Challenge to Cockshott

Paul Cockshott wpc at
Mon Sep 4 23:24:22 MDT 1995

Marcus writes
You have unwittingly stumbled across the very dilemma of Red Action's
politics. They *do* try to meld anarchism and communism. They reject
the vanguard party for voluntarist thuggery. For instance. In their
activity against the British National Party (BNP), rather than build
mass community action against them (I don't mean in the popular
frontism of the  ANL/ARA), they resorted to using terror.

I have nothing against using terror as a *tactic*, but Red Action and
their front organisation use terror as a strategic weapon. JUst punch
'em and that's it. (I simplify).

Since Marcus has here condemned all of the well known
anti-fascist organisations operating here,
ANL and ARA for popular frontism, and AFA for terrorism,
I would be interested in just which anti-fascist group
he takes to be following the correct line?

What is this mass community action that he talks about
and what examples can he give of trying to organise it?
The line pursued by AFA is of ideological and physical opposition
to fascism. AFA has engaged in prolongued propaganda work
particularly around football to win sections of working
class youth to an anti-fascist position. This has led to
there being real forces that can be mobilised against the

Why does Marcus feel that AFA are wrong in using counter
terror as part of their strategy? So long as it is part
of the strategy of the fascists, the left must be able to
respond in kind. When, as may be the case now, the BNP
abandon that strategy, then as Red Action has recognised,
the Anti-Fascists must modify theirs as well.

They are the anti-vanguard vanguard. This is elitist petty bourgeois
'blokey' politics.

A melange of anarcho-communism, uncritical support for the IRA - this
is Red Action. Their paper is purile, with headlines like: "We are
the reds!". They spend many articles explaining why they are the most
important / threatening organisation to the state by giving examples
of how the state is surveilling them. "We are the most persecuted
therefore we are the best" "We are the Reds" - petty sectarianism,
not the patient work of building a workers' party. (Part ... y: ie,
you are part of the class, not separate - a sect).

Whenever i saw Red Action in public, I literally saw a phalanx, a row
of around 8 -10 of their members, standing 6inches apart all with a
copy of their paper, bomber jackets, jeans, doc martens, shaved heads
and all male. Not very inspiring. But I'm glad they beat up fascists.
But it won't build a revolution.

This seems to be the sort of inversion of reality that is
commonplace on the left. Since the demise of the Communist Party
here, the majority of left wing organisations draw their main
support either from students, or from ex-students now in white
collar jobs in the public services. The membership of Red
Action is predominantly drawn from the manual working class.
By what criterion are they to be judged petty bourgois?
Does Marcus think that they actually own small firms?
Or are they just judged middle class because he disagrees
with them and does not like the way they dress?

Just because you walked into
the SWP/Sparts/..... whatever at a young age, learnt 'marxism' by
rote and then got bled dry by some sect (next week - we all adopt
Enverism!), don't turn your back on the need for a communist party,
a party with real roots in the class, a party that is the living
class consciousness of revolutionary workers.

Having some knowledge of marxism I avoided the lures of Spartacism
etc. If 30 counts as a young age, that was when I joined the CP,
but it was hardly a sect. I agree that the workers need
to be constituded as a class and thus as a political party.
RA have took the initiative in organising a conference in July of groups
ranging from the CPGB through to Class War, about a dozen in all,
with the aim of forming a new working class political movement.

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