Late October. Doncaster. The Socialist Party was in debate against the local Young Tories. An audience of 40, including 30 non-members, listened to the case for capitalism, as defended by a young lawyer who argued that without the laws of property society would descend into chaos. The socialist speaker had to explain that capitalism is in chaos and that only socialist production for use will enable people to bring social affairs under control. Several striking miners were present and they were left in no doubt that the solution to the problems of capitalism involved much more than defeating “Thatcherism” and electing a Labour government of capitalism. The case for revolution received an enthusiastic reception from quite a few of those present and our comrades in Doncaster are looking forward to the speedy growth of the Party in the South Yorkshire area. The local Labourites agreed at the end of the meeting to hold a debate with us in the near future. Will they be true to their word?
In the same week. Islington branch ran a debate against a bunch of Leninist jokers who take themselves more seriously than any workers are ever likely to: the Communist Workers’ Organisation. They were arguing that a majority of workers can never achieve socialist understanding under capitalism but, instead of drawing from this unhistorical assumption the logical conclusion that socialism is therefore impossible. the CWO plans to set up socialism (as a leadership) without the workers being conscious.
The debate, which attracted an audience of 60, most of them non-members, proved to be an interesting education class in the follies of Leninism, part of the education being provided by the socialist speaker and the other part being demonstrated by the idiocies uttered by the bogus communists of the CWO. The latter organisation — about twenty of them throughout the country — regard themselves as the revolutionary vanguard of what they call “the class”. According to them, office workers, foremen, policemen and trade union officials are not members of the working class.
In their published statement on the post-revolutionary transition period we are informed that the vanguard will set up a “proletarian state” — for, according to these Leninists, it is an anarchist fallacy to imagine that the state will disappear immediately in a socialist society. Their speaker stated (into the microphone, and obtainable from the Tapes Committee) that “there will need to be a socialist police force”. Their second speaker, a Leninist caricature who ought to audition for Citizen Smith, thought that workers can’t understand socialist ideas and they won’t understand them until the socialist revolution takes place.
A couple of silly romanticists salivated over the fact that the CWO’s revolution would involve “a scries of bloody battles” (but not just yet) and that the CWO was all in favour of the miners using class violence (which the Leninist vanguard was prepared to endorse on a theoretical level, but would leave the miners themselves to the practical activity of serving the prison sentences).
The CWO, like a few other obscure Leninist sects with whom the Socialist Party has debated, has an infuriating habit of speaking in language that few workers can understand: when they attend a meeting they arc “making an intervention”; anyone with whom they agree is part of “the revolutionary milieu”; and democracy is only a “bourgeois fetish”. The Socialist Party was accused of paying too much attention to “democratism”.
These would-be state-capitalist dictators are a laugh a cliché; the young Tories of Doncaster, confused and anti-working class as they were clearly shown to be,d could give the CWO lessons in political integrity. But we have more than a strong suspicion that public debating will not be engaged in by the CWO again in a hurry; after all. if you think that workers are too thick to understand the case for socialism — which is what the CWO position amounts to — why bother talking to the dummies?
Activity in Paris
It seems that several years of hard work by very few members has finally begun to pay off, with the possible formation of a regular discussion group in Paris. Our French language journal, Socialisme Mondial, now has about eighty subscribers. A series of press advertisements has produced a modest but steady response and a list of over one hundred current contacts throughout France. Recently, a couple of members visited about ten contacts in the Paris area, some of whom are now fully in agreement with the socialist case and could form the nucleus of a group there. We have also been exchanging literature with several other groups in Paris calling themselves “communist”. Some of these contacts have proved quite fruitful. We can, then, report that a small but determined group of French workers is in the course of emerging from the political wilderness to challenge the stale myths of capitalism in all of its forms.