National Sections of the L5I:

The nature of transitional demands

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Since its birth, the revolutionary movement has been forced to confront a problem: how to link the everyday struggles of the working class within the capitalist system to the struggle to overthrow it?

Millions of workers demand higher wages, shorter working hours, better healthcare and education. But even when these reforms are won, they are only temporary; the moment we lower our guard, the capitalists try to claw them back. And piecemeal reforms can never get rid of capitalist exploitation altogether.

On the other hand, if revolutionaries restrict themselves to making propaganda for the goal of socialism and do not participate in the struggle for reforms, they will never win mass influence among the working class.

To avoid this trap, the immediate struggles of the working class need to be transformed, so that they address immediate needs and challenge the power of the capitalists as a whole. They need to attack the fundamental pillars of the bosses’ power – the “right to hire and fire”, “business secrecy”, the “right of management to manage”, control of the work process, ownership and disposal of workplaces and resources.

It was for this purpose that the revolutionary movement developed transitional demands. The programme of transitional demands acts as a bridge between the daily partial struggles of the working class and the struggle for socialist revolution. These demands are both the most effective way to resist the capitalists and a challenge to the essence of the system itself.

Transitional demands promote the formation of new organisations of working class control, directly challenging capitalist ownership and management. They help transform the organisations of the workers’ movement and the consciousness of the workers. Each transitional demand embodies a fight for some element of direct workers’ control over the workplace and society as a whole.