Gumption called for

T he annual fundraising drive of the Communist Party - the Summer Offensive - has started well. Just under £3,000 is in already, with feedback from a large mail-out to supporters and sympathisers still to come. "The precise figure I have on my books is actually £2, 875.27p", the Party's national organiser, Mark Fischer, told me. "I manage to keep a reasonably accurate record of the progress of the campaign in the early days, but as the pace picks up in the second half it becomes hard to stay on top of the figures. Often, I only get a grip on precisely how much we have raised several months after the end of the campaign. In particular, the last few weeks normally produce a little blizzard of cheques and postal orders as people hurry to beat the deadline." Comrade Fischer was particularly pleased by the intervention of comrades on the May 18 Palestinian demonstration. Just over £1,000 was raised through the sale of Party material by comrades - a considerable achievement. But this is only the beginning, according to Tina Becker, the Party's main organiser on the day. "Of course, we're pleased," said comrade Becker. "That was the most money we have raised on a demo since I have been in the organisation. But really, we are only scratching the surface of what is possible." Certainly, confidence is high in Party centre that this can be one of our best SOs ever and that our collective target of £25,000, to be raised over the months of May and June, can be reached and surpassed. The next few weeks will be important, however, as we gather in pledges from closer supporters who have been slow to commit themselves to a target and as hundreds of more distant comrades send in their contributions in response to the appeals that we have sent out in various formats. More importantly, this year's Summer Offensive is being looked on as an opportunity to purge the party. I asked Mark Fischer whether this was envisaged as getting rid of people, expelling members from our ranks and generally culling our periphery. Indeed, didn't the use of such words actually reinforce the charge against us that we were born-again 'Stalinists'? "Not at all," he assured me. "Given the crimes of the Stalinist terror machine in the USSR, it's not surprising that people feel a little uncomfortable with the word, but it is a perfectly good one that we shouldn't allow to be appropriated by Stalinism - any more than words like 'communism', 'Leninism' or even 'working class'. "We use the word in its original communist sense - to rigorously cleanse. What Stalin and his henchmen were actually doing was polluting the Party, corrupting it from within. What we are 'cleansing' are aspects of our collective culture, the amateur or sloppy features of the organisation's practice that have been reinforced during previous slow periods of political work." To that end, there are four cardinal rules for this year's SO: * Party actions must have a financial aspect. A paper sale outside a college is good, but paper sales with stalls and a range of Party material make better contacts and raise more money. * Supporters, sympathisers and even occasional readers must be systematically approached for a donation. We are bad at establishing and maintaining ongoing relationships with the relatively large number of people in our periphery. The SO is an opportunity to contact them and gauge their commitment to our project. * The role of cell secretaries is key. They must not only collate the totals of cell members, but they must take a lead in addressing problems that individuals have and in feeding back successful initiatives to centre. * The SO provides us with an opportunity to systematically review the operation of the various businesses and other enterprises our group organises around itself. These have tended to grow piecemeal, as a result of sporadic initiatives from individuals. A thoroughgoing review is called for. Some of these areas of work have the potential to develop qualitively during the SO. "We just need the application of a little more gumption," as comrade Becker puts it. The annual SO is integral to our fight for independence as a political trend. Unlike its predecessors, this organisation will never be in hock to wealthy individuals, organisationally stronger parties or states. Our fundraising efforts give us the wherewithal to say what we want, when we want. Readers are urged to support this year's SO. Send cheques and postal orders, made out to 'CPGB', to BCM Box 928, London WC1N 3XX (mark the back 'Summer Offensive'). Collection sheets are available for the Weekly Worker from the same address . John Galt