The program of the Socialist Equality Party is of a principled, not of a conjunctural and pragmatic character. It is based on an analysis of the crisis of world capitalism and an assimilation of the strategic revolutionary experiences of the working class and the international socialist movement. The world economic and political system is, in its fundamental characteristics, imperialist. Despite the advances in technology, the growth of the productive forces, and the expansion of capitalist production relations throughout the globe, the world capitalist system is beset by the same insoluble contradictions that produced the 20th century horrors of two world wars, fascism, a virtually endless series of regional military conflicts and innumerable brutal political dictatorships.
The main features of imperialism identified by Lenin during World War I (the monopolistic concentration of production, the domination of finance capital and economic parasitism, the great power striving for global geo-political and economic dominance, the oppression of weaker nations, and the universal tendency toward political reaction) define the present world economic and political order. As in 1914 (on the eve of World War I) and in 1939 (on the eve of World War II), the basic contradictions are between the global economy and the nation state system, and between socialized production and private ownership of the means of production. From these contradictions emerge not only the danger of another catastrophic world war, but also the objective conditions for the overthrow of capitalism—the socialization of industry and finance, the globalization of economic life, and the social power of the working class.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the ideologists and apologists of the bourgeoisie proclaimed “The End of History.” By this they meant “The End of Socialism” and the final triumph of capitalism. Subsequent events have demonstrated that the obituaries for revolution, not to mention for history itself, were premature. The 21st century will be no less tumultuous than the 20th. The international working class will be confronted with the historical problems that previous generations were unable to solve.
Revolutionary socialist strategy can develop only on the basis of the lessons of past struggles. Above all, the education of socialists must be directed toward developing a detailed knowledge of the history of the Fourth International. The development of Marxism as the theoretical and political spearhead of socialist revolution has found its most advanced expression in the struggles waged by the Fourth International, since its founding in 1938, against Stalinism, reformism, the Pabloite revisions of Trotskyism, and all other forms of political opportunism.
Political agreement within the party on essential issues of program and tasks cannot be achieved without a common evaluation of the historical experiences of the twentieth century and their central strategic lessons. Rosa Luxemburg once described history as the “Via Dolorosa” of the working class. Only to the extent that the working class learns from history—the lessons of not only its victories but also its defeats—can it be prepared for the demands of a new period of revolutionary struggle.