CPGB-AWL cooperation

The Communist Party of Great Britain and the Alliance for Workers? Liberty are continuing to explore areas of theoretical difference and agreement, and are looking at the possibility of joint work. Representatives of the executive committee of the AWL and the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB met recently to discuss a number of issues of current practical concern and issues of ongoing debate between the two organisations.

Perspectives for the Socialist Alliance and the development of the anti-war movement were our main areas of discussion. There seemed to be a high degree of unity around our Socialist Alliance work, virtually the only difference being over guaranteed representation on the SA executive committee. The CPGB favours moving away from such guarantees as they perpetuate a culture of putting the part (the sect) above the whole (the Socialist Alliance as a partyist project). We also looked at ways that we could agitate for a regular political paper of the Socialist Alliance.

A number of points were raised concerning the war against Afghanistan. Sean Matgamna of the AWL said that describing the current war as imperialist was not helpful, as it did not explain its actual nature or the nature of the main powers pursuing it. He said that this was not a war of colonisation. Both myself and John Bridge disagreed, arguing that, as the US and UK were major imperialist powers, a war in their interests against a non-imperialist power was about imperialist stability in the interests of finance capital.

Martin Thomas criticised the Weekly Worker along the lines he laid out in a recent letter to the paper. To claim that the current ?war against terrorism? could end up being used against all anti-capitalist forces (as stated in the CPGB resolution on the events of September 11) was taking things too far, he said. However, anti-terrorism legislation and recent comments about the need for the anti-globalisation movement to tone down its criticism in the wake of the September 11 events tend to support the argument of the CPGB.

Sean Matgamna asked if we considered the events of April 1978 in Afghanistan as a revolution or a coup. John Bridge argued that there was a revolution led by the People?s Democratic Party of Afghanistan, through the military supported by the urban masses. Comrade Matgamna retorted that the events of 1978 should more accurately be described as a ?parody of a bureaucratic collectivist coup from above that didn?t work?. We agreed to disagree.

Given the fact that the AWL and the CPGB were excluded from the steering committee of the Stop the War Coalition because of our insistence on raising the question of islamic fundamentalism, we discussed tactics around building a consistent position for working class independence around the war. I expressed some concern that the abstractions raised by some in the AWL were not helpful to this. While it is true that we should not worry if the US assassinated Osama bin Laden, the way some comrades raised this led to the impression that they would actually be in favour of such an outcome. The CPGB continues to stress the role of working class-led forces in opposing both imperialism and al Qa?eda.

Joint propaganda and activity in the anti-war movement was also discussed. Both sides agreed that the comrades from the Worker-Communist parties of Iraq and Iran should not have walked off the STWC steering committee in protest at its failure to oppose fundamentalism. Neither organisation had been excluded, despite expressing views similar to the AWL and CPGB.

Items which fell off the end of the agenda because of lack of time were: Palestine/Israel; the Labour Party; and minimum/maximum v transitional programme. There will be ongoing discussion between the two organisations on questions of theoretical and practical cooperation.

Marcus Larsen