Antifascism, Militant/ Re: Challenge to Cockshott

Marcus Strom MSTROM at
Thu Sep 7 09:55:36 MDT 1995

Jeff wrote the below in response to an exchange between myself and
Paul Cockshott. I also forgot to mention YRE (Youth against Racism in
Europe) in my first post. In my second, I did mention them and note
that they were at least democratic (compared with other ant-fascist
groups in britain), but that they were far too legalistic. With
Militant Labour's position that the cops are 'workers in uniform',
there demonstrations (which I have been on in Tower Hamlets) had
marshalls that were pushier than cops at times and wanted to make
sure that the cops saw they were doing the 'right thing'. This
deference to bourgeois respectibility is rife in the british left.

Jeffret mentioned that the poll tax demonstrations were largely
organised by Militant - this is true. What is also true is that when
the police rioted against the large demo in London in (1990? - I
haven't got the exact date here), many of the demonstraters fought
back. Militant cowardly withdrew its 650 or so marshalls - the fight

Later, in the media, Militant distanced themselves from the 'violent
trouble makers', anarchists and the like. Some went even futrther
with the 'great working class leader', Tommy Sheridan
saying in an interview with the _Guardian_, that the Anti-Poll Tax
Federation would conduct its own internal inquiry into those who
caused the violence against police and property and would hand the
names over to the police.

Although a working class organisation, with a fairly large membership (yet
greatly decreased since their split and expulsion from the British
Labour Party), their politics, at the end of the day, has a
counterrevolutionary logic. Their program "Militant: Where we stand",
has as one of its main planks that socialism will be introduced
"through and Enabling Bill in Parliament *backed up* by the mass
mobilisation of the labour movement" (my emphasis). They deny that
socialist change will be violent, and then say even if it was, it
would be the violence of the capitalist class, not workers. The army
would be one over with appeals to their decency - the police, well,
they're just workers in uniform aren't they (not the declassed
hired thugs of the capitalists?)

Yes, I agree with Jeff - Red Action are ultra-leftists, but Militant
is no answer either.

> Date:          Wed, 6 Sep 1995 11:08:56 -0400 (EDT)
> From:          Jeffrey Booth <booth2 at>
> Subject:       Re: Re: Challenge to Cockshott

> 	Well, I was once again going to ignore Cockshott's misinformation
> about the left in Scotland.  But that claim below about his little group
> being the only working class organization was too much.  Cut the crap,
> Paul.  Militant Labour is the largest, most working class marxist
> party/organization in Scotland.  They led the anti-poll tax struggle not
> your pitiful little sect.  They have a base in the housing estates and
> Tommy Sheridan, a well-known Militant Labour spokesperson, has been elected
> twice in Glasgow.  You also forgot to mention the anti-fascist organizing
> of Youth against Racism in Europe (YRE).  I could mention a lot of other
> examples of Militant Labour's activity in Scotland but I actually prefer
> it when ultra-left wankers like yourself ignore Militant Labour since you
> give the left a bad name among working people.  But I don't want your
> misinformation about the left in Scotland to go completely unchallenged.
> 				-- Jeff Booth
> On Mon, 4 Sep 1995, Paul Cockshott wrote:
> > 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).
> >
> > Paul
> > ----
> > 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
> > fascists.
> >
> > 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.
> >
> >
> > Marcus
> > ------
> > 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.
> >
> > Paul
> > ----
> > 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?
> >
> > Marcus
> > ------
> > 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.
> >
> > Paul
> > ----
> > 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.
> >
> >
> >      --- from list marxism at ---
> >
>      --- from list marxism at ---

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