On Saturday, one of the more anaemic slogans put forward by the labour movement formed the title of a largely pointless demonstration. Whichever mastermind working for the TUC came up with the slogan ‘put people first’ didn’t take the time to specify what people were to be put first – capitalists or workers? I suppose the idea is that we are all in this together, in partnership, albeit the partnership of parasite and host. I did not attend the demonstration, as I had a prior and far more important engagement.
I will not be attending on Wednesday 1st either, when all the loonies and associated agent provocateurs will be in the Imperial Capital, some with the intention of causing trouble to discredit anti-capitalism, some with the bizarre idea that the sight of a few broken windows will trigger the revolution. Direct action anarchists are not people who I have a great deal of time for, and they compound their many idiocies with staggering hypocrisy. On the one hand they constantly berate Leninists for vanguardism, throwing around accusations of ‘elitism’. On the other, they elevate the significance of the violent acts of a few activists on demostrations to great importance.
Some of the professed Leninists are little better though, particularly the ranks of the SWP. While they correctly denounce any violence or smashing of windows as counter-productive and a distraction from the need for mass struggle, they really do seem to thrive in building for and attending demonstrations to the same extent that they fall short in the hard day to day slog of organising in working class areas. Demonstrations have very little effectiveness so far as I can see, and initial anti-war demonstrations in 2003 aside, rarely mobilise anyone outside the usual suspects. But they appear to be the SWP’s comfort zone, along with meetings where simplistic, and even moralistic, positions are spouted on international issues such as Palestine.
The workers movement will make scant progress if activity centres around demonstrations and public meetings. To make progress requires the mass involvement of workers in political activity, and that requires political activity that is based on class politics, on issues that really matter. This in turn requires an active organisation with working class membership. I think that on the left, only the Socialist Party and the Independent Working Class Association does this effectively. Many of the views of members of those organisations, and mine, seem to be reflected in a new blog which has been set up to debate the way forward for the left. It is called Left Luggage and seems like an interesting initiative. Follow the link here and join in the debate.