Haiti’s crisis: the ruling classes have failed; we need an autonomous alternative!


(The leaflet, in English and Kreyol, follows this introduction)

February 24, 2016


The Haitian masses have been mobilizing in the streets for the past 6 months or more to derail the sell-out alternatives of the Haitian dominant classes to imperialism. The most recent political election was derailed by massive popular mobilizations. The Haitian masses thwarted the imperialist plan under the slogan “WE WILL NOT OBEY”—even if only for a short time.


Unfortunately, the combativeness of the masses has been limited, and has been mostly co-opted by various sectors of the petit bourgeois linked to a consortium of the capitalist power bloc, against the political sectors represented by the anti-popular and anti-national government of the bourgeois bureaucrats’ Martelly, linked as well with a consortium of the capitalist power bloc.


There is an intense competition within the Haitian ruling classes. Cliques of petit bourgeois elements, ranging from left to right populists, are offering their services to sectors of the Haitian dominant classes and imperialism. That is the main plot of the political crisis surrounding these failed and trumped up elections. These cliques are offering themselves as either a new potential bureaucratic bourgeoisie (rural and metropolitan petit bourgeois) or a recycled bureaucratic bourgeoisie (represented by the “Fanmi Lavalas”, the political party of Aristide, or the Duvalierists, former “macoutes”). But the masses, even under the leadership of those forces, are still coming up with their own demands.


Trotsky vs. a Trotskyist vs. Our Position: a Three-Way Conversation, Part 3

by Jan Makandal

January 21, 2016


76 years ago, Trotsky correctly observed that trade unions were progressively degenerating and fusing with imperialism. That gradual degeneration has, at this point in time, reached its maturity point—institutionalized forms of organized labor have become capitalist organizations, even with workers and laborers as members.


The bureaucratic bourgeoisie—a fraction of the capitalist class—has historically developed within the leadership of organized labor. The problem is not a simple issue of bad or corrupt leadership. The issue lies with the entire structure of organized labor that has now been absorbed—institutionalized— into capitalism. Trotskyists, viewing the process of degeneration as static, will never see this reality.


Institutionalized labor is now a historical form of capital accumulation. Dues, corruption, strike funds, retirement funds, and government stipends are all forms of capital accumulation. Although dues-paying members are currently the principal form of accumulation, it is important that we also point the finger at corruption.


Corruption is a common form of capital accumulation by the capitalist class. Many think that it can simply be corrected by anti-corruptive measures. This reformist conception reduces corruption to the act of stealing, and ignores the fact that contemporary capitalism is an historical form of accumulation rooted in mercantile capitalism (trade).


In most cases, under capitalism, corruption becomes a material condition for the development of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie. This problematic fraction of the capitalist power bloc shares a lot of tendencies with fascism, and functions in contradiction with some foundational elements of capitalism, such as competition. Setting moral boundaries for corruption represents the inter-class struggle among capitalists to limit, control or advance the constitution of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie.


Trotsky vs. a Trotskyist vs. Our Position: a Three-Way Conversation, Part 2

by Jan Makandal

January 19, 2016


First, to avoid any futile debate, let us demarcate from the theory that no work should be done inside the existing unions. This is not our position. In fact, we disagree with that political line and the practices that emerge from that theory—total absence and unilateral abstinence of presence inside these unions. For us, that would be ultra-leftist, the inversion of a right-wing deviation.


We do agree with Trotsky on his conception of the degenerated nature of organized labor [institutionalized unions]. The concept of degeneration is a dialectical concept, implying a phenomenon that is in a process of decaying. We do not think that they could be still at the same stage of decomposition as they were 76 years ago. To say that we are in the same stage is not only intellectually lazy, but is also a dogmatic approach.


Dogmatism is one of our biggest enemies in the theoretical battlefield of dialectics. Dogmatism asserts permanency in phenomenon—dynamics frozen in time. But the only thing actually permanent in a phenomenon is reproduction.


We agree with Trotsky about the degenerated nature of unions that existed 76 years ago. Furthermore, we also think that today’s unions have totally transitioned to their highest form of decay, into capitalist organizations among the working class. These unions, far from being the instruments of working class power that they started out as, are in fact playing a pre-emptive repressive role among the working class, in the interest of capitalism.


Trotsky vs. a Trotskyist vs. Our Position: a Three-Way Conversation, Part 1

by Jan Makandal

January 15, 2016


This is a response to a Trotskyist who asserts that contemporary institutional labor unions in the U.S. currently represent working class interests, rather than having mainly been co-opted by the capitalist class (through various violent and legal means) into instruments of the pacification of workers. He quoted Trotsky in his argument (as indicated below) but we interpret his position to be actually non-correspondent to Trotsky’s. We are posting this as a distinct piece because his application of Trotsky’s position is not uncommon, and others may find it a useful contribution to the general debate.


It is always a danger in our movement to turn the position of any revolutionary, whether proletarian or non-proletarian, into verse—statements frozen in time. Such an approach is dogmatic, and dogmatism is always coupled with sectarianism. “Trade Unions in the Period of Imperialist Decay” was written by Trotsky 76 years ago. It was a theory for the elaboration of a political line, based on the conjuncture and context of that epoch.


Any theory, especially in the social field, is contextual. But it can also give us a foundation to understand the progressive development of the reality it is interpreting. The progressive development of that reality can either: a) force us to totally question that theory, even if it was correct at time of its elaboration, or b) show the need for the theory to be consolidated, while adding needed footnotes to the original theory because our practice and current objective reality demand that we do so.


This is what dogmatists and sectarians refuse to do. The consequences of that refusal are the ossification and stagnation of that theory. Reality is advancing at its own pace, and dogmatists refuse to understand that advancement. Usually that refusal is also due to a mechanical conception or a total denial of class struggle.


I am assuming you are a Trotskyist, but Trotsky was not. He didn’t know about Trotskyism, and his position in the first paragraph of his analysis proves that.


He argued, “…the degeneration, of modern trade union organizations in the entire world: it is their drawing closely to and growing together with the state power. This process is equally characteristic of the neutral, the Social-Democratic, the Communist and ‘anarchist’ trade unions. This fact alone shows that the tendency towards ‘growing together’ is intrinsic not in this or that doctrine as such but derives from social conditions common for all unions.”


Proclaiming to be a Trotskyist is not an automatic immunization from opportunism, nor does it make one absolutely and permanently correct. Trotksy’s point, which we agree with, is independent of your doctrine. The social condition, the objective reality—including you as a Trotskyist—is not only independent of your doctrine, but needs to determine the way your doctrine is to deal with that reality.


So, being a Trotskyist, a Maoist, or an anarchist is irrelevant to the fact that these lenses don’t dictate the reality. They can only provide the basic tools and concepts to give an interpretation to that reality. Mao, Trotsky or any other individual are unavailable to further our thought process in the appropriation of that reality. In this case, the tools provided by Trotsky are a good foundation, with his identification of the degeneration of the trade unions in his time. Rather than ask for proof, we have to consolidate that theory in our time. Proof, by the way, is part of the contextual material conditions that are right in front of us, and our interpretation of it will be based on our political line. On this point, I confirm my assertion that it is not about anyone being a Maoist, a Trotskyist, etc. What really matters in the final analysis is our political line.


A few reflections on a brief history of New Direction Caucus in NYC Transit (1980’s – 2005)




by Kiki Makandal

(January 23, 2015)

First, it’s important to note that I was not a NYC transit worker, nor was I a member of New Directions. These are mainly reflections of what I remember on observations and conversations I have had with different New Direction members over the years, coming from my interactions with them in the course of various labor solidarity actions in NYC while New Directions was in struggle and after it eventually dissolved. Please bear in mind that there may be some factual inaccuracies.

New Directions came about as a result of a confluence of factors:


Autonomous Popular Democratic Struggle





Pr183boletarian Alternative

(November 2014)

In every historically determined social formation, there exist class divisions, class antagonism and class struggle. In numerous ways, the dominated and exploited classes always resist and struggle against their domination. To aid the pursuit of their fundamental objectives (for capitalists, the accumulation of capital), the dominant classes act in the political field to constantly reduce, disallow and remove any breathing room for the popular masses. Resistance to this, which is determined by class struggle, comprises the popular democratic struggle of the masses.

In every historically determined social formation, there also exist class divisions within the dominant classes. These divisions are not fundamental antagonisms, but simply reflect opposing interests, disagreements among thieves. These are usually resolved in regulated rituals within the highly structured institutions of the state, but on certain occasions they need to work out their differences on an expanded field of battle, in a more openly violent manner.