Political life is in turmoil. Hundreds of thousands, millions of people are being drawn to street protest and other forms of direct action for the first time in their lives. The air is crackling with real change. Now comrades in and around the CPGB must themselves change to keep pace with these momentous events and - more important - to get ahead of them, to offer credible answers to the questions that this new movement is posing.
In a sluggish period, revolutionary groups acquire habits of work, routines of thinking, that are primarily designed for self-preservation. But when the masses move, communist organisations have to provide real leadership - that or they were not worth preserving in the first place.
The two-million-strong demo on the streets of the country’s capital was a wake-up call to the left, our own organisation included. Revolutionary groups - centrally the Socialist Workers Party - did sterling work in spreading the message of the demo, advertising it and encouraging the people attending. But on the day, that left was drowned in the sea of humanity that flooded onto the streets. The challenge to all of us is to provide real leadership to this huge movement, to channel it and equip it with a winning programme.
Many are calling for “regime change” in this country - but mean by that just getting rid of Blair. When we in the Communist Party demand regime change, we have something more radical, more far-reaching and dramatic in mind. We want the British constitution torn to shreds and reformulated in the interests of working people. Just imagine what this movement could achieve.
Sure, Blair could go. But not to be replaced by Brown: still less - god help us - by IDS. No, Blair could be swept away, along with the whole constitutional monarchy system. The mass of the people - the working class in contemporary Britain - should control society from top to bottom. From ‘high political’ decisions about war and peace, to democratic control over their workplaces, colleges, schools, and over the neighbourhoods where they and their families live and work.
These politics are now concrete. After February 15, they jumped from the realm of the abstract to street politics, and became live questions that a mass movement must grapple with. This is what communists live for. Communism is a product of the self-conscious movement of the majority of people in our society - not the musings of armchair communists, no matter how erudite.
All our comrades need to shake themselves up. Routine approaches to work that previously sustained us are now barriers to growth and the spread of the organisation’s influence. The Socialist Alliance has to all intents and purposes been liquidated for the duration (see back page). The SA - or whatever organisation inherits the political project of principled left unity it once embodied - must be made real by the influx of the masses into political life. In this process, the limitations of revolutionary organisations will be ruthlessly exposed. For example, the SWP leadership may be able to impose a bureaucratic regime of enforced unanimity over its 2,000 members - but what if this sect expands qualitatively and differences in its ranks start to express differences in society itself?
Mark Fischer National Organiser Communist Party of Great Britain