The WSWS aims to meet the need, felt widely today, for an intelligent appraisal of the problems of contemporary society. It addresses itself to the masses of people who are dissatisfied with the present state of social life, as well as its cynical and reactionary treatment by the establishment media.
Our web site provides a source of political perspective to those troubled by the monstrous level of social inequality, which has produced an ever-widening chasm between the wealthy few and the mass of the world’s people. As great events, from financial crises to eruptions of militarism and war, break up the present state of class relations, the WSWS will provide a political orientation for the growing ranks of working people thrown into struggle.
We anticipate enormous battles in every country against unemployment, low wages, austerity policies and violations of democratic rights. The World Socialist Web Site insists, however, that the success of these struggles is inseparable from the growth in the influence of a socialist political movement guided by a Marxist world outlook.
The standpoint of this web site is one of revolutionary opposition to the capitalist market system. Its aim is the establishment of world socialism. It maintains that the vehicle for this transformation is the international working class, and that in the twenty-first century the fate of working people, and ultimately mankind as a whole, depends upon the success of the socialist revolution.
The partisanship of the World Socialist Web Site by no means excludes objectivity or honest debate. We welcome a broad exchange of viewpoints with workers, students and intellectuals who are seeking an alternative to bourgeois politics and capitalist economics. Polemics and debate, the dialectical means by which knowledge and truth are established, are an integral component of the WSWS. Only intellectual integrity and commitment to historical truth are required of those who wish to contribute to the site.
The financial crisis enveloping the entire world economy poses sharply the need for the international unification of working people. Transnational production and global financial markets have changed the face of capitalism forever. In the past two decades the limited social safety nets in the advanced countries have been torn up, while workers have suffered wave after wave of layoffs and an erosion in their real income.
In the less developed countries, national development programs have been cast aside, while free trade zones and other cheap labor schemes have been established to facilitate the unrestrained exploitation of workers. To the extent that the old organizations of the working class-whether they called themselves communist, socialist, or labor-have remained wedded to the nation state, they have proven themselves incapable of responding to this assault on jobs, living standards and basic rights.
The World Socialist Web Site, published by the coordinated efforts of ICFI members in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, takes as its starting point the international character of the class struggle. It assesses political developments in every country from the standpoint of the world crisis of capitalism and the political tasks confronting the international working class. Flowing from this perspective, it resolutely opposes all forms of chauvinism and national parochialism.
We are confident that the WSWS will become an unprecedented tool for the political education and unification of the working class on an international scale. It will help working people of different countries coordinate their struggles against capital, just as the transnational corporations organize their war against labor across national boundaries. It will facilitate discussion between workers of all nations, allowing them to compare their experiences and elaborate a common strategy.
The ICFI expects the world audience for the World Socialist Web Site to grow as the Internet expands. As a rapid and global form of communication, the Internet has extraordinary democratic and revolutionary implications. It can enable a mass audience to gain access to the intellectual resources of the world, from libraries and archives to museums.
In the fifteenth century Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press played a critical role in breaking the control of the Church over intellectual life, undermining feudal institutions, and fostering the great cultural revival that began with the Renaissance and ultimately found expression in the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. So today the Internet can facilitate a renewal of revolutionary thought. The International Committee of the Fourth International intends to use this technology as a tool for the liberation of the working people and oppressed all over the world.
The World Socialist Web Site arises on the basis of a powerful political history. It represents the historical continuity of the political and theoretical struggle initiated by Leon Trotsky in 1923 against the growth of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the Soviet Union. After playing a central role in the Russian Revolution and Civil War and the rebuilding of the economy, Trotsky emerged as the leading figure in the socialist opposition to the bureaucratic caste that arose in the 1920s, and the nationalist orientation of this emerging elite.
The Stalinist apparatus usurped political power from the Soviet working class, betrayed the ideals of the October Revolution and carried out many of the greatest crimes of the twentieth century. Trotsky’s life work culminated in the founding of the Fourth International in 1938, just two years before his assassination by a Stalinist agent.
The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in 1991 was the most profound confirmation of the struggle of Trotsky and the Fourth International. Trotsky had insisted, as early as 1936, that the Stalinist bureaucracy was pursuing a course leading inevitably toward the restoration of capitalism. He explained that it had become a conscious political opponent of the revolutionary and egalitarian aspirations of the international working class.
All the proclamations in recent years about the death of socialism and Marxism conspicuously avoid or belittle the significance of Leon Trotsky and the Fourth International. This is not surprising, for any honest assessment of this political tradition flies in the face of the vulgar and historically dishonest evaluations offered by the professional defenders of capitalism. In the writings and speeches of Trotsky one finds the international socialist alternative to Stalinism that reactionary historians insist did not exist.
All readers are urged to join the International Committee of the Fourth International and one of its affiliated political parties, or inquire about establishing new parties of the International Committee in countries where it does not presently have sections. Contact details for the ICFI can be found here.