I became a Marxist in my sophomore year of high school. My AP European history teacher had mentioned The Communist Manifesto as part of a lecture on communism. The lesson itself didn’t amount to much, but being a curious little brat I acquired a copy of and set about reading it. I was completely bowled over by it and ended up reading it four times in a row, becoming a Marxist in a sudden, sharp leap of quantity into quality. Of course, my interest in Marx didn’t drop from thin air; at that time in my life I was rather disillusioned with the existing capitalist order and disgusted at the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, which I was baptized into, and with the inability of Christianity to answer the logical questions I was raising about the existence of god. Looking back, life had made me a utopian socialist politically and had drawn me philosophically close to some of the Eastern semidialectical religions. Existing society appeared as nothing more than a disorganized rubbish heap and the Christian religion as a philosophical dead end, with its organs of temporal power dominated by a caste of corrupt and hypocritical old men.
My instinctive response to this crisis of contentment was a study of politics, economics, philosophy, and related subjects. Within the space of a year I had read Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Machiavelli, Adam Smith, Chomsky, and, most importantly, Marx. I wanted—needed, really—a way to explain the world in a systematic and scientific manner. The ideas of scientific socialism, of Marxism, easily stand out above all other ideas in this regard. Marxism has the merit of actually corresponding with reality, of having explanatory and predictive power, and of possessing a scientific character which my previous experiments with utopianism and idealism could not possibly match.
Having been convinced of the value of Marxist ideas, the next step was for me to transition from being a “Marxist” to being a Marxist. That is to say, the next item on the agenda was to study theory, to seriously read the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, and Rosa Luxemburg. My mind was awash with a whole host of new concepts: dialectical materialism, historical materialism, the labor theory of value, cultural hegemony, etc. The more I learned the more I wanted to know (something that is still true today).
Eventually, my study of Marxism broadened into reading the works of lesser-known Marxists and seeking out existing Marxist organizations to study their ideas and see how Marxism was being applied in the world today. Yet I didn’t get involved at the movement at first. In fact, I didn’t even consider joining a Marxist organization until over a year after I first read The Manifesto. Marx wrote, in his Theses on Feuerbach, that “philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it,” but one should add that to change the world you must understand it first, and I wanted the time to seriously attempt to assimilate and educate myself in the ideas of Marxism. A serious approach to theory is absolutely critical for revolutionaries. As Lenin said, “Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.”
In addition to my need to devote myself to understanding Marxism theoretically, there was one other factor that made me hesitant to join any of the organizations I was familiar with. That factor is the extreme sectarianism, ultraleftism, and theoretical bankruptcy that runs rampant in many so-called Marxist and Trotskyist groups. I was, and remain, utterly repelled by such arrant and anti-Marxist nonsense to such a degree that I can’t so much as read their publications without getting an unbearable headache. The other side of the ultraleft coin is the reformism of organizations, such as CPUSA, which adapt themselves to capitalist society and in practice serve as nothing more than a left cover for bourgeois parties. Personally, I cannot but regard both types of organizations as an insult to Marxism, Leninism, Trotskyism, or any other -ism they claim to adhere to.
With so much of the left, both internationally and in the USA, caught up in either sectarian ultraleftism or reformism, the search for a revolutionary Marxist organization can seem utterly futile. It was my encounter with the Workers International League and International Marxist Tendency that broke the circle. I happened across Marxist.com while wandering the internet searching for a place to obtain a socialist viewpoint on current events and almost immediately realized that I was looking at something far different than the other organizations I had previously examined. Here, finally, was an organization that had a serious approach to theory and clearly based itself on Marxist thought. Furthermore, the WIL and IMT lack the sectarian approach adopted by so many groups on the left today. This organization actually sought to understand and apply Marxist theory; it was a group of militant fighters, but also of thinkers standing on a solid political level. This was, in my admittedly limited experience, a new type of organization, one that I immediately found myself interested in and sympathetic to.
I did not and do not agree with every position put forward by every comrade in the IMT, and indeed, the only people prepared to agree with anything 100%, without reservation, are those who will be 120% for the other side tomorrow—but I did and do agree on all the fundamental points. That is enough. As a Marxist, my loyalty belongs first and foremost, not to a particular organizational form, but to the world proletariat, and therefore, to the ideas of Marxism. It seems to me that the WIL and the IMT are the most serious and theoretically developed organizations to commit themselves to revolutionary Marxism, and should, therefore, be built up as the revolutionary vanguard of the world proletariat.
The WIL and IMT best embody my view of Marxism as a living philosophy of revolution. We seriously strive to understand and develop Marxist theory and to put that theory into practice on an everyday basis. I do not know everything about every left-wing organization that exists, but I do know this much: any organization that does not base itself off of a clear and serious approach to Marxist theory and does not seek to apply this theory in practice is doomed. The greatest flexibility in tactics and the greatest irreconcilability on matters of principle; these are the characteristics of any genuinely Marxist organization, and I sincerely believe that they are present in the WIL and IMT.
The working class needs a revolutionary party firmly grounded in Marxist theory and prepared to actually carry out the revolution when the time comes. This party cannot be a sectarian party, which turns its back on the working class, nor can it be a reformist party, which breeds illusions without being prepared to carry out even its limited program in practice. It must be prepared to adapt to changed conditions and must take an absolutely serious and irreconcilable attitude toward Marxist theory. From this perspective, the IMT and WIL stand head and shoulders above all other leftist organizations, and so I say, “Long live the IMT! Long live the WIL! Proletarians of all countries unite!”