Plans for the hard left
Jack Conrad outlines the thinking of the CPGBs Provisional Central Committee
At Left Unity’s November 30 founding conference the Communist Platform achieved its main objective. Our arguments, votes and contributions from the floor helped make this new political formation a safe space for left ideas. Left Unity’s constitution is a labyrinthine nightmare. But thankfully some of the worst clauses and sub-clauses have been blunted or removed altogether. So, for the moment, Marxists, communists and revolutionary socialists have the possibility of openly organising and openly campaigning for their views.
The Communist Platform has constituted itself the hard left in Left Unity. The ‘Aims and principles’ of the Communist Platform are far-reaching, theoretically coherent and, above all, meet the needs of the age. Objective circumstances cry out for global communism, not Fabian socialism, not a Keynesian mixed economy, not action for the sake of action, not empty platitudes about equality, justice and fairness.
Compared with the other platforms, the Communist Platform showed itself to be united, effective, disciplined and honest. The Communist Platform is based on what its supporters believe in and believe is necessary. No disdain for the lessons of history, no opportunist trimming, no secret agendas, no attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable. If we are to realise human freedom the working class must first form itself into a party, sweep away the existing state and establish a semi-state that is already in the process of dying.
Having discussed Left Unity’s formation and the performance of the Communist Platform, our Provisional Central Committee agreed that the time is ripe to up our intervention. The Communist Platform was launched around three months ago and deliberately limited itself to the 10 signatures needed to be formally recognised in Left Unity. We now want those 10 comrades to constitute themselves an interim leadership and build a much wider membership in the run-up to Left Unity’s spring policy conference.
Towards that end a general meeting in early 2014 ought to be considered. Our suggestion is that the ‘Aims and principles’ should be reformulated, a minimum programme for Left Unity mapped out and a leadership democratically elected. Naturally, in the Communist Platform there must be room for full debate, amendments, alternative approaches, etc.
What about the Socialist Platform? CPGB members will not withdraw at this stage. However, we are of the opinion that the Socialist Platform has proved a failure. Hence it is wrong to assume that it ought to be considered a central site of struggle.
While communists initially welcomed the Socialist Platform, there can be no denying that it is organisationally flabby, programmatically bereft and its main organisers have displayed an unforgivable contempt for the basic norms of democracy. Indeed the Socialist Platform does not take the Socialist Platform seriously. The formulation, “oppose all imperialist wars and adventures”, was included, but that did not mean the exclusion of Alliance for Workers’ Liberty loyalists - that despite the AWL leadership’s pro-imperialist positions on Israel-Palestine, the Iraq war and occupation, the Libyan intervention, etc. Revealingly, Nick Wrack, Socialist Platform’s main spokesperson, called its ‘Aims and principles’ a “petition”. In other words, a lowest-common-denominator approach to politics.
Not surprisingly the Socialist Platform’s ‘Aims and principles’ can be read in the dismal spirit of Labour’s old clause four. Hence before its September 14 conference the CPGB drew up and submitted a series of amendments. The muddle on the European Union was to be replaced and opposition to the existing constitution made explicit. Extreme democracy in the workers’ movement and the sweeping away of the capitalist state apparatus were introduced, along with a commitment to a semi-state and the realisation of full human freedom.
The CPGB had been assured by the Socialist Platform’s leadership that amendments were welcome. That turned out to be untrue. Indeed at the September 14 conference comrade Wrack and co insisted that, while amendments could be debated, votes would only be indicative.
If that was not bad enough, the arguments used to support this position were worse. Eg, though there were over 40 comrades present on the day, we were told that what really mattered were those who were not there. An approach that stinks of the rotten methods of the labour bureaucracy.
As it turned out, all our amendments bar one gained a majority in the indicative vote. However, a substantial number of comrades, including most of the Socialist Platform’s leadership, voted against “human freedom”, “full development of individuality”, the proposal that “the organisations of the working class must be democratically, not bureaucratically organised” and that we should not only “defend”, but “radically extend” all past gains. A defining moment.
We shall continue to seek a rapprochement between the Communist Platform and the Socialist Platform. However, our main energies will be directed towards the overwhelming majority in Left Unity who are at present members of no platform.