WeeklyWorker

10.09.2015
A clear set of Marxist principles and perspectives

New foundations, new orientation

Communist Platform has drafted the following motions, together with our code of conduct, disputes rules and equality policy. Comrades are urged to secure Left Unity branch support for them and our alternative constitution

Labour Party

1. Left Unity welcomes the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. It amounts to a revolution in the workers’ movement in Britain.

2. All halfway house projects, opportunist attempts to chase the Greens, adaptations to petty nationalism have been exposed, wrecked or left high and dry.

3. Left Unity commits itself to the project of transforming the Labour Party into an instrument for working class advance and international socialism. Towards that end we will join with others and seek the closest unity of the left inside and outside the Labour Party.

4. Ideas of reclaiming the Labour Party and the return of the old clause four are totally misplaced. From the beginning the party has been dominated by the labour bureaucracy and the ideas of reformism. The party must be refounded on the basis of a genuinely socialist programme, as opposed to social democratic gradualism or bureaucratic statism.

5. The aim is not a Labour government for its own sake. History shows that Labour governments committed to managing the capitalist system and loyal to the existing constitutional order create disillusionment in the working class.

6. Labour should only consider forming a government when it has the active support of a clear majority of the population and has a realistic prospect of implementing a full socialist programme. This cannot be achieved in Britain in isolation from Europe and the rest of the world.

7. Socialism is the rule of the working class over the global economy created by capitalism and as such is antithetical to all forms of British nationalism. Demands for a British road to socialism and a withdrawal from the European Union are therefore to be opposed.

8. Political principles and organisational forms go hand in hand. The Labour Party must become the umbrella organisation for all trade unions, socialist groups and pro-working class partisans. Towards this end Left Unity will demand the complete elimination of all undemocratic bans and proscriptions and will seek to affiliate to the Labour Party.

9. The fight to democratise the Labour Party cannot be separated from the fight to democratise the trade unions. Trade union votes at Labour Party conferences should be cast not by general secretaries, but proportionately, according to the political balance in each delegation.

10. All trade unions should be encouraged to affiliate, all members of the trade unions encouraged to pay the political levy and join the Labour Party as individual members.

European Union

Conference reaffirms Left Unity’s previous decision to fight for “a united Europe under the rule of the working class”.

Conference notes:

1. That a referendum on British membership of the EU is on the Tory government’s political agenda.

2. That a ‘yes’ vote will be an expression of support for whatever concessions David Cameron is able to get from the EU, and that any such concessions will be anti-working class to their core.

3. That leftwing support for a ‘no’ vote can only be justified by endorsing the utopian fantasy of ‘socialism in one country’, shown by Stalinism to be a dead end.

Conference resolves:

1. To call for a boycott of the referendum.

2. To continue to fight for working class unity across the EU, and united action on a continental scale.

Greece

Conference reaffirms Left Unity’s commitment to campaign in solidarity with the Greek people against the fraudulent ‘austerity’ policy imposed by the ‘institutions’.

Conference recognises that this ‘austerity’ policy can only be overthrown by the common political action of the working class Europe-wide. Left Unity will therefore increase the priority it gives to Europe-scale political cooperation.

Conference, accordingly, recognises that Left Unity was, like Syriza, mistaken to promote illusions in the possibilities of a Syriza-led government overturning austerity in Greece without immediate common action of the working class across Europe.

Imperialist intervention

Conference recognises that imperialist interventions, in the form of wars and occupation followed by civil wars, have left most of the Middle East and north Africa in a state of permanent conflict. The United States as the world hegemon power, supported by its allies, seems content with the existence of failed states in the region and tolerance of Jihadist groups, including Islamic State.

Conference notes that after a year of US air attacks, IS remains as strong as it was in 2014. Turkey, a Nato ally of the United Sates, has been engaged in bombing Kurdish forces fighting IS.

Conference recognises that the signing of a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers, while reducing the immediate danger of armed imperialist attack on Iran, may have paved the way for more conflict in the region, as regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia enters a new phase.

Conference reiterates its stance in opposition to imperialist military interventions in the Middle East. Peace cannot come courtesy of bodies such as the United Nations - an assembly dominated by exploiters and murderers. It is the duty of socialists to connect the popular desire for peace with the aim of revolution. Only by disarming the bourgeoisie and through the victory of international socialism can the danger of war be eliminated.

Standing army and the people’s militia

Left Unity is against the standing army and for the armed people. This principle will never be realised voluntarily by the capitalist state. It has to be won - in the first place by the working class developing its own militia.

Such a body grows out of the class struggle itself: defending picket lines, mass demonstrations, workplace occupations; fending off fascists, etc.

As the class struggle intensifies, conditions are created for the workers to arm themselves and win over sections of the military forces of the capitalist state. Every opportunity must be used to take even tentative steps towards this goal. As circumstances allow, the working class must equip itself with all weaponry necessary to bring about revolution.

To facilitate this we demand:

1. Rank-and-file personnel in the state’s armed bodies must be protected from bullying, humiliating treatment and being used against the working class.

2. There must be full trade union and democratic rights, including the right to form bodies such as soldiers’ councils.

3. The privileges of the officer caste must be abolished. Officers must be elected. Workers in uniform must become the allies of the masses in struggle.

4. The people have the right to bear arms and defend themselves.

5. The dissolution of the standing army and the formation of a well regulated popular militia under democratic control.

Code of conduct for LU members

Preamble

Left Unity aims as far as possible within the deeply unequal society within which we live to combat all forms of oppression and discrimination, to develop all our members as leaders, and to develop a culture of free discussion accessible to all members.

We recognise that this is most likely to be achieved by a political culture in which fully open debate, including accusations of sexism, racism, class prejudice, scabbing, etc, or saying that ‘the emperor has no clothes’, are possible; and in which members are free to communicate with each other and to organise themselves for common ends. This code of conduct therefore merely sets certain minimal limits which are necessary to LU’s ability to function and pursue these goals.

Members may not:

LU recognises that we do not have the resources to properly investigate and handle complaints of serious crimes against other members: for example, rape or wounding/GBH; and that by attempting to do so we may contaminate evidence and thereby prevent justice being obtained.

Rules for disputes procedure

A. Procedure

A body handling a complaint or disciplinary charges against a member must:

lact as promptly as possible (having regard to the following points);

lwhere the complaint is not dealt with in a branch, publish to the region (if dealt with in a regional committee) or to LU generally (if dealt with in the national council, disputes committee or appeals committee) a summary of the decision and the body’s findings and reasons.

These procedural obligations do not prohibit dealing with complaints by voluntary negotiation, mediation or reconciliation procedures, whether before or at any stage of formal complaints procedures.

Sanctions

Where a complaint is upheld or a disciplinary charge found proved, the sanctions imposed may range from censure of the member complained against, through other penalties, up to suspension or expulsion from membership of LU.

In deciding on sanctions, account should be taken of the seriousness of the complaint, the extent to which a persistent course of conduct is involved, and of the level of political experience of the person complained against.

A vote to expel a member does not take effect until ratified by the national council or disputes committee on the basis of a report from the body hearing the complaint.

Equalities policy for LU internal procedures

Left Unity recognises that we live in a society characterised by profound systematic inequality, not just on the basis of class, but also of the oppression of women, discrimination against members of ethnic and religious minority groups, and LGBT people and of age hierarchies, as well as both direct discrimination and the inherent bias of market society against people with disabilities.

We aim for a party in which all people can fully participate.

We also recognise, however, that there are serious limits on the extent to which the life of the party can overcome the inequalities of capitalist society or ‘prefigure’ the future, and the complete and disastrous failure of previous attempts to create party ‘liberated zones’ or ‘prefigurative politics’. In addition, a number of forms of discrimination and inequality, particularly around caring responsibilities and disabilities, immediately engage the questions of material resources and time; and the recent evolution of capitalism has been to reduce the resources in both space and time available to workers generally and to workers’ organisations. For instance, we may and should aim to meet in accessible rooms, but such rooms may simply be unavailable or not available at a price which small LU branches can afford.

What follows is therefore an incomplete list of recommendations for LU’s organisations for good practice in combating the effects of inequalities and discrimination on our decision-making. Most of these recommendations are hence subject to ‘as far as possible’ (generally, more will be possible for national meetings than for local meetings).

Left Unity needs to actively promote workers’ education and similar initiatives to empower those who have had less access to formal education. The party as a whole, and branches, need to develop party education for the same purpose.