David Moran in his letter refers to the degeneration of the anarchist Black Guard into banditry as a result of which Lenin crushed them in 1918 in Moscow (Weekly Worker October 19).
The truth of the matter is that the Black Guard were the same people with the same ideology who Moran admits were "gallant, if utterly deluded". The excuse of a descent into banditry, with the "honest" anarchists being swamped by "bandits and counterrevolutionaries" is a patent lie. Lenin had stated in 'A letter to comrades' (September 1917) that, "All agree in characterising the prevailing mood of the masses of people as one ... giving rise to the generally acknowledged fact of growing anarchist influence." This had to be smashed by terror, and the Bolsheviks went on to use the excuse of "banditry".
Moran asks: "Haven't anarchists learnt anything?" Yes, we have: we know who our enemies are. It is Moran and his ilk who have learnt nothing and who continue to use lies and misrepresentation against anarchism. You call for a vote for Livingstone, a social-democrat careerist of the sleaziest first order. You attempt to salvage a failing belief in bourgeois democracy among the masses through the electoralist Socialist Alliance. You rush to catch up with mass action in Seattle and Prague, viewing those taking part in these actions as simpletons and as potential party fodder.
In truth, you have learnt nothing and the bankruptcy of Leninist politics becomes more apparent with each passing day.
Open Polemic submit an apparently considered response (Weekly Worker October 26) to Jack Conrad's 'No more dead ends' (September 21).
Now Jack has this knack of attacking a subject from all sorts of unfamiliar angles - this prompts most people to actually think about the content of what he says. Unfortunately, some have not managed to move from dogma to thinking. Oh my god, Jack did not explicitly express the form of ownership of the means of production! Oh my god, Jack said that socialism is not delivered by a revolutionary party: he must reject the leading role of the party. I suggest the comrades put down the tick sheet and read Jack's piece again.
Open Polemic presents a fixed category - socialism as proletarian democracy, which is also a proletarian dictatorship at one end. At the other is another fixed category - human freedom (communism). Unfortunately, they have no concept of movement from one to the other. To be sure, they have heard of the state "withering away", they have an idea of the "leading role of the party" - but what does it all mean?
Jack is correct: it is the class that makes the revolution - notwithstanding the leading role of the party (which is in this situation a part of the class). But we do not stop at proletarian democracy: we begin a conscious process to lay the material, ideological, cultural and social basis for communism. We set out to eventually abolish the working class and all classes by establishing a community of producers.
Socialism is this process - what Marx called the first phase of communism. Socialism is the beginning of freedom because it is the beginning of a process that achieves full communism. It is a freedom that consists in recognising what it is necessary to do to remove the distinctions that divide us and the alienation that deforms us - to make us true to our human nature.
This is a world task. You cannot have an island of communist freedom that is materially, ideologically, socially and culturally separate from the rest of humanity. I cannot be free if you are not.
Greater London Labour Party's biennial meeting on Saturday November 11 promises the Labour left another lesson in helplessness.
In its July 25 notice the regional committee invited constituencies and affiliated organisations (or "constituent stakeholders", in New Labour-speak) to submit "contemporary" resolutions, two of which would be selected for debate by ballot at the meeting. Among the 45 submissions were 11 resolutions calling for the readmission of mayor Livingstone to membership, three criticising the undemocratic selection process for the mayoral candidate, and seven opposing public-private partnership funding of London underground.
As usual, the regional board (yes, more like a company than a party) is now going back on its word. Even this lottery-style democracy, if the board gets its way, will be sidelined into workshop discussions, not timetabled for debate and vote. As the London Labour Left circular (November) says, this "will reduce the status of the biennial conference to that of a local policy forum at which issues are discussed but no decision taken", its function "thus being limited to electing members of the board and national policy forum representatives, and to listening to speeches".
The trouble is, as we saw with the pensions issue at national conference, party policy can be safely ignored by a Labour government. As the saying goes, a dog barks and the wind carries away the sound. Nevertheless, the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy is circulating a model emergency motion to reinstate the contemporary resolutions. Details are available at LondonLabourLeft@yahoo.com or c/o 10 Park Drive NW11.
Imagine how you would feel if, when polls closed on election night, you were told there had been a landslide victory for the Monster Raving Loony Party. Now you know how I felt at the end of the Republican Communist Network AGM.
In elections that degenerated into farce (one of several low points in a rather depressing conference), the majority of members chose to inflict Marxism's very own Henry Root, Phil Walden, on the editorial board of Republican Communist. Members of the outgoing editorial board (and our national secretary) said there was only one choice, given that the other candidate was a member of an organisation already represented on the editorial board: irrelevant as far as I am concerned, but also completely untrue. Nick Clarke is not, and never has been, a member of the Revolutionary Democratic Group. Comrades were misled.
Secondly, comrade Walden's critics were denied an opportunity to explain in any detail why we so strongly opposed this particular candidate. We were prevented from pointing out that the comrade in question is technically ineligible even for membership of our organisation: he openly disagrees with two of our slogans. Even if members chose to turn a blind eye as far as membership goes, I know many must have voted for him ignorant of his attitude to our slogans, and might like to reconsider in light of information denied them on Saturday.
Comrade Walden has called for socialists to split from, and stand candidates against, the London Socialist Alliance. He does this on the nonsensical grounds that it has degenerated into a cross-class popular front! The majority of RCN members must surely be unaware of this too.
Some of his critics tried to explain why his candidacy had to be opposed. Unfortunately, we were subjected to heckling, and unwarranted accusations of personal abuse. This was a breach of the spirit of revolutionary democracy and culture that is supposed to characterise our proceedings. This is no big deal as far as comrade Walden is concerned: he opposes it after all. The rest of us should demand new elections as soon as practical.