Communist Platform statement of aims and principles for the [Left Unity] Party

 

  1. The [Left Unity] Party is a socialist party.  It seeks to bring about the end of capitalism and its replacement by the rule of the working class. Our ultimate aim is a society based on the principle of ‘from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs’. A moneyless, classless, stateless society within which each individual can develop their fullest individuality.
  2. Under capitalism, production is predominantly carried out in order to make a profit for the few, regardless of the needs of society or damage to the environment.  Neither capitalism nor its state apparatus can be made to work in the interests of the mass of the population. The rule of the working class requires a state to defend itself, but a state that is withering away, a semi state.
  3. Socialism means the fullest political, social and economic democracy. It means a society in which the wealth and the means of production are no longer in private hands but are owned in common. Everyone will have the right to participate in deciding how the wealth of society is used and how production is planned to meet the needs of all and to protect the natural world on which we depend. We reject the idea that the undemocratic regimes that existed in the former Soviet Union and other countries were socialist, or represented either the political rule of the working class, or some kind of step on the road to socialism.
  4. The [Left Unity] Party opposes all oppression and discrimination, whether on the basis of gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion or sexual orientation and aims to create a society in which such oppression and discrimination no longer exist.
  5.  Socialism has to be international. The interests of the working class are basically the same everywhere The [Left Unity] Party opposes all imperialist wars and military interventions. The [Left Unity] Party rejects the idea that there is a national solution to the problems of capitalism. It stands for the maximum solidarity and cooperation between the working class in Britain and elsewhere. It will work with others across Europe for the overthrow of the constitution of the European Union and the creation of a united socialist Europe under democratic working class rule.
  6. The [Left Unity] Party aims to win support from the working class and all those who want to bring about the socialist transformation of society, which can only be accomplished by the working class itself acting democratically as the majority in society. This means that the organisations of the working class must be democratically, not bureaucratically organised.
  7. The [Left Unity] Party aims to win political power to end capitalism, not to manage it. It will not participate in governmental coalitions with capitalist parties at national or local level.
  8.  As long as the working class is not able to win political power for itself the [Left Unity] Party will participate in and seek to lead  campaigns to defend and radically extend  all past gains  e.g.,  living standards and democratic rights.  But it recognises that all gains can only be partial and temporary so long as capitalism survives.
  9. The [Left Unity] Party will use both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary means to build support for its goals of sweeping away the capitalist state and the socialist transformation of society.

10   . All elected representatives will be accountable to the party membership and will receive no payment above the average wage of a skilled worker (the exact level to be determined by the party conference) plus legitimate expenses.

11   . All members of the party must accept that these aims and principles form the basis of agreed common actions, though they might have disagreements with particular points.

Moshe Machover, Mike Macnair, Peter Manson, James Turley, Yassamine Mather, Tina Becker, Lee Rock, Ian Donovan, Sarah McDonald, Emily C

 


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40 comments

40 responses to “Communist Platform statement of aims and principles for the [Left Unity] Party”

  1. Kathrine Brannan says:

    I have signed up to the Socialist Platform. This looks VERY similar. There is no introduction or attempt to explain to readers why this slightly changed socialist platform is put forward. Which seems very impolite, not to say, taking us for fools in some gameplay beyond my perhaps too naive imagination. What is going on here? I cant see in what way this is fundamentally different from the SP. I hope its not too much to ask you to explain this difference and its significance to us plebs (!). Are you sincerely hoping to recruit to a fundamentally different choice or just playing some kind of ‘chaos and confusion’ game where, perhaps, you have decided, in advance, a socialist platform is’not going to win anyway’ so, whatever! Its called a Communist Platform. No mention of communism is made in the points. In what way is it specifically Communist? I have heard of CPGB dissatisfaction with the SPs not integrating the CPGB amendments before a certain date. Whether or not this represents a stumbling of the SPs leadership etc (I personally dont believe it does)nevertheless, would you not agree that the most important priority is to unite a maximum of people around a socialist program given the constant siren calls to ‘a broad Left’ popular front type of association?

  2. Daniel says:

    Yes Kathrine, its the original SP platform with the CPGB ammendments attached and some minor revisions. As you no doubt know, the meeting only approved most of them (bar the one on Europe) ‘indicatively’, and so this has been put forward to give the wider party a choice over the same ammendments, given that we don’t now have the opportunity to have a proper vote on them internally prior to the deadline. The ammendments are intended to concretize and expand parts of the SP, and make its political vision clearer. Its also intended to test the SP supporters on their commitment to standing on their principles given that they supported these positions in the debate and vote in the platform meeting. We believe that the SP leadership equivocated on those principles in the meeting in order to make the SP appeal more widely in Left Unity and beyond, which is partially duplicating the political method of the opposition – something we obviously think is unhealthy.

    • Emil says:

      This is exactly right. As Mark Fischer puts it (this statement can be read in the latest issue of the Weekly Worker: “We are proposing this Communist Platform in Left Unity to ensure that there is a hearing for genuine working class politics in the debates on the founding principles of any new party, culminating at the LU conference on November 30.

      Readers will see that our statement consists of the original text of the Socialist Platform plus the amendments the CPGB put forward at the SP’s September 14 national meeting. With the single exception of an amendment on Europe, all these won a majority – although the vote was indicative.

      This new platform is an unfortunate necessity, in many ways. From the point of view of the CPGB, the original draft of the SP represented a step forward – it was pleasing in that here seemed to be a group of comrades actually putting forward the politics that they professed to believe in as the political basis for a new party.

      The unfortunate fact is, however, that at the September 14 meeting, the SP’s original drafting group – and in particular its leading figure, Nick Wrack – collapsed politically. The comrades took two steps back. They won the support of the meeting to limit itself to indicative votes only on possible changes to the platform, using a spurious argument about protecting the democratic rights of the platform signatories who were not present. Notwithstanding this, comrades like Nick Wrack then proceeded to vote against amendments they apparently believe in, despite previously underlining his sympathy with our approach in several CPGB forums in the recent past.

      Logically therefore, the original drafting committee does not believe in these politics and have presumably framed the original text in a way that would obscure the differences between Marxism and a left reading of clause four-type politics.

      Under these circumstances, clarity is key. Given that it now seems certain that there will no opportunities to amend the SP before (or at) Left Unity’s November conference, putting forward this Communist Platform will at least allow principled Marxist politics to be argued.”

    • Chris S says:

      The meeting did not approve most of those changes at all, the meeting decided to make no changes to the Socialist Platform in a free and open vote after a long discussion. We call that democracy.

      Your talk about equivicating on principles which is frankly just rubbish. We started from principles but just like this “communist” platform not everything we believe in went into it. If the CPGB are so principled, where is your demand for the arming of the working class and the dissolution of the standing army? A point of principle in 2010 but clearly not in 2013. This is nothing more than a tired and lazy leadership playing at “throwing bombs”.

      • Daniel says:

        Chris, this is sounding a bit silly now. A democracy that only has indicative votes is the wierdest democracy I’ve ever heard of. Weren’t you under the impression there would be another meeting later to consider the ammendments? You told the meeting indicative voting was meant to give “more time for discussion among the signatories”. Where’s the discussion? Where’s the real meeting? Was that an honest statement? In reality it was a cynical bureaucratic maneuver to try and stop the platform from being pushed to the left. Nick stated as much himself when he said he didn’t want to lose some signatories to the SP who weren’t at the meeting, and that he thought we shouldn’t make it harder to win in November.

        You say, “we started from principles” but “not everything we believe in went into it”? Like not advocating a classless society? Or a state that’s withering away? Or wording the first three clauses in such a way that they can be interpreted as a kind of clause 4 state socialism? You do have a good point about not putting in an ammendment about arming the class and dissolving the army, but to be honest Nick only gave the PCC a couple of hours to come up with the ammendments they did put forward. The position is implied at least in the withering away of the state in any case. I’m sorry not to see it there now you mention it though, so I’ll bring it up at the next meeting.

      • Chris S says:

        You and your comrades argued to make changes at the meeting and had to win a massive 7 people out of 44 to win the vote. You didn’t because you were incapable of convincing people beyond your own ranks in any serious way that the Socialist Platform should have been amended there and then. It was not a bureaucratic maneuver (that’s a stupid accusation) to argue for a patient and considered approach. I still think that approach is correct and if the timetable towards conference was different I certainly would have liked to have met again but us dastardly sods who won a democratic vote at the Socialist Platform meeting are just as much at the democratic mercy of the National Coordinating Group and the timetable they agreed as everyone else involved in Left Unity. What is more, I don’t remember any of you lot piping up to suggest another date.

        We gave the CPGB weeks to work on and submit amendments not hours, just like everyone else. That’s a lot of time for your leadership to remember that they like getting worked up over the arming of the working class. They once had us arguing that it was the key issue on whether No2EU could be supported. We said have a go at raising it in your union branches if you want us to do it. Obviously they didn’t do it because they play at “throwing bombs” instead of doing serious political work. They didn’t include the arming of the working class, for the same reasons we don’t include other points, is that when starting a party it is not necessary to list each and everything you believe in. The point of a statement of principles is to outline general points from which you can cohere comrades around. We did that in a principled and straight forward way whilst your leadership who are so desperate for clarity and to take a principled stance in Left Unity was twiddling their thumbs and writing the project off. You’re working with a bunch of time wasters comrade.

        Where the hell did you get that Nick only gave the PCC a couple of hours? Weird.

      • Daniel says:

        Chris, the SP leadership fought tooth and nail to get an indicative vote, which included NW phoning up half his phone book to pack the meeting with his own supporters. Again he mentioned doing that in the meeting, and there’s nothing wrong with it at all, very high turnout, but it says something about the effort he was making to move against the CPGB he had been courting so hard. It led to a mad situtation where he was saying a meeting with practically half the signatories wasn’t enough to decide things one way or the other.

        And from what you say, you yourself fought for an indicative vote knowing like he did that it would be unlikely there would be another meeting prior to the deadline. Standing up and saying at the start of the meeting that indicative votes are meant to give more time for signatories to consider things before making changes was clearly complete nonsense. It didn’t mention the real situation that this was the last chance to change the platform before the conference. I think the vote would have gone differently in that had been stated clearly and honestly by your side.

        “The point of a statement of principles is to outline general points from which you can cohere comrades around.” I notice you actually avoid the political point with this vague language. Why fight so hard as a leadership to prevent the platform being moved to the left, and its being interpreted as a form of state socialism? This is bizarre, and basically in line with the politcal method you’re supposed to be avoiding. Why vote against ammendments you agree with on an indicative vote like NW did? It flies in the face of everything he had been saying to us prior to the meeting.

        In any case, I’m sorry you fell out so badly with the CPGB, but I personally still wouldn’t agree with your approach even if I hadn’t joined myself – I never would have. It absolutely was not the case that the PCC wrote of Left Unity. I went to a lot of meetings about this, and the CPGB was almost entirely focussed on its intervention in it, and it still is. We are all engaged in it, going to branches and writing articles. Aggregate after aggregate has been on practically nothing else. We were all genuinly excited when the SP came up and Nick Wrack seemed to have changed. We were all wanting to drive the SP on in Left Unity, even if (when -sadly) we lost in November. You have this bizarre conspiritorial and pessimistic view of your old comrades, its sad and wrong I think.

        The couple of hours thing came from John admittedly. It doesn’t matter really either way I suppose. Sorry to have this political falling out on a personal level though, its kind of annoying for me because I don’t dislike you at all.

      • Chris S says:

        Daniel, the approach adopted by the CPGB leadership is not serious. Let’s have a quick look at two recent points made by PCC members, one at Communist University and another at a recent aggregate.

        Jack Conrade, Chair of PCC since time began commented on the Socialist Platform in the following way:

        “The Socialist Platform represents the only correct approach if Left Unity it is not to be yet another fiasco. Begin with a theoretically underpinned statement of aims and principles. From these solid foundations patiently construct, educate and steel an organisation of many millions.”

        Maybe he had not spotted the Clause 4 politics by that point? Either very sloppy politics or post-meeting tantrum?

        At your recent aggregate, Mike Macnair a reasonably longstanding PCC member said:

        “He concluded that, although Left Unity is a project which is going nowhere, is obsessed with political correctness and is politically insubstantial, the CPGB nonetheless ought to go through this experience and attempt to win people over.”

        So, Left Unity is going nowhere but the CPGB will still come fishing and playing bombs.

        This hardly amounts to genuine excitement for the project does it?

      • Daniel says:

        Oh come on. I cannot believe you were in the group as long as you were and still have so little understanding to the political approach here. Firstly both these quotes contradict your arguement in both directions. The first one from Jack proves my point about the genuine enthusiasm and good will that existed for the SP at the start when it seemed like a break from the business as usual. Does that mean he agreed with it entirely? No! From the start we stated the differeces we had and out intention to try and ammend it. The position given to the membership before the meeting was that we would happily lose every single ammendment on a real vote and remain fully supportive of the SP. It’s only the games played by the leadership moving against this which has caused this partial rift.

        The second from Mike simply restates the assemssment that Nick Wrack, me, you, the CPGB, and most SPers have about the Left Unity project whilst its dominated by the politics of the LPP faction. Of course it’s bound to collapse like Respect and the other ‘unity’ projects if these politics win out. Has that stopped us from being fully engaged in the party? Not at all. We will stay in until it collapses or we’re thrown out. We’re still signed up to the SP, will support it over the LPP, but are also pushing our own ammended version of it at the same time because we want to argue our own politcs, and for these to be subject to a real vote in one forum or another. This is infact the advice Nick gave us at the end of the meeting, that we should go through the LU structure with them. How else could we have continued the struggle for our ammendments other than that, seeing as its not possible within the SP group any more?

      • Daniel says:

        My God, you actually quoted from Jack’s speech and ignored the paragraph directly preceding it.

        “What of the Socialist Platform? The Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB welcomed its publication and has called for Left Unity members to support it. However, there is room for improvement and we have submitted a few amendments (see p9). Wisely, and very positively, the Socialist Platform was not presented on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis by its initial sponsors. There is to be a meeting of the Socialist Platform on September 14, which will consider and vote on motions, amendments, etc.”

        There are three large sections of his speech to CU where he talks at length about the changes he’d like to make to the Socialist Platform and why. How on earth could you have taken the quote you did and missed all of that?

        It can all be read here – http://www.cpgb.org.uk/home/weekly-worker/975/communicating-across-the-archipelago-of-isolation

    • Justin says:

      Daniel

      I wasn’t at the meeting, the Go4 didn’t seem too concerned about my democratic rights,(or anybody else for that matter) when they made the vote indicative.

      For the sake of clarity I have a question, was the vote on having ‘indicative’ votes on the amendments ‘indicative?’ As comrade Moshé correctly pointed out, if we accept Go4’s arguments on indicative votes there would be “no end to indicative voting.”

      • Chris S says:

        The drafting group did not decide to make voting indicative the meeting did but it could have decided to do anything it wanted to do with the platform document. It was up to supporters to make that decision, nobody else.

  3. Ray G says:

    OK – you (SP/CP/CSP supporters) have a choice. Either you want to build a large, loosely organised, small ‘s’, socialist party (maybe with revolutionary or, as you might say, “centrist” elements)from which you can, presumably during a process leading to situation nearer to a revoluntionary upsurge than this (if you can imagine such a scenario), recruit lots of people to your purer, revolutionary, socialist party, or to a new amalgamation of such parties and individuals still yearning for such a party.

    Or you can draw the Left Unity “what we stand for” statement so narrowly, using such specialised language, and containing so many assumptions about the exact way that SOCIALISM is to be achieved, that Left Unity is, in itself, a revolutionary party from the beginning, but, obviously a much, much smaller one, that will continue in the ‘intervening in the struggle’, paper selling way of the present left but a bit bigger, or a little bit more united (until the first split over an irrelevant piece of dogma).

    I do not support any platforms and curse them all to some extent, but of the choices above I clearly prefer the first and if you have any sense you must see that it is in YOUR interests too.

    Please don’t condemn LU to life as just a bigger, temporarily united grouplet.

    • mike says:

      The Platforms: first it was a tragedy, now it is a farce.

    • Justin says:

      Or we can have a small party that sticks to ‘small s’ socialism that is not much different from the small s much bigger party known as the Labour party, (Democratic socialism appears on the Labour party membership card – no doubt small s socialism is what they had in m mind). Besides which, the nuanced differences of opinion is unity in diversity, unity is not everybody blindly agreeing with each other, ironically that is exactly what we lead to dogma and bureaucracy.

      Ray G wrote:
      ‘Or you can draw the Left Unity “what we stand for” statement so narrowly, using such specialised language, and containing so many assumptions about the exact way that SOCIALISM is to be achieved.’

      Firstly, you should learn the language, secondly, it says ‘aims and principles’ for a reason, it’s not a statement of how socialism is achieved, it’s not a tactical document, don’t conflate tactics with principles.

      ‘that Left Unity is, in itself, a revolutionary party from the beginning’

      From that rant, your point is? If it’s about splitting, yes the far left has an annoying habit of doing that, BECAUSE it polices differences of opinion, which leads to the kind of dogma that you rightly deride.

      ‘I do not support any platforms and curse them all to some extent, but of the choices above I clearly prefer the first and…’

      It’s not compulsory to join a platform and curse them if you must, but with all due respect, use a well thought out argument as to why your hold that opinion.

      ‘ if you have any sense you must see that it is in YOUR interests too.’

      How very statesman like, what were you saying about dogmatism? :)

      • Ray G says:

        I genuinely do not understand some of this comment against me but I will have a partial stab at it.

        I do not support the LPP statement, but to pretend that it is just a re-run of the Labour Party is disingenuous and not serious. I, myself in many comments on other threads have pointed out the danger of some ambiguous wording which could allow some ‘wriggle-room’ for a purely reformist labourist argument, but that is not the same thing at all. Moreover, the latest draft goes quite a way to closing those loopholes.

        Yes, I did over-do it in terms of alleging that it prescribed the method of achieving socialism. Point to you – fair dos.

        I had to smile at the next point. I assure you Justin, that I understand your language. I lived it man and boy – I was fluent in it and can still hold forth in a pub in that language if I’ve had a few. The point that you crucially miss, of course, is that Left Unity has to do more than recruit people like me. It is those countless of other people out there that you have to recruit to build anything worthwhile, who either do not understand such language or who find it more humorous than anything, or who just think it is a caricature of a cardboard lefty. The fact that you may not fully appreciate that is very significant.

        My next point was not so much about splitting as, in the SP/CP case in LU, defining the party in such a way from the very beginning, including using the language referred to above, such that it can only, in its purity and principle and radicalism, be rather small. Would it not be better for the ‘real left’ to have a bigger pond to fish in. That was my main point.

        I am completely against any attempts to police dissent inside LU and have been making that point on blog comments for months. You are right, policing dissent leads to splits and they are bad, by and large. I am more than happy to have you all in the party. Sometimes I may vote with you sometimes not, but the party would be poorer without you and at some time in the future there may be a left/ right split on a real issue of substance that is crucial to the interest of the mass of people or the possibility of success or defeat in ending this system and replacing it with one of justice and equality. In such a split I would like to think that I would be on the side of ending capitalism and refusing to simply manage it.

        I curse the platforms a) because I don’t agree fully with any of them and b) more importantly I feel they are posing a false dichotomy at much too early a stage in the development of the party, when people were coming together and really listening and being open to change and new thinking. The platform debate has driven good people, who could have created (and still might) something new between them into bunkers and hostile factions taking comfort from old certainties and cliches like a comfy old pair of slippers.

        Your last comment and smiley baffle me a bit, but hey – smiling is good.

        Big hug. x

    • Russ D says:

      I respectfully disagree with Ray G’s comments, but I reserve the right to be corrected by you if my understanding of your argument is incorrect.

      I assume you are refering to the Communist Platform (CP) (and therefore to some extent the Socialist Platform (SP) ) in your second paragraph. I first off do not understand why you believe the CP is overly assuming about how exactly to proceed with socialism. Points 1-3 describe in a very broad way what communism (the goal of LU if this program were adopted) and capitalism are. Points 4 and 5 are two forms of essentially the same socialist principle: unity without regard to divisons based on oppression, intollerance and ignorance. The rest of the points relate to modern and basic democratic principles that should be upheld: not bureaucratically based,defending past gains and advocating more, building support outside of parliament, paying elected reps the same wage as those who they represent and if capitalist parties are assumed to be non-democratic (why else would you have made a Left Unity party) you logically can’t join them politically. The final point is only a “needless to say” point, implying a programme or principle is necessary for guiding an organization’s common goal, stating that you should use your principles (or what good are they) even if you want to have a debate relating to your principles. So, unless I have missed something, what exactly is overly specific with regards to pursuing socialism? They are all VERY GENERAL aims, goals and principles and some very agreeable ones at that. Are anti-racism, anti-capitalism, internationalism, and being democratic TOO SPECIFIC? These last four very general principles are about as specific as the document gets.

      Further, where exactly is the “specialised language” to which you are referring? Honestly, here are the most complicated words, in order, used in the CP: capitalism, individuality, apparatus, semi-state, regime, solidarity, united socialist Europe and extra-parliamentary. Perhaps semi-state may confuse some out of context, but I think the most complicated word was used by you: amalgamation. Where exactly is the complex language? Do people not know what the word capitalism means? Ok, I’m from the USA and seeing the word parliamentary actually confuses me to some extent because I’m not used to that form of governemnt, but I can put the bricks together and figure out what the argument is. The context provided allows that. Rest assured, there is nothing complicated or mysterious about the CP whatsoever. It is a pretty clear and unintimidating document.

      Of course, if we are to solve this question scientifically, I suppose one could bring a copy of the document into a city and ask random strangers if they understand what the CP is saying. You can tally up numbers and have quantitative data to support or to not-support your claim that the CP is too complicated.

      You’ll prbably get a lot of people saying “yeah, that makes sense, I agree” or “that’s Soviet Talk you commie!” or “I’m busy” or “####off”. I, however, very much doubt that you will find many people above the age of 15 saying that “This document is too hard to understand”. In fact, you will probably get more intelligence coming out of people who ask “well, how would this, that or the other thing work?” You might just find that people aren’t anti-communists or anti-socialists because those concepts are too complicated, but because they haven’t been presented with a convincing argument. Such is why we need a PRINCPLED PROGRAMME as being presented through the CP.

      I therefore disagree with your reasoning. I see no evidence for the CP as an exclusive document and so I do not think that it will necessarilly lead to the kind of depravity you are concerned with. In contrast, I do agree that it is in YOUR INTEREST to agree to the CP or to submit some specific criticisms about the document.

      • Ray G says:

        Paragraph 1 – OK i concede the point – see my comment to Justin. See – we can all be wrong. Admitting it is not fatal.

        The specialised language does not refer to any individual word but to a particular style of lefty writing that, I believe, most people “out there” find not so much threatening or complicated as a bit silly, or as most people I have shown the SP to have said (with no prompting from me) “This one is the spoof/joke one, right??”

        Depravity sound like fun actually, at least a good deal more fun than going to very small meetings of the revolutionary vanguard arguing over a point of “principle” before splitting. Look at the Left in LU. The Revolutionary left has spawned, what, 4 platforms, 5? And look how they go for eachother in the debate above. I have had my fill of all that, Russ. I did not join Left Unity to get another helping of it. If LU does not become a qualitively and quantitively different kind of party, then I have other things to occupy my middle-aged to twilight years.

  4. John Penney says:

    Quite right Ray G. All of the “Platforms” with the exception of the rather woolly “Left Platform”, exhibit all that is most barren, posturing, and inward looking about the contemporary UK radical socialist Far Left. Only the tiny groups of people (and they don’t get much tinier than the handful in the current Communist Party of Great Britain !) who inhabit the isolated hothouse “political bubble” of most of the Far Left could see any of these ultraleft Statements as appropriate tactically today to building a broadly based radical Left party of resistance to the Austerity Offensive, BEYOND the obsessive activists of the current Far Left.

    Who are these “Statements” actually aimed at ? The wider working class – who might be drawn to Left Unity as a radical alternative to the Labour Party ? Of course not. These “Statements” are petty competitive political posturing aimed entirely at recruiting a few members from other rival sectlets. “ooooh look at how radically revolutionary we are !”

    That the tiny CPGB doesn’t even realise how ideologically toxic the name “Communist” nowadays is amongst the majority of the working class, no matter how militant they are, merely shows how lost in their little political bubble these posers are. Sorry folks, the murderous legacy of Stalinism has forever condemned “communism” as a name to equal pariah status with “Nazism” amongst the general public. And quite rightly so. The Stalinist regimes killed many more working class militants, and many, many, more people generally , than even the Nazis did. (pause for sundry neo-Stalinist apologists to rant on about all the crimes of Stalinism being a lie made up by the capitalist media).

    The grandstanding posturing of all these tiny isolated sectlets , with their myriad of profoundly inappropriately, but remarkably similar, ultraleft “Statements” stands a very good chance of wrecking the potential of Left Unity to build a new broad radical party at birth. The November Conference could well be a political mud-wrestling shambles – utterly confusing to any ordinary working class people who attend – expecting us to be discussing building a broad radical party to organise the anti austerity fightback.

    Tragic stuff.

  5. Where’s the infinite power of Christ when you need it?

    The platform situation can be explained in the form of a joke.

    Knock knock.
    Who’s there?
    The Communist Platform.
    The Communist Platform who?
    The Communist Platform which is much better than the Socialist Platform and the Left Party Platform because on Saturday we disagreed so now we’re setting up a new exciting proper wait why are you closing the door-

  6. Michael Wayne says:

    The Platforms: first they were a tragedy, now they are a farce.

  7. Philip P says:

    I sympathetic to the Socialist Platform and the Communist Platform. I’m not sure it makes sense to have both platforms, given the minor differences between them.

    The left needs a united Marxist party, not another broad electoral party (this space is covered by Labour – as well as the Greens as an alternative).

    • Ray G says:

      Why don’t all the Marxists in LU form a united group WITHIN Left Unity. That way you get your ideologically pure united Marxist group and – a bonus – a large party to potentially recruit from and maybe eventually win over lock stock and barrel.

      Trouble is – as we can see from the tetchy little debate between SP and CP above – this whole style of thought is conducive only to drawing fine distinctions, and lists of essential differences, leading inexorably to smaller and more numerous goups and sub-groups, in a welter of accusation and counter-accusation. I find it astonishing that so many people in LU who have fled from various Trotskyist democratic centralist parties, still have not fundamentally broken from this sterile approach.

      • Daniel says:

        I know! We’ll liquidate all our silly sects and form a united group WITHIN the Labour Party! That would be the most non-sectarian thing to do wouldn’t it? Clearly the whole split between reformists and revolutionaries was just a tetchy dispute over a few million deaths in WW1, and some stuff about supporting capitalism that no-one cares about anymore. And there would be a nice pool of reformists there we could recruit inside of, but we’d better keep voting to keep it reformist or we’ll scare them all away! Oh…thats kind of pointless? So why should Marxists create a setup just like that all over again but a cigerrette paper to the left of Labour now?

        I agree with you though that Marxists should be in Left Unity (and Labour for that matter) but *arguing for their politics*, and that is exactly what is happening right now. We aren’t leaving Left Unity no matter who wins in November. We’re going to carry on fighting for a Marxist program, and the other side would have to accept it if we won it. If we did win that, the sensible groups would disappear overnight and pile inside it no doubt. There is a difference between passionatley faught out arguments inside an organisation, and picking up your toys and leaving it, which would be sectarian splitting in the proper sense. The difference is that the people with the reformist LPP type politics have never been able to cope with being a minority in organisations like this historically.

  8. Mike Martin says:

    The CPGB amendments were an improvement on the SP platform, but the platform was good enough for the CPGB before the meeting, and in my view adequate as a starting point. What was needed in LU was (is) discussion and clarification of major issues; opposing the Die Linke / SYRIZA model of new party; challenging myths about Labour’s past, and Keynesian economics. The SP Platform meeting had an absurd discussion on the AWL’s accommodation to imperialism (you said that , no we didn’t, yes you did) without any attempt to define the terms or establish what the orthodox analysis ought to be. Now the CPGB appears to be changing its own position! (MacNair article in current Weekly Worker).

    I did not quite buy the argument that the SP majority had collapsed politically into something broader, but since the meeting I have seen no evidence that the Steering Committee is doing any steering; not generating articles comments etc. I’ve only had one short report of the meeting. There was a longer report on the web of Independent Socialist Network to which many of the SC belong, and I note there that they have an affinity with TUSC – a different unity project entirely going in the direction of a mark 2 Labour Party (IMO). That needs clearing up

  9. mikem says:

    The CPGB amendments were an improvement to the SP Platform, but the Platform was adequate before the meeting and could have served as a starting point.What was needed most of all was discussion and clarification of the main issues; opposing the Die Linke/SYRIZA model for a new party; challenging Keynesian economics and myths about Labour’s past. The meeting had an absurd debate about AWL’s accommodation to Imperialism (you said, no we didn’t, yes you did) when no one had defined terms or outlined an analysis of Imperialism. Apparently, CPGB are in the process changing their position on Imperialism (according to Mike MacNair in current Weekly Worker, Lenin got it wrong).

    I did not quite but into the claim that the SP majority had collapsed politically into something broader, but the Steering Committee that emerged does not seem to be doing much steering. I’ve only seen one short report of the meeting, not articles or comments promoting the discussion that is needed in LU. A longer report appeared on the web of Independent Socialist Network to which a good few of SC belong. There I note they are close to TUSC – an alternative unity project oriented to a mark2 Labour Party ( in my opinion). That all needs clarifying.

  10. Nick Wrack says:

    The launch of the Communist Platform is frankly a silly act of childishness by the CPGB in response to losing a vote at the SP meeting. There has been no political collapse by me or any other signatory to the Socialist Platform.
    Before the meeting the CPGB said they could accept the SP statement as it was and their names are still there as signatories to it (unamended) after the meeting. So, I assume that they still consider it to be supportable, even if they think it could have been/should have been improved. Therefore, any talk about the SP statement being “a left reading of clause four-type politics” (Mark Fischer) is nonsense.
    Mike Martin is right that the SP steering committee has not ‘steered’ since the meeting. This is primarily because key people have either been away, or ill, or consumed with pressing personal or work issues. I apologise for that. I agree with Mike Martin’s observations about the need for more articles and discussion and I hope that will be addressed quickly.
    I don’t have time now to rehearse all the arguments again but the Drafting Group did not make any decision to prevent votes being taken. We made a proposal to the meeting and the meeting voted not to amend the statement. I think the majority there were worried that any amendments might not have the support of all those who had signed the original statement and who could not attend (more than 50). The CPGB did not care if some or all of those signatories withdrew their support. The rest of us did. We thought that the statement was more than adequate and it was not worth taking the risk of losing that support. We were prepared to take the time needed to ensure that everyone who had signed the statement was consulted about any changes and involved in a discussion.
    As I see it, we are at the beginning of a process of clarifying the politics of Left Unity. The CPGB don’t seem to have the patience they say everyone else lacks.
    If the SP statement were to be adopted at the founding conference it would be a great step forward for those who want a Marxist approach to working-class politics. That means building a mass party, not a sect.

    Daniel, where on earth do you get the idea that I “only gave the (CPGB) PCC a couple of hours to come up with the ammendments they did put forward.” They had the same notice of the meeting and deadline for amendments as everyone else, which was (from recollection) several weeks.

  11. Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven, right guys!

    http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/keep-calm-no-one-cares-anyway.png [Five points if you guess what the image says without clicking on it]

  12. Ray G says:

    Daniel

    If Left unity really was a pro-capitalist party I would not be in it, but you could waste your time if you liked. You would be welcome to it.

    To pretend that the LPP or most members of Left Unity, are in favour of running capitalism, or that the LPP position is virtually indistinguishable from Labour is not honest debating, and all your sarcasm cannot hide that fact, nor your detachment from the mass of working people. I am interested in a united left, anti-capitalist party but one which can break free of much of the baggage of previous far left parties so I happen not to agree with your approach. Nor am I particularly impressed by the LPP, come to that.

    In November, if we are lucky and we all behave sensibly, we stand a good chance of founding a united left party which can fight for justice and equality and democratic control of the economy. Fingers crossed.

    • Daniel says:

      I don’t have to pretend, its right there in the LPP platform where they say they want to copy the model of Die Linke, Syriza, Fronte de Gauche etc. But they don’t mention Rifondazione, because that’d be really embarressing demonstration of a eurocommunist party in practice going into coalition with a capitalist party and running capitalism. All of these parties on the continent have reformist Keyensian inspired economic programs designed for running capitalism. Left Unity itself was founded out of Ken Loach’s old-labourist nostalgia, so I’m clearly not wide of the mark here.

      I went to the LPP meeting last night, and dear me, what a depressing assembly that was, not very many people, some post-trots, some people vaguely cross at capitalism, and a sprinkling of stalinists. Simon H was denounced from the platform for criticising the Greens in Brighton for goodness sake. If you really want an anti-capitalist party you have to vote SP/CP, and wierdly, if you want to escape the baggage of the far-left previously you also have to vote SP/CP. All this eurocommunist/popular-front/united front of a special type stuff has been done, done, done, and failed.

      • Ray G says:

        There again, you see, you have taken a reference to the other parties of the European left as an explicit endorsement of all their policies or of their overall approach, but this does not follow.

        Clearly there are problems in some of these parties with a drift to “reformism” as such but there is actually a tension in them, with many more explicitly anti-capitalist elements who would not tolerate managing capitalism. And isn’t it great that even these parties exist, given how much of a kicking the left has had over the last few decades?

        Of course at each stage there will be a struggle in a mass party to keep it on the strictly anti-capitalist path, and SOME elements who are behind the LPP do show signs of accommodating to “realism”, “all we can get” “run the system fairly” pressures. It’s essential that the left, in which I include myself, though you may disagree, keep up the pressure. That is why I am glad you are in LU and I am glad you will stay. As I say in my answer to Justin, above, there may come a time when a real reform/revolution split is necessary, around a vital issue to the interests of working people, or to the success or failure of the project to achieve a just, democratic and equal society. That time is not now, and to push for absolute clarity of definitions around points of principle at this early stage is, I firmly believe, premature and counter-productive.

        A lot of people who join LU as confused people who are “vaguely cross at capitalism” (ie new working class members taking a vital step to challenge the existing system) will, under pressure of events and in debate with other members, come to a much more rounded and consistent position. But they won’t do that if they are put off joining in the first place by a programme statement that comes across as ultra-left and impossible and even a bit frightening.

        But whatever happens in November, I hope the party will be formed and that we can start to make inroads into the curse of Labourism that has held back the Left in Britain for 100 years.

      • Philip P says:

        I totally agree with you there Daniel.

        If for example a popular-front Left Unity with affiliated unions replaced the Labour Party as the electoral expression of the working class, what would happen?

        I suspect a Left Unity government would implement a social democratic version of capitalism, at best. Any attempts to implement truly worker control in the economy would lead to capital flight and hostile NATO-EU imperial encirclement. Social democracy brings with it corporate and neo-liberal elements which seeks to displace popular redistribution policies. We’d end up with another Labour Party.

        If a Left Unity government decided to go ahead with attempting to implement a socialist economy, it would be forced to take draconian measures (e.g. emigration control – brain drain) to prevent the destablisation of the government and the economy. As Britain isn’t self-sufficient it would be forced into engaging with capitalist laws of value in the world market for importing and exporting goods and services. This would require the government to act as the capitalist in extracting surplus value to generate profit for the world market. As socialism can’t exist in one country, the Left Unity government in this case would become a Neo-Stalinist formation.

        An internationalist Marxist party is the only way to go, without delusions of parliamentarianism.

      • Daniel says:

        What happens when we’re forced to break with the reformists in Left Unity? Do we form a revolutionary party, or do we form another halfway house to the left of Left Unity?

        This is obviously a bit daft. It won’t come to that I think because Left Unity will fizzle out in a few years like all the other ‘unity’ parties of the last couple of decades in the UK. Labour are the reformists, they have 200,000 members, most of the unions are affiliated to them, and a large chunk of the working class vote for them every election. Left Unity has nothing, it has no stalinist apparatus to take over like the eurocommunist parties on the continent, no unions breaking from the social democracy that exists, and its activists have tenuous links to struggle inside and outside the labour movement. But Labour is still capable of accomodating pressure from below when it needs to (within limits) – it is clearly not a purely capitlist party in that sense. It’s enough to prevent any projects like this taking off in this country. Its been tried many times.

        So a serious Marxist grouping has got to recognise the break already happened, a hundred years ago, and relate to reformism as it exists right now. That means not creating a sort of test chamber where it can play out the debates of the 19th century on a much smaller scale (with the same outcomes). Making inroads to the ‘curse of labourism’ means not replicating it again, with a program from the 1970s, but in modern language and with some intersectionalism thrown in. Trying to do that is what confuses people new to anti-capitalism in my opinion. They can get socialism really easily when its explained, but they can’t get eurocommunism, because it’s confusing, based on repeating past mistakes, not pushing for your real politcs, and its just wrong strategically.

        What we need really I think, is revolutions inside the existing left groups, like the SWP, so that we can move towards some serious regroupment on the rev-left. Getting our own house in order in other words. There’s no get rich quick ‘transitional’ schemes for us here.

  13. Mike Martin says:

    There has actually been quite a lot of promoting Die Linke as a potential ally in LU circles. Question is, do we want a mutual admiration society or a class struggle across Europe (and beyond) with workers in different countries pressing similar demands? The track record of Die Linke is already pretty bad when it gets a chance to run things. The bulk of it is from the the stalinist bureaucracy of the old ruling party of GDR. Given that millions of people still think that Socialism is what went on in GDR etc that makes quite a toxic brand.

    SYRIZA has also been pushed as a model. This is an alliance of rather a lot of radical groups. Even if the majority adopted a strong principled position and refused to administer capitalism the risk of a group hiving off for ministerial positions is considerable. However, the leadership has been promoting itself as a safe pair of hands, so I expect they would all go into a capitalist government.

    We need to shun lowest common denominator politics and put forward demands that reflect the real needs of the working class, not just the marginal increments called for by Keynesian economics. Any success in mobilising for or winning such measures (reforms if you like) would sharpen class conflict. Reforms that were possible in the period following the massive destruction of capital in the 2nd world war are no longer possible. They are being taken away; in this sense austerity is working, to reduce living standards and restore profits. The capitalist politicians hope this will create renewed growth and solve all problems, but nations businesses and banks are competing and cannot stop the race to the bottom. We need to be preparing workers for the bitter battles that lie ahead, not looking for allies among discredited political forces.

  14. John Penney says:

    So Daniel has actually given the game away ! He and his “Communist” associates actually have no time at all for the Left Unity project , ie, as a democratic radical, but at this tactical stage, reformist “transitional” party, far to the Left of New Labour. Daniel and his friends (still proud to use the now utterly toxic term “communist”, when the tragic experience of Stalinism has forever soiled this title in the eyes of the overwhelming majority of the working class, as meaning “murderous tyranny”) exist in such an isolated political bubble that they don’t care that their cynical posturing within Left Unity at this important party-building stage simply helps to wreck its chances of attracting ordinary working class people from outside the Far Left bubble. It certainly won’t lead to Left Unity adopting yet another “smash capitalism now ” ultraleft mission statement in November. Daniel actually knows this of course. It’s just “a political raid” – ultraleft posturing – hoping to grab three or four new members for their tiny, doomed to irrelevance, CPGB sectlet .

    The reality is this ; that the UK working class is in utter retreat in the face of the bosses’ Austerity Offensive. This currently ideologically and organisationally retreating working class simply isn’t “up” for “smashing capitalism” as yet. It has proved willing , in relatively small , but growing, numbers to engage in resistance to the Offensive on a number of limited fronts however, eg, the NHS, Workfare, the Cuts generally, The Bedroom Tax, specific areas of industrial action. We have to relate, today, to the actual level of consciousness of the class, and only transitional “reformist” demands and a resolutely radical Left, NOT revolutionary, new party has any chance of mobilising large numbers of working class people in a resistance struggle.

    Though effectively organised struggle on a transitional programme of demands the “political heat” of the struggle will rise – and more radical political demands will have a role to play. But not today for heavens sake ! If all the Communist Platform people are intent on doing is to posture and be disruptive for their own narrow sectarian purposes it would be more honest to leave Left Unity alone and carry on your “party-building” elsewhere – on a hard Leninist revolutionary programme of course . Good luck with that !

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks for the criticism John, though I don’t quite understand the vitriolic tone. I haven’t ‘let anynything out of the bag’ really, as, I think, i’m just straightforwardly stating my opinion of the situation we’re in right now. I’ve never heard the phrase ‘political raid’ when it comes to the CPGB and LU in any of our meetings. Neither was it mentioned that we wanted to recruit anybody through it. It is more an onerous duty on our part to go in and engage and give our time to it, to try and win people over to our perspective on the way forward. We did have some hopes for it when the socialist platform came along of course, and yes we still hold on to the vanishingly small possibility people will pass our amended version of it. I think its quite arrogant to say our enagement is less serious than the people on your side just because we disagree though.

      But I think you’re in a bind, because if you’re going to stick to this ‘transitional’ perspective, you’re going to have to explain the 20 years of failure, and all those left alternative parties to Labour that now litter the left. They’re definitely all ‘doomed to irrelevence’. And where’s all this ‘transitional’ heat? I put ‘transitional’ in scare quotes, because it has precious little to do with the actual transitional method really, and much more to do with the methods of the old stalinist CPs, as that evolved later by eurocommunists and the various degenerated ‘trotskyist’ variations on the theme that came later. These methods are what demoralised the left and caused all its support to bleed away. The vision died.

      And the pessimism these tactics implied towards the working class, which you perpetuate, were really forms of projection of feelings these erstwile revolutionaries had about the future. They had really accepted the necessity of capitalism but were psychologically unable to take this. Which is why we think its important to convince people like *you* that communism isn’t ‘forever soiled’, but is viable, real and worth fighting towards. The working class don’t have a chance when even its defenders can’t even believe in that.

      Winning the battle on that score is what will make people think its worth fighting again. Why bother otherwise? If all you’ve got is this dreary fatalism and scrabbling around in defense of this or that bit of the crumbling social contract? Thats not why I got into and have stayed in the left, despite all the failures. I got in because I convinced myself ‘another world is possible’ and all that jazz. And I’m no different from most people on that score, so I choose not to patronise and manage them through these daft schemes.

  15. Steve F says:

    Of course we need some transitional schemes but the right ones not the wrong ones. And the break that occurred 100 years ago is finished rather than ‘permanent’. The plan to recreate or rebuild the Labour Party and recreate the ‘revolutionary’ communist party of Great Britain is finished too despite the efforts of Socialist-Communist Platform. I should say that the two platforms are virtually the same although the CPGB version is better. So there is an alternative platform which is Neither Labourism Nor Trotskyism But Republican Socialism. The latter may be transitional but I’m sure it won’t make us rich quick.

    Of course serious Marxists would address the Totality of Platforms not just the ones that helps their special case

  16. Ray G says:

    Ok Daniel – We clearly want different things, and i do not (or perhaps do not want to) share your pessimism about the Left unity project.

    Over and out.

  17. Frank Fitzmaurice says:

    So the Soviet union, and the 3rd international which was founded from it, was not an attempt to overthrow capitalism and usher in workers rule worldwide, which would have led to a socialist society.
    What this platform is saying is that the methods used by the masses in what became the Soviet Union, led by the numerically very small working classes are not legitimate methods to pursue in future struggles. Who is it that says this, and with what authority? This is just lies and calumny heaped on our own workers history, surely this was not written by workers.


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