Antifascism, Militant/ Re: Challenge to Cockshott

Jeffrey Booth booth2 at
Thu Sep 7 08:11:32 MDT 1995

	In case anyone is interested in left politics in Scotland and
Britain, here goes... .  Well, some of the misinformation has been cleared
up but some remains.  And maybe some plain old disagreements will
emerge... (see responses below).

On Thu, 7 Sep 1995, Marcus Strom wrote:
> 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.

	Deference to bourgeois respectability?  The anti-poll tax movement
that Militant Labour led was based on non-payment and physiclally stopping
poindings (seizing personal property and auctioning it off) which included
physically mixing it up with cops and sherriffs and security guards.  Two
of the leading members of Militant Labour and other members as well have
done jail time for various actions during the struggle against the poll
tax.  How many ultra-lefts, Red Wankers or whatever have ever been in
prison?  Have you ever been attacked by cops?  I have.  You learn quickly
that they come at you in groups, with back-up, at picket lines and
demonstrations.  You need to defend yourself but it does no good to
provoke them.  On a mass demonstration not everyone is a 20 year-old ultra
left who can outrun the cops.  You've got families, women, disabled
people, older workers, weaker people, etc., etc. and you have to defend
them and not put them in life threatening situations.  People like
yourself and the Red Wankers "talk the talk but don't walk the walk" as we
say in America.  With all your tough talk I get the feeling I wouldn't
want you at my back in a tough situation.
	  Militant Labour's position on cops is that they're part of the
"armed bodies of men" as Engels talks about; part of the repressive
apparatus of the state.  Militant Labour puts forward community control
over the police as a transitional demand to eliminating the police force
during and after Socialist revolution.  When building support for a
strike or other actions, Militant Labour thinks it's worth at least
trying to appeal to any residual class consciousness in the cops to, at
best, split them, so the strikers, marchers, whatever will have an easier
time of it.  This tactic has worked from time to time in the Labor
movement (remember Mother Jones) and it's worth trying.  Instead, you
think it's a useful tactic to try and drive the cops into a frenzy so
they'll lose it and take out some Comrades and Brothers and Sisters.
There's no need to create martyrs (especially since I doubt you'd want to
be one) violence enough will be used against us no matter what we do.

> 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
> continued.

	Militant Labour organized the march.  What were the numbers?  At
least 30,000 I think.  A handful of ultra left Anarchist Wankers (who
probably are all in Law school now) started a riot.  Oh boy.  Guess what?
That's just what the Bourgeois wanted.  From mass march, one of the
biggest in years, to riot, to Police riot.  Plenty of good pictures for
the tabloid press.  The marshalls protected thousands from the cops while
a few Anarchist types jumped fences and ran away.

> 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.
	It wasn't Tommy Sheridan.  It was Steve Nally.  He shouldn't have
said it but his anger was understandable.  Of course, no internal inquiry
ever took place.  I don't think he ever said anything about "handing over
names"... that's just more sectarian rubbish.

> Although a working class organisation, with a fairly large membership (yet
> greatly decreased since their split and expulsion from the British
> Labour Party),

	Not greatly decreased.  Most not expelled.

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?)

	Lots of bullshit in the paragraph above.  Militant Labour's
position is that if the working class is organized well enough:  a
peaceful transition to Socialism is both possible and desirable.
However, this is unlikely given the history of Capitalism.  And Militant
Labour would try to win over sections of the army the way the Bolsheviks

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

	Show me a better one.

			-- Jeff Booth
> > 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 ---
> >
>      --- from list marxism at ---

     --- from list marxism at ---


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