class history and the often painful lessons drawn from that history. Terms that I had previously dismissed as so much “rhetoric” were used with precision, clarity and seriousness. (How many times in the past had I heard the word “fascist” carelessly thrown about?) And what masterful writers!
It wasn’t an easy experience. For one thing, the subject of a criticism often bore a distinct resemblance to yours truly. And I had to digest the fact that people and organizations that I had known for years were—whatever their intentions—going down at best a dead-end street. But the WSWS coverage of events, its analyses, critiques and program were irrefutable.
And going through those invaluable archives clarified the aforementioned nagging issues.
Eventually I contacted the Socialist Equality Party and thus began a period of political education that will continue for the rest of my life. Although I regret coming to authentic Marxism and Trotskyism so late, I am glad that I finally did, and I have the WSWS to thank for that.
Washington, USA. WSWS reader since 1999
26 March 2013
I have been reading the WSWS since 1998 or 1999, and solidly since 2000. I found the site after someone had accused me of being a communist in the course of an online conversation and, in a pique, searched the keywords “socialism” and “America” so as to find out if there were any such things as American socialists anymore. I found a couple of sites, but only one which actually made sense, the WSWS.org.
The consistency of the reportage on events not just in America, but over the world was impressive. Things started falling into place—and some long-held beliefs were challenged and, ultimately, abandoned for the lies they were. Like many, I had been brought up to think that “there is power in a union”—and at first the coverage of the UAW in particular baffled me. It took about a year or so, but it finally sunk in, and I gained an understanding of what the UAW and trade unions in general represent.
In 1999/2000, I was in school, taking accounting courses as Enron was collapsing, and was a polling station official for the presidential election. These huge events would have been incredibly confusing were it not for the coverage of the WSWS. What looked to be just the evil deeds of a few in the case of Enron, and the machinations of one party over the other in the case of the election were clarified and shown to be parts of a larger picture; the breakdown of the capitalist system itself.
The only time I paused from reading the site was in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. That was a huge mistake. After a few months, I went back and read all I could get my hands on. Even in a time of such tragedy and reaction, the cooler heads of the editorial board prevailed—“ Anti-Americanism, the anti-imperialism of fools ” ranks as one of the best articles ever—giving a much-needed clarity to a complex subject and flying in the face of the sharp right turn being taken by the pseudo-left.
I have read a lot of supposedly “left” publications over the years. The Nation, Z Magazine, etc. I’ve also read the ISO’s Socialist Worker site from time to time. There is no comparison—where the WSWS can point to a record of principled analysis that has been borne out on the testing ground of history, the others are subject to the whims of whatever prevailing wind blows.
This record is something we can and do point to when talking to workers about the conditions under which we are living—the questions of how and why our living standards are falling are answered—what’s more, the question of What Is To Be Done is answered.
Postal delivery worker, southern England, UK. WSWS reader since 2008
26 March 2013
The World Socialist Web Site has been the single most important influence on my political development. It overturned my initially idealist outlook on society and politics and fostered my interest in art and culture. Before reading the website I had nothing but an instinct of being working class, sentiments against social inequality and oppression and a vague sense that a socialist revolution was necessary, although I had no idea how this was to be done. The only reading I had done up to that point was the Communist Manifesto.
I began reading the WSWS in my first year at Sussex University in 2008 after coming into contact with the International Students for Social Equality (ISSE). The first thing that attracted me was the way the WSWS uncompromisingly speaks for the interests of the working class and provides the way forward by raising its political consciousness. There was nothing else providing the depth, seriousness and socialist perspective given by the WSWS.
I feel the greatest impact the WSWS had on me was demonstrating socialism as an objective necessity. It explained that with each deepening of the capitalist crisis, the working class is driven further into struggle. However, revolutionary leadership is required to reach a progressive solution.
The WSWS puts to death all the claims that Marxism is irrelevant and dogmatic, and exposes its opponents as the dogmatists, who either have no clue or lie through their teeth.
In 2009 I joined the Socialist Equality Party and began building the ISSE at Sussex. The WSWS’s many articles helped counter the post-modernism and anti-Marxism that was rife throughout the courses (which are often dressed up as Marxist) and which found expression amongst students. Many of the figures dealt with in the philosophical polemics and essays were promoted in various ways at Sussex.
I am excited by the 15th anniversary and the opportunity it provides me to review everything that has come before I started reading just over five years ago. I am proud to be able to write for the WSWS today.
I still find amazing the far-sightedness that was shown in founding the website. Back in 1998 my family did not have a computer let alone internet access. Today I am able to read the website on my phone whenever I have time and where ever I am. I feel the whole ethos of the website captures the internationalism of our movement both in terms of its accessibility, its worldwide coverage and the work and collaboration that goes into it.
Retired maths tutor, London University. WSWS reader since 2012
25 March 2013
I discovered the World Socialist Website about a year ago from another site which linked to a WSWS article. Since then I have treated it as my daily newspaper. I do this mostly for two reasons: its choice of topics on which to report and its often cogent analysis of the issues relating to those topics. In particular, I often enjoy the perspectives, which are the WSWS equivalent of the editorials in a newspaper. In newspapers, I usually avoid the editorials because they mostly consist of subjective opinion unsupported by reasoned argument. The WSWS perspectives, however, typically offer a coherent analysis of the issues and events under discussion, placing them in a wider context, thus enabling the reader to see them as part of a bigger picture.
More specifically, the website helped to cement my growing radicalism, strengthening my views that there is no possibility of recovering social democracy in western countries and that the only solution to the continuing attacks on workers’ living standards and the erosion of welfare states is a social revolution undertaken by the working class on a global basis. What the website has helped to clarify for me is that the attacks on working class (and many middle class) peoples’ living standards and welfare are a global phenomenon, and that trade unions, far from defending their members against these attacks, are cooperating with corporations and states in furtherance of them.
Prior to reading this site I was unaware that some political groups which began as supporters of Trotsky have repudiated his analysis of the character of western capitalism and the possibility of working class revolution against it, continuing to do so even when the current historical circumstances show his views to be increasingly relevant.
An important feature of the WSWS is its often in-depth coverage of strikes, frequently highlighting the extent to which the unions involved call off and undermine militant actions endorsed by the members, leading to the collapse of effective opposition against attacks on workers’ wages, living conditions and jobs. A case in point was the coverage of the recent New York City school bus drivers’ strike. The union leadership did everything it could to undermine the effectiveness of the strike, finally calling it off without even holding a members’ meeting. The detailed and sympathetic coverage of the bus drivers’ fight and the reasons for their action, as well as the eventually vindicated predictions of union betrayal were noted by many bus drivers. When, as usual, the workers are vilified in the mainstream media, denied the opportunity to voice legitimate complaints against unjust treatment by their employers and finally betrayed by the very organisations whose supposed purpose is to defend their interests, those workers need both a voice to speak on their behalf and a channel of communication which allows them to speak directly to the public.
In this case, the WSWS provided both. About 50 bus workers met with a WSWS representative to discuss the way forward to defend their jobs and living standards. As a result the workers agreed to form a rank-and-file committee to organise future action and coordinate directly with other drivers and public sector workers in the city. This shows the importance of such coverage.
Spain. WSWS reader since 2006
25 March 2013
I came across the WSWS in 2006 when I was sixteen. I was already interested in socialism and had read a few of the easier works by Lenin and Marx. I believed in the unity of all revolutionary left forces and could not understand why there were so many divisions. At that time I disliked what I believed were sectarian articles criticising the role of other left forces.
With the eruption of the crisis in late 2007 I started reading more articles, specifically those on economy by Nick Beams and Barry Grey. I also read those on the Spanish Civil War. For me it was especially enlightening to learn that a revolution had taken place in Spain in 1936. My grandparents, who were too young to fight but vividly remembered the civil war, never spoke of the tragic events they lived through. Francoist repression meted out against workers had been so ruthless that even years after the general’s death, workers like my grandparents did not want to talk about politics, blocking future generations from their experiences.
At 18, I joined the Communist Party (PCE). I had clearly not learnt the lesson of the Spanish Revolution! Even then, I never fully believed in the PCE’s programme and perspective and its coalition with eco-socialists and separatist parties in the United Left (IU). I also felt disgusted by the portrayal of the defeat of the Left Opposition as a personality contest between Trotsky and Stalin.
I left in early 2009 coinciding with the party’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and attempts to convince me it was socialist. It was then that I bought my first bundle of socialist books from Mehring Books, and began discussions with members of the International Committee of the Fourth International, who patiently answered all my questions which I had accumulated over the years. I was recommended to read Felix Morrow’s Revolution and Counterrevolution in Spain, which contained a devastating exposure of the Popular Front, Stalinism, anarchism and the centrist leadership of the POUM whose roles opened the door to fascism.
I bought a ticket to Manchester for a conference on the European elections organised by the Socialist Equality Party (UK). Right away I saw the difference with other parties in the analysis of the economic crisis. David North spoke and warned that the crisis was not invented, episodic or just a financial crisis as many analysts where saying. He said there would be a sudden and very unexpected intervention of the masses.
Shortly after I returned to Spain I decided to join the ICFI.
A couple of years later, I bumped into a former PCE member and we started to discuss politics. This person, who had confused me politically when I first joined the PCE, was now incapable of convincing me with his pseudo-leftist jargon and contradictory arguments which had nothing to do with Marxism. It was then that I realised that the theoretical struggle waged by the ICFI against revisionism, opportunism and bourgeois nationalism was the heritage with which the youth will have to be trained in order to construct the World Revolutionary Party, the necessary instrument through which the working class will overthrow capitalism.
In Spain and internationally, the working class is being thrust into a political struggle against the entire capitalist order. The agenda of the ruling classes is leading to mass pauperisation, which has provoked thousands of militant protests and strikes. In each instance, the unions in collaboration with pseudo-left groups have intervened to divide, isolate and finally, defeat each strike. And in each instance, the WSWS has repeatedly warned that the only alternative was for workers to mobilise independently of the unions and reject the “no-politics” ideology promoted by the indignados and Occupy movements.
Above all the ICFI and the WSWS are the only ones who pose before the working class the urgent task of building a new political party and a new leadership.
Saskatchewan, Canada. WSWS reader for over a decade
23 March 2013
I discovered the pseudo-left during my university years. Their ubiquitous presence on campus complemented the “social justice” themes delivered in my classroom lectures. Being young, idealistic and inexperienced I found myself attracted by their magisterial pronouncements on peace and justice, and lured in by the promise that “activism” would cause political change. It was crude brainwashing—but I embraced it, as in so doing I got an instant philosophy, and instant political and social life.
All this came at a cost, however. I spent many years within a sterile mental box with all its putrid intellectual adaptations. It virtually guaranteed that my youthful “activism” amounted to nothing. It was pseudo-activism if anything and it certainly didn’t “change the world”—at least not for the better. And while I could cry when I think about these wasted years, I did learn a lot about the pseudo-left.
One thing I discovered was that when one group lied and betrayed you, there was always another one lined up to greet you and to restart the lying and betrayal process anew. A disillusioned New Democrat? Try the Waffle. Waffle’s got you down? Why not join the Greens? Greens not green enough? Then there’s the Red-Greens, the New Greens, the Deep Greens, Eco-feminism, Eco-anarchism, and so on and on.
By the time I stumbled upon the WSWS in the early 2000s, I felt politically defeated and just plain worn out. I was originally drawn to the website because it dealt with themes and issues that I recognized from my pseudo-left days; and just as importantly, the content was updated daily. I later found myself exploring the website, drawn to essays dealing with history and philosophy. I think that whether I realized it at the time or not, I was craving a larger and more stable philosophical perspective.
The WSWS essays delivered. They connected me to Enlightenment thinkers, and to the grand idea that reason could be used to define and advance human progress. Essay after essay explained the revolutionary impact of these ideas, their limitations, and how Marx built on and extended this tradition. Life was no longer just an arbitrary set of impressions. Instead, I stood grounded in larger historical and socio-political processes—processes that could be understood scientifically, used to “change the world”, and even *gasp* to produce revolutionary effects.
In short, I believe the WSWS played a key role in giving me what my university education denied: Access to my birthright—to a cultural heritage that includes powerful philosophical foundations firmly grounded in historical and material reality. My ivory-towered university profs could keep their goofy post-modern brain doodles. The WSWS helped me obtain a true liberal arts education.
These early readings set the stage for my next level of development. Philosophy might help a person understand the world, but what then? To this, Marx replied, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” And it is on this point that the WSWS truly shines.
Unlike the pseudo-left, the WSWS is truly up to something big. It takes a while, but after reading the website daily for many years, the implications on the size, scope and scale of this project eventually reveal itself: Bringing to life the largest, deepest, most widespread democracy that the world has ever known. The website calls workers to build a global government for working people and by working people.
It is a huge, wonderful project. Yet it is also fraught with danger and peril. The WSWS often warns its readers of the terrible violence that the ruling elites have rained down against any genuine democratic movement of the masses. The website patiently counsels that the only defense against these assaults has been a principled, disciplined and organized class resistance, led by a principled, disciplined and organized working class party.
The website also reveals the role of the pseudo-left and its agents: To introduce confusion and disorganization into the ranks. I know of this confusion, for I was part of it—and it is caustic, dirty and real.
In short, we are all involved in this ongoing and titanic struggle, whether we like it, want it, or not; and this is why I continue to read and study the WSWS every day.
South Orange, New Jersey, USA
22 March 2013
For a middle-aged person, it is encouraging to read the testimonials of so many young people whose political consciousness has clearly been awakened at a relatively early phase of their lives.
In my own political development and maturation, belated though it may be, nothing has played a more important role than wsws.org. I cannot remember exactly when or how I first started reading, but it must have been at some point during Obama’s first term.
Coming from a middle class American background, I was still in what I now consider my middle-class protest politics phase. I had long been aware that the two major capitalist parties serve the ruling class, but, I recognize in retrospect, I nevertheless bought into the reformist mentality of incremental change and lesser evilism. (I confess that I voted for Obama in 2008, even though I knew better!) As a child of the Cold War era, I had little more than a superficial knowledge of what socialism was. The far right, by preposterously calling Obama a socialist, aroused my curiosity as to what terms like socialism and Marxism really meant. It’s entirely possible that my first encounter with wsws.org was the result of a Google search for those very words.
In 2009 I was involved in the single-payer health care movement, and felt betrayed and deeply disgusted at the way most of the liberal establishment lined up behind Obama’s bogus reform legislation. In retrospect, I now see this as a pivotal moment: I was finally ready to break decisively with liberal and pseudo-left politics. When I stumbled upon wsws.org, I was struck by its penetrating insight and unrelenting honesty and bluntness.
Virtually everything I read here is enlightening, but I am especially grateful for the coverage of Obama’s drone assassination program and its wider implications. I’ve yet to see anything else on the Web that compares.
Through the World Socialist Web Site I discovered the Socialist Equality Party, and became an avid and active supporter. I began to learn about Marxism, both in theory and in practice. This learning process is of course a work in progress. But the web site has been instrumental in raising my political understanding and consciousness to a much higher level. I am confident that it will likewise continue to inform and inspire its ever-expanding readership to mobilize, so that we may carry out the difficult work required to bring civilization itself to a whole new level.
Michigan Opera Orchestra trombonist. WSWS reader since 2010
21 March 2013
I am always interested in news and opinion. I have a wide variety of sources from which I get information. The WSWS coverage during the Detroit Symphony strike was very interesting to me. It’s another viewpoint. I like that. You don’t get that kind of coverage in your traditional news programs. The Detroit Free Press barely covered the strike. It did not surprise me.
Your coverage of the role of the unions was a side I was somewhat surprised about. Because when I think of the socialist movement it is about workers. And when I think of the unions it is also about workers. And yet the socialist viewpoint was that the unions had failed the workers. And that’s a side that I hadn’t seen before.
I don’t always agree with the socialist viewpoint on that and I think the unions are in a tough place, and they are trying to survive as well. At the time [of the DSO strike] Gordon Stump was president of the musicians’ union. He was getting pressured from other unions. They were shocked that he would let this go on so long. They put pressure on him to settle this thing.
I am not with the Detroit Symphony. I am with the Michigan Opera Orchestra. And there didn’t seem to be a lot of talk between the two orchestras as far as the strike goes. I was very supportive of the symphony. I was there for all the strike. I was only one of several from our orchestra that was really involved in what was going on.
I think that for me, personally, it was very depressing to look at the kind of coverage they were getting locally. The Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, they were much more supportive of management’s side. They treated the musicians as if they were spoiled and getting far more money than other workers in Detroit were getting for what they thought was an easy schedule.
The WSWS was very supportive of the workers. I felt that our side was getting more fair coverage than from the other news sources in town. I would go to the website and I would first look at the coverage of the DSO. But then I would look around at other things that were happening. And there was a lot of coverage about things in general in Detroit: the homelessness, the fire department and people losing their houses because of inadequate money to pay these people to put out fires. It seems like there is a real Detroit connection to the website.
I kept reading and discussing during the time of the  elections. I would read what the WSWS would have on, let’s say, the inauguration. Then I would read the New York Times and see what their coverage was like, and then I would contrast the two and compare them.
On the inauguration, the New York Times article said, “Obama offers liberal vision, We must Act.” So they just went down with what happened that day. They included some of the salient points of his speech which was presenting this more liberal vision than what happened in the first four years of his presidency. Then it ends up talking about what Michelle Obama wore. That’s basically their coverage of it.
Then there is the WSWS. The headline is “ Inaugural demagogy ” and it doesn’t touch on who wore what, but it covers the point that Obama was speaking of these things he spoke of before and he has failed to deliver on. And he continues to talk one way and act in another way. There really wasn’t anything I could disagree with in the WSWS coverage. I can see all your points and the Times was more of a feel-good kind of coverage.
I consider myself a liberal and even more towards socialist than not. So I will watch MSNBC because they have their certain liberal viewpoint. But they totally embrace capitalism and the two-party system. And sometimes you watch these things just because if all I watched was Fox News, I think I would kill myself. You kind of gravitate toward your interests. So to feel good I will watch MSNBC. Or I will read the WSWS, because of the way I view things. I like to get sort of a balanced approach.
Right now in this country we are more of a two-party system and it is based on the capitalist system. I think the socialists do not embrace the capitalist system, they want to go with another system. What I am not getting is how this can come about. What I am getting is that the workers need to rise up and change things. And my next question is—how is that going to happen and how would this system work? Who is going to lead this? How will this transformation take place?
I think it is a positive perspective. It is a daunting task. I think back to my childhood, my education. My parents were both teachers in the public schools. And looking at my own education, I went through the public school system and we were all taught that the capitalist system was the finest system and this was the greatest country in the world. So I can see it is a tough task to get people to think another way.
I think that younger people are beginning to be more tolerant of alternatives. And that is a good sign. I think that things are getting more polarized in this country. The right has swung so far to the right that they talk about smaller and smaller government to the point where you can take it into the bathroom and drown it in the tub.
Everything has been shifting toward the right and we are losing a lot of the benefits that we expected we would have. They are talking about cuts to Social Security and cuts to Medicare. At work people are losing their health benefits.
It was so frustrating when initially they were talking about a public option for health care. As if that was a good possibility. Then all the talk was—it’s a nonstarter. It’s dead. We can’t do it. It was just so deflating. It made me feel terrible. I like the socialist approach. It made me feel more positive. I may actually be able to survive a little longer.
Teacher, central England, UK. WSWS reader since 2006
21 March 2013
I started reading the World Socialist Web Site after my girlfriend suggested that I take a look. I had previously been involved in anti-war marches, including the anti-Iraq march in 2003 and had been active in discussing its political impact with friends and fellow workers. When I first started reading the site I was impressed by the viewpoints expressed by the contributors and the breadth of subjects covered.
As a humanities teacher I was deeply affected by the socio-historical issues I was teaching to my pupils and became more and more aware of the politics surrounding injustices internationally. As I read articles on the website I was amazed by the depth of analysis that was available. I had visited other websites to compare the analysis and found nothing near to what the WSWS was offering.
I began to use articles from the archive to aid my teaching on Russia and the revolutions and shared articles with students on the unification of Germany and Hitler’s rise to power.
As a teacher of history I was interested in the provenance of text and sources in the school history books that I had been using and wanted to find analysis of the historical events that provided a fresh perspective. The majority of the texts that were used had quotes from historians like Richard Pipes and dare I say it Robert Service! The WSWS allowed me to include analysis that showed a completely different view that students would never have been aware of previously.
Beyond the historical aspect of the web site, I began to share articles with colleagues and discussed the impact of the union action on workers in the teaching profession. I shared an article: Britain: Government’s flagship academy schools failing with the entire teaching staff when a school I taught in had been forced to become an Academy. The response was extremely positive and many read the article and wanted to discuss it further. As a result, I began to become more involved with the Socialist Equality Party, taking part in interventions both in London at the Trades Union Congress in 2012 and in Cambridge where I interviewed workers and had the privilege of contributing to the web site.
In addition to the political articles that I was reading, I also became an avid reader of the arts reviews. The film reviews were excellent and I discovered films which I may have missed without the web site such as Frozen River and The Edukators. I also discovered the band Spoon and now have enjoyed four of their albums. The end of year reviews of both music and films is something I always read and respect. Again, the quality of writing and analysis of these articles is outstanding.
I started to read the WSWS because I was angry. I continue to read the WSWS because I am hopeful. The overthrow of global capitalism by the international working class is a step closer through the existence of the WSWS and the International Committee of the Fourth International.
So what happened to the girlfriend that led me to the WSWS? Well, she is now my wife and we are both candidate members of the SEP.
British Columbia, Canada, former Canadian Auto Workers member. WSWS reader since 2003
20 March 2013
I wish to offer warm congratulations to the World Socialist Web Site as it marks its 15th year of publication.
I started reading the WSWS about ten years ago. I don’t recall how I found it, but when I did I knew that I had discovered something very different.
This was my first exposure to a genuine socialist publication, and what impressed me about the site was its clarity, depth of analysis of world and political events, the high caliber of journalism, and above all the ring of truth in what I read.
On a personal level, it’s not an overstatement to say that the discovery of the WSWS was a life changing event. The WSWS’s analysis and criticisms of the union bureaucracy and the pseudo-left political parties is, from my experience, completely vindicated.
Prior to my discovery of the WSWS I was politically active, though in retrospect politically confused. I was also active as a union member, and became a Canadian Auto Workers shop steward in 1997 where I remained for ten years until, after 24 years, I lost my job to layoff. Following this, in October 2012 I fell off the union recall list with 29 years of seniority.
The struggle for my job brought me into a head-on collision with not only my employer, but also the union I was a member of and the social-democratic New Democratic Party.
During this troubling period the employer was laying off workers and contracting out work, claiming they had to because they were short staffed! And the CAW did nothing.
Over the 18 or so years the CAW “represented” the workers at my former employer prior to my layoff, close to 85% of the unionized staff, or 3000 workers, lost their jobs. The union occasionally thumped its chest, but this was only to placate the workers. In not one instance did they fight for a single lost position. Rather, they acted as the right arm for the company, administrating the layoffs. They claimed that there was “nothing” they could do, and they did little more than “ensure that the collective agreement was followed”. By their inaction, they became complicit in the destruction of the jobs they claimed to defend.
When I criticized the union for their lack of strategy, I was attacked. They falsely accused me of harassment and blamed the victims, claiming that it was my own fault for refusing to uproot my family to move 3500 km to a job. In violation of the CAW national constitution, they said that because I was an inactive (laid-off) member and no longer paying dues I had no right to representation. And I came in receipt of a damaging communication between the local president and the director of human resources where the union explicitly accused me and a co-worker of being troublemakers, and stated that our chances of getting our jobs back was next to nil.
I approached my representative in the NDP asking for assistance. Despite posturing as the leftist working man’s advocate and heavily supported by Canadian labour unions, this NDP Member of the Legislative Assembly revealed his party’s true colours. In one of the most hypocritical and cowardly acts I have ever witnessed, he responded by saying that any action on his part, or on the part of his party to assist workers facing what we were would be “...too much like communism”.
This experience left me confused, demoralized and feeling isolated. However it was the WSWS that helped me to understand what had taken place, and the true nature of those organizations that I had previously believed were on the side of the worker.
As the WSWS points out, the relationship between the labour unions and those they claim to represent is thoroughly bankrupt. These so-called workers’ organizations are organically hostile to the working class, and having shifted far to the right, they now walk arm-in-arm with the employers. In the case of the CAW, the lowest paid bureaucrat, a national representative, makes a base salary of $120,000 per annum, with no worries about becoming redundant. As the workers they and other unions “represent” are thrown onto the street, and those that remain see their incomes stagnate and fall and their working conditions become more and more arduous, it becomes clear to any thinking person that the union bureaucrats are only concerned with maintaining their privileged lifestyles.
It is equally clear that the so-called “left” political tendencies that the unions support are just as bankrupt. The WSWS is the only publication I have found that speaks the truth in its analysis of the pseudo-left socialist and social-democratic parties. As my experience shows, and as revealed in the pages of the WSWS, these parties worldwide are wolves in sheep’s clothing, feigning support for the working class while supporting war, austerity and the root cause of these abominations: capitalism. They are nothing more than big-business parties whose policies differ from “right” politics only in tactics but not aims.
Through its analysis and Marxist perspective the WSWS shows that the working class can’t put its faith in these forces of betrayal, and that the ruling class will stop at nothing to place the full burden of the economic crisis on the backs of the workers. The only way forward is the overthrow and replacement of the labour unions with new, democratic workers’ organizations, and a political struggle leading to the establishment of a genuine international and democratic socialist workers’ party.
In closing I wish to thank the WSWS for its outstanding work and leadership, for educating its readers and for being a beacon of light and truth.
Tawonga South, Victoria, Australia
20 March 2013
Far from developing my political understanding of world events, the WSWS has reinforced and explained them analytically. My experience with Marxist philosophy was limited to a sociology component in an arts degree. Little attention was paid to it, so it was left as just another “theory”. But true to its origins, this theory explains the turmoil capitalism creates “on its own.”
A 2-party system in principle is supposed to put “balance” to the equation, but capitalism in momentum cannot risk “balance”, so for an “opposition” party to exist, it simply has to cater to the tenets of the existing political system. This is where the Socialist Equality Party comes in—for many, as an alternative way of thinking politically, an “oasis in the desert” so to speak!
This party, with its analytical expertise on significant world matters, opens up room for serious questioning of the current and ominous political system which ignores the needs of the total world population catering only to the few who have benefited from exploiting the many. The SEP alternative political system, theoretically and in practise, has a mandate for exercising “equality” in its fullest potential which is the right of the POPULATION in TOTO.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. WSWS reader since 2009
19 March 2013
I started reading the web site in 2009 after Obama’s election. It became very clear early on that despite all the rhetoric, Obama was not going to be any different than his predecessors. Early on in his administration Obama backed down on the issue of expanding settlements in the West Bank and for me it was a very demoralizing moment.
At that time I knew very little about Marxism. Around that time I happened to see an old archive photo from the 30s or 40s depicting a striking worker being brutalized by some company thugs. The caption described the bloodied worker as a suspected communist. I had considered myself fairly up on American history but after some cursory research I realized that I was largely unaware of the history of leftist and Marxist movements in the country of my birth. I started to read more about Marxism and I was able to first see history and politics through the lens of class. Without class consciousness, the deepening failures of our political system seemed the inevitable by-products of greed or stupidity. Understanding the role of class lifts the veil and puts the system in its proper context. I looked for contemporary Marxist groups or parties without knowing what to expect. I was excited to find a number of groups active.
I contacted the CPUSA and received a packet of information. I remember sitting down and reading an editorial praising Obama for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. I didn’t even finish the article. I could have read something like that in any corporate newspaper. This experience was very disorienting and I almost gave up. I found a few more groups online. I checked out the ISO’s web page but there wasn’t any Marxist content. They too were excited about Obama and seemed just an auxiliary wing of the Democrats.
At this low point in my political education I happened to see a flier for a meeting of the Socialist Equality Party near my work. In bold letters the flier posted a clear challenge to people’s assumptions about the progressive character of the Obama administration. On the WSWS I immediately found the historical documents ( The International and Historical Foundations of the SEP ) and the Statement of Principles. What struck me about the whole thing was how up front everything was.
When I read the Statement of Principles I was really impressed with how clear and forthright the SEP was about what it stood for. When I got to the section on identity politics I was bowled over. Reading that section enabled me to understand one of the fundamental challenges facing Marxists today. Class consciousness has been removed and largely replaced with identity politics. Identity politics is an understandable response to bigotry and prejudice but it serves ultimately only to diffuse the immense potential of a unified working class, the only force capable of destroying the class rule that deliberately fosters bigotry.
Rather than trying to force the ruling class to dole out a slightly larger piece of the pie for minorities or interest groups, the working class must and will unify and take the whole bakery. Identity politics is a dead end. I don’t imagine the women and children obliterated by drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen find any comfort in the last moments of their lives that a person of color ordered the missile strike.
After reading the WSWS I realized that if capitalism had the answers to man’s problems, we would have arrived there by now. Capitalism is a stage. When capitalism was born it was revolutionary, but now it has outgrown its usefulness and needs to be replaced.
I grew up in McKeesport, PA, nestled in the rotting carcass of Pennsylvania’s steel industry. The giant shuttered and rusting steel mills were a constant backdrop to my childhood. My dad was laid off from work when I was 11 years old. He didn’t work in the mill, but it seemed almost all businesses were affected by the downturn in steel. Eventually he was able to find work at a smaller firm while my mom went to work as a teacher to help the family. After high school I went to the University of Pittsburgh for a few semesters. When the money ran out I joined the military rather than continue to be a financial burden on my family.
I was stationed in Asia and got to see some of the dire poverty that many people experience. When I look back on my experiences in the military one of the things that strikes me now is how apolitical it was in general. Presidential elections came and went with nothing beyond the canned debate between conservatives and liberals. Throughout most of my life politics didn’t seem real or viable—this was the way things were—there were not going to be any alternatives.
For me, the disappointment of the Obama administration was kind of the last straw. This ridiculous cycle of oscillating between two parties has to change. I am almost 40 and during my life the conditions for working people have continued to deteriorate under all administrations. There has to be an alternative for the working class. After being introduced to Marxism I understand that the working class has to fight for itself.
People know fakers when they see it. Workers aren’t interested in fads, pseudo-intellectual trash, or phonies. When they come to our web site they see a lone voice that is appraising things from their interests.
19 March 2013
In 2004, one of the big issues being discussed by the students at my law faculty was the referendum on the European constitution due the following year. All the teachers, whether left or right, were for a “yes” vote. The issue was of great concern for me, coming from a French family but partially of German extraction. Any project attempting to make impossible another war between the two countries was of major importance in my eyes.
One of the students I often used to discuss with at the time was in the Communist Party (PCF) and the CGT (General Confederation of Labour). His knowledge and capacity to deal with the arguments of the right-wing supporters of the EU (European Union) were impressive.
I was born into a left-wing but not politically active family. My studies had made me aware of some of the basic tenets of Marxism and given me a good knowledge of the functioning of the state. They confirmed my left orientation, but I had never made up my mind to support a party or any organisation.
To sum up my opinions at the time, I oscillated confusedly between anarchism and Arlette Laguiller’s Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle). I saw that the state could only serve the interests of the ruling class, I thought that only the fear of revolution could push the Socialist Party (PS) politicians to do something good, I even knew that if Trotsky had won against Stalin in the 1920s the Russian Revolution would have taken a very different road. At the same time, I still had at the back of my mind thoughts in support of the EU, telling myself that at least as long as the nation-states are bound by this mechanism, they won’t go to war against each other.
This position was linked to my lack of confidence in the working class and to the fact that I did not have a very precise knowledge of the history of Trotskyism. For me, Trotsky had carried out his struggle more or less alone and any attempt to build a big revolutionary party would be bound to fail and degenerate into power struggles and corruption as soon as it became quite large and money started to flow.
Nevertheless, my Stalinist friend had managed to revive my interest in the word “communism”. I decided to find out all I could about it and I am still grateful to him, whatever his opinions now.
It was also the time when I was beginning to be able to use the Internet more and more for information, both at home and at the university. So, I tried to consult the sites of all the “left” parties I could know about, trying to understand their origins, their theoretical positions and what they had to say about this grand unification of Europe through the free market promised by the PS, the Greens and the free-market right.
At first sight my task was enormous, but its difficulty was quickly reduced by the simple fact that most of the organisations I was investigating seemed to have no desire to go into the details of their own histories and their fundamental principles.
Among the articles [on the WSWS] which had the greatest impact on my thinking, I particularly remember, was the public appeal published just before the referendum in France: “Votez ‘non’ au référendum sur la Constitution européenne” and the appeal, which I only came across years later, calling on the so-called far left parties to boycott the 2002 presidential elections: “Non à Chirac et Le Pen! Pour un boycott des elections…”, and which none of them deigned to answer; or again, a quite full article on the Chavez régime “Hugo Chávez, Marx and the ‘Bolivarism’ of the twenty-first century”.
In the process, I had sent an email of support to the PCF for their campaign for the “no” vote and to try to find out what alternative project they had to unite Europe. Their reply was very vague—it was obvious that they had no project.
I found myself mainly using the WSWS (and also the general site marxists.org), which went into its own history as well as that of other organisations. The articles were well constructed, not written in a phony “popular” style which you get in so many “left” leaflets. After a few years consulting the site more and more regularly, after finishing reading The Heritage We Defend, I was convinced and I took the opportunity to get in contact and to have some regular exchanges. Over a few years this developed—I did more and more translations and, when I can, I write articles.
More recently the very detailed series of articles by Peter Schwarz on the failed revolution in Germany in 1923, “The German October: The missed revolution of 1923” … or the articles on the first years of the Soviet regime particularly interested me, but in fact there are so many of them.
For me, the importance of the site, and the party behind it, is undeniable: it alone always tells the working class the truth. It is absolutely necessary to build parties based on its perspective in every country in the world before capitalism in crisis plunges us into the next world bloodbath.
I can only encourage the readers who agree with the articles they read to click on the button “contact” above the article and to come and help us.
former Republican from Wisconsin, USA. WSWS reader since 2009
18 March 2013
Credibility, honesty, relevancy, pertinence to today’s world—that is what I expect of a news source. That’s what I get from wsws.org. You folks are amazing. I am amazed how you get a quality product out 6 days per week every week! What a great perspective on the world you have. I say this as a person who came from a conservative upbringing.
I am in my 6th decade of life and found the socialist movement very late in my life. I am so thankful that I have found it.
I come from a family of 12 children as I have 5 brothers and 6 sisters. We grew up in poverty. For many years I blamed my parents for having so many children under those conditions. Yet I could not imagine determining which ones should not have been born.
I was a Republican until I discovered the lies of the Reagan years. After serving 20 years in the military I became aware of the lies of the military-industrial complex. I strive for the truth and didn’t find it in the Democratic party in the 1990s. Thus my journey to the left and into the Green Party. I was happy there for a couple years but their perspective was all over the place.
So in about 2009 I started reading wsws.org. Whoa! Now the perspective I found here made some sense to me. It matched what was really happening in the world based on what has happened in the past. A true historical perspective.
However late in my life, because of your website and your party members with whom I have been in contact, I can lay aside the blame I put onto my parents. I have come to know that deep, deep down it was not their fault. The capitalist means of production, division of labor, the whole system placed my parents in a situation where they could not adequately provide for their family and caused mental and physical hardships for us all.
With a socialist economic system we would have experienced a world in which all can live with adequate food, clothing and shelter plus have time to develop the whole person. This can only happen through the working class leadership of the world.
England. Retired Worker ... but not from the class struggle
18 March 2013
I first heard of the World Socialist Web Site in 2005 and have read it every day since then.
It had a profound impact is so many ways, in particular by allowing me to go back and understand more clearly the events that make up my past.
As a 17-year-old cabin boy on strike during the 1966 national Merchant Seaman’s Strike I first came into contact with the Trotskyist movement in Britain. It was then called the Socialist Labour League.
After the strike was sold out I went back to my ship and lost contact. I sailed out of Southampton on the liners, but because of my contact with Trotskyists my view of the world had altered. I began to really understand that socialism was an international movement.
Once, when we docked in a South African port, the rain was coming down like a waterfall. I watched as black African port workers loaded cargo. All of them wore clothes that could barely be described as rags. Most were barefoot. Those that weren’t had “slippers” made from old tyres. One of the deckhands explained that the small boxes being loaded contained one ingot of gold each, bound for the Bank of England. He shouted down to one of the guards, “Have you shot any Kaffirs [racialist term for black South African] today?” The guard answered, “We shoot Kaffirs every day.”
Two hours later I was serving old colonials, Army Majors and their overdressed wives and daughters, lavish food—most of which they didn’t eat.
When I left the Merchant Navy in 1972, I immediately re-contacted the SLL in Liverpool. I went into construction and led an unofficial strike at a council housing site in Netherley, Liverpool as a shop steward. The industry in Liverpool was dominated by Stalinists. They did the hiring and firing on all the big sites. Branch meetings were rigged, elections were never advertised and only big sites got decent wages and conditions. If you didn’t reach your target, you weren’t called into the site foreman’s hut. You got a stern talking to by the shop steward!
I worked on another site outside Wigan. Every second worker was a member of the SLL. Even the site foreman was a supporter. I loved every minute of it.
I remained in the movement after the formation of the Workers Revolutionary Party, but left in 1976—largely because of mistreatment by the party centre including repeatedly withholding my wages as a party full timer. … I was then the only member active in Manchester, at a time when the election of the Labour government was accompanied by widespread illusions in reformism.
For years I did not understand what had happened. We were constantly told we were building a mass party through events such as the Right-to-Work marches, but the reality we faced was far removed from this. However, I always considered myself as a Trotskyist, albeit one “who wasn’t up to the job.” There were many such ex-members. You carried the guilt with you like a stone.
Reading the World Socialist Web Site changed all that and changed my life. By reading its analysis and being introduced to works such as The Heritage We Defend, I began to understand what had actually happened in the WRP politically for the first time and took the decision to become a member of the Socialist Equality Party.
I have only more recently become aware of the events surrounding the launch of the WSWS. The level of discussions and meeting that were held to make it happen reflect in its present daily production. There is no way a party that conducted itself as the WRP did or the pseudo-lefts could even contemplate something so revolutionary as a daily socialist web site. It’s not surprising they howled when it was launched, but where are they now?
The articles are written to develop the readers’ understanding of world events based upon a socialist perspective. It does not temper its editorial and political standards to save embarrassing any close political connections. It holds water tight to Trotsky’s demand to always tell workers the truth.
The intelligent way that writers express themselves on the subject or event is not the patronising style used by the pseudo-left. Articles in publications run by such groups are dumbed down. It’s clear they think workers are unable to read anything that has too many words with more than three syllables. By doing so they express more about their political understanding than those they say they write for.
On the contrary, reading the WSWS is an education in so many different ways. Its international grounding educates readers in the politics and workers’ struggles in many different countries across every continent. It emphasises the nature of the global capitalist crisis, enabling the development of a global socialist culture in opposition.
It stands as a beacon against the nationalist garbage that will be used more and more to divide workers in struggle. I am confident that in the present objective conditions and having a weapon as powerful as the World Socialist Web Site, a revolutionary leadership within the international working class will develop rapidly.
Historian and cultural critic from New York City
16 March 2013
The World Socialist Web Site has every right to be proud of its fifteenth anniversary. As what at times seems the lone voice of humanity and reason in the English language it has remarkably managed to get across urgent messages despite a climate of pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist, and neoconservative corporate media agendas and viewpoints.
As an historian and former newspaper cultural critic I have found the WSWS to be an invaluable resource for preserving and maintaining radical intellectual discourse on world culture despite prevailing anti-intellectual and ahistorical forces.
It was through the film essays of David Walsh that I first discovered the WSWS, particularly his impressive overview of Elia Kazan’s troubled political past. Here, at last, I encountered a website analyzing cinema through a radical left perspective—and in the late 20th century no less! I was delighted to encounter writers approaching the cinema from a serious, jargon-free perspective who, unlike their alleged “left” counterparts in the “alternative” press, felt no need to maintain street credentials through quips, sarcasm, and trendy viewpoints on popular culture. Furthermore, in a society prone to cultural amnesia, the WSWS was keeping alive the memories and artistic accomplishments of myriad artists of previous centuries.
Throughout my years of avidly reading WSWS I have been grateful for the focus given to cinema artists of the past century: Charles Bogle’s riveting reviews of film noir DVD releases; Joanne Laurier’s appreciation of Max Ophuls and Edgar G. Ulmer; Kevin Kearney’s festival report on revivals of Fritz Lang and Carol Reed films; Tony Williams’ review of Michael Curtiz’s forgotten British Agent , not to mention these and other writers’ definitive film festival reports. I have also deeply appreciated Walsh placing the Roman Polanski extradition case in political perspective and his recent analyses of both the Academy Awards and propagandist Kathryn Bigelow. The superb interview he and Laurier conducted with Joseph McBride on Orson Welles and the Hollywood blacklist was also of tremendous historical value.
Other WSWS reviewers are to be praised for dissecting the reactionary ideologies of such “mainstream” attractions as The Dark Knight Rises and “independent” hits as The Iron Lady . Hiram Lee’s review of the original Iron Man was especially useful to me in preparing to discuss film propaganda with Texas high school students.
As the WSWS bravely moves forward, I respectfully offer a few heartfelt recommendations as a cineaste. I would, for example, like to see an official ceasefire declared against the two bravest radical English-language filmmakers of the twentieth century: Ken Loach and Peter Watkins. Whatever disagreements the site has with how these directors approach world political events or the extent to which they deviate from elements of Trotskyism, Loach and Watkins are worthy of serious editorial support. I take issue, for example, with the harshness of Watkins’ overall achievements in the Punishment Park review as well as those of Loach in the Route Irish review. Contrast these extensive dissections of the filmmakers’ shortcomings with the website’s general enthusiasm for Hollywood’s reigning capitalist movie director, Steven Spielberg. The progressive messages extracted from elements of Munich and Lincoln are not, in my mind, enough to overshadow Spielberg’s conservative corporate and cinematic legacy. This billionaire entertainment industry player is not “one of us,” yet for the most part he has received more respectful treatment from the WSWS than either Loach or Watkins, who really are on our side. On the other hand, bravo to Walsh for ruthlessly exposing the dangerous political hypocrisies of Michael Moore !
If I seem all fired up on these issues it is because the World Socialist Web Site mobilizes and ignites my cultural passions and emotions as no other English language media source. The WSWS is a website inspiring analysis and debate, regardless of whether the subjects are U.S. foreign policy or world cinema. There is nothing like it anywhere.
Bravo to the website’s dedicated staff and congratulations to WSWS on turning fifteen! Keep fighting the good fight—cultural and otherwise.
Secondary School Teacher, Scotland. WSWS reader since 1998
16 March 2013
What does the World Socialist Web Site mean to me regarding news and analysis? To put it bluntly, everything! I’ve been a reader and supporter of the site since its inception fifteen years ago and it is my first point of reference whenever there is a breaking story or unfolding international events. The reporting and analysis are clear, objective and thoughtful; whether the article is dealing with an art event, a trade union dispute; national politics or imperialistic intrigues.
The crisis of 1914 was a blow to internationalism. The collapse of the Second International and the struggle for a Marxist perspective throughout Europe, and the world, was betrayed by reformism.
The gains and lessons of October 1917 gave hope to millions of oppressed people worldwide, after the slaughter of the imperialist war. But the betrayals by Stalinism meant the continuing struggle within the working class for an international perspective was the task taken on by Trotsky and the Fourth International founded in 1938, in the face of tremendous setbacks and personal sacrifice. The WSWS is a most effective weapon in that continuing struggle. Where else can we get an internationalist perspective on world events? What other news site exposes the reactionary nature of the nation state and the so-called left-wing organisations that prostrate themselves at the feet of imperialism? Only the WSWS offers an alternative to the pandering and blatant rejection by these groups of Marxism and the historical role of the working class.
From a Scottish perspective we are now entering a dangerous time, as the referendum vote on independence is almost upon us. Only the WSWS has highlighted the dangers to the working class in Scotland and in Britain if there is a “yes” vote next year. The Scottish Socialist Party and Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity—there is no real policy difference between the two—have been enthusiastic supporters of independence. Their reactionary stance has been exposed for what it is by clear analysis of the notion that an independent Scotland will be a more egalitarian society: what nonsense. As highlighted time and again in the WSWS it will be a haven for capital to exploit a low wage economy at the cost of eroding workers’ rights and conditions. I thank the journalists at the web site for effectively exposing this.
Sri Lankan living in Paris, France. WSWS reader since 2000
15 March 2013
At the outset, I deem it a great a privilege to extend my warm greetings to the World Socialist Web Site on its completion of 15 years of publication. In 2000, while seeking asylum in France after leaving northern Sri Lanka as a refugee, I had the opportunity to read the WSWS for the first time. This turned out to be a turning point in my life.
Myself and others belonging to the generation of those born in the 1980s were accustomed to hear right from our school days during daily life the detonating sounds of bombs hurled from the planes, artillery fire, grenades, many types of bullets from pistols, etc. When we ran out from the schools subjected to attack by bombs, we would see dilapidated buildings and the decimated bodies of the dead and gone. We often heard the death rattles. We feared death and also the unknown—what should be done next? We were just running without really knowing where to.
In Sri Lanka, during those younger years, I did not know electricity, gas, the telephone, trains, newspapers in the library and people who spoke a different language in our own country. There were curfews, round-ups and disappearances of people. We were accustomed to accepting them as routine things. People who expressed their personal views were shot dead by the military or paramilitary groups or by the LTTE people in full view of the public.
From medicines to all essential commodities we had to buy everything by paying much higher prices than in Colombo. During the 1990s, we had to pay Rs.300/- for a bottle of kerosene oil, which was sold at Rs.20/- in Colombo. Often we had the misfortune to lose our relations due to our inability to buy medicines or get medical help from the doctors. Even for funeral rituals and the burial of those who had died, we had to wait for the time allotted by the military. I could never understand the reasons for facing such degrading conditions. In short, we were isolated from the rest of the world, and, like the prisoners given death sentences, lived in an open prison camp called the northern province of Sri Lanka.
When I came to Colombo in order to emigrate, I had new experiences. Until then I was brought up to believe that the Sinhalese were the enemies of the Tamils. In Colombo, for the first time, this was proved to be a lie. I found ordinary Tamil and Sinhalese people living together in Colombo. I found Tamil commercial centers, hotels, community centers, etc. However, I also saw many members of so-called “Tamil liberation organizations” fully cooperating with the Sri Lankan police and secret services. When I saw these things, I could not find answers to the questions that arose within me as to why this war was taking place and against whom.
In 2000, I had the opportunity to get in contact with the ICFI in France. They introduced me to the WSWS. They stressed the need to build an international workers’ organization. The task of giving political education to the working class is a long and arduous one. They also explained that there is no shortcut to achieve this task.
When I raised questions on the differences between the social conditions of the workers in Sri Lanka and France, they explained that the development of the working class does not begin with the question of what it has achieved materially at a given stage, but its understanding of the destruction of socialist consciousness in the working class by the betrayals of the Stalinists and the pseudo-lefts in both countries linked by the same international crisis of capitalism and social counterrevolution. This understanding is an important factor in leading a revolution to a success. These deep thinking discussions helped me to understand myself and the external world on the basis of class.
During my initial discussions, the article A socialist program to end the war and social inequality [in Sri Lanka] appeared on the WSWS. It played a principal role in my development. We could understand the inseparable relationship between the socialist revolution of the working class and the unresolved democratic tasks in the former colonies in the epoch of imperialism. The origin of the Tamil Liberation Movements was not a product of historical necessity. On the contrary, I understood that the origin of these movements was the product of the betrayal of the LSSP which had once fought to unify the working class and oppressed people for a socialist revolution, transcending race, religion and language.
My first political intervention was during the 2002 French presidential elections. We jointly intervened along with our American, German and British comrades with our statement calling for No to Chirac and Le Pen! For a working class boycott of the French election . We stressed the need to resolve the crisis of leadership within the working class and proposed a socialist perspective and solution. Socialist Party members raised a hue and cry saying that we were supporters of fascism and asked us to leave the country. The pseudo-lefts shouted at the top of their voices about the danger of fascism, and distorted the thinking of the working class and made them vote for Chirac and defended French capitalism.
From that day till now, the standard of living, jobs and social gains of the working class have been systematically and gradually destroyed and at the same time the ruling elite has been adopting neo-colonial policies to subjugate Africa and the Middle East, by making war against four countries. In the past 11 years they bear full responsibility for these catastrophes and have proved the correctness of our perspective.
Even though four years have elapsed since the end of the war in Sri Lanka, 15 divisions of the Sri Lankan Army, about 150,000 soldiers, have been stationed in Northern Sri Lanka. That is one soldier for 3 citizens. Even today in Sri Lanka, the editors of newspapers and journals critical of the government and the workers who distribute them face death threats daily. The WSWS today, through its Tamil language web page, continuously gives a socialist, international perspective to workers and oppressed people living in the areas under full military control.
May the World Socialist Web Site and its International Editorial Board live long and guide us!
Journalist, London, UK
15 March 2013
Every socialist will have their own political awakening. Mine was the London riots. The unfolding events were captivating and, for a liberal, troubling to witness—because I didn’t understand them.
Now I look back at some of my thoughts from that time, rightly, as reactionary. What drew me out of such thoughts was the political response held in emergency parliament. The social conditions of the broad masses of rioters were barely mentioned. Instead there were calls for the armed forces on the streets and “robust” policing to put down “criminality.”
Rioters, these salaried and privileged men and women said, needed to be put down or caged like sick dogs. Seeing footage online of police beating down youths on bicycles cemented this position. A system was using the stick, not the carrot, because it was ultimately what it knows best: violence. This was later confirmed by the shocking global violence worldwide enacted on the peaceful Occupy movement and in the response to many other mass movements.
The World Socialist Web Site was absolutely crucial in understanding these events. Throughout, reading the WSWS’s excellent coverage and analysis helped guide my political thought, and it continues to do so. I read plenty of blogs and a lot of news online and in the papers, but nothing “left” can hold a candle to the extensive coverage and principled perspective of the WSWS on such a daily quality and scale.
For me, the WSWS later brought my attention to the criminal machinations of the capitalist class. What I was taught as a child in school proved bankrupt: that we should be grateful for our conditions, the idea that master-slave authoritarianism is not possible in a “civilised country” such as ours. Looking back on those assertions, it’s clear that they were as false then as they are now. While the exploited and poverty stricken and oppressed exist here on our planet, not a single one of us should accept our lot.
Capitalism is not the end of history. It is in crisis. The arrogant bourgeoisie continues to plunder and profit from the blood of the masses. For them the capitalist system is working perfectly, but these thieves will have a rude awakening.
The WSWS exposes the violent crimes of the ruling class, it exposes theft, and it exposes murder. The WSWS exposes a wholly illogical system that makes kings out of the idle and guts the rest. As long as socialist political analysis is necessary, long may the WSWS continue. I’m sorry to say I hadn’t been a regular reader sooner, but I am now, and it’s my firm belief that every worker should be too.
14 March 2013
Why is WSWS important to me? The short and sweet of it is this: Everyone needs a friend—a “real friend.” But not everyone gets a kindred spirit as well. At age 65, I was lucky enough to have had both in my lifetime.
WSWS, you are a friend, and a kindred spirit. Could anything else be more important?
Happy 15th. L’Chaim!
Syracuse, New York, USA. WSWS reader since 2011
14 March 2013
I first found the World Socialist Web Site through an internet search about socialism. I had gained an increased interest in current happenings within economics and politics. I had been reading what was available from the “left” main stream media.
The 2008 collapse and bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers investment bank and the bailout of the criminals on Wall Street had radicalizing effect and brought me to the realization that the current system was corrupt, broken and irredeemable. It was pretty clear that reforms made during the New Deal era repealed by the Wall Street gang within the Clinton presidency would never return. The continued financialization of the American economy has taken away hard won liberties and reforms that workers made deep sacrifices for.
It seemed that very few organizations outside of the WSWS had a genuine working class perspective. The other sites that I investigated promoted pressuring the Democratic Party and trade unions. It didn’t appear that these had ever really represented the interests of working people. I thought that bargaining for larger crumbs from the larcenous wealthy was not the way to proceed when workers were those who produced the wealth of society.
For me the articles within the WSWS explaining the economics of the capitalist crisis were critical and they revealed the inimical role of the trade unions and the Democratic Party to workers. In this, the WSWS particularly exposed the fake left organizations supportive of the trade unions like the ISO, and their website the Socialist Worker.
There is a long history of the betrayal of strikes by trade unions in contract after contract—for example, PATCO, Verizon, Caterpillar, Chicago teachers. I have found the WSWS a valuable resource in learning about these worker struggles and the true nature of these pseudo-left organizations.
My initial interaction with WSWS was prompted by their coverage of the Egyptian revolution. At the time I had been reading Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution.
The Egyptian workers’ struggle against tyranny was inspirational and the web site’s analysis was unique in its exposure of the pseudo-lefts’ role in undermining them, and also the Obama administration’s support for the repressive Mubarak regime.
Public meetings were held by the youth section of the organization the International Youth and Students for Socialist Equality (IYSSE) across the country. I decided to attend and learn more about the organization. I was pleased and impressed with the high level of discourse and the focus on the real issues and exclusion of diversions like identity politics.
As I have read the WSWS and learned more about Marxism it has become clear that the role of class in society is paramount and that the capitalist system is bankrupt and that international socialist revolution by the working class is the only way to move society forward.
Teacher from Warrington, England. WSWS reader since 2009
14 March 2013
I started reading the World Socialist Web Site Web Site in 2009. I had just become a teacher training student, following redundancy and was starting to ask questions about the implications of the development of the financial crisis. I found the WSWS produced unrivalled coverage of all the major national and international events. It was, and remains, the only news website to produce a comprehensive, Marxist commentary of major political events, arts coverage and workers’ struggles.
I am interested in independent film and particularly enjoy reading the insightful reviews by David Walsh. I have used many of the reviews when teaching to give an example of how political ideology manifests itself through the arts and media. I find the film reviews enlightening, illuminating and entertaining. I think they are a crucial element of the WSWS coverage, helping political discussion to be accessible. They have allowed me the opportunity to introduce students, friends and colleagues to the website.
One of the articles to have the biggest impact was the coverage of the release of the “Collateral Damage” video footage by WikiLeaks and the subsequent vilification of WikiLeaks for releasing information relating to the imperialist wars. The video demonstrated the criminal acts committed during imperialist wars. But also, the reaction to the release by most of the mass media outlets as well as the pseudo left spoke volumes about their corrupt and selfish intensions. Reading the coverage on the WSWS helped to define its position as the only voice of the working class. …
The website and its coverage served as an antidote to the neo-fascist, conservative and reactionary mass media coverage of the youth revolts of 2011 in the UK. There was an almost universal condemnation of the actions of the working class youth involved and a disgusting justification of the decisions handed out by the kangaroo courts by the mass media. At this point the WSWS stood alone in provoking discussion around the causes of the discontent voiced through the actions of Britain’s youth.
Each and every article over the past four years has helped to cement my understanding of the actions of the ruling elite and the implications those actions have on the international working class. The website has been an integral part of reigniting my political awareness. It has helped to concretise and objectify an understanding of my own position in society and guide my understanding of important events.
Telephone worker, now unemployed, from Barcelona, Spain. WSWS reader since 2005
13 March 2013
In 1991 when I got a permanent contract with Telefonica, a publicly owned Spanish company until 1997, I joined the trade union CCOO, believing they were defenders of workers’ interests.
In 1992 the unions and the company made agreements, which continue to this day, of mass layoffs and the outsourcing of work to subcontracted companies, with lower wages and compulsory overtime.
In 2005, I realized that the CCOO was not defending the interests of me and the rest of the workforce and I broke with them. Surfing around the internet I found the WSWS, which I did not know before. That’s when I learned about the role of the unions.
I had always voted for the PSOE [Spanish Socialist Workers Party] despite being aware that their economic policies were neo-liberal. I voted for what I considered the lesser evil to avoid the PP [Popular Party] from winning. I never saw the IU [United Left] or the PCE [Spanish Communist Party] as an alternative due to its Stalinist past.
Thanks to the WSWS I broke with the two-party system and the unions, the props of the capitalist system.
In 2005, aged 40, I also began thinking about the eleventh thesis of Feuerbach, explained by Marx, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it”. I made a decision to help transform the world with one objective: to end the capitalist system, which produces so much suffering. To struggle for a society where profit is not the main aim. Where money corrupts everything—social relations are also corrupted. To fight to eradicate social inequality means the struggle for socialism. I had to do something.
In 2006 I wrote to the WSWS and they contacted me. I began my education. I was recommended to read the book The Heritage we Defend by David North, a polemic of the origin and vicissitudes of the Fourth International and its reflection in the history of the twentieth century.
I have since read a small part of Trotsky’s large collection of writings. I dared to read Marx’s Capital, having not done so before because of its reputation as a difficult text. The book is fully current and I regret not having read it before.
In 2006 Madrid hosted an international conference commemorating the anniversary of the Spanish Civil War. Here I met in person some members of the ICFI.
The training of cadres and the need for a vanguard party continues to have full force today. Raising the class consciousness of workers so that we become conscious of our power as a class is the task the WSWS defends with dignity and without concessions.
For permanent revolution!
IYSSE member from Detroit, Michigan, USA. WSWS reader since 2011
13 March 2013
I started reading the WSWS after coming in contact with International Youth and Students for Social Equality at my university. I was searching for answers about the upcoming election—I had received a free “Obama 2012” bumper sticker but could not truthfully tell the world I supported him.
I am a student in Detroit, and I saw the education “reform” close down hundreds of schools around me and de-fund countless others. I watched as the auto companies began to reap in huge amounts of profit, but the poverty around me was not alleviated.
I was confused about the state of health care and the wars in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I was questioning whether the Democrats were actually the “Party of the People” that they so claimed under the banner of the New Deal. What could fix the world? What causes the problems of the world? These were questions that came to be answered by reading the World Socialist Web Site, and in particular the ICFI/Marxist Library section.
The first book I read was Materialism and Empirio-criticism by Vladimir Lenin. This provided the best framework possible for building the Marxist analysis of history, as well as for scientific socialism. I am grateful that the WSWS does not crowd its library for the farce of a “united left,” but is discerning and determined with the essays it archives.
As I broke from capitalistic idealism and liberalism to materialism and Marxism, reading the daily articles on the WSWS has helped me understand who exactly I am at this moment in history, and how I must proceed. The analysis of pseudo-leftism and identity politics is the best for protecting readers from groups or ideas that use socialist terminology, but are in reality counterrevolutionary.
Reading such analysis helps me learn how to find my way in this increasingly politicized world, since the WSWS analyzes ideas and events using evidence, not baselessly. WSWS articles do not treat events as discrete from any other event in history or from the capitalist framework, and explain each time what the connections are. This is the most grounding aspect of the WSWS: the knowledge of how “my” world is, in fact, the whole world, and how it is all related to past events.
The most important article in my arsenal is David North’s lecture: “A critical review of Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners .” Everything I was taught in high school history completely lacked the depth, facts, and perspective that this one lecture contains. The article discusses myths propagated before and after WWII about the German working class, the Jews, the “benevolence” of the Allies, and the evolution of society to socialism, and how each of these myths contribute to the maintenance of the private profit system of the transnational bourgeoisie. That the WSWS treats nothing with kid gloves, but with open eyes to all the horrors of the capitalist system and the sharpness of perspective to protect people from fantastical dreaming is the highest stage of thinking.
I am an IYSSE member, calling for people to break with the Democrats and the trade unions, and selling literature from Mehring Books to my peers. I call to build the IYSSE on my campus to unite students and professors with the working class at large. The WSWS is certainly the memory and voice of the working class—a tradition I am determined to know and uphold.
Recent graduate from Sydney University, Australia. WSWS reader since 2009
10 March 2013
I don’t remember when I first encountered the World Socialist Web Site, but it was around 2009, when I was a 19-year-old university student. At the time I was floating around a variety of leftist currents and organisations from young-Labour to the pseudo-lefts, but was never willing to truly commit to anything. I felt that there was something missing in these tendencies and a lack of seriousness, but I was never quite sure what the problem was.
My knowledge of Marxism was limited to post-modernism in university classes and politically, I would have considered myself a social democrat under the influence of leftist figures such as Chomsky.
The key turning point in winning me to the WSWS was the analysis made of the Obama administration in 2009. Like millions of people I had believed that Obama would herald a new era in American politics similar to FDR and would mark a turn away from the politics of the previous Bush administration. I was under no illusion that the world had entered into a new economic crisis on the scale of the Great Depression, but I believed that Obama and a renewed New Deal would see the world through it.
Only the WSWS criticised Obama from the left and argued that his administration would just be a continuation of the previous Bush presidency. I didn’t yet believe this myself, but the subsequent events over 2009, such as the attack on auto workers, began to convince me that there was something to this analysis. I was still far from the Socialist Equality Party but interested in learning more.
I wrote in and started a brief correspondence with a writer, which was the start of my political clarification. I was impressed with the accuracy of the web site and wanted to understand “what did these people know that the others didn’t?”
In 2009 I also attended a public meeting on the Second World War, with a lecture by Nick Beams which was advertised on the site. I had considered myself a WW2 buff (and still do) but the analysis in the lecture was very different and insightful, compared to the mountains of literature poured out on those five dark years of human history. More importantly, I came away with a sense that I could begin to understand the origins of the war and its purpose far more clearly than before. I was blown away by the quotes delivered about how Churchill had supported Mussolini and that the war was not fought for the defence of “democracy” but for the interests of the great imperial powers.
I could begin to draw a clearer line between the politics of the First World War, the outbreak of the Second World War and the present world crisis. Historical clarification was for me a powerful step on the road to political clarification, and this remains ongoing. The various historical articles on the WSWS and literature from the SEP have helped this process further, above all on the question of the Soviet Union and the fate of socialism. I had begun to perceive that the SEP and the WSWS offered something far more substantial in terms of content and perspective then the other leftist groups.
The decisive moment in making the decision to join the Socialist Equality Party was in 2010. By now I was studying political science at Sydney University, but became increasingly frustrated with the superficial and disorienting explanations being given about political questions. I began to feel as though the sterile atmosphere was incapable of providing the political clarification I was seeking and so I left. I took up the study of Ancient History and the Classics instead, placing more energy and thought into the WSWS as the basis of my further political knowledge. I would keep following other media and politics, but from the standpoint of someone who had turned towards a socialist perspective and was no longer sitting on the fence.
In recent years I have had the privilege of contributing to the site and I have gained a stronger understanding of the open and collaborative process between the politically astute and experienced members of the ICFI across the world that makes the WSWS possible. The high degree of quality that goes into every article is very much the product of an international effort and time-zone-spanning coordination which can be missed by the casual reader. I firmly believe that the perspective and clarity of the website will continue to act as a powerful tool for educating new layers of workers and youth in the struggle for international socialism.
Daughter of veteran Trotskyists Jean and Bill Brust
10 March 2013
I read the World Socialist Web Site every day because it is an unbreakable link between present events and the history of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Left Opposition. For me personally, the WSWS connects me to the principles with which I was raised by the American Trotskyists, Jean and Bill Brust.
Out of the jangle of lies and confusion that comprise modern daily news coverage, the WSWS brings me back to the fundamentals of dialectical materialism, and the certainty that the world working class can forge a revolutionary leadership and meet its historical challenges.
Especially for those young people who have been drawn into mass struggles worldwide, I would like to share a little of my parents’ history. More complete stories can be found in the archives of the WSWS. My dad was born in 1919, in revolutionary Budapest—his father was a member of a workers’ Soviet. My mother was born in 1921, to a mother and father who had escaped the Russian pogroms as children and been shaped and toughened by the winds, heat and cold of the American Midwest.
Both Bill and Jean arrived in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul during the Great Depression, and both became Trotskyists in the late 1930s. She was still in high school; he but a few years out.
They were trained in party work and socialist theory through great conflicts and splits in the Trotskyist party, through the assassination of Trotsky himself, through the Second World War, the great postwar labor struggles, and McCarthyism.
They upheld the principles of internationalism and class struggle during the Civil Rights movement, the fight against the war in Vietnam, and labor struggles, most notably the industry-wide packinghouse strikes of the late 1940s.
When they became founding members of the Workers League (predecessor of the Socialist Equality Party), their work became more international in scope. They traveled and spoke in Europe, campaigning for a United Socialist States of Europe when the Common Market was created. Bill died just before the Berlin Wall was torn down. Jean was able to continue speaking in Australia and elsewhere, drawing the lessons of the collapse of the Soviet Union. She died in 1997, just months before the launching of the WSWS.
Both my parents were energized and reinforced in their understanding as they met with younger comrades throughout the world and shared the principles and events that had forged their lifelong work. I never knew them once to waiver or become doubtful, or to stop studying and learning.
Today, I see the WSWS publishing articles that detail events as they unfold in every corner of the world, in dozens of languages and accessible to the vast majority of the world’s population. I read sharp, unwavering analysis of these events, and of the culture that both shapes and too often misleads us. Jean and Bill would have been proud of this cadre of revolutionary journalists.
And I think they would have been most excited and found the greatest confirmation of their work in the range of topics, and the clear thinking so often revealed in the Letters to the Editor that pour into the WSWS month after month. Though the level of training varies, this section, especially, is my daily connection to the steadfast revolutionary optimism that characterized the extraordinary people who raised me.
I salute the members and supporters of the World Socialist Web Site for the extraordinary accomplishments made in the last fifteen years, and for those of the years ahead.
Former coal miner, UK. WSWS reader since 1998
10 March 2013
I have been reading the WSWS on and off since 1998. Initially I didn’t see it as a suitable medium for reaching workers in general.
Clearly that’s been proved wrong, not only in the rapid growth of technology with the availability of internet access but it obviously provides a medium to exchange views very quickly, where a paper would take weeks and weeks to do.
I met the ICFI just after the 1984/85 miners strike whilst looking for a political alternative after being stitched-up by all and sundry and having to return to work after a whole year.
I’ll never forget it—all the marching back with heads held high. What a load of crap! I thought, “What’s going on? We’ve been betrayed. It shouldn’t be like this!” We shouldn’t have gone back when workers were locked up and others left without jobs.
Following the return to work it became obvious that whilst the union leadership were claiming we were not defeated, in practice, at both local and national level they were acting to try to re-establish their cozy relations with management at the expense of the membership.
One could argue that 1985 was the year that any pretence that the trade unions were a fighting force representing the interests of their members was exposed. The subsequent years of sell outs and betrayals has confirmed my view.
During the course of the strike it became clear that no mainstream political party represented the interests of miners or any other workers. Principally I was attracted to a revolutionary perspective and supported the International Committee in the struggle against the Workers Revolutionary Party renegades.
The WSWS is the only organisation that gives a class perspective on world developments which becomes more and more obvious as every day goes by.
Over the years the WSWS has fulfilled itself and has a much wider coverage. It vindicates the necessity of the move to the internet and more and more people are writing articles than ever before.
You don’t have to be a genius to work out what the capitalists are up to, it’s so clear.
If anyone looks at the analysis of events through the archive from the WSWS inception to where we are today they would see a clear line.
I’ve been reading the site on a more regular basis since 2008 when I was laid off. The analysis has been spot on regarding the economy which has led to an intensification of the attacks on workers. As someone recently commented “we are sleepwalking back into the 1930s.”
Britain, like the US, is now insourcing production rather than outsourcing as things can be produced cheaper by low skilled workers.
Sheffield, UK. WSWS reader since 2008
9 March 2013
When the website was established in 1998 I was ten years old and our house wasn’t connected to the internet. Fifteen years later, every morning the World Socialist Web Site appears on my Kindle screen. It brings me the cutting edge of political thought and connects me to the workers’ movement globally.
I wasn’t one of those who encountered the party through the website. Instead, I first attended a meeting on campus in Manchester as a first year student in late 2008 as the financial meltdown erupted. When I first discovered the website I read every single article each day because I was so excited to find such a profound and clear analysis of world events. At the time, eager for more to read, I asked Manchester ISSE organiser Rob Stevens “are there any more websites like this?” He, of course, said no.
In the following months I began to understand the nature of the website as the unique voice of the Marxist tradition in the world today due to the political heritage of the ICFI. The movement had clearly made enormous theoretical advances in the decade preceding 2008, the year of the collapse of the global financial system and the founding of the Socialist Equality Parties. This was reflected in the content of the website which has played the primary role in my political education.
The World Socialist Web Site doesn’t merely function as a newspaper, but a searchable knowledge base of the Trotskyist illumination of historical, cultural, philosophical and political issues. This greatly facilitated my learning as I was attempting to grasp the nature of the ICFI, the political debates surrounding the early years of the Soviet Union and the meaning of the world historic events of the 20th century. …
The WSWS has given me the opportunity to publish articles on current events that can be seen by thousands of comrades and advanced workers across the world. I’ve written on attacks on issues facing young people such as attacks on the education system, poverty in Britain and the crimes of British imperialism.
Our student society and the Socialist Equality Party candidate Rob Stevens were blocked from participating in a hustings event at Manchester University prior to the 2010 General Election. We were able to immediately bring this to the attention of a global audience of politically conscious workers and commented on the refusal of the pseudo-left candidates to raise a principled protest.
The site’s cultural commentary and essays have contributed greatly to the development of my aesthetic sensitivity and introduced me to great cultural critics such as Alexander Voronsky, Leon Trotsky and Harold Bloom. It has spurred my interest in and provided a critical understanding of the novels of Tolstoy, Balzac, Dickens and Dreiser amongst others. It has also led me to engage with the latest creations of world cinema and to discover classic films such as those of Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin.
I emerged into conscious political life amid the horrors of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, suffocated by the political lethargy of the establishment and hungry for answers. …
My generation has only ever known the internet and we’ve never had much to do with newspapers. However, in its time, the printed word played a revolutionary role, as described on the “About the WSWS” page:
“In the fifteenth century Gutenberg's invention of the printing press played a critical role in breaking the control of the Church over intellectual life, undermining feudal institutions, and fostering the great cultural revival that began with the Renaissance and ultimately found expression in the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.”
… Today, as the WSWS reaches tens of thousands of readers, it’s clear it will play an enormous role in the coming mass politicization of youth. It will be the foundation of the raising of the organisational power of Trotskyism to levels equal to its theoretical power. The essay continues:
“The International Committee of the Fourth International intends to use this technology as a tool for the liberation of the working people and oppressed all over the world.”
I am grateful to be part of this generation that will rejuvenate socialist culture and build a mass Trotskyist party in preparation for the coming world Socialist revolution.
Burbank, California, USA. WSWS reader since 2001
9 March 2013
It is curious for me to reflect on the fact that I suddenly became a regular reader of the WSWS some time in the early part of 2001. I remember it was that year because, as you may perhaps even recall, in my exuberance for the site, I gave the party my entire “Bush” $300.00 tax refund for that year. You personally thanked me shortly thereafter for my “generous contribution” to which I replied, “Thank George Bush” (pretty lame, huh?).
It seems in hindsight not possible that the WSWS was only a mere 3 years in the making at that time. She was mature way beyond her years! I remember distinctly the web site that I had been prone to visiting in my search for knowledge and how from there I, almost startlingly, found myself linked onto the WSWS. Ode to Joy! Shortly, I found I then would often go back to that site merely to link directly to the WSWS, thinking (!) that would maintain the buffer between “big brother” and me.
After convincing myself of the idiocy of my fear in linking directly to your site I began bypassing the other and coming directly to what has been accurately described as the collective memory of the working class.
The volumes of printed documents expounding the necessity of socialist revolution! My search for a font for information that concerned my interests was over. Not that I don’t read other sources, but now the day to day bustle of working is no longer itself a cause of my not being adequately informed. To paraphrase, as Fred Engels points out in his famous introduction to Karl Marx’s first example of his method of analysis (i.e., Historical Materialism), “Class Struggles in France 1848-1851”: “nothing much has been added to the discussion.”
I can now keep my nose to the grinder, find where humanity stands at any given moment and learn of my historical role as an integral part of the proletariat simultaneously.
The events surrounding the death of the American Ambassador in Benghazi are but one example of the method at work via the WSWS. In Bill Van Auken’s explanations of that event, little has been added for all intents and purposes by the mainstream media.
Each and every day at work and far afield I am impressed with the working class’ growing awareness that something earth-moving is afoot. That many of my co-workers turn to me (of all people) for an opinion demonstrates, I think, nothing if not the fact that the WSWS is leading the way to the workers and their consciousness.
I find any and all articles on the site have something of interest for me, though, alas, I haven’t the leisure time to enjoy them all. I never miss anything written on Economic topics. Your quest for journalists has borne fruit. I only hope that now some more focus will be spent on the editing of what gets posted. I also wish the search engine was more useful—this has been a long standing peeve with me.
9 March 2013
This remarkable collection of letters enumerates the intellectual, political, and cultural contributions of WSWS and movingly describes the impact these have had on our individual lives. Taken as a whole the letters also reveal something more: a diverse but united international community that’s in the process of learning how genuine socialism can be built. WSWS has given us both a vision of the goal and a plan of practical steps that avoid the mistakes of the past and will enable us to achieve it. A powerful momentum of revolution is building in the world, and the WSWS community is developing the knowledge necessary to lead that struggle to success. Reading these letters shows us what the word “comrade” really means. It’s great to be one of you!
8 March 2013
Disculpen que escriba en español pero es con el fin de expresar correctamente mis ideas. En primer lugar va un saludo camaraderil a los 15 años of the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS), y especialmente a los que son los responsables de publicarlo diariamente, y hacerlo llegar a sus lectores tanto en EE.UU. como en el resto del mundo. Con los años, y gracias al interés de tenerlo actualizado y evitar caricaturizar los acontecimiensos sociales y políticos, es como se ha convertido en una lectura obligatoria a los que deseamos estar al tanto de los procesos sociales desde el punto de vista de una organización política que se reclama del marxismo revolucionario. Por otro lado tocar temas de arte, cultura, sociales, de ciencia y obviamente políticos le da una riqueza que lo hace atrayente a sus lectores, lo que falta un poco y es necesario que trabajen en ello, es agregar más imagenes, fotografias de eventos, acontecimientos y documentos que atraigan y hagan atractiva la lectura de sus artículos.
Como señalaba Trotsky “La crisis de la humanidad es la crisis de la dirección revolucionaria” el hecho de ser pacientes en la difusión de las ideas y planteamientos clasistas, hacen que poco a poco vayan abonando un terreno, que conjuntamente con la lucha cotidiana en el terreno clasista, llevaran a empazar a revertir esa crisis de la humanidad, y empecemos a construir organizaciones y direcciones clasistas en otras latitudes.
Por último una sugerencia, si bien el WSWS en su sitio ya maneja diversas lenguas, lo que permite acceder a su lectura para los que no dominamos el inglés, falta hacer un esfuerzo mayor, para brindar los articulos de actualidad en otras lenguas, en el caso del que suscribe el presente mensaje en español. Bueno éxito en su empresa política, y le reitero los saludos:
Please accept my apologies for writing in Spanish; it is to express my ideas correctly. First of all, I would like to extend comradely greetings to the World Socialist Web Site, with a special greeting to all those that are responsible for its daily publication and for making it available to its readers in the US and across the world.
Throughout the years, and in the interest of having social and political events up to date and without caricature, it has become obligatory reading for all those of us that want to be in touch with social processes from the perspective of a political organization that defines itself as Revolutionary Marxist. In addition, by writing about art, culture, social issues, science, and politics, obviously, the website provides a richness that makes it attractive to its readers. What is somewhat lacking is more images, photographs of political events and documents that would make the reading of your articles more attractive.
In the words of Trotsky: “The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership;” by the fact that you are patiently spreading ideas and a class outlook, slowly the ground is being fertilized by you, so that, jointly with the daily intervention in the class struggle [we can] begin to resolve this crisis of mankind, so that we can begin building class struggle organizations and leaderships in other latitudes.
Finally, a suggestion: while it is true that the WSWS publishes in diverse languages, which allows access for those of us that are not English proficient, a greater effort is required, in my case, in Spanish. I wish you the greatest success in your political enterprise. Once again I greet you all.
New York, USA
8 March 2013
I came to the World Socialist Web Site through the movie reviews of David Walsh. Through his reviews and his coverage of international film festivals, as well as Hollywood products, I have seen films that have been the most important to me.
He finds everywhere films that are serious about human conditions, by filmmakers who work toward finding social truths and genuine characters. DW selects films of purpose and beauty from hundreds released.
I’m glad to have watched A Separation, Even the Rain, and The Ghost Writer, among others. His courageous appreciation of Roman Polanski may bring this skillful director back to many viewers like me, who were put off by the publicity about Polanski. The art of film is probably the most powerful medium in reaching workers for a better world in this visual age. To connect to others through witnessing stories of struggle and endurance is a powerful weapon in the war against injustice.
Recent university graduate. Kingston, Onatario, Canada. WSWS reader since 2005
6 March 2013
I found the WSWS in late 2005, as a high school student and minimum-wage worker in rural south-eastern Ontario.
Canada’s Liberal government had just escalated its intervention in Afghanistan and sent thousands of troops to fight a brutal counter-insurgency war in Kandahar. I had no idea about any of it, until a couple of older friends told me they were leaving to be deployed.
I was angry, searching the internet in the library of my Catholic high school on my spare period. My history teacher, straying from what was specified in the curriculum, had talked a little bit about Leon Trotsky in our class on the Russian Revolution. I felt that the war my friends were being sent to kill and to die in was just like the First World War that the Bolsheviks rejected—the orders were given by the rich and pain and suffering borne by the poor, regardless of their nation.
Searching for more information I came upon an article on the WSWS that criticised Canada’s social democratic party, the NDP, for supporting the Liberal government in parliament while they escalated the war. The article mentioned Trotsky and the Fourth International.
I was amazed to find what could genuinely be described as internationalist journalism. Immediately I wrote in to the author and started a correspondence. … I was 16, and had recently bought The Communist Manifesto after first hearing the word “capitalism” in a song by my favourite hardcore-punk band, Refused. I didn’t know at the time that this correspondence would grow into a lasting intellectual relationship, one that would challenge and educate me more than high school or (to be quite frank) my courses in university. …
The WSWS led me to many great works of history, political economy, philosophy, and political theory that are now instrumental to the way I think and interpret the world around me; Hegel, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Voronsky, Ilyenkov, Rogovin, etc. ...
The WSWS uses a truly historical and dialectical materialist outlook to analyse the contemporary development of the capitalist system and provide crucial political leadership to workers internationally. Its thorough and relentless criticism of the established leadership of the working class, in the trade unions, the social democratic and Stalinist parties is a product of this Marxist method.
… Where other publications cut and paste quotations from Marxist classics without context to justify their opportunist political positions, the WSWS advances a principled perspective based on a complex and nuanced understanding of Marxist theory.
As a recent graduate, still employed for barely more than minimum wage, I am convinced that this perspective articulates my class interests. I read the WSWS every day and have recommended it to almost every worker and young person I know.
Artist. WSWS reader since 2010
5 March 2013
I first found the World Socialist Web Site on November 30, 2010 after being introduced to it by a poet friend in Ireland. We were having tea and a left wing rant or two in his apartment and at a certain point in the conversation he nudged his laptop in my direction and said, “take a look at that chief”—suggesting I read the WSWS review of the revival of the Tony Kushner play Angels in America. I was immediately struck by what I considered to be an accurate and objective criticism of Kushner’s abilities as an artist—and indeed his political outlook. At one point the review criticized Kushner’s assertion in the play that “Gorbachev is the greatest political thinker since Lenin.” Although at this point in my life I was not yet a scientific socialist I knew that such an opinion from the playwright was ridiculous, so it was a relief to read the brief and clear-cut analysis of Gorbachev’s regime in the review.
As an artist myself I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the liberal milieu but couldn’t articulate my frustrations, so I actively sought out intelligent criticism on these types. I found such criticism quickly from reading more and more arts reviews on the WSWS over the following months. A highlight was the review of The King’s Speech. The film made me angry, made me feel ill after seeing it. Cheap, sentimental, trite—that managed to endear itself to large sections of the middle class. However I knew it was crap and more importantly that it was historically inaccurate. So many critics raved about this film, so it was with great satisfaction I read the WSWS review to discover that not only was it crap but it was indeed historically incorrect.
In my head I had considered myself a socialist for many years but what exactly does that mean?
From reading the analysis of political events on the web site, I began to say to myself—“that’s what I have always thought” as I was reading—but the web site was making me realize the difference between generic “left wing” rhetoric (which admittedly I was prone to!) and concrete analysis. This feeling was particularly prevalent when reading the WSWS analysis of the Obama administration. …
Another factor was the analysis of politics in Ireland. At the time of my coming round to the WSWS a “left” organization, the United Left Alliance, was emerging. They were masquerading as a potential alternative to the two-party system in Ireland. Being naïve and so desperate for an alternative it is easy for one to perhaps quickly develop illusions in such organizations. So naturally I said to myself, “I wonder what the World Socialist Web Site thinks of these guys?” The answer I found was like everything else on the Web site, a concrete scientific and historical analysis of the tendencies within this so called alliance—which made me realize that the United Left Alliance were just another pseudo left party. …
… Upon my return to New York I briefly looked at other so-called left sites and was struck by how flimsy and vague their analysis was on these topics compared to WSWS, and perhaps and I was also struck by an apologetic air they all seemed to have with their views on the Obama administration. Through reading the WSWS over the last two years I have developed a critical and concrete understanding of these fake left groups. …
I will be eternally grateful to my poet friend in Ireland for nudging his laptop in my direction on that night in November. A life-changing evening.
California, USA. WSWS reader since 2011
5 March 2013
I started reading the World Socialist Web Site a little over a year ago when a friend showed me some of the articles he had written. At first I was just curious to read his articles, but then I started to explore the site more and found that I agreed with many of its perspectives.
I had studied Globalization and been exposed to the anti-Globalization/anti-Development movements in college, so I already knew that there were problems with Capitalism, and I had already considered myself a Socialist at that point, but unfortunately I did not know what it really meant to be a Socialist. I was simply a Liberal at the time and soon realized after reading many of the articles that the Democrats were just as bad of a party as the Republicans and that many of my previous political views were not at all Socialist in any way, shape or form.
I decided to join the International Youth and Students for Social Equality. After educating myself about Marxism over the past year I feel like my world view has completely changed. In particular, the WSWS’s reviews of films and music had a very profound effect on me, and I especially enjoyed some of the critiques of Bourgeois philosophers in the site’s archives because I had minored in Philosophy in college.
I started attending public meetings last year and was initially a bit put off by the [Socialist Equality] Party’s stance on identity politics, but after doing more research and analyzing it more in depth I realized that the SEP has been correct in its analysis of all of the issues I was most concerned about. Now that my view of reality has been more clarified I have decided to join the SEP.
It has been a long road to this point because I did not want to make the wrong decision and let people down by breaking a commitment, but I believe that thanks to the WSWS I am now educated enough to make the correct decision. I also believe that many others will come to the same conclusions I have drawn and decide to join the Party if they are intellectually honest. Thank you for reading my testimonial.
Arlington, Virginia, USA. WSWS reader since 2002
2 March 2013
Although I'm not affiliated with the WSWS, I’ve been reading your website daily since I first discovered it in 2002 and you covered a story on the Communist Party in Chile (where I was living at the time.) I especially enjoy David Walsh’s insightful reviews and Nick Beams’ economic analyses, but overall the quality of your website is outstanding.
Artist, Chicago, Illinois, USA. WSWS reader since 2003
1 March 2013
The Iraq War began in 2003, when I was 16 and a junior in high school. I did not believe the calls for war, and realized, to some degree, that they came from both Republicans and Democrats. I began to look around, and read on the internet what passes for the left in the United States. A friend did an internet search for “socialism,” and came across the World Socialist Web Site. We both began reading, and for me, the other sources gradually diminished as I gained a sense of what they represented—an attempt to reform the Democratic Party.
The WSWS opened up a new world of thought for me, through its dedicated use of the Marxist method to analyze events. I remember reading a three part article by Joseph Kishore on a school library computer examining the reasons for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. In class, we would review the same event in moral terms, with the US as a worldwide force for good, not a nation-state with economic and political interests. The normal teenage skepticism of high school turned into an opposition to the pro-capitalist ideology in history, economics, and social sciences.
… I studied fine art, and the artistic criticism the WSWS offers was invaluable to make sense of the post-modern anarchy that dominates the liberal arts. I especially appreciated the historical, dialectic approach of Marxist art criticism, which examines art in its social context, and attempts to provide insight into artists, rather than dictates.
… I often began by exploring the WSWS art reviews archive, or took another look at “Favorite artists, works, and performers of the 20th century” [Edited by David Walsh]. It was like a cheat sheet on great art! … I was led to the fantastic work by Kathe Kollwitz, Otto Dix, Diego Rivera. … Rainer Werner Fassbinder DVDs, while also learning to appreciate early Hollywood movies…
The political and historical resources of the site were also invaluable—here were explanations of Stalinism, fascism, World War, and revolution—questions burning with importance for the working class and youth, but covered over and confused by the domination of identity politics on campuses. Then, as now, the WSWS is an invaluable resource—and it continues to improve. My only problem with the site is that it often has more content than I have time to read in a single day!
Frankston, Victoria, Australia
1 March 2013
I’ve considered myself a socialist since the 1970s, but with the successes of Reaganism, Thatcherism, privatization and Western warlust from the 1980s onwards, plus the collapse of the Soviet Union and apparent failure of “the Left” to maintain serious resistance to capitalist restoration worldwide, I slowly became very disillusioned with politics.
The ongoing boom and bust cycles, and downright criminality of the exploiters within the present system continue exactly as Karl Marx and subsequent Marxists predicted, but commentators on “the Left” seemed to abandon class analysis. They instead more and more focused on gender, race and other aspects of inequality, or green, nationalist, religious or “identity politics”. Groups in my area called themselves “Marxist” or “Socialist” but were not affirming working class consciousness at all.
I am firmly of the belief that it is the international proletariat who are the only ones who can—and inevitably must—take over the means of production and the levers of power from the exploitative and parasitic capitalists. The WSWS does not deviate from expressing such class analysis in a clear and intelligent manner. Their articles are a breath of fresh air. Their writers cut through the crap of conservative reaction and liberal hypocrisy.
San Francisco, California, USA. WSWS reader since 1998
1 March 2013
Congratulations to the World Socialist Web Site on 15 years of extraordinary journalism!
I have been a reader of the WSWS since it began publishing in 1998. The WSWS was refreshing and unique in providing accurate analyses of the world situation and a profound corrective to the “established” mass media, the existence of which had long become the suppressor of fact and the promotion of the agenda of international capitalism.
For me personally, the WSWS was the first site that told the truth about the reality of world affairs and politics the world over. The historical articles were a much-needed corrective to the generally low level of historical education and actual falsification of history propagated by the schools and the media, particularly regarding Marxism and the Russian Revolution, that was the basis for anticommunist hysteria in the United States. The task of educating the working class about its own history and relating that history to current events is of inestimable value, now more than ever.
Thank you for your excellent reporting and analysis. The WSWS changed my life in more ways than I can say. It made me realize that being a socialist is the only honorable thing to be if one cares for the survival of humanity.
Serbian living in Japan. WSWS reader since 2008
28 February 2013
As a teenager, and later as a university student—I am now 30—I have always had a sort of instinctual, semi-conscious sympathy for the downtrodden and exploited.
However, the almost imperceptible and ever-present influence of middle-class idealist ideologies in academic circles made me adopt—without ever becoming conscious of the process—various half-anarchist and post-modernist positions. I was reading people like Bertrand Russell or Noam Chomsky, thought that all written history inevitably reflects the writer’s bias and we can never “objectively” validate or disprove different “narratives”, and so was determined never to fall under the influence of any “ideology”, but to compare various sources and look for the truth “somewhere in the middle”. I was disgusted by and rejected all “politics”. While all this made me consider myself pretty “enlightened”, “individualistic” and “free”, I was in fact shallow, impressionable and disoriented.
Then I found the WSWS. I think it must have been sometime in the autumn of 2008. Having long ago abandoned television as a source of information, I was trying to find on the internet a credible explanation of the sudden financial crisis, and how come a collapse of one institution I never heard of halfway around the world could have such a direct impact on my personal life.
I don’t exactly remember how I first discovered the website, but it wasn’t long before I was turning to it every day. Even though I still lacked theoretical and historical knowledge to understand what was really meant by the finishing paragraphs calling for nationalizations, international revolution and strengthening of the party etc., I appreciated the depth of analysis and firmness of principles revealed in every article.
I remember as early as 2009 I started openly preaching revolution to co-workers. However, this opened more questions than I could answer at the time. Where and how could such a revolution come about? If it is “objectively necessary” isn’t any leadership superfluous, and even elitist? Hasn’t all this been tried and failed already? And, coming from a country ruled and destroyed by Stalinism, what are we to make of that period and that regime?
I knew I had to learn more. Capitalism blessed me with extremes of excessive overwork and forced idleness. The latter periods provided the time for reading and researching. The WSWS provided the general direction. Through works on and by Trotsky and Lenin, I got acquainted with the overall international framework in which the workers’ and communist movement developed, especially in the 20th century.
I next turned to the national stage of my home country, Serbia. I learned a lot about the first pioneers of socialism in the late 19th century; the establishment of the Serbian Social Democratic Party and its early fights against reformists and social-patriots until the end of the First World War; the founding of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia and its struggle with centrists immediately after the war; the White Terror and the vicious attack on the whole working class—and especially its party—begun by the bourgeoisie in the early 1920s; the Stalinisation of the party in the late 1920s, resulting in the complete stifling of intellectual life in the party, which ended up merely following all the zigzags of Comintern policies through the 1930s and 1940s; the organizational break with Stalin in 1948, even after which the Yugoslav party remained theoretically wholly within the framework of Stalinism.
Historically closer events, uniquely covered by the WSWS, include how imperialism found in the Stalinist bureaucracy willing accomplices in whipping up nationalism and fomenting fratricidal war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the NATO war in Kosovo in 1999 and the West-organized fall of Milosevic in 2000. On all these various questions I was able to find in the WSWS at least a general guide for my personal efforts, and at best, diligently researched and brilliantly presented finished analysis.
I therefore cannot thank the WSWS enough for helping me escape the intellectual dead end of post-modernism, and above all for revealing the inner workings and true meaning of the historical process, as well as the objective method of its continual analysis—historical materialism.
But all this does not even begin to exhaust the extent of my gratitude to the WSWS. For it is not enough to analyze the world, we must change it. And in order to change it, we, as a class, desperately need a party.
I would like to quote here from Trotsky’s magnificent History of the Russian Revolution. In Volume 3, in the chapter “The Art of Insurrection”, Trotsky, listing different important premises for a revolution to succeed, says:
“It is indeed the general testimony of history—the Paris Commune, the German and Austrian revolutions of 1918, the Soviet revolutions in Hungary and Bavaria, the Italian revolution of 1919, the German crisis of 1923, the Chinese revolution of 1925-1927, the Spanish revolution of 1931 [we could easily add recent examples of Tunisia and Egypt]—that up to now the weakest link in the chain of necessary conditions has been the party. The hardest thing of all is for the working class to create a revolutionary organisation capable of rising to the height of its historic task.”
This “hardest thing of all” is just what the WSWS and SEP are tirelessly working on. This is precisely what we mean when we say that “the historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership”. Being a member of the most conscious, the most principled, and the most revolutionary party in the world is the biggest satisfaction for a revolutionary. And the WSWS is the essential scaffolding for the construction and reinforcement of such a party.
Loyal WSWS reader for over a decade
28 February 2013
As an avid long time reader of the World Socialist Web Site, I would like to express my congratulations and thanks to you on your 15th anniversary.
The WSWS has been my most dependable and illuminating political companion for well over a decade. Your Marxist analysis of political, theoretical, and historical issues is continuously elaborated in your daily coverage of a wide range of political and economic developments. Your Marxist perspective and your international character sets you apart from all other political tendencies.
In a world seemingly enveloped in confusion, disorientation, and misinformation, the WSWS has provided clarity, knowledge, and objective truth. You have decoded for your readers how bourgeois terms such as “reforms,” “economic recovery,” “fighting for democracy,” etc., have in fact an opposite meaning for the working class. In leading the fight for social equality, coupled with its extensive coverage of science, culture, and the arts, the WSWS has served to elevate all of its loyal readers.
Living on the West Coast I have the good fortune of viewing it early, as the next day’s issue generally arrives about 10:00 p.m. In anticipation of its arrival, I will often attempt to analyze some of the day’s important developments, and anxiously await the WSWS assessment. Through this process you have helped myself and so many other readers to develop politically and to raise the political consciousness of the international working class.
Congratulations and thank you again as I continue to look forward to my daily interactions with my most important political companion.
Maine, USA. WSWS reader since 1999
27 February 2013
About fourteen years ago, Yahoo used to cite WSWS.org in its roundup of issues. This was stopped shortly after, but I had found the site. I sought out other websites including CPUSA. They were not serious journalistic efforts. No attempt was made to cover breaking world news. The same material was left on their sites for a week or more.
I was shocked when I first read about the general sellout of the unions. I had bad experiences with the UAW. But I thought that my experience was not typical, and that unions were basically “for - the – worker.” WRONG!
The history of the 1927 Stalinist sellout of the Chinese revolution was an early eye opener for me, as well as the idiotic story of the rise of Hitler. Both the results of errors and betrayals from the inside of the socialist movement.
Not all who call themselves socialist are in reality socialist, and not all who “lead” the workers’ organizations are willing to fight for the workers.
The failures of the socialist movements have NOT been the result of the strength of the bourgeoisie in Germany, China, Spain, Italy, etc., but rather the lack of Marxist perspective in the working class. This essential perspective has grown and will continue to grow as a result of the web site and its vast readership. We cannot change the character of the working class solely by educating its leaders. Rather, its leaders must reflect an advanced perspective within the rank and file of the workers. The WSWS has taken on the task of raising the socialist perspective among the worldwide working class by honest and complete reporting of both the history and the present events in the workers’ struggles. I can’t imagine a more valuable effort.
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. WSWS reader since 2004
27 February 2013
I think I was a socialist long before I knew myself to be one. My parents had left Hungary following the uprising of 1956, and although their own political instincts were social-democratic, their children were raised with a confused mythology about the real nature of that event. I knew next to nothing about the history of Stalinism, I simply understood that the Soviets were not “real” socialists. Of Trotsky I only knew his name, occasional derogatory references to “Trotskyites”, and that he had been the subject of a movie in which Richard Burton had apparently overacted in the title role.
My sense of the importance of history made me think I was some kind of conservative. Yet I knew I was not politically conservative, I just felt that it was important to preserve and understand the past and all things that have enduring value—including music, drama, literature, history, art.
A traumatic upbringing led me to study psychology, which led me to more radical authors who suggested that our personal psychic trauma has wider, societal causes. I was attracted to anything vaguely connected with social justice, environmental causes and feminism, but I always felt uneasy, as all these things, including the dreadful misogyny with which I had been raised, seemed to find their meaning in a larger context than single-issue identity politics.
While working as a volunteer on a community radio station program, I became an admirer of Michel Chossudovsky, and an early follower of his Global Research website based out of Montreal, Quebec. It must have been somewhere around 2004 that I followed the link on that website to the WSWS, and it wasn’t long before I became a faithful daily reader of the latter.
My education through the WSWS has been extremely fruitful. I now feel I can articulate my political beliefs in a way that had not been possible before I began assimilating the real history of socialism. One of the greatest gifts of the WSWS is its arts and culture reporting and analysis—for me it was a relief and a mind-opener to confirm what I had always felt, that the treasures of humanity are here for all to appreciate and enjoy.
The WSWS has enabled me to not only say that I am a socialist, but to understand what it means to be one. The intellectual grounding that makes it possible to reach out to others in a meaningful way can be found on this website. As more readers come to the WSWS, the sense of isolation many of us experience, in our workplaces and lives, will be replaced by a growing sense of the inevitable end of the system that now oppresses us.
California, USA. WSWS reader since 2009
26 February 2013
My encounter with the WSWS came as a requirement for college coursework. I worked full time at a manufacturing facility and had been studying at college in the vain hopes of bettering my situation through education. Having become less and less satisfied with the state of things in the world through my studies, I read Marx for the first time and began to see more clearly my lot in life and my place in society.
We were assigned an article on the World Socialist Web Site for one of our history classes. I can see now that it speaks to the authority of the WSWS as a transmitter of Marxist analysis. At the time I was not totally familiar with any manner of left organizations as they exist in the present era and so it did not stand out to me.
We read the article “Ted Kennedy and the decay of American Liberalism” and I was struck by the perspective given in the account. At the time I wrote, “I find the Marxist historical method to be extremely valuable in the modern era and it remains one of the few historical philosophies which holds the views and experiences of peasants, serfs and workers as intrinsically valuable.”
After reading this article I couldn’t stop myself from coming back to the WSWS. It took a lot of work to understand the historical battles and the analyses, but after a few months I was a daily reader. I doubt that I would be a committed socialist if it had not been for the WSWS and the monumental dedication of the members of the SEP who were cordial enough to respond to my queries as I sent them.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada. WSWS reader since 2000
26 February 2013
During the late 90s, I began to interest myself more seriously in political and historical issues. The context of my developing politicization was the anti-globalization movement as well as an increase in poverty and social inequality, which I was beginning to be aware of. I would also say that the Littleton Colorado high school massacre in 1999 awakened in me the need to understand the reasons why.
In my last year of high school I enrolled in a course on 20th century history. One day, the history professor spoke about Marxism and made us read an excerpt from the Communist Manifesto. This had a huge impact on me. I saw in it the key to understanding the source of many problems and the means of solving them.
When I returned home, we had just gotten access to the internet, and so I typed the word “socialism” into a search engine. I came across several sites, including the wsws.org, and added it to my Favorites. At the time I was 16 years old. Over time, as I perused all these sites, I was not satisfied with the intellectual level of many of them, which contained a lot of quotes and pictures of socialist (or pseudo-socialist) leaders, but little content. One thing that I did not agree with was that Stalin was often misrepresented as the natural successor of Lenin.
One day I read the article by Nick Beams “Marxist internationalism vs. the perspective of radical protest - A reply to Professor Chossudovsky's critique of globalization ” which someone had the good idea to translate into French. I was very attracted by the overall idea, which was very well articulated in the text, and particularly by: “…Chossudovsky never addresses the question of why the post-war economic order, based on Keynesian-style demand management, collapsed in the first place.” … The WSWS was trying to understand the reasons for the rightward turn of all governments and of all the bourgeois parties.
From that time on, there have been few days when I have not read the WSWS. It answered many of my questions about our society. Barely one year later, the events of September 11, 2001 took place. I read everything that the WSWS wrote and I compared it with other ideas that were being circulated. The historical, objective and detailed analysis by the WSWS was by far the best I could find…
The WSWS plays a crucial role not only in bringing the ICFI to remote regions, but also in telling the truth and showing workers the political issues behind their everyday difficulties. It explains to workers what the program of the bourgeoisie consists of and how it has evolved historically, the devastating impact of this program on the living conditions of the population. It continuously denounces the pseudo-left which supports and adapts to this program.
In the course of all this analysis, the WSWS is the essential tool of the ICFI and its sections to demonstrate to the working class its historic role: the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system and its replacement by a rational system of production, democratically run by the workers, that is to say, socialism.
I welcome the fact that the WSWS is gaining in influence. I will continue to contribute as best I can to its development and I encourage all those who read the site and agree with its analysis to do the same. We need you!
Ascot Vale, Victoria, Australia
26 February 2013
I am very grateful to the WSWS for providing us with full coverage of the daily events and analysis it provides. I am a long time reader of this site and have previously always believed in a communist idea. But when I was introduced to this site, I was clarified on many issues which I was previously unaware of.
As a child we were involved in a communist party but back then I had no idea that it stemmed from Stalinism. The WSWS website has clarified issues from the past of which we have been misled. We had never previously known about Trotsky and his involvement in the Russian Revolution. I have read literature published in the WSWS and found that he was the continuation of Lenin and was the one person who was not mentioned by the mainstream media or any other source of information. This is what stood out to me from the other political tendencies and it made me think.
Since I have been reading more daily articles on this website, I have found that it has been enlightening me on many issues that were previously out of reach. … I have developed more of an understanding of world events and the consequences following.
Now I have come to know this website so well and I read it daily, as I have found that it is telling me the truth about what is developing in the world arena and I especially find very interesting the articles regarding the state of the economy and world markets. It gives me an insight as to what we can expect. Through reading daily I have developed an understanding of how the capitalist system operates and where it is heading. I also know now how to interpret what the mainstream media advertises behind their announcements on the air and in their daily newspapers. …
I would like to thank all the members and supporters who help to keep this website active and hope it continues to expand its audience. Thank you for the WSWS website.
Former university student. Montreal, Canada. WSWS reader since 2008
22 February 2013
About four and a half years ago, I discovered the World Socialist Web Site. It was towards the end of 2008, just after the outbreak of the economic crisis, and I was a student at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). By chance, in one of my classes, I met a member of the IYSSE (International Youth & Students for Social Equality), an organization I had not previously heard of. My friend told me that he was part of a student group fighting for socialism, and as I was becoming seriously interested in political and social issues, we immediately started discussing the IYSSE and its perspective.
I was in my early twenties at the time, and trying as best I could to find solutions to the big existential questions of humanity and our unequal society. However, my university courses in social sciences—highly tinged with an idealist and petty-bourgeois outlook— had never been able to meet my expectations. Over time, I realized that if I wanted to “change things,” I had to take an interest in political questions.
I had become a member of Québec Solidaire (QS)—a nationalist party that serves as a left cover to the big business Parti Québécois. The chauvinism of the QS—concealed by its social policies which initially attracted me—irritated me greatly, but I did not know of any more left-wing alternative.
It took the intervention of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and its youth organization for me to understand the true petty-bourgeois nature of the QS. Once I understood that the SEP truly defends the interests of the international working class, of which I was and still am a part, I never set foot in QS again. I began to read the World Socialist Web Site: occasionally at the beginning; then more and more frequently.
I still remember the intellectual effort required to read the articles and participate in discussions, due to my low level of historical and political knowledge (especially since English is not my mother tongue). But with each reading, the dialectical relationship between the development of consciousness and the will— and then necessity—to deepen my knowledge became clearer. I gradually realized that only the Marxist approach, based on the class struggle, allowed me to understand objective reality and provided a truly progressive orientation. The World Socialist Web Site not only provides workers with the political program for their own emancipation, it also makes clear the historical role which the working class must play in the liberation of all humanity from exploitation, economic crises and wars.
Several series of articles appearing on the WSWS contributed enormously to the development of my class consciousness. Like many young Trotskyists of my generation, I began to read the site in 2008, following the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the economic crisis. Objectively this was not a coincidence, considering that this event marked a qualitative shift in class relations.
The huge bailouts of the banks and financial institutions—exposed and explained with great clarity by the site—helped me to grasp the magnitude of the wealth owned by the financial oligarchy that runs our world. In 2008-2009, the WSWS predicted that the financial crisis would be used to transform class relations in a more right-wing direction in order to make the working class pay for the crisis of global capitalism.
At this point I grasped the principal ideas, but it is only with the articles about austerity measures in the US and Europe, and especially on the looting of Greece, that I really understood the class war that is developing. At the same time, I deepened my understanding of the functioning of the bourgeois state and the capitalist interests it defends.
I could write hundreds of lines about articles that have influenced me and furthered my political consciousness. I only have to think about articles on the developments in Egypt, or articles on Quebec and Canada to which I myself contributed, including on last year’s Quebec student strike. The intervention of the WSWS in these important strategic experiences of the international working class has helped to raise the theoretical level of the whole party, to demarcate the Trotskyist perspective from that of the various pseudo-left organizations, and to offer a genuine political alternative for workers, youth and oppressed masses.
The anniversary of the World Socialist Web Site represents, on the one hand, years of intense political work to provide workers with a Marxist analysis of major global developments. On the other hand, the 15-year existence of the WSWS, and the years that will follow, embody the historical legacy of Leon Trotsky, his struggle against the Stalinist bureaucracy and the political struggle of the Trotskyist movement against all the revisionist trends which have sought to liquidate the International Committee of the Fourth International.
Just seven years after the fall of the USSR—at the same time the bourgeoisie was declaring that socialism was dead and the pseudo-left was adapting to the pressures of imperialism and renouncing the class struggle— the ICFI founded the World Socialist Web Site in order to continue and intensify the struggle for the independent political mobilization of the working class and for international socialism.
Professor and author of books on film criticism and history, Illinois, USA
22 February 2013
I began reading the WSWS approximately 10 years ago and became impressed with the depth and lucidity of its political and economic coverage. What most stimulated me was its constant championship and respect for the working class, often ignored and marginalized by many post-Marxist critics. How often did I hear the phrase, “The working class doesn’t exist any more” following screenings of independent films during that short-lived movement of alternative cinema in England during the early ’80s. Similarly, my frustration grew with the dismissal of classical Marxism and the crucial axiom of the role of the revolutionary proletariat at any point of history, no matter how dismal the prospects may appear at certain moments. While others championed Hindess and Hirst’s jargon-ridden works and the obscurantist ideas of Althusser, Foucault, and Lacan, I felt a hesitation. The WSWS confirmed something I intuitively felt—these works bore no relation to the everyday struggles of working people and were in reality hostile to any form of revolution.
The WSWS has long exposed the reactionary nature of the Democratic Party that many people still cling to, despite evidence to the contrary. It is no longer the party of the New Deal and FDR (problematic though these associations are). Those of an older generation cling to this belief with a stubborn nostalgia despite evidence to the contrary, evidence they refuse to consider. Such is the power of self-willed delusion and ideology. This is certainly the case for those who consider Obama the new FDR who will change things for the better. As we all know, his idea of “change” is change for the worse. He has done things that George W. never dreamed of doing, and his attack on the Constitution and Bill of Rights would evoke a charge of justified impeachment were the Republican Party less lunatic than it is now.
Middle East coverage and revelation of the real nature of Israel are key merits of this site. But I wish there were more criticism of fundamentalist thugs such as those who attempted to murder the Afghan girl campaigning for female education in her country and those vigilante groups in Europe who brutalize women and gays. Condemning these incidents does not mean you play into the hands of the enemy. Any critique should be even-handed for Left as well as Right. It should not show favoritism as certain people do with Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner who do not do their historical work in cinema any good by their inaccuracies. All this does is supply ammunition to the enemy.
The WSWS also has stimulated me to read the works of Trotsky apart from Literature and Revolution. His magnificent History of the Russian Revolution is one of they key works of this period. Written by a participant fully aware of historical influences and cognizant as to why October had to happen at that particular time, it is essential reading for anyone seriously interested in that subject, as well as his critical interrogations of Stalinism, the decline of the Soviet Union, and the effect of bad policies that made the situations in Britain, China, France, and Germany much worse than they could have been. Naturally, our era is different, and the same circumstances do not apply. Yet Trotsky’s writings present an intelligent and lucid analysis of what was happening at that time and present a very positive precedent for the type of critique we need today, a critique provided by WSWS.
I’ve left culture for last, but it is not least. This is an area I work in, and the cultural work of David Walsh, Joanne Laurier, Hiram, and many others form an essential antidote to what passes for criticism in the mainstream. How often have I welcomed the devastating critiques made of Tarantino, a director applauded by a Hollywood community that always closes ranks against any justified criticism (as with Bigelow, though we do have dissenting voices like Ed Asner and Martin Sheen) that I find nowhere else. The same is true for Scorsese, a director whose work has adversely deteriorated over the past three decades who would be better employed back at NYU teaching classical cinema rather than making modern reactionary atrocities. Here WSWS says things that really need to be said in a mainstream dominated by Entertainment Today and many university departments whose chairs tell faculty to “bite their tongues” and not make justified caustic remarks against someone regarded as “cool” at a particular time by unthinking students.
Both culturally and politically, WSWS has made very important contributions to informed thought, encouraging debate and, sometimes, disagreement. What is important is not just its existence but its role as a positive inheritor of the ideal of the Fourth International established by one of the great figures of the 20th century who saw the need for change (but not in the manner of our Louis Lepke Buchalter in the Oval Office!) that engages not a small, controlling vanguard but a group that reaches out to the working classes, takes them seriously, does not treat them with contempt, and wishes to make things much better than they are now.
Except for the privileged few, nobody can really accept our current state of affairs assuming they have critical and rational minds. Yet many do not, and this makes the struggle hard, but necessary.
Things must change. Money and dehumanization can not dominate relationships in a world that needs human dignity, freedom from hunger and oppression, and the right to progressive, non-military related employment, and free education.
WSWS embodies all these ideals. Let’s hope for another 15 years and much better ones!
California, USA. WSWS reader since 2008
22 February 2013
I have been a daily reader of the World Socialist Web Site for three years, and I must say it is like a breath of fresh air! In today’s world, with the decline of global capitalism, no news organization presents current events happening around the globe for the working class like the WSWS.
I was first introduced to the site in 2008. I was horrified at the decay of democratic rights, the continuation of the war in Iraq and the rendition and torture policies of the Bush administration, and the betrayal of the Democratic Party after the 2006 midterm elections. I felt abandoned, with no one in the political establishment to stand up for the social position and rights of workers.
The articles that have left the most indelible impression on me are the articles exposing the so-called “left”, and what passes for it, the Democratic Party, the trade union apparatus, and all the media and news organs such as the Nation and the public access daily TV and radio show Democracy Now. Initially, I had a very difficult time understanding this social layer, and how it works to castrate the working class and to avoid all discussion of social issues from a class basis.
After the election of Barack Obama in 2008, coming as it did on the heels of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, I felt a new sense of gloom as I saw the new president continue and expand the corporate and anti-democratic policies of the Bush administration, including breaking his promise to close Guantanamo, continuing the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and asserting the right to spy on Americans and protecting Bush administration officials from lawsuits by using the fictional legal argument of “state secrets privilege”, an argument used to shut down inquiry into criminal abuses by the previous administration.
Specifically, the articles that had the most impact on me were the ones chronicling the new Obama administration’s preservation and continuation of the Bush government’s anti-democratic policy of “ extraordinary rendition “ and CIA secret prisons.
One article that I read and have returned to read again a time or two is “ The Nation and ‘socialism’ .” This provided the foundation for me in understanding the fraudulent character for what passes as the “left” in the United States.
The ongoing decline of global capitalism, and in particular the declining economic power of the United States as the top imperial power, must be understood by the international working class from a class basis internationally. The attack on democratic rights, imperial wars, the growth of social inequality as well as the social position of workers worldwide need to be understood in the correct context of this decline of capitalism. The World Socialist Web Site provides the critical analysis necessary to comprehend these events as a whole.
It is impossible to find to find another news web site that consistently provides this class analysis.
Actor from Toronto, Canada. WSWS reader since 1998
22 February 2013
The WSWS was the reason I bought my first computer in 1998. Having read the Bulletin, which was the forerunner in newspaper form to the web site, I didn’t want to be cut off from the in-depth socialist internationalist analysis that only the International Committee of the Fourth International offers.
It took me many years to become politically astute, as a Marxist analysis wasn’t something I was familiar with at all. I have been working in Canada as a professional actress for some 47 years and unfortunately such spot-on class analysis is not something that is immediately available in the theatre and film milieu.
But after reading Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, I began to understand history for the first time. My favourite book is Trotsky’s In Defense of Marxism. Economics is something I’m still struggling with, but Nick Beams is there to help out. I love those articles and share them with others. I also read everything from Barry Grey, David North, Bill Van Auken and Carl Bronski from Canada.
When the website started the “Arts” section I was thrilled. Whenever I go to the movies I always read David Walsh and Joanne Laurier’s reviews. It makes such a difference to watch a film armed with their insights on the role of art, the historical and social backdrop and the current nature of the film industry. Their depth of understanding always amazes me, and now I try to watch a film with a much more demanding and social critical eye.
Since reading the WSWS and becoming politicized, it has changed me completely. When I am cast in a play now I attempt to see what the writer is trying to say in the world he is living in and what is happening in that world. I am always looking for the truth, and once you know it, there is no turning back.
Last year at the Shaw Festival in Ontario where I often work, I was cast in a Bertoldt Brecht play, “Senora Carrar’s Rifles,” which was written in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The play itself is somewhat bereft of sharp political and historical analysis, so I was able to help the young director with the history—particularly of the role of Stalinism in undermining the revolution in Spain—and eventually gave him Ken Loach’s film Land and Freedom to view.
The influence of the WSWS leaks into people’s awareness in many ways. In his director’s notes at the theatre festival, he used a quote that I gave him from Trotsky which is terrific. “No devil yet voluntarily cut off his own claws.” That is pretty much how I see the financial elite of today, and I thank the WSWS for educating me in so many varied ways.
Indian doctor living in Tripoli, Libya
22 February 2013
Congratulations at completing 15 years.
In my student days in Mumbai I had been involved in community work in Mumbai slums and had been in touch with some far-left Maoist groups. The Maoists have many sympathisers in the art and journalist world.
The articles serve as a meta-analysis of different international trends. For me personally, it helped understand some of the issues relating to Maoism and its role, as this has a lot of support in the underdeveloped world. The WSWS also helped to clarify much of the lies that are parroted about Trotsky in left-circles. In our student days when there was no Internet, we would just listen to what seniors told us. Thus, as in many (most) activist circles, the source of knowledge is from within the group itself, a skewed perspective can develop that results in roadblocks as one progresses further and gets more involved in such groups.
Over the years I found many interesting articles and analysis as I tried to find out the dynamics behind conflicts such as former Yugoslavia. I am an Indian doctor who has stayed and worked in the Arab world for almost a decade, in Tripoli. When I would talk to Serbians they uniformly had a very different view of the conflict than what I had read in the mainstream media.
Your perspectives on Haymarket and Neo-Marxism make essential reading for all people interested in the movement of the working people.
The Arab spring-Libyan chapter has seen many interesting associations. I stayed in Libya throughout the conflict and wrote anonymously, some of which got published in WSWS too. The way the armed population responded after their brutal suppression in February, the fall of Tripoli in August, and how a client regime tries to work out things while oil reserves are protected by the West all show the many layers of international dynamics.
We are a small group of readers here, who regularly read, discuss, summarize the articles. Your arts section continues to be the most interesting. The use of rhetoric in other sections sometimes is difficult to understand.
Keep writing and educating.
Romania. WSWS reader since 2008
20 February 2013
As a citizen of Romania I grew up in a country that for many years fed its population with the lie that people were working to build “socialism” for the good of us all.
Having the chance to travel to Western Europe before 1989 and see life behind the Iron Curtain, I was happy and full of hope when the Ceauşescu regime ended. Being confronted as a teenager with life in countries where the free market was at home and where life seemed careless, and having no deeper insight into world politics or economy, I lived for years with the belief that socialism was a system that cannot work, one under the control of rich and corrupt politicians, with no hope for the rest of the population.
It was only after I was introduced to the WSWS, almost 5 years ago, that I started to put things together. Suddenly, events with global significance I was wondering about, and questions about the direction that the world and my country was heading towards, started to open up and have a different meaning. The WSWS was my ticket to entering a totally unknown part of history.
At first I simply couldn’t believe that history can be altered that much, and that so many of us were told lies that, not knowing otherwise, we ended up believing. I became curious about what the “socialism” I grew up with actually was and what/how genuine socialism should really look like. The WSWS archive was very helpful in providing articles in which I found explanations for the questions I had. The site offered an insight not only into the real events and the historical falsification, but also revealed to me the truth behind the history of my own country, helping me understand the past. At the same time, it brought along the moment when I realized that the hope for equality and a good future for mankind is possible after all, with an international socialist program.
I am reading now comrade North’s The End of the USSR, and the lecture helps me understand even more the nature of Stalinism disguised as “socialism” and all the damage it has done to the affected countries. It also points out to me once again the fact that even now, almost 24 years after the fall of Ceauşescu, my country is still governed by former Stalinists and bourgeois parties that will never be committed to the working class. Together with their allies, they are doing everything in their power to hinder a revolution, a progressive perspective and the fight for genuine Marxism in Romania.
During the last several years, I have witnessed many predictions made by the WSWS. To mention only some: the fate of the Egyptian revolution and the dead end that the protests in Greece are reaching without a proper leadership; the aggravation of the ongoing financial crises as long as the world is ruled by the defenders of the profit system; the true reason for the many wars started by imperialist powers; and, most recently, the dangers societies all over the world face due to the rise of nationalist and extreme right movements (a proof of the accuracy of the WSWS analyses occurred recently through the actions of such a movement against the Roma living here). These predications became real in every respect.
So right now, I am confident that the mounting social anger all over the world will find its expression in an international working class struggle against capitalism, and I await the revival of socialism, this time of a genuine socialism, in Romania.
Canada. WSWS reader since 2012
20 February 2013
I first stumbled onto the World Socialist Web Site eight months ago. At the time, I was a member of a Philippine national-democratic organization, searching for perspectives on the death of the country’s former president, Corazon Aquino.
My search led me to a feature article written by Joseph Santolan, a correspondent of the WSWS. My entire world was rocked by what I read. According to the article, not only had the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines written a glowing eulogy of the thoroughly reactionary former president, but it had also played a crucial role in helping her claim the presidency in the aftermath of the hated Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.
It was the first time I’d ever read a critique of the left from, well, the left. I closed that browser window immediately after reading, like a child who’d just seen something he wasn’t supposed to. It was too late though. That article left a burning impression on me.
Perhaps egged on by that initial brush with the truth, I began leafing back through decisive moments in recent Philippine politics, trying to connect the dots between my organization’s actions and the outcomes of those events. It seemed as though the potential for serious offensives by workers and the rural poor had always run out of steam. What was keeping them from perceiving their true enemies and sustaining the attack for liberation?
I asked my former comrades in the movement. I was answered in conciliatory tones and appeals for patience, pragmatism. It was a statement to the effect of, “Have faith in our leaders, they will not steer you wrong.”
The WSWS had another answer. Guided by Nick Beams’ comprehensive exposé titled “The Way Forward for the Philippine Revolution”, supplemented by the most relevant articles from the web site, my eyes were slowly opened to the cesspool of confusion that was and is the Communist Party of the Philippines. Continuously prostrating themselves before the country’s ruling elite, they had betrayed the Filipino workers and rural poor since the party’s inception. Their political allegiances changed with the season.
These were not lapses in judgment, but the logical and necessary outcomes of the Stalinist and Maoist theory of two-stage revolution, which necessitated an alliance between the working class and the supposedly progressive sections of the bourgeoisie. Never mind the past experience of the Philippine Revolution of 1898, which had exposed the inability of the bourgeoisie to carry through a democratic revolution. Never mind the bloody experiences of the 20th century in China and Indonesia. The CPP was determined to realize its deluded vision. This continues to be carried out on the backs of young men and women, conscripted from among the urban and rural poor and used as fodder against the bourgeoisie’s roaming paramilitaries. The CPP leadership has nothing but contempt for the fallen, exemplified by the extent to which they heap praise upon the murderers themselves. In eulogizing former President Aquino, the CPP failed to condemn the massacre of 13 peasant activists carried out at her behest.
I’ve since become an avid reader of the WSWS. In questions of political theory, it is unashamedly and unmistakably Marxist. In matters of principle, it is unwavering. It is the sole beacon of truth in an otherwise murky gloom. The legacy and great revolutionary traditions of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, among others, are a living, breathing tapestry within the pages of the WSWS.
My education continues unabated with the help of my new comrades in the IYSSE and the SEP. I giddily anticipate our next discussions and readings, this time like a child on Christmas morning.
Three cheers for the WSWS. Long live the ICFI!
Baltimore, Maryland, USA. WSWS reader since 2010
20 February 2013
In 2010, I was a 20 year old student who had just arrived in Baltimore, Maryland from one of the wealthier suburbs of Washington, D.C., to complete a degree in English literature. I was shocked and appalled at the level of poverty and lack of basic services I encountered on a daily basis in Baltimore, which I clearly understood to be failures of the capitalist system. I was also disappointed to discover firsthand that the higher education system is increasingly becoming a debt trap for graduates like myself and a means of increasing inequality between the classes, in addition to limiting knowledge to vocational skills. No publication, online or otherwise, has given such an accurate analysis to these and other ideas I intuitively know to be true like the World Socialist Web Site .
South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, USA. WSWS reader since 2006
20 February 2013
After reading Revolution Betrayed during the summer of 2006, I considered myself a Trotskyist. I had the idea—not totally unjustified from a quick survey of publications—that genuine Trotskyism was a thing of the past and had been abandoned by modern “Trotskyist” parties in favor of identity politics and the like. When I discovered the WSWS, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and depth of the articles, as well as the clear orthodox Trotskyist orientation.
After some time and constant reading, I came to recognize that Trotskyism was not dead, but was living a very vibrant life in the pages of the WSWS. I delved deeper into the history of the SEP and it soon became clear to me that the ICFI represented the continuity of the Fourth International founded by Trotsky. My education as a Trotskyist was aided immeasurably by articles on the WSWS and books provided by Mehring Books, such as The Heritage We Defend by David North. Through all the tumult of the late 2000s and the early 2010s, the WSWS was my constant companion in interpreting the momentous developments of the past six years.
The WSWS time and time again helped me avoid feelings of demoralization and isolation amid the relentless drive against the working class prosecuted by the ruling elite. The web site opened my horizons to new philosophy, political issues and historical events. The WSWS is an irreplaceable resource and authority for workers everywhere. Let us hope that in the coming years it will find an ever-widening audience.
Missouri, USA. WSWS reader since 1998
18 February 2013
I would like to thank everyone at WSWS for the existence of this invaluable web resource. I am able to find more truth in each daily post than I can find in years of mainstream press. It has been a source of real information and analysis, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in what is really happening in the world.
I discovered the WSWS shortly after it began. I was searching a political topic and got a link to the WSWS. It was one of the luckiest finds of my life. I read it everyday and I feel that it helps to keep me sane in an insane world. Your optimism in the possible future of humanity contrasts with the conventional beliefs, held by both the right and left in this country, that we are all capable of evil and that our society will fall into ruin soon.
I read many other “liberal” and “progressive” publications and foreign newspapers and listen to newscasts from other countries over the Internet. I have always been disappointed by these outlets, chiefly because they all seem to be either trying to save capitalism or have just given in to it. I used to read The Nation, but gave it up decades ago. They seemed too dedicated to theory with no praxis. The writers were, in the main, no different from other American “intellectuals.” I was glad I wasn’t reading The Nation when it started to make excuses for the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and became an apologist for the Democratic Party. I may not agree with everything WSWS publishes (just 99.9 percent of it), but I feel that the articles are always carefully thought out and researched.
To contrast WSWS with the “progressive” press, in the latest issue of In These Times (March 2013) there are 1) an editorial praising the French government for their interference in Mali, ending with a hope that the French would recognize that the Tuaregs had legitimate grievances, but no mention of French imperialism; 2) “Ode on a Grecian Radical,” praising Alexis Tsipras and Syriza; 3) a typically obfuscating article by buffoon/intellectual Slavoj Žižek (he appears in ITT often); and, 4) a “feminist” take on Kathryn Bigelow, that she has broken into the “boys club,” including the opinion that she is being criticized for being a strong woman, and praising the CIA agent, Maya, in Zero Dark Thirty for being a strong woman! There is no mention of the real controversies around this terrible film or Bigelow’s collaboration with the CIA. There are also articles on the latest middle class concerns. It’s not that there aren’t some well thought out articles and some useful information; it’s that they do not seem to have enough belief in their own philosophy to stand up for it. They seem afraid that they will offend the middle class, that they are too grounded in identity politics, especially a kind of faux-feminism and “green” (whatever that means) and are very willing to compromise (i.e. give up). Broadcast progressive programs on TV are no better. I am constantly seeing fake progressives like Juan Cole, Dana Milbank, Jonathan Alter, and any number of Democratic Party operatives.
Please keep up the good work. You are keeping the flames of independence, equality, and rational thought alive in this dying society.
Regular reader since 2008 from Norway
18 February 2013
Congratulations on the anniversary. Accept my admiration and appreciation for your achievements, with kudos to each and every one of the editors, and to the editorial board for its enabling leadership. My greetings are extended to all WSWS readers. As one of the many, I proclaim that I am honoured to be endowed with the fruits of your labour. I am a grateful reader, and I am proud to be part of your global readership.
You deserve accolades for your standards. Quality in journalism is no simple matter, and you deliver. Your persistent quest for dispelling the veils of deception and unmasking the manipulators of power and politics makes encouraging reading. You highlight facts and contexts that inform and educate, with analysis that enlightens. Subjective criticism and personal opinion make for credibility when based on knowledge, and on principled statements that are flagged high.
Mainstream journalism’s proclaimed “objectivity” is indeed “the Emperor's new clothes”—the fairy tale of the naked ruler. De omnibus dubitandum, doubt everything, Marx’s credo and a cornerstone in the philosophy of science, is surely the right point of departure. WSWS shines a beacon in our bleak times.
I am a regular reader for some eight years. I crave to be informed on the important topics of the day, with the facts that matter, and with qualified assessments and commentary. You deliver on all scores. I commend your expansions into the spheres of science and art, and I am confident in representing my fellow readers’ appreciation. Your articles on astronomy, summarizing factual complexities and linking to thoughts on materialistic philosophy and the history of enlightenment provide perspective insights and food for thought. Your reviews, interviews and eulogies from the realms of art, music and cinema are laudable. Your thoughtful assessments contribute greatly to cognition of the intricacies of modern life and times.
WSWS presents the events that shape our world, with grounded perceptions of how it can be reconfigured. It is indeed an essential means to that end. Already the readership expands the globe. By your good work, with the translations and the principled international perspectives, it will necessarily multiply.
Washington DC, USA. WSWS reader since 2007
18 February 2013
I first came in contact with the World Socialist Webs Site in 2007, while searching for reviews of the Michael Moore film Sicko. Like many others, I supported this film on the assumption that it was speaking for the underdogs in society, that it was taking a stand against entrenched power. David Walsh’s analysis of this film struck me, as did several correspondences between him and other readers, in his assertion that art, and consequently all forms of social interaction, should not aim to merely placate an audience with sentimental imagery, but to tell it the truth. This struck a chord with me.
“The truth never hurt anyone, provided he was on the level,” said James P. Cannon, one of the founders of the American Trotskyist movement. This is the philosophy that one must apply to oneself on a constant basis if one truly intends to endow one’s actions with meaning. Consequently, one cannot lie when the fate of humankind is at stake. This explains the SEP and its web site’s critical attitude towards social developments, the seriousness of the situation facing mankind, and the party’s willingness to acknowledge it and conduct its struggle on those terms. This is the definition of the word “principled.”
Throughout the course of the year 2008 particularly, that period bearing so much political significance, I found myself drawn to the WSWS’s analysis at an increasing rate. The stance it took on the election of the first African American president of the United States, and the financial crash of Wall Street with its many aspects of criminality, kept me grounded during this time of alarm. To this day, I am pleasantly surprised upon seeing the release of the WSWS’ latest commentary on events, always keeping in step with social developments and applying a refocusing lens to the proceedings.
In a world where mottos such as “good guys always finish last” had gained traction and the truth seemed to be unfashionable, this was a breath of fresh air. There is something empowering about being able to stand on a platform which wholly defends historical truth and the working class, the underprivileged and oppressed of society in such an adept manner. This is something the youth of today will cling to as they strive to find their bearings in the gauntlet that capitalism has laid before them.
A refugee of the Yugoslavian civil war living in Australia. WSWS reader since 2008
16 February 2013
I came to Australia as a refugee from Yugoslavia in 1998, and, after living through four years of civil war, I will carry scars for the rest of my life. I came out of the war with the conclusion that the nationality that I belonged to was always hated by the other nationalities in this region and vice versa, and that this was the cause of the civil war between the Balkan nations.
I could not fully believe this explanation, but I could not think of any alternative as I was too young to understand. Life before the civil war was very different. From the eyes of a child it seemed perfect. I did not even know my nationality; the civil war changed all this.
Being a child of a war prisoner who was also wounded, my family and I had the opportunity to start a new life in another country. Being one of the lucky ones who escaped the aftermath of the war, we could go back to school and finish our education. Life eventually went back to normal and we were very soon doing the same thing as everyone else.
The war was always in the back of my mind; I wanted to know what happened. I started following politics, especially in 2008 with the Israeli attack on Gaza. I wanted to understand the Israel-Palestine conflict and very soon I was reading much more broadly. I wanted to understand the struggle of the Palestinian people. I also wanted to understand the Israeli view. What is Zionism? The War on Terror did not make sense. the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, but when you look at September 11 and the hijacking of the planes, they were mostly Saudis, but the US never said anything about this fact. The evidence of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction was used as a pretext for the invasion of US and NATO forces. It turned out to be a lie. What other lies were we being fed?
I was reading all that I thought would give me a better understanding of world politics; the military sites, leftist sites, socialist sites, anarchist sites. I did not think much of the global financial crisis in 2008. When it happened, I did not see any connections. I saw it as just a glitch in the system and that very soon things will be back to normal. I wasn’t interested in Australian politics as to me it seemed that we were too far from world events.
As I was reading and learning I found myself running into more questions than answers. Something was missing, but I could not point out what it was. I read articles, blogs, analysis and everything seemed clear on a broad sense. The thing that was missing is the revolutionary thought, the progressive outlook on the future. At first it all seemed like conspiracy theories, no connection with history at all.
Then I encountered the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). I saw that the website had a notice that speakers would be coming to my city to present a public meeting. They gave a presentation on world and Australian politics and economy, Kevin Rudd’s removal and backstabbing by Julia Gillard. They called themselves socialists and I went to their public meeting out of curiosity. As I come from an ex-communist country, I thought that these guys must be kidding themselves if they are going to preach about socialism to someone who saw what communism did to his country.
I was surprised. The speakers were laying out facts and logical conclusions that were amazingly clear; but my real surprise came when the light was shed on those who I thought were the good guys. Their analysis of the bankruptcy of the unions, the Cuban revolution, the bureaucratization of the Soviet Union, laborism and parliamentarism, and the historical lessons of globalization were overwhelming.
To list some examples: the assessment that Russia was a degenerated workers state, that Yugoslavia was never a socialist country but more properly a deformed workers state, where there was public ownership but the power was not in workers’ hands, the importance of Trotsky’s struggle against Stalinists and the struggle to build the Fourth International. It left me confused. I wanted to argue but I could not as I never really understood the system in Yugoslavia. The presenter referred me to the World Socialist Web Site archives on the breakup of Yugoslavia and NATO intervention in 1999.
I started reading the material; at first it was hard to connect the dots. I had to get rid of the nationalism that was ingrained in me from the struggle that I went through. Once I made it over this it was like a breath of fresh air; it finally made sense and it was clear as day. The issues in Yugoslavia were never ultimately caused by national hatred. The hate was the effect but not the cause. The major cause was the economy, the bureaucracy, the outside pressure of the world market, the collapse of the cold war and subsequently the end of the balancing act that Yugoslavia played between east and west.
This gave me a footing and orientation in the world. I could understand where things went wrong for this deformed workers state—what was missing—and to see behind the nationalist rhetoric that came out from the chaos and violence. Now I could turn to the other articles and world events with peace of mind. I went frantically through the archives educating myself on the events of the past 10 years.
The objectiveness and principled approach of the site is shown through the years in thousands of published articles. It is the only movement and website that clearly represents the Marxist approach and is leading the workers’ cause in fighting to overthrow capitalism. It is only a matter of time before the working class enters the world stage, guided by the lessons of the struggle of Trotsky and the Fourth International. The WSWS, as the voice of the international working class, is invaluable.
Science fiction author and son of veteran Trotskyists Jean and Bill Brust. WSWS reader since 1998
15 February 2013
As part of marking the 15th Anniversary of the World Socialist Web Site, we invite readers to send in comments on why you read the WSWS. Below we publish a letter from Steven Brust, American science fiction writer and son of Workers League founding members, Jean and Bill Brust.
The WSWS functions for me as an antidote.
To a writer, nothing is more important than milieu; the people with whom one associates on a daily basis inevitably have a powerful effect on one’s work. It is largely from conversation and interaction with colleagues that a writer forms conclusions about what to strive for, and how to use technique to achieve those goals.
Working as a writer, more particularly as a genre writer, I find myself surrounded by all manner of petit bourgeois ideology. Dismissal of science as applied to history, each and every form of identity politics, and smug, arrogant superiority directed against any coherent theoretical position are just some of what I see around me. To be sure, there is the other side: These are intelligent people, and conversation with them on literary subjects is invaluable to spurring my own ideas on how best to please, frighten, move, and occasionally even enlighten those who have trusted me to tell them a story.
It is one thing to have faith that the world around us is understandable; it is quite another to have that demonstrated: to read, every day, concrete scientific analysis of the day’s events.
The first thing I always look for is a letter and a reply—because those demonstrate most sharply the methods of science, and I get positively excited following the reasoning. Next, for a similar reason, I look for polemics. The art reviews—especially those by Mr. Walsh—are naturally of great interest to me.
But it is the daily news coverage that is the most valuable. It is easy to think in abstractions, like, the war in the Middle East is about oil, or, the Obama administration is as reactionary as the Bush administration was. It is far more difficult and valuable to see in detail, with hard facts and clear, precise argument, exactly how specific events fit into the broader context. When surrounded by impressionism disguised as politics, or reaction cloaking itself as liberalism, or subjectivism passing itself off as principle, actual understanding is vital for keeping my feet on the ground.
Because here’s the thing: No matter how much one tells stories of magical beasts or impossible worlds, in the end, it is always the world of here and now one is writing about. The better one understands that world, the more powerful the stories will be.
American science fiction writer and son of Jean and Bill Brust
Chicago, Illinois, USA. WSWS reader since 1999
14 February 2013
I was introduced to the World Socialist Web Site in 1999, through an article on the reactionary character of racial politics in the United States. The article “Simpson, Dreyfus and Spartacist” criticized the comparison made by Spartacist of those supporting O.J. Simpson's acquittal with the supporters of French army captain Alfred Dreyfus. It was distributed as supplementary reading in a course on 20th century history and politics.
That week, the third week of my freshman year in college, I became a regular reader of the WSWS. I would not become a contributor for another 8 years. What was decisive for that was how heavily I would rely on the WSWS. As a young socialist in the South experiencing the remarkable lack of serious political organizations on campus, the WSWS was the only place to find clear and careful analysis from a genuinely Marxist political perspective. Of the countless things that have changed in the intervening years, that has not. Whenever major events occurred and had to be comprehended—the Kosovo War, 9/11 and the “War on Terror”, the stealing of the 2000 election and the rapid decay of American democracy, the financial crises of 1997-98 and 1999-2000—the defining events of the late 1990s and early 2000s, I found myself turning to the WSWS first. It is extremely impressive to me how well these analyses have held up over the years.
By no means did I always find myself in agreement with the perspective I found on the WSWS, particularly on the issue of the trade unions, which were prohibited in many sectors in the area where I grew up, and which I believed would have offered protection against worker exploitation. What I did not know about was destruction of workers' living standards that had been taking place under the watchful eyes of union leaders in places like Chicago, Detroit, Findlay, Pittsburgh and Joliet. I would soon learn. But this realization did not depend simply on having a little more life experience. In fact, there were major theoretical and political issues at stake. Why had this gone on? What did it mean for the future?
I would wrestle with those questions for two years, until I came across a polemic on the WSWS from 1998, entitled Globalization and the International Working Class. It dealt with the implications of the economic shifts characterizing the globalization period for world capitalism and for the working class, in response to the orientation of Spartacist (again).
Agreement with that work was a defining moment in my political development, and that is because the perspective put forth there constituted a major development for Marxism as a science. Read it if you haven't. It plainly spelled out the implications of the new situation, one of the most important of which is that young people today and those soon to be come have an enormous, a potentially epoch-making, opportunity to revolutionize social relations—the kind of opportunity that does not exist for every generation. In order to be prepared politically, we had to understand that we were entering a period of wars and revolutions, and that immense challenges lay ahead. Recognizing the historic tasks to be carried out could not but make a forceful impact on my political consciousness, and I was not alone.
It is a liberating moment for any member of the working class to be relieved of the weight of unending conciliation with the ruling class, to throw off the yoke of the old organizations, and freely and fearlessly build a movement that will fight for socialism, so powerfully attractive for the promise it holds for the future.
It is not often that one reads a description of their own generation and has no quibble with what is said. When it is said the World Socialist Web Site educated a generation of socialists in classical Marxism since coming online in 1998, I am one of tens of thousands who know that it is their tale being told. The WSWS has and will continue to be the most powerful instrument current for educating, preparing politically, and building the knowledge and confidence the working class requires to break with bourgeois politics and cut a path to social equality for the world's people.
Florida, USA. WSWS reader since 2001
14 February 2013
As a young professional with an interest in politics, I searched for answers after 9/11/01. The liberal left/middle-class radicals, whom I had supported for years had no answers. I remember Noam Chomsky in particular, as one who was initially apologizing for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda; asking people to restrain themselves from coming to conclusions about the most immediate and obvious facts surrounding the attacks. I felt disgust towards the whole radical milieu, for their confusing answers and lack of fighting spirit.
I recall being completely impressed after clicking on a Google search recommendation, in December 2001. It was a WSWS article on 9/11, analyzing facts that were publicly known and asking the right questions, such as, "Why did this happen, and who benefits?" It was a breath of political fresh air, and the beginning of a Marxist evolution for me. Very quickly I discovered that no media source anywhere offered the precise analysis and revolutionary perspective of the WSWS.
My respect has only increased over the years. What the WSWS achieves, six days a week in many languages, is an awesome international collaboration. It is a daily output of high-quality Marxist analysis on; political economy, science, art & pop culture, history and philosophy. Anywhere there has been a significant trend in these fields in the past 15 years; the WSWS has been there with its commentary, always maintaining the orthodox Marxist perspective of Leon Trotsky's Fourth International.
Personal favorite reads of the WSWS , in my introductory period were the responses from writers such as Patrick Martin and Barry Grey, to the vitriol of backward readers. Hate was met with rational polemics that hit back, squarely between the eyes with Marxist analysis and a dialectical method. The result was usually a devastating polemical knockout blow. I encourage WSWS readers to review these exchanges from the early 2000's, as an instructive example of how to deal with ignorance and violent anger. It is sufficient here to say, that it must be met with disciplined resistance using historical materialism and the dialectical method at every turn.
Lenin once wrote that the power of Marxism, is that it is true. The ruling elite and its petty bourgeois representatives direct their forces on the SEP and the international working class at every turn. Moments of crisis create opportunities for people to step outside their normal lives and seek the truth. Revolutionists train for these moments by reading and re-reading classical Marxists: from Marx & Engels; to Lenin & Trotsky; through David North, Nick Beams, David Walsh, Patrick Martin, and the many other classical Marxists who write for the WSWS . It is up to those WSWS readers who think and care enough to be tomorrow's leaders, to cultivate an indomitable fighting spirit, tempered with the intelligence and revolutionary experience of the party of Trotsky and its daily organ.
The depth of coverage in one WSWS article is worth more than a thousand pieces from any other mass media source. The great irony is that much of the source material used in WSWS articles are facts and quotes gleaned from the NYT & WSJ, etc. As always, it comes down to perspective and the WSWS has been completely consistent in their political position throughout their existence as the daily organ of the Fourth International. The party's history proves the importance of understanding and maintaining a disciplined line on orthodox Marxist ideas such as democratic centralism, dialectical materialism, and permanent socialist revolution. Only through hard work and diligence, which puts the goal of an international socialist revolution in permanence ahead of all else, can such an awesome task be led to a successful conclusion. This is the daily message of the WSWS.
After ten years of studying Marxism, and continuing my general education; I joined the SEP in 2012. Joining this party should not be considered lightly. What is required by the SEP is: a daily reading and understanding of the WSWS, a thorough knowledge of the history and writings of the Fourth International, and an intense studying of the WSWS archives which are truly an awesome achievement. With that foundation, a correct political perspective can be applied in all revolutionary matters. This is what every WSWS reader with revolutionary intentions should dedicate themselves to, on a daily basis.
Teacher, New York, USA. WSWS reader since 2010
14 February 2013
I first started reading the WSWS in earnest in 2010. I came to the website as a very frustrated teacher, desperately searching for media coverage of Obama’s reactionary agenda regarding public education, most especially the unrelenting attack on teachers. Whereas “liberal” media outlets had covered the negative aspects of Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act during his administration, such coverage of Obama’s educational agenda was entirely absent. The WSWS was the only media outlet that provided spot-on analysis of the Obama administration’s punitive education policies, especially the Race To The Top program ,which forces schools to compete for desperately needed funding.
At that point, I began to look to the site every day, wanting to see what other issues were being covered, and I discovered that I agreed with the analysis on these issues as well. It was an incredible relief to find honest coverage! Without this, as a worker I felt extremely isolated, as though I was alone in feeling that the system had failed. Again, no other media outlet provides a clear and honest analysis of the crisis and decay of the capitalist system.
The hardest aspect of my political growth, as far as interacting with the articles on the website, was realizing that hoping for reforms through the Democratic Party was a political dead end. I was a lifelong Democrat before coming to the WSWS, and so it was like a light being turned on. The analyses on the site revealed truths I had sensed before but didn’t want to believe; once confronted with the facts, I could no longer go back to my old wishful thinking. The website has provided me with the best political and historical education I could hope to find.
I am thankful for the enormous array of topics covered by the WSWS writers. It allows me to understand the political situation on a global level and in terms of a deep historical perspective. Now when I converse with people about current events, I have a grasp of issues that I otherwise wouldn’t, thanks to the analysis and coverage of the website. No other news source provides this!
Often, people that I speak with are amazed to learn what’s really going on (an example that comes to mind is a recent article on 100 people being worth more than the GDP of all but 8 countries on the planet. I mentioned this to several people, who were stunned and took positions on capitalism that they might not have if they had not heard that). The website is extremely powerful in this regard. Its unrelenting exposure of the true face of capitalism is the greatest means to educate the working class on the necessity of a socialist revolution.
Michigan, USA. WSWS reader since 2010
14 February 2013
I began reading the WSWS around the time of the Haiti earthquake in early 2010. At the time, I was angry about the state of the economy, the bailout of the banks and was disoriented by the shift in the anti-war movement after the election of Obama, whom I had voted for and whose election I had celebrated. Prior to reading the website I spent many months discussing and arguing issues with a friend, who was an SEP member. He encouraged me to read the site and at first I do so reluctantly, mostly in order to understand his viewpoint and best him in one of our arguments. To be honest, before reading the WSWS, I expected to find a variation of the half-baked radical “socialism” I had been periodically exposed to at different periods of my life. What I found instead, however, was thoroughly principled, stimulating and inspiring.
The breadth of the daily coverage—from local news to interviews, the arts, history and global perspectives impressed me and it did not take long before I was reading the site daily. I was impressed by the inclusion of the party’s own history and the availability of its vast archive of articles and documents related to the history of the Fourth International. This practice is unparalleled and reflects the seriousness with which the work of the Editorial Board and the SEP is undertaken. Writing for the WSWS has deepened my own political perspective and taught me to think dialectically. It is important to note, I think, how meticulously each article is gone over and how much time is spent in discussion in the creation of each article. That this is done on a daily basis on a score of topics with writers and editors from all over the world is nothing short of astounding. I only wish I had found it sooner.
- Dave Tate
- Thomas Scripps
- John H
- David Byrne
- Thomas Gaist
- Crome Carlos
- B.E. Sondlo
- Maire Byrne
- Juan Verala Luz
- Bob Jackson
- Mike Jobson
- Cody Stephens
- Prasanna Vithanage
- Lawrence Cohen
- Robert (Taffy) Seaborne
- Mitch Marcus
- Dermot Byrne
- Allison Smith
- Carol Byrne
- Zac Corrigan
- Chris R.
- Walter Noeli
- Ben Trent
- Ken Singer
- John Rigas
- Isaac Finn
- Max Newman
- Lawrence Moore
- Christie S
- Zach Reed
- Jerome Stern
- Alejandro López
- David Mintz
- Greg Near
- Mariel Anderson
- Olivier Laurent
- Ken Schaefer
- Danny Dickinson
- Max Alvarez
- Jim Reid
- Michael T. Bucci
- Steve Filips
- Kevin Russell
- Khara Sikhan
- Mark Church
- Cynthia Brust Moore
- Martin Taylor
- Heinz Strunk
- William T. Hathaway
- Victor Raúl Prieto Martinez
- Virginia Smith
- Graham Beverley
- Robert Fowler
- Gonzalo Baeza
- John Lafferty
- Mirko Lukash
- AG, California, USA
- Carl Cooley
- Kamilla Vaski
- Louis Girard
- Dolores Martinez
- Tony Williams
- Wendy Thatcher
- Diana Toma
- Terrence McGovern
- Nick Barrickman
- Steven Brust
- Kristina Betinis
- Ric Size
- Janel Flechsig