Switzerland: founding the Revolutionary Communist Party!

The last four years have been the most turbulent in the history of Swiss capitalism. It is only a matter of time before major social movements emerge. There are already thousands of mostly young people who are waiting to take up the fight against capitalism. Communists must draw the necessary conclusions from this: it is time to found the Revolutionary Communist Party!

[Originally published in German at derfunke.ch and in French at marxiste.ch]

Today, the situation in Switzerland is inseparable from the global capitalist crisis. From the pandemic to inflation, from the war in Ukraine to the banking crisis, not to mention the massacre in Gaza – all major international events are shaking the economic, political and social stability in this country.

This is in fundamental contrast to past crises: for decades, the ruling class in Switzerland was able to cushion the impact of international crises in such a way that major shocks were prevented. For example, the global economic crisis of 2008 hit Switzerland less directly, because the Swiss ruling class were able to orient towards the growing markets in China, Germany and the USA.

Nevertheless, the Swiss working class is also feeling the effects of the decline of global capitalism, as most wages have stagnated since the 1990s.

Decline of Swiss imperialism

The basis for the relative stability of Swiss capitalism was globalisation with relatively harmonious relations between the capitalists and their states. This enabled ‘neutral’ Swiss imperialism to conduct business with all countries and regimes internationally.

This basis no longer exists today. The present situation is characterised by protectionism, trade wars, conflicts and the fragmentation of the world into rival blocs.

The escalating competition is restricting the room for manoeuvre for small, neutral countries. NZZ, one of the main bourgeois newspapers in Switzerland, writes: “The competing world powers have demystified the myth of neutral Switzerland as an impartial mediator.” The Swiss bourgeoisie can do nothing about this. It is completely powerless.

Foreign policy, exports, industry – everything is in crisis. But this does not apply to everyone. A small minority benefits immeasurably from the exploitation of the majority: since 2013, up to 83 percent of all profits of listed companies have been generated by just three companies. Swiss capitalism is completely parasitic; Nestlé, Roche and Novartis control society.

novartis Image MBxd1 Wikimedia CommonsSwiss capitalism is completely parasitic; Nestlé, Roche and Novartis control society / Image: MBxd1, Wikimedia Commons

In the past, those in power were able to provide local workers with a certain degree of stability (or at least no sharp deterioration in living conditions). That is now over. The Swiss ruling class is increasingly having to unload the crisis onto the working class.

The picture is similar in all sectors: whether in care, education, construction or industry – everywhere there is more pressure, fewer staff, tougher working conditions and no prospect of improvement. Compared to 2020, the purchasing power of a family today is on average CHF 3,000 lower. Added to this is the recent increase in health insurance premiums of an average of one thousand francs per household.

The Financial Times writes: "Britons risk seeing little improvement in their standard of living for 20 years." The same applies to Switzerland.

Young people in particular are feeling the lack of prospects: 81 percent of under 26-year-olds are pessimistic about the future (66 percent of all age groups). Capitalism no longer has anything to offer the working class and young people in particular. According to a survey, 35 percent of the Swiss population now say that “capitalism no longer works and must be abolished.”

Over the next few years, larger sections of the population will inevitably look for an alternative and join the struggle. Today’s revolutionaries need a Revolutionary Communist Party to prepare for the events to come.

The crisis of the regime

The seemingly ‘eternal’ conservatism of the Swiss working class had its real basis in the position of Swiss imperialism on the world market. Now that conditions are changing, consciousness is also changing. Deep processes are already taking place in the minds of the working class under the pressure of the crisis. Trust in the ruling class and its institutions is dwindling.

Swiss broadcasting company SRF writes: “Only four percent fully believe that Swiss politicians can be trusted to act in the interests of their voters.” In French-speaking Switzerland, 90 percent of the population say that the government and parliament are doing too little or nothing at all to tackle the crisis.

The national elections last autumn were accordingly a grotesque spectacle. Amidst the deepest crisis of Swiss capitalism, the same empty promises and programmes were offered as always. The majority of voters stayed away from the polls. Parliament was exposed as a talking shop.

The ‘newly’ elected Federal Council is a crisis government. Its mandate is to make the working class pay for the crisis. This means that workers and youth are being attacked by a government that was only elected by a small minority and has no support among broad sections of the population.

The discontent of the working class is still largely under the surface, but it is increasingly building up. What is currently being prepared is the complete exposure of the true nature of Swiss ‘democracy’ and ‘neutrality’. The repression of any kind of solidarity with Palestine is a clear harbinger of this.

Trust in the establishment is particularly low among young people. The Federal Council, parliament and “politicians” are correctly recognised as those who defend the capitalist system. As a result, thousands of young people have a burning desire for a political force to take up the fight against those in power and their institutions.

New generation of communists

Revolution Image Der FunkeThe idea of communism is once again finding favour with sections of the population / Image: Der Funke

The Socialist Party (SP) and the trade union leaders are unable to express this growing discontent. Their policy is reformism; they remain entirely within the boundaries of capitalism. The SP leadership is managing the capitalist crisis together with the capitalists.

The leaderships of these organisations are increasingly identified with the establishment in the eyes of radical youth and workers, and rightly so.

Internationally, the decline of traditional left organisations after 2008 led to the rise of new left figures such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. With their radical language (such as mentions of “democratic socialism”), they raised the hopes of millions for change. But these hopes were betrayed. Bernie Sanders supported the open servant of US imperialism, Hillary Clinton. Left reformists agree with the right that the ruling system must be accepted.

Radical young people and workers in Switzerland are following these international processes closely. Switzerland has also had certain experiences with left reformism. The 2022 climate strike and the 2019 women’s strike were clear expressions of increasing radicalisation. At their core, both movements put the question of revolution on the table, because both environmental destruction and the oppression of women cannot be solved within capitalism. But the hopes of the most radical layers were dashed, because the leadership of the movements did not defend a revolutionary programme based on the working class. This is why the movements are at an impasse today.

However, as the saying goes, “nothing in history is wasted”. Many activists have been demoralised, but under the pressure of the ongoing crisis, a certain layer of the population has drawn revolutionary conclusions through these experiences. They have realised that the big problems will not be solved by tinkering with capitalism here and there.

For the first time in the lifetime of the vast majority of people, the idea of communism is once again finding favour with sections of the population. This is because communism stands for a fundamental break with the prevailing conditions. A study has shown that millions of people in the USA, Great Britain and other countries are turning to communism. Many of them are actively looking for a revolutionary, communist organisation that they can join.

The International Marxist Tendency

Only the IMT has recognised the enormous potential of this new generation of communists. While others on the left are sleepwalking through the changing political landscape and sinking into pessimism, the IMT is organising the best fighters worldwide.

Through years of patient and difficult work, we have preserved the revolutionary theory of Marxism. We have used the method of Marxism in Switzerland to develop scientific, revolutionary positions and perspectives on Swiss imperialism, Swiss democracy, parties such as the right-wing SVP and the SP, the trade unions and much more.

Weg zum kommunismus Image Der FunkeWe have taken up the methods and traditions of the Bolsheviks / Image: Der Funke

We have taken up the methods and traditions of the Bolsheviks, who in Russia in 1917 were able to lead the working class to victory for the first time in history. We have learnt the best lessons of history from successful and unsuccessful revolutions, as well as from the Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet Union.

We now have the ideas and methods to effectively educate the new generation of revolutionaries and help them organise thousands more.

The extraordinary success of the International Marxist Tendency has struck a chord and revealed the reality behind the polls. Thousands around the world have responded to our slogan “Are you a communist?”, including hundreds in Switzerland. In just a few months, the Swiss section of the IMT has grown from 18 branches in seven cities to 37 branches in 15 cities. At our two national schools, a total of 450 people have been trained in the ideas of communism.

But we are only scratching the surface. The truth is that there are potential communists in every neighbourhood, in every school, in every small town. But most of them are still isolated and unorganised.

The duty of communists is not to discuss or debate our ideas in the abstract, but to act now with a sense of urgency, to build an organisation that can actually carry the ideas of communism into the class struggle.

The Revolutionary Communist Party

For this reason, the supporters of the Spark (IMT Switzerland) are calling for the founding of the Revolutionary Communist Party. The founding conference will take place on 10-12 May 2024 – with the ambitious but necessary target of 500 participants!

This is not just a new name, but a new beginning for the forces of communism in this country. The Revolutionary Communist Party stands for the perspective of communist revolution in Switzerland in our lifetime!

The current reformist leadership of the labour movement means that discontent will continue to build up and thus become more explosive. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so does the class struggle. The discontent must find an expression somewhere.

How the process will develop cannot be predicted today. Whether the next step in the class struggle will be a series of strikes as in the USA; whether a new radical youth movement will emerge as in Spain; or whether the radicalisation will be expressed in the mass organisations as with Corbyn in the British Labour Party. We cannot say for certain, but this is all implicit in the situation in Switzerland.

In Switzerland, the class struggle has been delayed due to the prolonged stability of Swiss capitalism. But this is a great advantage for the communists. It means that we have the opportunity to build a communist organisation before these major political events occur.

We are living in a period of revolution. In all of Switzerland’s neighbouring countries, the social explosion is imminent. This will also radically change the situation in Switzerland.

It is not our job to predict or determine the pace of the class struggle. But it is clear that a mass entry of the Swiss working class into the class struggle is a question of a few years at most, but certainly not of decades.

If, by that time, a revolutionary party of 1000 or 2000 communists exists in Switzerland, with an initial base in the workplaces, schools, neighbourhoods and trade unions, then the groundwork will exist to fight for a mass communist party.

We are not under the illusion that we will grow into a mass force in a linear manner. As the whole of history shows, a mass communist party only emerges on the basis of great struggles. The Revolutionary Communist Party represents the first step towards this; a rock-solid foundation of thousands of trained and active Marxists, organised in hundreds of local groups across the country – precisely with the aim of being able to intervene in the coming great events as a powerful communist organisation.

To this end, we are now founding the Revolutionary Communist Party. The thousands of isolated communists need their own party. They must be brought together in a professional, revolutionary organisation.

For a communist programme

Socialism in our lifetime Image Der FunkeWe must link current issues and daily demands with the overthrow of capitalism / Image: Der Funke

This party is not being built in a vacuum, but in practice. We must link current issues and daily demands with the overthrow of capitalism. The communist programme must become a point of reference for radical young people and workers. Above all, we want to be able to fight for the leadership of the movements of young people.

The Revolutionary Communist Party sets itself the historic task of winning the struggle of ideas and building a mass organisation.

We are against the reformists, who are always looking for a compromise with the bourgeoisie and to postpone the overthrow of capitalism until the day of judgement.

We are against single-issue politics that refuses to recognise that specific struggles must be waged as a struggle against the system as a whole.

We are against those who spread the divisive poison of identity politics, those who take the fight against oppression and exploitation lightly by focussing on quotas, safe spaces and gender-neutral language.

We are against those who confuse the crimes of Stalinism with the true legacy of the Bolsheviks and the complete superiority of the socialist planned economy.

And above all we are against the isolation of thousands of communists across Switzerland.

The Revolutionary Communist Party stands for nothing less than the complete overthrow of capitalism in Switzerland and internationally, as the first step towards humanity’s transition to a stateless, classless and moneyless communist society.

This is YOUR party!

YOU are responsible for all of this! If you have read this far, then you are responsible for helping us achieve this.

A new member of the IMT in Switzerland has been travelling from town to town since they joined, to tell all his old friends that he has found the organisation they had been looking for. He has already helped found a new branch in Lucerne. All honest class fighters must follow this example. We must shout from the rooftops that we are founding the party that will take up the fight against capitalism in Switzerland!

For this task, we are armed with The Communist – our brand new communist newspaper. The Communist is a tool to give a voice to all those who want to fight in the class struggle.

We are now launching a nationwide campaign to found the Revolutionary Communist Party. We are raising the red flag at every school, in every workplace, in every working-class neighbourhood, in every village. We say with full enthusiasm: we are organising revolutionaries throughout the country with the programme of the communist revolution. Wherever you live, work or are, help build a branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

There is the potential for an unprecedented growth of the forces of communism in Switzerland. Big movements and big events, which we can influence, are on the order of the day. These movements will then prove the need for such a party among broader layers of the working class.

It is no exaggeration to say that the success of the revolution in Switzerland and worldwide depends on whether we are capable of committing ourselves to work towards these goals.

This is no easy task. But at the same time, it is also the best investment in the future that each and every one of us can make.

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