People’s Assembly and #LeftUnity conferences: debating the economy and European Union – be radical but strategic

Image

This blog entry (that I am also submitting as a letter to the Weekly Worker, which as usual will undoubtedly cut it significantly but without distorting my points) is about uniting much of the left in the new broad socialist party Left Unity – with the People’s Assembly Against Austerity which also held a conference recently going some way to uniting the left in a single anti-cuts organisation. I argue that we should not just put forward radical (and sometimes revolutionary) demands but consider the implications rather than dogmatically taking up positions which make a socialist revolution less likely.

In (“‘Moderate’ party takes shape”, 3 April), Peter Manson writes about the policy-making conference of Left Unity in Manchester on 29 March: “the obsession with political ‘broadness’, with anti-democratic constitutionalism, risks disabling the project from the start.” As CPGB members in the Weekly Worker have made clear many times, they are in favour of a solely Marxist party (which they sometimes call a “Communist Party”). Apart from the word “Communist” putting people horrified by the crimes of Stalinism (with “Marxist” having similar connotations to many), such a party could never gain mass support. When they actually put that theory into practice, uniting with the Democratic Socialist Alliance and the Critique journal, in setting up the Campaign for a Marxist Party, that campaign completely failed to take off.

I have argued for “a revolutionary platform” within Left Unity, and supported the Socialist Platform, but to make LU more revolutionary and unite together revolutionary socialists in preparation for a potential huge economic crisis (that could even be more severe than the 2007-8 credit crunch) rather than to totally take over LU, which is not practical anyway even if we tried to. I want a “broad socialist party” involving reformists as well as revolutionaries, with at least some members openly mentioning their revolutionary views. Apart from other significant political differences, including the emphasis on “the working class” suggesting that middle class people like Russell Brand (who incidentally plugged Left Unity via Twitter a Guardian article by Ken Loach on the eve of the Manchester conference contributing to the quick recruitment of 200 new members) should be disenfranchised, I wouldn’t be keen on joining the Communist Platform due to its name. Continue reading

Compromise between the Left Party Platform and Socialist Platform: Justification for my amendments to LPP

[EDIT 1/12/13: The founding conference of Left Unity, on 30 November 2013, has just taken place. I will shortly write a report of it on this blog, including mentioning that one of the two amendments proposed by me (and included below) on considerably strengthening the paragraph on trade unions, by mentioning striking (including mass/general strikes), occupations and solidarity, was passed. My proposal on keeping Left Unity as the party name (proposed by another member of my branch) was also passed, which could prove important in encouraging people of autonomous/anarchist views (preferably non-violent as most of them are) due to such people disliking the word “party”. Most of the comments below the article were from a debate I had with Felicity Dowling of the Left Party Platform (and a former member of the Liverpool 47 surcharged councillors and one of the Militant Tendency “entrists” within Labour before Militant’s “open turns” in Scotland and then England and Wales). There is also a reply to my article by John Penney, to which I have posted a reply having just seen it after the conference. The conference is over but debates go on…]

[EDIT 8/12/13: I have now added a comment below containing details of a report by Pete McLaren from Rugby (of the Independent Socialist Network and Socialist Platform) plus two responses from me – being more upbeat about the fact that the conference decided to adopt a combination of revolutionary and reformist politics, which was basically my aim with the amendments below (one of which was passed), and that forthcoming economic crises will provide great opportunities for revolution.]

Image

Steve Wallis of Manchester Central Left Unity proposed changes to the Left Party Platform submission for the aims section at the founding conference, which, after discussion, were submitted as two separate amendments to those aims for debate at the conference. The justification for those amendments above the amendments are Steve’s personal views.

One of the problems of the debate between platforms is that it has, at times, become polarised between those who favour an electoral road to achieving socialism (with some such people accused, rightly or wrongly, of being content with positive reforms to capitalism) and those who favour a socialist revolution. The Left Party Platform (LPP) is in favour of a broad socialist party encompassing both (but some members particularly favour elections and others hide some of their politics to accommodate them), whereas the Socialist Platform (SP) is much more openly revolutionary.

Most revolutionary socialists, including myself, also agree with standing in elections, but think it impossible or highly unlikely for socialism to be achieved solely by electoral means. We should also welcome participation from those with autonomous/anarchist views, such as many in the AntiCapitalist Initiative, although I have used the phrase “(preferably peaceful) socialist revolution” in the second amendment below. We should not encourage the participation of people who encourage violence for the sake of it, as counterposed to defending themselves if attacked by the forces of the state – which the LPP’s Kate Hudson (general secretary of CND) informed us at the foreign affairs commission at the policy conference in Manchester is consistent with CND’s position on violence.

Discussions around the formation of the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste (New Anti-capitalist Party) in France included people of an autonomous/anarchist persuasion, and although they didn’t participate eventually, we should welcome members of the AntiCapitalist Initiative into LU (especially because they are involved in merger talks with two organisations that are more keen – the International Socialist Network and Socialist Resistance). I have therefore included a paragraph in the second amendment below saying that those just interested in extra-parliamentary activity rather than helping with election campaigns (or vice versa) would be welcome.

The extremely undemocratic (misnamed) first-past-the-post electoral system, which would have only been slightly improved if the Alternative Vote proposal (that only the Liberal Democrats campaigned for and which was an awful compromise from the much more proportional single transferable vote system that they advocate) had been passed, makes it extremely unlikely that socialists can make as much headway as socialist parties/coalitions on the continent, particularly Syriza in Greece. The ConDems have also passed legislation for fixed term parliaments of five years – without LU playing a key role in massive extra-parliamentary action forcing a capitalist government to resign, or otherwise forcing them from office by a general strike leading to “dual power”, we would be betraying the masses who look to us to provide a lead.

If there is suddenly another massive economic crisis, on the scale of the 2007-8 credit crunch or worse, which some financial experts predict, such as Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert in The Keiser Report, viewable on RT (Russia Today) or YouTube, or the MoneyWeek magazine’s video/letter entitled “The End of Britain” (nothing to do with Scottish independence!), it would be vital for socialists to respond by leading a revolutionary movement – if not, the far right will have a field day. Waiting for another general election is not an option!

It should also be emphasised that the massive gains in support Syriza achieved, which led to it almost becoming the largest party in the Greek parliament in 2012, could not have been achieved without the mass movements of ordinary working and lower middle class people, including strike waves, demonstrations and particularly general strikes – in which members of Syriza played important roles.

Continue reading

Lobby TUC for serious coordinated strike action, fracking, Revolutionary Platform of Left Unity, Tory conference demo

Image

[Note that WordPress is censoring me for the first time – I sent out a similar post to this one that included the full text of the newsletter. That post doesn’t appear from the main www.thatcheroftheleft.wordpress.com page and going directly to that post (at https://thatcheroftheleft.wordpress.com/?p=770) sometimes produces an error message and sometimes displays the post! I suppose this goes to show something I knew already, that revolutionary change can’t take place just on the internet. Sometimes you need to interact in the real world – and going to TUC conference to hand out paper copies of the newsletter and talking to people is part of that! This suggests I’m doing something dangerous to the powers that be (the ruling class, i.e. big business) though and I strongly recommend reading it by going to www.revolutionaryplatformofleftunity.org/news/6.html.]

Continue reading

Call for a Revolutionary Platform of Left Unity

NOTE THAT I HAVE EDITED THE CALL BELOW DUE TO GOOGLE SABOTAGING MY GMAIL ACCOUNT, PRESUMABLY TO TRY TO STOP US GETTING THE TEN MEMBERS REQUIRED TO BECOME AN OFFICIAL PLATFORM OF LEFT UNITY. I AM GETTING CONSIDERABLE SUPPORT ON FACEBOOK, PARTICULARLY SINCE I PUBLICISED A LOBBY OF TUC CONFERENCE NEXT WEEK, BUT STILL NEED A FEW MORE PEOPLE TO CONTACT ME IF THEY WANT TO JOIN, TO REACH THAT TARGET BEFORE THE CONFERENCE, AND PREFERABLY BEFORE THE MERSEYSIDE PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY ON THURSDAY EVENING. TO HELP MAKE UP YOUR MIND, YOU CAN GO TO THE PUBLIC DISCUSSION GROUP OF THE REVOLUTIONARY PLATFORM OF LEFT UNITY OR PHONE/TEXT ME ON 07725 735255. 

[EDIT 31/10/13: THIS WAS A TEMPORARY PROBLEM WITH GMAIL. ALTHOUGH I STILL THINK IT WAS DELIBERATE, MY GMAIL ACCOUNT IS WORKING FINE NOW AND EMAILING ME AT steve.wallis2460@gmail.com IS THE BEST WAY TO CONTACT ME, UNLESS YOU WANT TO RING MY MOBILE (CELLPHONE) NUMBER ABOVE (NOTE THAT IT IS +44 7725 735255 FROM OUTSIDE THE UK).

I have had an ongoing initiative to try to unite revolutionary socialists within broad socialist organisations since 2006, initially concentrating on the Scottish Socialist Party, but also with other organisations (including ones that are only vaguely socialist – Respect, Plaid Cymru and even Labour) via the Revolutionary Platform Network.

The initiative was mainly on cyberspace (there were two web-based forums, both of which became overrun by spam, and there is now a page on Facebook with over 170 likes at www.facebook.com/RevolutionaryPlatformNetwork) and I produced a newsletter (to which I invited contributions but until a co-written article in edition 5 they just contained my own views) to distribute in the real world. The time is ripe now for something more serious.

I have now come to the conclusion that Left Unity presents by far the best broad socialist organisation in Britain to unite revolutionary socialists in, and encourage others to sign socialist film director Ken Loach’s statement at http://leftunity.org (which over 9,000 have already done, more than the rest of the far left in Britain put together) and sign the Revolutionary Platform statement (by messaging me at Facebook or emailing me as specified below).

Image

CALL FOR A REVOLUTIONARY PLATFORM OF LEFT UNITY

I am putting out a draft statement of a proposed new platform of Left Unity, called the Revolutionary Platform (RP). The idea is to unite as many genuine revolutionary socialists as possible within LU in a single platform, to try to overcome the problem which occurred with other broad socialist organisations (including the Scottish Socialist Party) of rival revolutionary organisations competing with each other within it rather than cooperating around shared goals.

Continue reading