Today is 50 years since the Stonewall riots of 28 June 1969, which marked the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement. Following other revolutionary events of the 1960s, the riots – described as the “hairpin drop heard ‘round the world” by the New York Mattachine newsletter – marked a shift amongst LGBT people away from individualised, small-scale activism and towards mass protest and demonstrations.

On 28 June 1969, a riot just outside the Stonewall Inn bar, located on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York City, marked a turning point in the fight for the emancipation of LGBTQ people. That night, the bar was raided by the police, which was all too common at the time with gay bars. But this time, gay people didn’t let the police walk over them. They stood up to the NYPD in an unprecedented weekend of rioting. This courageous act transformed the movement and led to thousands of LGBTQ people coming “out of the closet, into the streets!” It is important to revisit these events and draw the main lessons for today.

This article, first published in Socialist Revolution (US magazine of the IMT), argues that the historical pendulum is swinging towards an eventual resurgence of the labour movement. What needs to be in place for a future revolution to succeed? What kind of organisation and programme can lead the working class to victory?

As millions of workers and youth take to the streets world-wide to celebrate May Day as a day of international working class solidarity, we need to reassess our common objectives in the light of a growing world crisis of capitalism. Originally written in 2001.

Last week, the representatives of the Spanish and Portuguese sections of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI) walked out of a meeting of Peter Taaffe’s faction within that organisation. They then announced they "would recommend to the Spanish EC and CC that they leave the Faction. [Spanish section general secretary, Juan Ignacio Ramos] also stated that this would mean it would make no sense to remain in the CWI."

The Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) has been plunged into a convulsive crisis, which is most likely going to end in a split. At the centre of the crisis are developments in their Irish section. From the material available to us from their internal discussions it appears that the Irish section is being accused of adapting to identity politics, concentrating on women’s and LGBTQ+ issues to the detriment of work in the trade unions, bending towards reformism and at the same time adopting a sectarian stance. This emerges both from the criticisms of the International Secretariat (IS) majority faction and of one of their MPs, Paul Murphy.

Image: Flickr, War on Want

Since the beginning of the crisis of 2008, anti-immigrant parties and movements have made headway in Europe and the United States. They have even managed to win over certain layers of the working class to their programme. This has led a section of the labour movement to adapt itself to these ideas, calling for stricter border controls, justifying its position with quotations from Marx. Such short-sighted policies have nothing to do with Marx or the traditions of the First, Second or Third International, as we shall demonstrate.

26 years ago, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the defenders of capitalism were euphoric. They spoke of the death of socialism and communism. Liberalism had triumphed and therefore history had reached its final expression in the form of capitalism. That was the moment when Yoshihiro Francis Fukuyama uttered his famous (or notorious) prediction that history had ended. What he meant by this was as follows: now that socialism (in the form of the Soviet Union) had failed, the only possible socio-economic system was capitalism, or as he and others preferred to describe it: “the free market economy”.

Two centuries ago, a child was born whose very name would cause the world’s ruling classes to tremble at a communistic revolution. And yet, despite their century-long efforts to discredit, mock, and distort him, Karl Marx’s specter continues to haunt them. The reason is simple: Marx was right! More than ever, his books, pamphlets, speeches, notes, and letters provide an unparalleled wealth of ideological and practical tools for the working class in its struggle for a better world.

How can we reach the masses? This question has been at the center of revolutionary debate since the birth of the socialist movement. Revolutions are preceded by preparatory periods of ferment and debate, clarification of ideas, perspectives, and tasks, and shaking off the inertia of the previous epoch of stability and passivity. In these periods, there is a growing sense that society is at an impasse, while at the same time, history is accelerating and great events are coming. This pushes broader layers of society into political activity, and there is a thirst for ideas that can explain the crisis of the system and the way to transform it.

We publish here in English an oft-quoted text, The Sexual Revolution in Russia, by Dr. Grigory Batkis, published in German in 1925 as a contribution to the proceedings of the World League for Sexual Reform. Unable to locate an English language edition, we found a copy of the German original and had it translated by our German and Austrian comrades of the IMT.

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