Next year, comrades?

Ben Lewis reports back from the inaugural Communist University Wales

The inaugural Communist University Wales, held over the weekend of June 28-29 in Cardiff, was a fitting symbol of a fresh and renewed CPGB presence in Wales. It provided an excellent opportunity for debate and education, particularly for the younger comrades moving towards our organisation. In all nearly 20 attended.

Debates on ‘The myth of the Celts’ and ‘When was Wales a nation?’ created a platform for engaging with comrades from the nationalist left, who are currently discussing the creation of a Welsh Socialist Party. Their absence may serve to exemplify a reluctance to debate these issues with others on the left - or maybe they were down at Barry Island in the summer sun.

Nevertheless people from outside the CPGB Wales had few reservations about putting across their views. Gareth Gordon of the Cardiff Anarchist Network dived into the “shark pool” of communists in the discussion on the thorny issues of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the state. He must be praised for that, if nothing else. This session largely revolved around the concepts of authority and democracy, and how they are contested by the anarchist and Marxist traditions. After this lively debate it could be seen that many Marxist thinkers were far from the “sharks” he initially viewed us as. We welcome his presence at further debates in Wales.

In the debate on the failures of the Socialist Alliance, Comrade Mike Pearn attacked the SA as being misconceived. His assertion that a worker’s identity “is formed at the point of production” was also the source of much debate throughout the whole weekend. Good. John Bridge put across the view that a class-conscious worker is not simply a “wage-slave”, but somebody who possess a wide culture and joins in the struggle for human liberation.

These were not the only sources of argument, however. Far from it. Debate revolved around the concept of the ‘new American century’; the veracity of rival Marxist definitions of a nation; the possible role of the Socialist Alliance in the future and much more.

The conclusion to draw is that Communist University Wales was a success. This was a weekend full of debate on a number of serious issues that are crucial to the development of a coherent left in Wales. Everyone present will have learnt from it. However, the absence of the left groups was as revealing as it was unsurprising. Anybody who wishes to side-step such ideological engagement and discussion seems to have something to hide.

Maybe next year, comrades?