Rise to the challenge
Editor Peter Manson calls upon readers to help transform the financial base of our paper in 2011
Readers of this paper will need no reminding that the working class is facing the fiercest attack on its jobs, living standards, services and collective rights for well over half a century.
They will also be well aware of the crippling weaknesses and total inadequacy of its organisations, defensive and offensive. Trade union membership is languishing at around seven million, compared to over 13 million in 1979. Union meetings are poorly attended, elections for officials are largely ignored by members and bureaucrats have long aimed only to fend off the very worst aspects of the government and employer offensive.
As for our political organisations, they are far, far worse, especially when you consider the enormity of the tasks the working class faces. While the Labour Party is dominated like never before by its openly pro-capitalist right wing and its left completely marginalised, the few thousand subjective revolutionary socialists and communists are hopelessly atomised, and, where they are organised at all, divided amongst dozens of sects whose membership varies from the small to the microscopic.
Of course, there is no shame in being small when circumstances are adverse: when organisations are oppressed, normal political activity risks persecution and we are unable to publish, speak freely or agitate amongst the class. But it is not conditions such as these which have produced our current impotence. No, it is the stubborn sectarianism of the revolutionary leadership, none of whom are able (or willing) to admit what is needed is a single, united Communist Party - the only organisation capable of not only resisting the current attacks, but leading our class to state power and socialism.
Instead each group pretends that it alone provides the core of the revolutionary party, that it is progressing by leaps and bounds, that it is starting to dig roots in the class, whose members will surely see the light very soon and begin to flock to its ranks. At their worse, the sects go so far as to deny the existence of their rivals. For instance, the Socialist Party in England and Wales recently claimed that its own publication is “the only paper that opposes all cuts to jobs and services” (The Socialist November 4-10).
Just as bad, when these groups do decide to go for common political action with forces beyond their own ranks, they inevitably do so on the basis of the lowest common denominator. It is always assumed that appeals for unity around the basic tenets of Marxism will fall on deaf ears. Over the last decade we have had projects such as the Socialist Alliance, Scottish Socialist Party, Respect, the Campaign for a New Workers’ Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, all of which have put before the electorate platforms far to the right of the programmes to which their leaders claim to adhere.
Both the SSP and Tusc intend to stand in Scottish or local elections in May 2011 (Respect can no longer be considered any kind of ‘unity project’ for existing groups), but both will surely receive dismal returns in terms of votes, without taking a single step towards providing our class with genuine political representation. Tusc has called a conference for January 22 to build for its electoral challenge, but, like the SA and Respect before it, it has virtually no existence between elections. None of these organisations were seen as vehicles driving towards a united party, least of all a united Marxist party.
Alone among all the publications of the left, the Weekly Worker demands such unity. Not, as our detractors allege, on some unprincipled, opportunist foundations, but around the principles of Marxism which can be summed up as:
- Democracy, as opposed to bureaucracy, within our own organisations and within society.
- Working class independence, as opposed to strategic or governmental alliances with sections of the bourgeoisie.
- Internationalism, as opposed to ‘socialism in one country’.
So, while Socialist Worker, The Socialist and the rest may claim to be unique, that description actually does apply to the Weekly Worker. Only this paper campaigns for all the groups, including the SWP and SPEW, together with all unorganised revolutionaries and communists, to unite around a Marxist programme.
However, while we know that these aims are shared by a significant section of left activists, too few translate their appreciation of the Weekly Worker’s role into concrete support. But, in order to rise to the challenge of the forthcoming period, we need a better, more widely read paper. We need to produce extra supplements, upgrade our website, invest in new computer technology and begin to introduce colour.
It goes without saying that all that requires money - especially in circumstances when our costs are continuing to rise. Recession or not, prices for printing, rent and postage have all gone up. Indeed on April 6 2011 postal rates are due for a significant hike (around 12% across the board). But one thing that has not risen over the recent period is the number of our regular financial donors. In fact the amount we receive in monthly standing orders has edged down in 2010, compared to recent years. Mainly the result of a number of generous comrades who have either died or been unable to sustain their previous level of support.
We urgently need to transform our financial base by getting in new standing orders and increasing the ones we already have. Hence this appeal to all readers, supporters and sympathisers of the Weekly Worker. Commit yourself a new or increased monthly standing order in 2011. We are aiming to raise at least an additional £300 a month in guaranteed income.
Over the coming weeks, our comrades will be contacting hundreds of you making that request in person. But please do not wait for your phone to ring. Fill in the form in the back of the print version of the paper or download it from the website. Alternatively please ring, write or email to let me know if you instruct your bank directly l