Spirals by Alexander Rodchenko

Ready for anything

Update on the CPGB's Summer Offensive for 2019

The Summer Offensive - the CPGB’s annual fundraising drive - was very quick out of the blocks this year, with members and supporters at our June 15 aggregate pledging a tremendous starting total of £21,000 towards our target of £30k by the last day of this year’s Communist University (August 17-24). As these words are typed, the pledge total has now swelled to £23,365, with some stalwarts of the campaign still to confirm their target for 2019.

Indeed, one comrade who promised a hefty wodge of that total has hit his ambitious target already! Of course, as a veteran of many past Offensives, he will know exactly what’s coming next. I’m going to nag the flesh off him until he sets another total to hit!

The aggregate debate that preceded these pledges emphasised both the political and social uncertainty that surrounds us, as well as the important opportunities that could land in our collective lap. As politicians, we make informed guesses/projections about the future all the time - not to do so would be to disarm ourselves and to just passively comment on events as they unfold. Instead, our journalism and the practical initiatives that flow from it are part of a fight to shape the future, not simply wait for it to arrive.

That said, anyone who seriously tried to map out the precise contours of political developments in the short to medium term in today’s world is being very brave. This period is defined by uncertainty and disruption - with Trump and Sanders, Johnson and Corbyn, as its poster boys.

For us as an organisation, the challenge is really to become qualitatively more effective in fighting for our core project of a radical political renewal of the left and the wider workers’ movement. In contrast to what some opponents (as well as some distant sympathisers) have accused us of in the past, this in no way means that we are self-effacing or ‘shy’ about building our organisation. For example, Farzad Kamangar commented at the June 15 aggregate: “The influence of the Weekly Worker needs to be expanded and we need a better presence on the internet and on social media.” These were among the many reasons why she said we need to “take the Summer Offensive seriously”.

A bigger, slicker CPGB would make a huge material difference for the cultural/programmatic revolution that is an urgent priority for the left - both inside the Labour Party and out. In a turbulent period like this, an organisation like ours could grow rapidly - and the wherewithal for that expansion would be provided by the surplus a successful SO would deliver. Politically and financially, we need to be ready for anything.

This is where you come in. We have an impressive opening pledge of £23k-plus. But remember that our £30,000 target is our minimum. It is based on a calculation of the running costs of our organisation for the next 12 months or so, plus a little extra for surprises - whether they are nice or nasty ones, they normally entail expenditure.

Take just one example - the newspaper you are reading now. Given the CPGB’s role as the main supporter of the Weekly Worker, the expanded “influence” for it that comrade Kamangar looks forward to would be helped massively by a Summer Offensive that smashes through £30k and goes way beyond. Despite its paucity of resources - financial and otherwise - this paper stands head and shoulders above the journalistic output of organisations with far more material resources and members. The monthly fighting fund, marshalled with irrepressible optimism by comrade Robbie Rix, is no afterthought - let alone a sneaky ruse to build Weekly Worker brand-loyalty. The donations, big and small, make a tangible difference to a publication that operates on a shoestring budget.

With a successful Summer Offensive for the CPGB, we are can make sure that the paper ticks along. With a bumper SO in 2019, we would be able to provide the support for comrades who produce the paper to seriously think about a radical upgrade of the equipment needed to produce it; a root-and-branch redesign for the online presence of the WW (and the CPGB itself, of course); more effective promotion and campaigns to expand the readership, etc.

So, in the coming two months or so CPGB members will have money on their minds. We need our members and supporters to leave no cushion unturned; no piggy bank unviolated; no sympathetic comrades or close relations not dangled by the heels and given a good shake for loose change. More than that, we call on comrades in the wider circles of respect and sympathy that we have around our political project to also step up and help us make this SO one of our very best.

Remember, comrades - £30k is our minimum!

William Sarsfield