Call to comrades

As these lines are written, news is coming through that hundreds of school students are organising a sit-down protest outside Downing Street. Earlier today, the comedian-campaigner Mark Thomas piled what journalists coyly referred to as "fertiliser" on the steps of the Labour Party headquarters. "[Passers-by] just said 'good for them'," The Guardian online reports (March 5). "People were obviously aware that this was Labour's HQ. It suggested there was sympathy for what they were trying to do." That's right - mass sympathy. Political life is in turmoil. Hundreds of thousands, millions of people are being drawn to street protest and other forms of direct action for the first time in their lives. The air is crackling with real change. Now comrades in and around the CPGB must themselves change to keep pace with these momentous events and - more important - to get ahead of them, to offer credible answers to the questions that this new movement is posing. In a sluggish period, revolutionary groups acquire habits of work, routines of thinking, that are primarily designed for self-preservation. But when the masses move, communist organisations have to provide real leadership - that or they were not worth preserving in the first place. The two-million-strong demo on the streets of the country's capital was a wake-up call to the left, our own organisation included. Revolutionary groups - centrally the Socialist Workers Party - did sterling work in spreading the message of the demo, advertising it and encouraging the people attending. But on the day, that left was drowned in the sea of humanity that flooded onto the streets. The challenge to all of us is to provide real leadership to this huge movement, to channel it and equip it with a winning programme. Many are calling for "regime change" in this country - but mean by that just getting rid of Blair. When we in the Communist Party demand regime change, we have something more radical, more far-reaching and dramatic in mind. We want the British constitution torn to shreds and reformulated in the interests of working people. Just imagine what this movement could achieve. Sure, Blair could go. But not to be replaced by Brown: still less - god help us - by IDS. No, Blair could be swept away, along with the whole constitutional monarchy system. The mass of the people - the working class in contemporary Britain - should control society from top to bottom. From 'high political' decisions about war and peace, to democratic control over their workplaces, colleges and schools, and over the neighbourhoods where they and their families live and work. These politics are now concrete. After February 15, they jumped from the realm of the abstract to street politics, and became live questions that a mass movement must grapple with. This is what communists live for. Communism is a product of the self-conscious movement of the majority of people in our society - not the musings of armchair communists, no matter how erudite. All our comrades need to shake themselves up. Routine approaches to work that previously sustained us are now barriers to growth and the spread of the organisation's influence. The Socialist Alliance has to all intents and purposes been liquidated for the duration (see back page). The SA - or whatever organisation inherits the political project of principled left unity it once embodied - must be made real by the influx of the masses into political life. In this process, the limitations of revolutionary organisations will be ruthlessly exposed. For example, the SWP leadership may be able to impose a bureaucratic regime of enforced unanimity over its 2,000 members - but what if this sect expands qualitatively and differences in its ranks start to express differences in society itself? The leadership of the Communist Party should be criticised for its tardiness in recognising the changed period. Our comrades - all comrades - must now throw themselves into the anti-war movement. We need them to: * Get up to their necks in work with their local anti-war group - check out www.stopwar.org.uk for your nearest one. If you do not have access to a computer, phone the Stop the War Coalition on 07951 235 915 or 020 7053 2153. * Send weekly reports of local activities to this paper. * Up their paper order. When you fight for a readership in 'virgin' territory for the Weekly Worker, give the paper away to promising contacts. If they are looking for challenging ideas and honest reporting, they will be back next week with their money in their hands. * Organise regular street stalls - Party centre has posters, leaflets, badges, stickers, books, and pamphlets to stock you up. Contact us now and get yourself a 'campaign pack' - 020 8965 0659. * Organise walkouts from their workplaces, colleges or schools on the day that war starts. Campaigning materials for this are available from Party centre and the STWC. Our comrades in schools around the country should try to get to the school student activists' forum on Sunday March 16. Let us build on the brilliant action of March 5! As one school student put it when interviewed by BBC radio, "Blair has succeeded in one thing - he's politicised the youth!" Contact Helen Salmon on 07905 212297 or 020 7515 2646 for more details. * Join the communists! Given the previous level of struggle and the patchy nature of our organisation's coverage of the country, it has been difficult to properly integrate the layer of comrades we have attracted to our periphery. Not now! Contact the Party office and we will get comrades in touch with each other and organised. The Communist Party has branches and/or supporters in the following areas: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Dundee, Glasgow, Guildford, Hertford, London, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Newport, Nottingham, Oxford, Peterborough, Stoke, Swansea. Mark Fischer