Below is the introduction to a PDF discussion bulletin, “Socialist Perspectives”
You can download a copy here: sp1
Despite the global economic crisis which has discredited neo-liberalism and ‘light regulation’, socialism as an organised force has not been the beneficiary of the crisis. The left in Britain is in a state of disarray, fractious and unable to work together in a collaborative fashion. With Labour captured by Blair’s ‘project’, with its implementation of neo-liberalism in government, there has never been a greater degree of disaffection of its traditional base of support. Yet each effort to build a political alternative to New Labour has failed to break out of the marginalisation of the far left groups. The only exception to that was the Scottish Socialist Party which succeeded in getting 6 MSP’s elected to the Scottish Assembly. Yet even this advance was lost as a result of the crisis resulting from the Tommy Sheridan affair.
The reasons for this need exploring. The sectarian method of the far left groups is one of the main reasons for their failure. They place their own interests above those of the working class. These organisations have shown themselves incapable of democratic methods of working, and democratic internal functioning; to such an extent that there are many thousands of people who have been through them but could not live in them. Whilst this was a demoralising experience for many, especially in the period of working class defeats from 1980 onwards, those activists who have survived and maintained their commitment to working class activism, have continued with trade union activity or campaigning of one sort or another. Frustrated with the socialist groups and unconvinced of their usefulness, they have worked as best as they can. Sometimes they have managed to maintain local socialist groups, or they utilise Trades Union Councils as vehicles for building a labour movement, supporting workers struggles and so on.
Socialist Perspectives has been produced to attempt help promote a discussion on the crisis of the left and how it might be addressed. We start with three contributions. Socialist Perspectives is not a political grouping but a modest attempt to assist in opening up a serious discussion about the crisis of the left, in Britain in particular. The name originates from a grouping formed in the Socialist Labour Party to fight against dogmatism and for membership control – a battle lost. It refers to what it described as ‘a crisis of socialist perspective’.
What passes for debate on the British left is too often a dialogue of the deaf, or posturing, often the result of sectarian arrogance from political currents who dismiss other groups as ‘sects’, and consider that they themselves alone are the ‘genuine’ revolutionary leadership in the process of formation. The fact that many of these groups have no democratic internal life is a reflection of their wooden ‘orthodoxy’ and the absence of self-criticism and a lack of willingness to test their perspective against real life experience. Just as individuals can only develop to the degree that they are honest with themselves so political organisations have to endeavour to be objective about what they represent and be open to learning from others in the course of struggle and debate. Failure to to do so produces only a sect.
As it indicates on the cover this publication is aimed at “activists who are not satisfied with dogma or ‘orthodoxy’ but recognise the need to test all programmes and theories against real life experience.”
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