Not so great
Having read the Weekly Worker for a few months, I wonder why you choose to call the organisation the Communist Party of Great Britain. There is a consistent internationalist thread throughout the CPGB's politics, so why the emphasis on Great Britain? I am aware of the party's origins in the 1920s, but most people who have heard of the Communist Party will probably remember the organisation of the 60s/70s and the British road to socialism, etc. Your politics seems so far removed from then.
Not so great
Not so great
Luton University was occupied on March 1 by 20 students fighting exclusions from the uni due to non-payment of tuition fees and also in protest at the closure of the faculty of humanities and the proposed sacking of more then 90 lecturers.
We've occupied the strategically located faculty of science, technology and design and have stopped one the uni's busiest and major offices from functioning. We are not sure how long we will last, but we are receiving a lot of media attention and are in a good spirits.
We are a part of the student fightback against Blair and his bullshit politics. We would appreciate messages of support and a bit of coverage if you can. We wish to express our solidarity with the Vauxhall car workers and see ourselves as part of a student-worker alliance in the spirit of 1968.
Once again Jack Conrad criticises the SWP, Militant and the lesser Trotskyoid groups for "economism" or rather, this time, "electoralist economism" (Weekly Worker March 1).
He's right. That is indeed an apt description of their programme: double pensions, triple the minimum wage, tax the rich, all of which presuppose the continued existence of the wages system, pensions, taxes - and the rich. It offers no alternative to capitalism or to reformism. It's just super-reformism, but one which most voters - who are still unfortunately reformist-minded - can see through as unrealistic. So they'll vote for someone who seems to have a realistic chance of bringing in some reforms, particularly the Labourites or perhaps the Liberals. In fact, where the SA is not standing, this is what its major component - the SWP - is telling people to do. But if you're going to contest elections, at least do it with a view to dispelling rather than encouraging reformist illusions.
So, yes, Conrad is right. What is required is an injection of politics. I would understand this to mean putting forward the maximum socialist programme of bringing in the common ownership and democratic control of the means of production, the abolition of the wages system, and production solely for use, not profit. But what does Conrad propose? Not this socialist politics, but the 19th century radical Liberal politics of the abolition of the monarchy and the House of Frauds, and home rule for Ireland, Scotland and Wales!
As this is all the SA can come up with, come election day I'll be voting neither for "electoralist economism" nor for 19th century radical politics, but for socialism - by writing the word 'socialism' across my ballot paper.
As the letters from both Ted Talbot and Ivor Kenna point out, communists have for too long relegated the question of animal rights to the sidelines (Weekly Worker March 1).
However, as well as the compelling moral and ethical dimension, there are sound economic reasons for radically rethinking the way in which animals are used in society. Quite apart from the cruelty involved - of which Mary Godwin is either unaware or prefers to ignore - the politics of meat production and consumption is an issue communists cannot disregard, not least of all because it is inextricably linked to a critique of the imperialist plunder of the world by global agribusiness.
As well as the increasingly detrimental effects on human and animal health, meat production is inherently wasteful. Depending on the animal, between four and 17 kilos of grain are required to produce one kilo of meat. More crucially, whereas it takes approximately 1,000 and 10,000 litres of water to grow one kilo of grain and rice respectively, one kilo of meat requires 100,000.
Given the fact that in many parts of the imperialised world there is a major shortage of clean drinking water, this is profligacy on a massive scale. Similarly, recent research shows that in the USA alone, if meat consumption was reduced by just 10%, more than one billion people could be fed from grain grown on that land.
Sadly, in common with most bourgeois thought, communists have on the whole resisted any rational debate on this question, choosing instead to simply accept the erroneous notion that animal protein is a necessary and 'natural' component of the human diet. The time has come for us to seriously and imaginatively confound this orthodoxy.
Ian Donovan's article, 'The real grave robbers', is well wide of the mark and simplistic in its attempt to suggest support for the medical profession because they have comes under attack by reactionaries (Weekly Worker February 8). What is central is the rights for people to control their own bodies and lives - this must be placed in the context of a working class solution.
I for one am in no doubt that the vast majority of parents were unaware of what was really going on under the guises of 'tissue removal'. To suggest that this was only 'apparent' is crass in the extreme. These individuals need more than our sympathies. What is required is a deep understanding of the violation of their children's bodies by an unelected, unaccountable medical elite.
Ian's suggestion that this arises from "increasingly 'privatised' cultural norms" is simply false. Show me any period in the last two centuries or more when this sort of behaviour was acceptable. When has the working class ever displayed this sort of deference to the medical elite? The mindset of the current medical elite is little different to those who paid money to body snatchers in the 1800s. It is the same strand of thought that drives today's bureaucratic grave robbers.
With the general election approaching and an increase of more mass-type work, it strikes me that some of the debates that we have had take on more importance.
That the Weekly Worker has shown a strategy for revolutionary activists within the alliances and the Socialist Labour Party, etc is of course undisputed. That it has influence and is widely read on the left also is without question. It is a good reflection of the work of comrades and a good internal organ.
However, I think some of the frustration of newer comrades will be compounded in the general election. As revolutionaries we should be striving to educate and stretch ourselves, but we need to increase our influence also. In many respects the Weekly Worker is a bit like a trade journal. Plumbers Monthly may be of vital importance to those in the trade, but not so much to those needing to do a bit of DIY around the house. Frankly the idea of selling the Weekly Worker whilst canvassing is not on. It is something they may buy once, but not again.
I am aware of our resources. That we produce a weekly paper, have an excellent website, etc is admirable for an organisation of our size. However, I am highlighting a problem that needs addressing now. Otherwise we may miss an opportunity to develop.
I am not advocating some kind of dumbing down. But there is a debate to be had about how you make a journal for a popular audience without becoming a kind of Socialist Worker mark 2. I think maybe looking back at how socialists did so in the past would be instructive. Some of the left press of the early part of the century, when most workers were either illiterate or semi-illiterate, were certainly less condescending.
Maybe we need to address issues in the news clearly, with our programme at the end, and be more careful about loose quotes about micro-groups like the Sparts out of context. However, we shouldn't patronise interested people who are not totally 'in' on the left news. People who take the step of joining a revolutionary organisation are usually willing to learn, but we need some things they can understand and debate about immediately.
I have just spent hours walking around the poorest estate I've ever seen delivering thousands of leaflets. Getting the highly politicised response of "Labour are a bunch of wankers". The question of a united Ireland, a republic, the House of Lords and so on come very low on people's agenda.
You write your leaflet how you want it. Hold a meeting, stand in the election. Will any working class people come to it or vote for you? No. Just stupid petty bourgeois academics playing a game in their own world, where everyone knows about and cares about the most academic, petty, pathetic, insignificant left event ever.
Was 'Bread, peace and land' economism? No. Start with what people understand, then develop them politically, raise their consciousness. You can't start from the view that all the workers are busily debating 'Was James Marshall a Stalinist Menshevik?' Try going for a walk in a working class area. You might learn something.