Hammer and tongs

Party notes

With just one week of campaigning before the official end of this year’s Summer Offensive, we stand at just under £10,000 towards our £25,000 target. We are confident that all comrades will meet the pledges they made at the beginning of May towards this annual two-month fundraising campaign. But this would only take us to £15,000 or so - still £10,000 shy of our overall target.

Bridging this shortfall will require a real gutsy effort on the last lap of the campaign. If comrades have money for the campaign, bang it into Centre as soon as possible so we can get an idea of where we stand and what still needs to be raised. Clearly however, we need to go at the task hammer and tongs to get near our collective target.

It is worthwhile thinking about this year’s Offensive. Setting it in context of both our ongoing political work and other year’s campaigns will tell us something about where our organisation stands in relation to its central task - reforging the Communist Party.

First, on continuity and maintenance.

For a number of years - in contrast to the blindly upbeat perspectives of groups like the Socialist Party in England and Wales or the Socialist Workers Party - we have underlined the reactionary nature of this period. Inevitably, this period has placed pressures on our organisation as we have struggled to make political headway. Thus, we have emphasised the collective task of continuity and maintenance in our organisation.

Of course, this does not mean that we are reduced to passivity, to simply tending a museum of the past organisational and political achievements of the Party. We can be justly proud of the fact that our group continues to act dynamically, to have a relatively impressive ability to put its politics into action. In fact, this is an important element of the ‘continuity’ we seek. Despite some hard times, there has been no appreciable dilution in the level of our politics or ability to intervene. Around the project of reforging the Party we have built a small core of seasoned cadre who are able to take the stresses and strains of the SO in their stride.

Second, there is the character of this year’s campaign.

In a sense, there has been a certain reversion to features of the earlier Offensives. Essentially, most comrades have raised their targets through belt-tightening, altering patterns of personal consumption or just taking on more shifts at work. While this has meant that the SO has ticked along competently enough, the problem has been that comrades have to absent themselves from the Party and explicitly political work to achieve their personal targets. This is not a feature to get too worried about, but it not something to be pleased about either.

The SOs are always a measure of the level and intensity of the broader activity of the organisation. The scope of this has shrunk along with the movement we operate in. We therefore have a certain contradiction. We have never been more effective as a political trend: our press has never been more widely read or influential. The pond we are in, however, is contracting.

Third, there is the character of our periphery.

The SO and recent political campaigns suggest we have the glimmerings of an organisational breakthrough in terms of a sympathetic and activated periphery. The general level of donations we receive - day to day as well during the Summer Offensive - has improved considerably. Go back three years and our readership - while relatively big and well informed - was almost universally hostile. Today, it is clear that we have managed to take some of these comrades - often activists - with us through our political work towards similar sorts of conclusions. The variety of political sources of the donations to this year’s SO reflects the reality that our arguments on Party, programme and the solutions to the crisis of the left are gaining some ground.

Fourth, the handling of our periphery is improving. The perennial problem of integrating newer comrades into high levels of Party work - especially when there have been few ‘conventional’ campaigning outlets for us - has certainly not gone away. However, we show some signs of getting on top of the problem rather than the other way around.

The leadership and Party cells should use any respite at the end of this year’s Summer Offensive to conduct a thoroughgoing review of our organisation, its culture and methods of work. It is clear that, as the crisis of the rest of the left deepens, we are faced with the task of building this organisation as the positive solution. This implies no sect-narrowness, no self-serving political myopia. We remain committed to building an inclusive part of the class, not another sterile mono-idea sect. But without giving our political and theoretical answers more solid and viable organisational form, that solution will be nothing but an abstraction.

The celebratory meal to mark the end of the Offensive - entertainingly dubbed “the Offensive meal” in previous years’ publicity - is scheduled for Saturday July 10. Please contact Centre as soon as possible as places are limited.

Mark Fischer
national organiser