Letter from Johannesburg: Socialism is an Achievable Necessity

photo final letter

#DilemmasOfHumanity #BuildSocialism. Photo: Rafael Stédile

Between October 14th and 18th, 2023, five hundred members and leaders of social movements, political parties, and trade unions from more than one hundred and thirty organisations and seventy-five countries gathered in Johannesburg (South Africa) to chart out an exit from the catastrophes of capitalism. The Dilemmas of Humanity International Conference is part of a broad process that has included regional conferences and 260 participating organisations from 51 countries. From this space we  proclaim the urgent need to overcome the distress of our present to build socialism now.

Capitalism is in a state of crisis because it is a social system that both creates immense wealth and immense inequality. It expands the social power of labour and decreases the ability of the mass of people to enjoy the fruits of their work. At the same time, capitalism extracts wealth from nature with no concern for the destruction wrought against the planet. The massive social inequality and the environmental catastrophe have possible solutions. Yet the imperialist forces - unwilling to recognise  their declining control - use military power to forcefully sustain  their positions of power. They would prefer to destroy the world to maintain their profits and authority rather than save it for humanity.

Rapid changes are occuring in the world. US led imperialism finds itself challenged across the world by people who are no longer willing to submit to the austerity-debt model of economic destruction and to capitulate  to the economic and military war imposed by the United States on what it sees as its ‘rivals’. The Western military states spend trillions of dollars on weapons, build military bases on our land and use their deadly arms to intimidate the world’s peoples and to destroy state processes that seek to win over and maintain their sovereignty. They want war and they are preparing it, using NATO and similar alliances to bring violent conflict to every corner of the world. We want peace and development. We pledge to be sharp in our battle of ideas against the relentlessness of imperialist lies and half-truths; we pledge to build people’s struggles to overwhelm imperialism’s hunger for profit and war.

Building socialism is neither a linear process nor one that can be copied and reproduced. Instead, it is a long and historic process that necessarily faces regressions and advances. Experiences in socialist construction demonstrate that socialism is a reality in our present moment in history and not some distant point of arrival.

Our struggle for socialism must be rooted in a  concrete analysis of each particular reality and the creativity of each process. The foundations of socialism are built in daily actions and efforts that find solutions for the issues created by capitalism, while also creating a new consciousness and building organisations of the working class.

Struggles which address basic and concrete needs  are essential to advancing towards socialism. In the face of the challenges posed by the present crisis of capitalism genuine solutions are emerging within the working class all over the world. The message is clear: the working class, the backbone of society, are the only group capable of shaping a vision for a future world that is worthy of humanity, based on the values of solidarity, justice, respect and love for others, and care for the environment.

Democracy, national sovereignty, and self-determination are necessary pathways to socialism and can only be fully achieved under the conditions of socialism. One of the most wretched barriers to socialism is the existence of the unipolar order led by US imperialism, so its removal is a fact of our struggles. The shifting geopolitical landscape and emerging multipolar order offers an opportunity for us to advance a progressive agenda. This, however, depends on the masses being politically engaged in building democratic and socialist processes in our own countries.

Confronting imperialism requires a comprehensive strategy connected to the reality of each continent and rooted in a revolutionary project. Regional integration projects, solidarity efforts, progressive resolutions in multilateral institutions, and mass mobilisation are all elements of an anti-imperialist strategy. Tactical alliances that serve to further weaken imperialism, while also constructing a way towards socialist transformation, should be pursued. Progressive movements everywhere must adopt an unwavering commitment to solidarity with the struggles of the people against intervention and occupation, observing the right to resistance and self-determination of all peoples of the world.

Capitalism must be overcome, and we must dare to engage in the construction of socialism today. This construction will require the unity of the working-class and the peasantry, and all oppressed people, a unity built through the increased clarity and confidence of the people through their organisations in their own countries and regions. Young people and women must not only participate but lead efforts and struggles in all sectors and at every level. We acknowledge the challenges faced by the working-class and the peasantry, as well as all oppressed people, to build their organisations in a time of greater precariousness in the workplace and atomisation and alienation in society. We believe that the movements that are part of the Dilemmas of Humanity process have shown the way to build this unity through at least four pillars of socialist construction:

1. Relief. In a time of austerity, our organisations are committed to fight to transcend the barriers faced by our people to live lives of dignity, barriers such as hunger and illiteracy. We are committed to build processes of relief rooted in the working-class and peasantry, as well as all oppressed people.

2. Recompose the working class. As savage capitalism attacks unions in the factories and the fields, creating a working order rooted in precariousness, we will fight to recompose the class by building strength through agitation, education and mobilisation in unions and peasant organisations and other people’s organisations.  Building of cooperatives and communes that bring people together to build our own capacity to start the journey to socialism now are also key initiatives.

3. Rescue the Collective Life. Fascist and fundamentalist forces are rooting themselves in the lives of the working-class and peasantry, building social processes that do build a collective life for the people against the atomisation and alienation of savage capitalism. Our movements fight to rescue the collective life not only from the alienation of capitalism but also from the attempts of toxic collectivity produced by the fascist and fundamentalist forces.

4. Rebuild the Culture of Struggle. The precarity in the economy, the immense household debt imposed on the people, the attack on worker and peasant organisations, and other factors have led to a weakness in our capacity to struggle. We are in a process to rebuild the culture of struggle, including internationalist struggles of material and ideological solidarity.

The Dilemmas of Humanity conference represents a significant stride forward in the revolutionary struggle of the working class and the peasantry. This process provoked critical debates and kindled hope and commitment toward building a better world. The seeds of socialism have been planted by the progressive forces that have gathered in our process. We commit to nurture these seeds and to continue strengthening organisations and instruments of the working class by continuing the work that has taken place here inside of our organisations and in each and every country that is represented here.