This is a cross-post from Howie’s Corner
If you go on a demonstration of any size one of the things you will see is a wide range of different left-wing publications being sold by wild eyed intense activists who will try to persuade you that their particular brand will “wash redder” than any other similar product. These range from the inevitable Socialist Worker and The Socialist to more obscure publications like Workers Power and Workers Hammer.
Each of these publications has an organisation behind it, each claiming to be the true voice of socialism condemning the others in a variety of terms from “reformist” to centrist” or worse “pabloites” (don’t ask). If there is one thing all these comrades have in common is that none of them are very good at practising what they preach, co-operation for the common good.
However every so often there is an attempt to bring the left together in one form or another which they hope will also bring in all the “non-aligned” activists that exist all around the country. In more recent times we have seen the Socialist Alliance (collapsed in 2001) because the SWP decided to sow their seed in Respect with George Galloway (though whetherRespect can be seen as a left-wing group with its overt appeal to a very conservative religious base is debatable) which itself collapsed in 2007 leading to a split or two in the Socialist Workers Party.
Another recent project is of the course the Socialist Party sponsored Trade Union & Socialist Coalition which gained a derisory 62 votes in the recent Eastleigh by-election despite the backing of the RMT Trade union under Bob Crow. One other constituent organisation of the TUSC is the SWP which itself has managed to not only split again but also disgrace itself in the process.
It’s no wonder that the far left is often seen in terms of the old Heinz advertising slogan, the “57 Varieties”.
Over the years the far left has split, “re-grouped”, split again or in the odd case dissolve itself. The last organisation to close itself down was the Revolutionary Communist Party, who had managed to get its journal Living Marxism into mainstream newsagents like WH Smiths. It decided that revolution was not possible and shut down, though the core activists still work together on the quite bizarre Spiked! website.
Another practically unknown group Permanent Revolution (itself a breakaway from Workers Power) has decided to shut down this week as it was getting nowhere.
However undaunted a few people have set up a new project called simply; Left Unity. The new website leads with an appeal from film-maker Ken Loach to set up a new political party. According to (unverified) reports they have had “5,000″ people “sign up” though whether that’s just “face-book” likes is not clear and 35 groups around the country. The basis of the group is “anti-austerity”. Their hope is that they will attract the disaffected lefties that sit around bemoaning the current state of the left and coalesce them into a new movement.
What kind of organisation (if any) comes out of this is difficult to see at this early stage. One thing is clear. It has already attracted the attention of one “trot” group, Socialist Resistance who left Respect not so long ago and have been re-buffed from joining the TUSC because they are “too small and don’t represent anyone” according to one report.
A discussion has already taken place about whether anarchists or “libertarians” will be welcome and whether they should contest elections. Certainly they are backing the self proclaimed “Peoples Assembly” organised by Counterfire, a breakaway from the SWP led by Iranian Press TV celebrities John Rees and Lyndsey German.
There is a Left Unity organisation already in existence inside the main civil service union PCS. This group is firmly in control of the Socialist Party “Grandees” and their dominance of the union has led to PCS becoming weak and isolated over the decade they have been in control. Mark Serwotka (their “Brian”) has managed to turn PCS into an adjunct of the very political milieu that these new activists seem to be coveting. Left “unity” has been a disaster for ordinary union members precisely because it has taken the union away from the political mainstream.
There is a movement that already allows for ordinary working people to get involved. These include the Trade Unions and the Labour Party. I know that they are not perfect but the only real choice is between (a) a series of incremental reforms to better peoples lives or (b) a bloody and murderous revolution leading to dictatorship, where the comrades end up putting each other against the wall.
The far-left is no alternative to real politics and never will be. Wherever they gain control (Liverpool Council, PCS) they cause mayhem and disaster. Where they gain real power (Soviet Union, China, Cambodia) we see oppression, starvation and/or genocide.
It’s good to protest and campaign over various issues like the ridiculous “bedroom tax” that will cause much unnecessary hardship but revolutionary activists must remain side-lined as their “abstract” agendas are divisive and dangerous.
Lenin, Bakunin, Stalin, Mao & Chavez are all dead. Let their ideas die with them.
The future belongs to democracy. There is no alternative.