Building upon solid foundations

After the June 7 general election the next step for the Socialist Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party is is self-evident. Form an all-Britain party solidly grounded upon a clear-sighted and principled programme. Only from such foundations can we build a party - in the scientific sense of being the advanced part of a class - and pursue the correct strategy and tactics.

Our inability to boldly take the lead in high politics and adopt a serious orientation towards the Labour Party dissipated much of the enormous energy on display during the campaign. A weakness which stems entirely from the fact that we still inhabit not only a pre-party situation, but also a pre-programme situation. This article is therefore submitted in the spirit of comradeship and in the hope of stimulating further, mutually beneficial, exchanges and, in time, arriving at programmatic clarification.

There is a vital interrelationship between the working class party and its programme. The programme is not some afterthought - mere window-dressing, nor an eclectic list of election pledges. Our programme has a twofold function. On the one side it represents our armoury of chosen demands and principles. On the other side it provides a dynamic road map which through constant debate allows the working class to navigate the shortest, least costly, route from today?s cramped and squalid socio-political conditions to the far horizons of a truly human world. Real civilisation begins when humanity finally leaves behind the last vestiges of alienation, state repression and exploitation of one by another.

The programme owes nothing to holy script. Fixed, timeless and inviolate. On the contrary, given a major political rupture - eg, overthrow of the monarchy constitution, partition of Britain and its workers? movement by nationalists, establishment of an EU superstate, etc - various passages of the programme ought to be suitably reformulated in preparation for the final assault.

The party - being the advanced part of the working class - animates, empowers and verifies the programme. But in many ways the party is itself a superstructure growing from the programme. Recruits are motivated by its inspiring and theoretically proven goals. They are trained and encadred by the ongoing mass struggle to realise its immediate demands. Methods and day-to-day tactics flow from the strategy and aims systematically unfolded in the programme. In that sense the programme is responsible for actively generating the party. The main determination runs from the programme and its principles to the party and its organisation and membership.

Without an accurate and constantly tested programme, dangers threaten at every turn. Adventurism. Ditching or downgrading principles. Opinion poll-chasing. Careerism. Blithely walking into a counterrevolutionary bloodbath.

Confirmation of the above warnings comes from none other than Lindsay German of the Socialist Workers Party. Somewhat ironic. Her organisation has, after all, an ingrained and heavy-handed antithesis towards any kind of programme. Furthermore, despite a five year too late entry into the SSP, the comrades still manifest an unwillingness to countenance the speedy transformation of the Socialist Alliance into a party. Nevertheless comrade German forthrightly explained in the article, ?The future of the Socialist Alliance?, what negative consequences might follow if a ?full revolutionary programme? is not adopted.

Under the testing circumstances of crisis - not even a war, but just a racist backlash - a party that had been ?built on minimal demands? could ?fudge or divide down the middle?. A recipe, says the comrade, either for ?paralysis or for splits? (Socialist Worker May 5). Quite right.

The Socialist Alliance should take comrade German at her word. Spurn all attempts to ?fudge? principles. Uniting on the 80% where we agree is good politics. But ignoring the 20% where we disagree is simply to follow the minimalist line of least resistance. Instead, search out the truth. Gain strength from honestly admitting mistakes and shortcomings. Take the greatest care in painstakingly developing a ?full revolutionary programme? and ensuring that it is comprehensively informed by the most advanced theory available. In a word - Marxism.

That will not prove as easy as it might appear at first glance. Within the Socialist Alliance many of our allies are prone to defend programmatic positions significantly to the right of what they formally adhere to in their own press and other such factional publications. Apart from showing that the ideas of revolution are habitually viewed by such comrades as part of a private - confessional - belief system, rather than as vitally necessary for the working class, how else can one explain such seemingly perverse behaviour?

There are two main determinants. The first is the unfavourable balance of class forces and the nature of the period. The second, and most important, is theoretical weakness.

Let us begin our discussion by briefly examining the period. Neo-liberal capitalism?s temporary triumph and the tragic defeats suffered by the working class since the 1980s mean huge conservative pressures bear down upon the principal socialist and communist organisations supporting the Socialist Alliance - SWP, CPGB, Socialist Party in England and Wales, Alliance for Workers? Liberty, International Socialist Group and Workers Power. What goes for the six applies no less to the smaller groups and the freelancers in the Socialist Alliance too.

The official workers? movement is still exhibiting a tectonic drift to the right and occasionally erupts into violent witch-hunting. An inhospitable climate for revolutionaries, not made any more tolerable by the self-deluding nonsense about the ?crisis of expectations? and ?fructification of hope? that greeted the election of the first Blair government in May 1997. Class struggle has in fact remained mired at historically low levels. Moreover, democracy in the Labour Party has been systematically degraded into stage-managed rallies and focus groups. What Kinnock began, Blair completed. The TUC general council and the grandees of the big trade union battalions nowadays function as a docile lobby group. Hot air occasionally comes forth in a gaseous echo of the past. Practically, however, general secretaries rely on governmental crumbs. Calling strikes is terribly old-fashioned. Calling them off is ? la mode. In textbook fashion the trade union bureaucracy act as a calming - privileged - intermediary between boss and worker, capital and labour.

Simultaneously there is the burgeoning growth of anarchist and semi-anarchist ideas. As always during periods of reaction, quacks and charlatans suddenly emerge and are promptly given platforms by all and sundry. Countless ?new ways? are on offer. Eg, George Monbiot, Naomi Klein, Jos? Bov?. Instead of learning from the past they reject it. Marxism failed. Bolshevism inevitably sired Stalin and the gulag system. On closer examination, unsurprisingly, the panaceas offered by these ?original? thinkers - fair exchange, ignore state power, reform the WTO, Zapatistaism, localist self-sufficiency - turn out to be little more than warmed over pre-Marxist fancies. Useful, albeit partial, critiques of existing capitalism. Useless as a practical course forward.

Reaction blurs vision and lowers sights. Every week Socialist Worker routinely declares that to ?achieve socialism the most militant sections of the working class have to be organised into a revolutionary socialist party? (?What we stand for?). Our SWP allies nevertheless employed their weight in the Socialist Alliance to ensure that we went into the general election standing on ?minimal demands?. A manifesto which fails to make any propaganda arguments for revolution and refuses to bring to the fore agitation for extreme democracy. In essence our manifesto occupied ground deserted by old Labour.

Originally, of course, social democracy - of almost all varieties - purported to be committed to a socialist transformation. Only using non-Marxist - statist and technocratic, peaceful and parliamentary - means. Ends determine means. However, means also determine ends. There exists, in other words, an inescapable reciprocal relationship between the two.

In Britain 100 years of Labourism amply proves that reformism logically and actually resolves into an active promotion of capitalist social relationships, not least wage slavery (European social democracy and the mass ?official communist? parties in Italy and France could be cited with equal effect). Beginning as a defence of the working class within capitalism, the high point of Labourism proved to be state capitalism with mass welfarist provision. Something which curbed the law of value in service of the law of value.

During the long post-World War II boom capitalist reproduction could benefit from conceding, or promoting, the social democratic state. No longer. New Labour marks the final close of that particular secular phase of post-World War II capitalism. Nowadays a second-term Tony Blair trumpets the virtues of private finance, partnership with big business and privatisation. Of course the state - and its role in propping up capitalist accumulation through intervention, subsidies and the government?s swollen budget - has not gone away. Nonetheless all pretence of representing any kind of alternative social system has been abandoned. The redrafting of Labour?s clause four was of huge symbolic importance.

The attempt to make the Socialist Alliance a home for Labourites as Labourites by disguising ourselves in its threadbare programme is not only dishonest, but, as comrade German explains, dangerous. Labourites can and need to be won to Marxism. Clause four-type claims that capitalism can be peaceably reformed into its opposite are doomed to abject failure. Inevitably the social base attached to such a perspective has withered since the halcyon days of the late 1940s. Social democracy demoralises and demobilises.

The notion that the Socialist Alliance had before it a ready-made constituency was fallacious. Blair, Hague and Kennedy vied before the electorate on June 7 as managers of the national capitalist economy. Between them they accounted for virtually the entire poll. The modest fringe votes gained by the Socialist Alliance, the Scottish Socialist Party and Scargill?s Socialist Labour Party reflect our reality. Defensive recourse to 40% of the electorate who abstained is as silly as it is desperate. The truth must be squarely faced, no matter how unpalatable.

Under these circumstances the Socialist Alliance should seek to patiently educate and organise the advanced part of the working class around its authentic programme. No more attempts to give the kiss of life to the anti-socialist tradition of Labourism.


What the working class requires for its own self-liberation is the sort of party and the sort of programme which enabled the working class to successfully reach the commanding heights of state power in Russia. A Bolshevik party and a Bolshevik minimum-maximum programme.

Unfortunately a whole generation of leftwing activists have been miseducated into believing that the Bolsheviks discarded their programme after February 1917 and the abdication of tsar Nicholas II. In fact the end of tsarism and the emergence of a protracted dual power situation - a bourgeois provisional government (class content being determined by politics, not personnel) alongside which stood the workers? and peasants? soviets - caused Lenin to modify - not, as the whole school of modern-day Trotskyism contends, ?break? with - his minimum programme.

The revolutionary dictatorship (rule) of the workers and peasants was concretised in the slogan, ?All power to the workers?, soldiers? and peasants? soviets?. Trotsky?s latter-day disciples have woefully misrepresented the history of Bolshevism and Leninism. In so doing they stupidly reject as a matter of supposed principle the concept of a minimum section of the party programme. This logically arranged series of immediate demands and perspectives - immediate because they are put forward under the socio-economic conditions of capitalism - transform the workers into a class that is ready to seize state power in their orchestrated fulfilment.

As an aside, that miseducation explains why Martin Thomas of the AWL mocks our minimum programme. According to our wit, it is ?the brightest red on the cover, but pale pink inside? (Weekly Worker May 10). He goes on to illustrate his contention by criticising our minimum demand - ie, one which we raise today under the conditions of capitalism - for a federal republic. It is ?without class definition?, he tut-tuts. Instead the AWL wants to highlight ?spontaneous? issues such as the NHS, wages, etc. Banal economism passes for profundity in such circles. Needless to say, in eschewing the minimum programme the AWL hopelessly entangles itself in all manner of barbed contradictions. After all, the AWL has recently undergone a conversion to a federal republic in Britain - helped along in no small measure by Dave Craig of the Revolutionary Democratic Group.

Does the AWL?s call only apply to the future? After the revolution? If so it lacks all concreteness. The CPGB raises the federal republic slogan because it answers the current - legitimate - aspirations of the peoples of Scotland and Wales to self-determination. At the same time it embodies the principle of working class unity.

Socialist revolution is almost by definition the act of a united working class. Communists certainly have a preference for centralised states today ? and under socialism. Only the existence of a living national question in Scotland and Wales prevents us from immediately advocating a democratic centralist state - yes, under capitalism - in opposition to the present monarchical unity of the kingdom of England, the kingdom of Scotland, the principality of Wales and the province of Northern Ireland.

Might comrade Thomas?s implied insistence upon a socialist or a working class content to a federal republic also apply to the AWL?s call for a federal Ireland? What about abortion rights, equality for homosexuals, etc? Or are these demands too only put forward under the condition that they are realised by a workers? government? For its part the CPGB is quite clear. The working class must take the lead in the struggle for democracy under capitalism on all fronts. Without that no political self-movement is possible. Certainly not a socialist revolution.

Comrade Thomas gets worked up into a right lather by our supposed ?party-fetishism?. He cannot grasp why we should want to reforge - ie, remake through revolutionary means - the Communist Party of Great Britain. Eighty percent of its history is for him completely rotten. Let us explain to him once again our ABCs.

There are CPGB members, but no real CPGB - as a party - to point out the obvious. Our central aim as CPGB members is to reforge the CPGB. Why? Because the working class in Britain, and elsewhere, requires the highest form of organisation if it is to fight capitalism and win. Its scientific name, for Marx, and Engels, and after them Lenin, was ?Communist Party?. A Communist Party that has a revolutionary programme and is based on the principles and practice of democratic centralism is a precondition for a successful socialist revolution. Necromancy holds no attraction for us. The CPGB of 1920, 1926, 1935 or 1977 can safely rest in its grave. The CPGB we desire is of the future, not the past.

Comrade Thomas likewise ridicules our contention that without a Communist Party the working class is ?nothing?, but with it ?everything?. For him ?nothing? simply means ?nullity?. How can a nullity, the comrade chuckles patronisingly, become anything?

Of course this formulation of ours is adapted from Lenin. He spoke of the working class being ?nothing? without organisation; with organisation ?everything?. Far from using the term ?nothing? in comrade Thomas?s prosaic, everyday sense, Lenin, and ourselves, philosophically recognise that every ?nothing? must by definition be a something and as such is in the process of becoming. The beginning of any process therefore contains both being and nothing: the unity of being and nothing, or being which is at the same time non-being.

The same can be said specifically of the working class. Without a communist Party the working class is a slave class. As a class in itself it is nothing. But with a Communist Party the working class can become a class for itself: ie, a class that knows itself and its historic task of fighting for universal freedom. Between nothing and everything there is a process of becoming. We do not start with a finished Communist Party as something outside the working class. The Communist Party is the leading, vanguard, part of the working class and comes into being through the class and the class struggle - not, as comrade Thomas suggests in his criticism of us, from the outside. A working class that has formed itself into a Communist Party is everything, but again in the process of ceasing to be and becoming something else. As the working class liberates humanity and in the process itself, workers cease to be workers and simply become associated producers and, more to the point, rounded human beings.

But let us return to the thread of our argument. We were talking about an incorrect reading of the history of Bolshevism and the rejection of the minimum programme as such. An unexceptional, but representative, example of doing this is to be found in International Socialism No81, where Alex Callinicos innocently quotes Comintern?s ?Theses on tactics?, simultaneously claiming it as a repudiation of the minimum programme per se and as a pretext for the SWP?s ?Action programme? - which is in actual fact no more than a ?minimalist? set of demands of the type recently denounced by his comrade, Lindsay German. The SWP?s ?Action programme? could easily be met within capitalism and within the existing constitution to boot. The pivotal question of the state is entirely absent.

Anyway, let us quote Callinicos?s quote:

?The communist parties do not put forward minimum programmes which could serve to strengthen and improve the tottering foundations of capitalism. The communists? main aim is to destroy the capitalist system. But in order to achieve their aim the communist parties must put forward demands expressing the immediate needs of the working class. The communists must organise mass campaigns to fight for these demands regardless of whether they are compatible with the continuation of the capitalist system. The communist parties should be concerned not with the viability and competitive capacity of capitalist industry or the stability of the capitalist economy, but with proletarian poverty, which cannot and must not be endured any longer ...

?In place of the minimum programme of centrism and reformists, the Communist International offers a struggle for the concrete demands of the proletariat which, in their totality, challenge the power of the bourgeoisie, organise the proletariat and mark out the different stages of the struggle for its dictatorship? (A Alder [ed] Theses, resolutions and manifestos of the first four congresses of the Third International London 1980, pp285-6).

Clearly the target of Comintern is not the minimum programme as such. Rather it is the minimum programme of ?socialisation or nationalisation? put forward by the centrists and reformists - which was to be achieved peacefully in an attempt to ameliorate the conditions of the workers, boost demand and thereby stabilise society (ibid p285). As the resolution explicitly states, the understanding that capitalism cannot bring about the ?long-term improvement of the proletariat? does not imply that the workers have to ?renounce the fight for immediate practical demands until after it has established its dictatorship? (ibid p285). Not at all.

Comrades like Alex Callinicos forget, or consign to the dump, the Bolshevik minimum-maximum programme. All that is remembered is the minimum-maximum programme propounded by the German social democracy of Bebel, Kautsky, Bernstein, Noske, David and Scheidemann. Like the Bolsheviks it arranged its programme - drafted by Karl Kautsky - in two sections. The minimum programme ?limited itself to reforms within the framework of bourgeois society? - furthermore, it must be emphasised, these reforms were within the framework of kaiserdom.

The approaches of Bolshevism and German social democracy were therefore superficially similar in that they both had minimum sections of their programmes. However, in their attitude towards the state and world revolution one finds a qualitative difference.

True, the maximum programme of German social democracy ?promised? socialism. But between the minimum and maximum programme there was no bridge provided by the mass struggle to extend democracy up to the point of dual power. Moreover, apart from ?holiday speechifying?, the rightist leaders of German social democracy - especially the trade union officials - had no time for the maximum programme. Indeed they eyed the maximum programme with greater and greater degrees of embarrassment. It had nothing to do with their daily practice and ought therefore to be buried. Blair and his arguments against Labour?s old clause four come to mind.

The chief theorist of rightist German social democracy and would-be grave-digger of the maximum programme was Eduard Bernstein. The so-called father of revisionism. In a cocksure diatribe against the maximum programme, he famously proposed that the ?ultimate aim of socialism is nothing, but the movement is everything? (E Bernstein Evolutionary socialism New York 1961, p202). By the way, is this line of reasoning unconsciously repeated by those comrades who want the Socialist Alliance to be a home for Labourites as Labourites? Let us hope not. Trimming or hiding our principles in the search for popularity has, as we have outlined above, a terrible logic.

Bernstein and others of a similar ilk articulated the interests of a counterrevolutionary labour bureaucracy which, after the repeal of Bismarck?s anti-socialist laws, flourished at the top of German social democracy. For them the huge party apparatus, its big parliamentary fraction and the powerful trade unions were ends in themselves.

With their encouragement the minimum programme metamorphosed into the new maximum. Effectively German social democracy degenerated into a party which sought little more than petty, trade union-type reforms. An aged Fredrick Engels and later Rosa Luxemburg bemoaned the cowardly failure of German social democracy to immediately bring to the fore the demand for the abolition of the monarchy and the imperial constitution. Incidentally Engels insisted that the working class ?can only come to power under the form of the democratic republic? (F Engels CW Vol 27, London 1990, p228). And, much to her credit, Luxemburg not only lambasted the right, but their centrist critics too - most notably Kautsky.

In the hallowed name of preserving party unity the centrists refused to risk a split with revisionism and the right. The awful consequence for the working class was the collapse of social democracy into a ?stinking corpse? with the outbreak of inter-imperialist war in August 1914. An overwhelming majority of leaders and officials rushed to defend the imperialist fatherland.

To reject the bifurcated programme of German social democracy, especially its truncated and purely reformist minimum programme, is one thing. Rejecting the minimum-maximum programme of Bolshevism is, though, altogether wrong. To do so is to throw out the proverbial baby along with the bathwater. The Bolshevik programme must on the contrary be carefully studied and its essential logic and structure emulated - of course, taking into account specific national and historical conditions.

The Bolshevik minimum programme dealt with the existing classes in Russia and the necessity of overthrowing tsarism through a working class-led peasant revolution that would simultaneously seek to spark off a European-wide socialist revolution. No faith should be placed in the liberal bourgeoisie. That class was thoroughly counterrevolutionary.

Economically the minimum programme did not envisage Russia instantly going beyond the norms of capitalist commodity production. Nevertheless at the level of regime Russia was to be ruled over by the working class in alliance with the peasant masses. State power in the form of the revolutionary democratic dictatorship (rule) of the proletariat and peasantry was the lynchpin which joined the minimum and maximum sections of the programme. The Bolsheviks were committed to using the salient of state power to help spark the socialist revolution in the countries of advanced capitalism.

With the aid of the socialist west Russia could then embark on the transition to socialism (the first stage of communism) without the necessity of a second, specifically socialist, revolution. The workers? and peasants? revolution against tsarism would thereby - given the right internal and external conditions and circumstances - be made permanent, or, to use a more precise English adjective, uninterrupted. One phase of the revolutionary struggle overlaps with and carries over into the next revolutionary phase. So, although the minimum programme is technically compatible with commodity production and bourgeois property forms, it is in its fulfilment already reaching for an imminent future far beyond capitalism.

The maximum programme describes the socialist transition period to communism and universal human freedom. The maximum programme advances practically according to the spread and momentum of the world revolution. Neither full socialism nor communism is possible within the borders of any single country.

Obviously both sections of the programme are internally connected. They form an integral whole. To separate one from the other - for example, to lop off or leave aside the maximum programme - robs the minimum programme of its proletarian and internationalist revolutionary content and reduces it to no more than a version of bourgeois democratic radicalism of the 1776 or 1789 kind.

The 21st century was ushered in with the slogans of anti-capitalism coming from a tiny, but growing minority. There now exists within society a definite anti-capitalist mood. Capitalist triumphalism of the 1990s has produced its opposite.

That mood must be consolidated into an organised movement around a clear programme. Without the maximum programme the Socialist Alliance cannot hope to get a hearing from this new audience. Without a minimum programme the anti-capitalist movement will fall into a declining routine of trailing meetings of the IMF, World Bank, etc. In other words the minimum-maximum programme connects the struggles of today with the vistas of general freedom.

Transitional programme

Behind the programmatic timidity of our Socialist Alliance partners is their commitment to what they grandly call the ?transitional method? - derived from Leon Trotsky?s 1938 programme The death agony of capitalism and the tasks of the Fourth International, otherwise simply known as the Transitional programme.

Trotsky was a great revolutionary, but he was badly mistaken in 1938. He believed that capitalism was in absolute terminal decline. Capitalism was in its ?death agony? (L Trotsky The transitional programme New York 1997, p111). It could no longer develop the productive forces or grant meaningful reforms. The introduction of new machines and technology provided no answer to chronic stagnation. Nor in general can there be in the epoch of ?decaying capitalism? systematic social reforms or raising the masses? living standards. Therefore, Trotsky concluded, defence of existing economic gains through demanding a ?sliding scale of wages? and hours would almost by itself trigger a final and apocalyptic collision with capitalism. The question of democracy was likewise reduced to merely defence of the existing ?rights and social conquests of workers? (ibid p115).

In outlining his programme of transitional demands Trotsky takes to task the minimum-maximum programmes of ?classical? social democracy. Most doctrinaire Trotskyites interpret this religiously, as a final judgement from on high, damning the minimum-maximum programme per se. Actually Trotsky warned his little band of followers, organised under the umbrella of the so-called Fourth International, that it would be a terrible mistake to ?discard? the programme of old ?minimal? demands ?to the degree to which these have preserved at least part of their vital forcefulness? (ibid pp114-115).

Nonetheless simply because capitalism was viewed as being in absolute and terminal decline, every serious economic demand of the workers ?inevitably reaches beyond the limits of capitalist property relations and the bourgeois state? (ibid p114). In effect Trotsky was reduced by extreme organisational weakness into advocacy of a particular version of economism: ie, the workers would through strikes and other such elementary struggles find their ?bridge? to revolutionary demands and revolutionary consciousness. With him eschatology was combined with revolutionary economism.

What our Socialist Alliance allies have taken from his programme is many of its weaknesses and precious few strengths. In their hands the ?transitional method? becomes a commandment to prioritise trade union-type demands - still excused as in 1938 by holding fast to the theory that somehow such struggles, if conducted militantly enough, will spontaneously lead, stage by stage, directly to the conquest of power.

A couple of examples will suffice to show how revolutionary economism is in fact hardly distinguishable from the strikist economism which was the butt of Lenin?s fearsome polemic in What is to be done?

Our first example is the AWL?s Duncan Morrison on the minimum wage (Weekly Worker May 24). The second is the International Socialist Group?s Veronica Fagan on the police and army (Socialist Outlook May).

Comrade Morrison counterposes the approaches of the CPGB and the Socialist Alliance majority on the minimum wage. The AWL and the Socialist Alliance majority have plumped for a ?7.39 per hour minimum wage, the EU ?decency threshold?. A sum arrived at by an obscure committee of state-sponsored experts. A year ago the SWP, amongst others, were touting ?4.61 - Unison?s figure, which does have the virtue of emanating from the real labour movement and has been reluctantly fought for by the leadership in a Grand Old Duke of York fashion.

Presumably both the ?7.39 and ?4.61 figures conform to the ?transitional? method. Either way, comrade Morrison now wants the Socialist Alliance to use the EU?s - higher - decency threshold as a ?lever to help the mass of workers - ie, those not inclined to take our word for what is needed - to enter the struggle to level up wages and benefit across Europe? and thus rise to ?their feet? and no doubt in the course of time to the heavens of state power.

In contrast the CPGB proposes a ?8.57-per-hour - or ?300 for a 35-hour week - minimum wage. That corresponds in our view to the actual needs of the working class, a calculation based on the minimum needed to reproduce simple labour power under today?s cultural conditions.

We advocate the creation of workers? commissions to produce the exact level to be fought for in dialogue with the broad mass of the working class. A two-way process of education and agitation. The minimum wage therefore emerges as a struggle for the political economy of the working class as against the political economy of the bourgeoisie. By putting human needs before the needs of profit the working class is beginning to challenge the right of the capitalist class to control production. The whole system of wages is also beginning to be brought into question.

In the name of the Transitional programme comrade Morrison derides our method. It is nothing but a special ?communist? calculation. Without a blush of shame he also says our figure ?remains within the bourgeois definition of need?.

This is strange. Remember, comrade Morrisson champions a minimum wage sanctioned by the EU bureaucracy whose remit most certainly ?remains within the bourgeois definition of need?. Moreover the comrade proudly describes himself as a Trotskyite. Yet one of the distinctive features of the Transitional programme is establishing working class committees, aided by statistical and other such specialists, in order to draw up plans for the entire economy.

Trotsky rejects ?the muddleheaded reformist slogan of ?nationalisation??. Instead he calls for the working class to set about the reorganisation of the whole of production onto a more ?dignified and workable basis? - not meekly submitting to what the capitalists say they can afford (L Trotsky The transitional programme for socialist revolution New York 1977, p121). That reorganisation includes fixing wages. Any suggestion of allowing an ?office-holder of the bourgeois state? - eg, an EU bureaucrat - ?to carry out this work? is explicitly and indignantly ruled out by Trotsky. Here the CPGB cannot but agree.

Comrade Fagan of the ISG goes even more awry. She slams proposals from the CPGB and Workers Power on the army and the police presented to the Socialist Alliance?s policy conference in Birmingham. Workers Power flatly stated that the police force is irreformable and we should therefore fight to disband this whole institution. The CPGB in its turn wanted the Socialist Alliance to defend the basic principle of the armed people and oppose the standing army.

Comrade Fagan is livid: ?If this isn?t a maximum programme, then I don?t know what is,? she ignorantly declares. ?There is no way that this reflects the consciousness of the majority of people breaking from Labour,? the comrade concludes.

Firstly, the maximum programme, as we have explained, deals with the situation after the revolution. Without the workers having already disarmed the bourgeoisie and arming themselves, that would be impossible. Secondly, the programme is certainly not designed to reflect the opinion of exiled Labourites. It should rather serve to break them from the mental prison of Labourism.

Opposition to the standing army was, we note, characteristic of bourgeois revolutionaries in the 18th and 19th century. Likewise the principle of the armed people. The American revolution of 1776 embodied this democratic principle ... a principle taken up and consistently advocated by Marx, Engels, Lenin and, yes, Leon Trotsky. The ?only disarmament? which can avert or end war is ?disarmament of the bourgeoisie by the workers?. And for that to happen they must first ?arm themselves? (ibid p129).

Whereas the Socialist Alliance manifesto disgracefully committed us to backing reduced arms spending by the bourgeois state, Trotsky put forward exactly the same formulation as proposed by the CPGB and dismissed by comrade Fagan. ?Not one man and not one penny for the bourgeois government!?; ?Not an armaments programme, but a programme of useful public works!? we read. Trotsky insists upon military training and the arming of the workers and the ?substitution for the standing army of a people?s militia, indissolubly linked with factories, mines, etc? (ibid p131).

Interestingly in an exchange with Max Shachtman - who argued that the ?sentiment? for a workers? militia did not yet exist - Trotsky replied that the real question was not existing opinion, but ?preparing the minds of the masses through propaganda? (ibid p85). Again we can only but agree with Trotsky .

Jack Conrad