A Return To Winning Ways

Under the title 'Official anti-racism and the white working class' a senior member of Red Action addressed a seminar organised by the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) at Brunel University on August 9th 2000. The following is the full text of the speech.

Among the many millions of words written about the murder of Jamie Bulger, one sentence sticks out. In a book on the case, the author comments, that 'it was pity the boys had to kill Jamie Bulger to get a proper education'. It is a sentence that says as much of society as the killers it produced.

It is of course the same society that has produced the contemporary Left. Will it too need to suffer a similar trauma before it gets a proper political education one wonders? I sometimes think so. To see why, it is necessary only to study the arguments and theories that sets much of the left in confrontation with objective reality. And more to the point in conflict with it's supposedly core working class constituency.

"Communists" Weekly Worker tells us, "are uncompromising in our demand for the smashing of all immigration controls. We say - if the product of labour is legal so must the worker. Every human being - from developed or underdeveloped countries - must have the right to travel visit, live and work where they choose". (June 22 2000)

Was this statement not more than a little compromised by the rider which states: 'CLEARLY' (my emphasis) this 'can only be implemented fully and permanently through the realisation of our complete minimum programme...' it a concept of unconditional immigration easily misunderstood. And though the Communist Party consider it 'gratifying', that on its initiative, the London Socialist Alliance incorporated the call for the 'scrapping of all immigration controls' in it's platform for the GLA elections, for sponsors it remains quite sensibly, - an aim. An aspiration, to be implemented subject to very specific conditions: unconditional immigration but not unconditionally,

However, on LSA propaganda, stickers and such, there was no room, and some may have felt little need to explain the caveat. Denied the opportunity to study the small print, the public would have assumed, as I did, that this was an LSA strategy for the here and now. Had the call for the 'smashing of all immigration controls', not prudently, or opportunistically, depending on your point of view, been put on the "back burner", and a less incendiary slogan employed in the actual election material, the potential not only to decimate the LSA's meagre total, but even, strike a mortal blow against the unity project itself, may well have been realised.

Now, accepting for the moment, that for revolutionaries the free movement of people, including economic migrants is axiomatic, it is also the responsibility of revolutionaries to take on board that to demand as much under present conditions, is self-defeating. What you ask are these present conditions?
Well, when even cloistered Observer leader writers warn that an 'essentially liberal and tolerant country is losing touch with its own values' it is plain something is awry. 'Radio talk shows' the Observer exclaimed recently 'reveal prejudice bordering on hatred'.
That talks shows are the only interface between the liberal elite and the lower orders speaks volumes of the class divide in itself.

Despite that they have a point. Following the deaths of the 58 Chinese refugees many callers to the Nicky Campbell Show on Radio 5 Live were nothing if not candid. One even admitted her instinctive response to news of the deaths was 'good': 'that's 58 less we have to deal with'. Horror too, at the mounting level of race attacks, led the new London Mayor to comment, that the latest police figures "make terrifying reading". In the 12 months to April this year, the number of reported racial incidents in London more than doubled to 23,346. (Independent 30.5.2000) As an enthusiastic champion of the Macpherson Report, the Guardian was despondent: "the rise will come as a disappointment in the wake of Sir William's...landmark report which was billed as providing the foundation for greater tolerance". (17.5.2000)

Whether or not black or Asian victims 'have greater confidence in the police', or whether the police 'have improved their recording of racial incidents' is moot. Seemingly aware of the contradiction between support for futher initatives 'to improve race relations', and a spiralling rise in race attacks, some state sponsored agencies are now insisting they are indeed 'very happy to see the rise' because it reflects a greater confidence in the police recording of them!

Complete delirium all round, hats in the air and all that presumably, if the independent studies by the Runnymeade Trust, which put the actual under estimation by police, not at one in two, as with the updated amendment, but more realistically at a minimum of - one in ten are subsequently realised. These estimates were in additton, released prior to immigration returning to the boil, and - a full two years before the police were condemned as 'institutionally racist'.

Yet despite the wealth of independent research and statistical data all pointing in the same direction, in the direction of a vast 'reactionary reservoir', too many on the left comfort themselves in denial. Why if such is the volume of race attacks they ask, have the far-right not done better at the polls? Surely their electoral failure can be taken as proof of the continuing competence of state sponsored anti-racism, multi-culturalism, equal opportunities and so on. A smug complacency the current refugee controversy, has one hopes, effectively demolished.

Though the far-right did abandon the streets in 1994, the BNP 'never', to coin a phrase, 'went away you know'. Rather their decision to, in the words of leader Nick Griffin 'decommission the boot' was not because it was losing the argument with multiculturalism. Not hardly. More realistically it was because in the previous five years, as it had attempted to kick its way into the headlines ala the NF, 'the boot', they found was invariably, on a foot other than their own. Thus it was not liberalism but it's dictionary opposite that forced muscular nationalism, (incidentally in the teeth of fierce opposition from C18 ), to begin the painful and self critical revision of far-right ends and means.

Since fully adjusting to the shortcomings of Plan A, street conflict, and with it, the constant wearing down of membership and morale, is obsessively avoided. Further reinforced by the adoption of a Haider type strategy, the BNP vote is now steadily climbing: a fourfold increase for example, in the last 11 months in London alone. The 80,000 votes in the GLA election, applied to general election turn-out reveals a voter base of well over 1,000,000 nationally. Coming second to Labour in a council by-election in Bexley on July 6, despite the Tories playing the race card, confirms the trajectory to be steadily upward.
Such are the present conditions.

The BNP spectre withstanding, LSA self-interest has been remarkably quick to adjust to the reality of a liberal stance on refugees, even when diluted, translating negatively on working class door steps. In it's official communique shortly after the election the 'incredible' 46,500 total was achieved, it was admitted, "despite standing up for the rights of asylum seekers". A rare but welcome admission, that an identification with 'official anti-racism', can prove a serious handicap politically. Yet without any noticeable discussion, when canvassing for the by-election in Tottenham, in a constituency (estimated incidentally to be 50% black), LSA policy on immigration it was advised, should be put "forward [only] if voters raised the issue of the doorstep...no need to spell out every last detail ....it might cost us votes". (Weekly Worker June 8 2000)

But, if the prospect of leaking votes concentrated minds in Haringey, it remained business as usual in neighbouring boroughs. With LSA canvassers, in back pedalling mode in Tottenham, posters proclaiming the legend 'Refugees Welcome Here!' were plastered all over the Borough of Enfield instead. On at least one estate, their efforts had the pernicious effect of igniting suspicions, that flats currently being refurbished were to be allotted, not to locals, as had been assumed, but to a fresh batch of refugees. Within hours of the posters being put up, and of course ripped down, the non issue of immigration had become one! 'Dangerous dog/sharp stick' is the word association that best describes such a tactic.

At the end of last month I personally came across an 'Asylum Seekers Welcome here!' picket outside Sainsbury's in Islington. Leaflets were being handed out and passersby asked to sign petitions. In the background a megaphone blared that 'fat cats not refugees' were to blame. None looked too convinced. Many shook there heads, and walked on, some muttering. In the twenty minutes I was there, what response was provoked - was hostile. Apart from a beggar berating them for ruining his pitch, middle aged women were the most vocal: 'Help your own people first and so on' One even attempted to snatch leaflets from one of the petitioners. However despite this one old dear did volunteer to sign the petition. Yet on returning with a sandwich, I saw that the petitioner in question had completed the page previously half full, in the 5 minute interim. How he began the next page solved the mystery of how he had finished the last one -he simply signed it himself. Again it raises the question - who is fooling whom?
Nor is it just on the refugee issue the left has tied itself in knots. Not nearly. The inadequacy in that regard is but a symptom. Far wider contradictions between principle and practice, and between cause and effect, are also beginning to surface.

"Multiculturalism" is pro-actively "pitting all communities against each other" according to a recent report by the Foreign Policy Centre think-tank. Moreover the "cloak of multi-culturalism" is being "worn by those with no interest in integration". It further warns, that out of date term "ethnic minorities" are not only an obstacle to integration; but the whole idea of permanent minorities, is based, it argues, on the "ludicrous assumption" that there is some "larger homogeneous white" community out there, that must be continually confronted until vanquished.

It is in the interests of all, author Yasmin Brown therefore concludes, that multiculturalism is "laid to rest". ('Why Multiculturalism has failed' Telegraph 23,5.00)
Looked at another way, while society has, and will continue to be made up a multitude of cultures, while 'multi-culturalism' is indisputably a fact, it is not a strategy, or at least, not an inherently progressive one. So whatever the Foreign Policy Centre motivation, it may have done us all an immense favour. If multiculturalism is to be laid to rest, a self confident left should be the very last to mourn it's passing.
But what advantage does the demise, or even assassination of multiculturalism, offer working class independence?

For a start, if society is not organised horizontally along the lines of race, as previously supposed, then it must (as all us Marxists knew anyway) in reality be structured vertically on the lines of class. An observation, that ought to have made a rejection of the multicultural ethos fundamental from the outset. That society never resembled a patchwork quilt, is a basic contradiction much of the left, while tripping over itself in it's concern to be 'right on', has steadfastly ducked for decades. Consequently while 'integration' has been allowed to become a dirty word, one time immigrants, who have long since put down roots, continue to be artificially classified by multiculturalism as perennial outsiders. Until that nettle is firmly grasped, interlopers is precisely how they, and the later arrivals will be politically defined in perpetuity. Who, when you think about it, can that possibly help?
So rather than continue to 'promote diversity', integration as against segregation, ought to return to being the anti-racist watchword.

Of course as part of a defensive formation, the articulation and support for minority rights, be they racial or sexual, must remain an absolute. But it is not for the left, the way forward. Quite the reverse.
To attempt to politically move forward with minority rights to the forefront, sooner or later fragments any alliance, needlessly antagonises the neglected majority, ultimately reinforces rivalries, and institutionalises division. Often reducing politics particularly at a local community level, to a feudal type system of 'special pleading'. Even worse, a class divided against itself on such lines, can have no cogent platform from which to demand, and fight for, a greater allocation of national resources. And thus unable to move forward, it is also powerless to efficiently defend what it has got.

So year on year its 'allowance' systematically shrinks. Perpetuating first poverty, then an increased rivalry between ethnic divisions. A situation which has allowed the political sponsors of multiculturalism a rule untroubled by radical or sustained opposition for well over a generation. An outcome, we can assume, was no accidental by-product, but very much the intended result. 'Divide and rule' was the old term, the 'promotion of diversity' can be read as it's contemporary manifestation.

(A balancing act which the LSA choice for mayor, it may be worth mentioning in passing, was one of the first to turn into a political art form.)

Equally wide of the mark, are the routine accusations of an underlying racism in regard to the motivation of the state itself. Indeed the Left's entire approach to anti-racism and increasingly anti-fascism "dovetails" so "neatly" as Weekly Worker put it, with the "state's own official anti-racism" - it illustrates perfectly, how once progressive ideas can, and have, been assimilated into a state strategy "and used for reactionary purposes." (22.6.2000)

Historically, reactionary purposes have been well served by divisions within the lower orders. Oddly for some time now, is the left which has promoted 'minority versus majority causes' with nationalistic zeal. The greater, generally working class indignation, the more the strategy responsible for exposing previously 'hidden' levels of bigotry is vindicated.
As one Guardian reader explained it: "Too many white people continue to think that not noticing or ignoring another person's ethnic and religious identity is a mark of liberalism. In fact it is just as racist as abusing them for it."
For such a mindset being painted into a corner, on one cause after another has come to be regarded as a badge of honour. But such 'battle honours' have not come without cost. Indeed so corrosive has the crusade been to the standing of the left, socialism, as the GLA results demonstrates, is today in many ways, reduced to 'a cause' itself.

Why the left felt compelled to pursue such a misguided course is instructive. Fittingly, it is Tony Cliff, founder of the SWP, and through expulsions splits and splinters, the negative creator of a host of other trends, who provides an insight into how, this flawed 'minority versus majority praxis' took root. In his autobiography Cliff; cites an incident, which sounds like a prototype:
"...there was time when the Socialist Review Group was tiny, with between 25 and 30 members only. A worker wanted to join. He liked our programme but thought that our opposition to immigration controls would prevent other workers from joining. I said, 'You join the group over my dead body'"
Lost in admiration for his fortitude, Cliff was unable to accept that the 'worker' in question was speaking objectively. Historically, and for all the usual reasons, widescale immigration is moe often than not the focus of tensions and resentments.

Yet in Cliff's example, 'the worker' who made this observation, appears not to have had a problem with political opposition to immigration controls himself. Nonetheless, for Cliff 'the revolutionary', any further discussion was out of the question. In raising the problem, he 'the worker' was seemingly judged guilty of 'unconscious racism' of some form or another. Consequently before allowing him into polite revolutionary circles, it was necessary to see, as David Trimble might put it, whether he could be properly 'house trained' first.
'Reactionary ideas' were, Cliff made clear, to be firmly locked out of 'the workers movement' even if this meant excluding the workers themselves.
From such a perspective, it is a small remove to seeing anti-racism not as question of enlightened self interest, but more an acculurating of the lower orders; the drilling into them, like any good colonialist of 'our superior customs and habits'.
When you consider that the working class is the only social group where assimilation is genuine, the missionary analogy seems both more apt, and more misplaced.

Yet such paternalism permeates all aspects of anti-racist work professional and amateur. Thus should any 'minority' be the subject of finger-pointing, rather than addressing the problem in the interest of the entire community, kneejerk denial is the standard response.
In the late '70's when the NF ran with the slogan 'All Blacks are Muggers! the SWP response was to flatly deny any blacks could possibly be so inclined - even to other dissenting members of the same 'community' who knew better!.
When in Dover last year some teenagers (one a twelve year old girl) were slashed by a refugee, any hint of the need for a tactical approach was met with a snort. Generally even the tiniest hint of a racial angle and the prospect of any communities, often legitimate concerns being 'sensitively' addressed, is instantly scotched for fear of 'pandering to them'. Of course even when entirely media-led, or just plain bogus, perception as the LSA leadership have begun to realise, is as concrete a political reality to be factored in as any other.

Meanwhile outside of such exalted circles, if 'inherently racist communities' are to be conquered, megaphone lectures, or short and snappy 'Refugees welcome here'! commands, remain the propaganda weapons of choice.
Should the state wants to pack 400 Kosovan refugees into two-tier Portacabins on a village green, increasing the population by fifth overnight, and stretching resources beyond breaking point, it is as far as the left is concerned - 'fine by us'. If concern is voiced at all, it is that the refugees should be furnished with more fitting accommodation. Otherwise thumbs up. The mildest protest and the whole estate can expect to be plastered with posters. Up on till recently the overall propaganda impact was airily assumed to be positive - untill it was realised votes were at stake.

After all if they are 'inherently racist' (and we are not standing) what have we got to lose by provoking them? Alternatively, if as the SWP maintain, society is moving to the left anyway, all the easier it will be to marginalise them. If on the other hand, the drift, is in the opposite direction, as even the Observer has noticed, what then?
In contrast to the Observer, the Guardian, like much of the left, has persevered with the blind-sided approach. Addressing the implications of "a third of refugees" having "degrees or professional qualifications", it drew the conclusion that "the temptation to place refugees on sink estates must be avoided. There are," it went on "plenty of good empty houses without resorting to the use of condemned property". (April 1 2000)

On June 29th, a senior United Nations official quoted in the Scottish Herald also saw fit to chastise the powers that be for leaving refugees "trapped on nightmare estates".
In left and liberal circles this sort of comment is widely applauded as the epitome of anti-racism, even when the overall sense of 'nightmare estates and condemned property' being considered perfectly adequate for the existing occupants (in line with 'the natural order' presumably) is inescapable. Liberals express shock and outrage when the residents of said 'the sink estates' knock back such perspectives. Such signs of rebellion are ominous signs, we are told of 'an essentially tolerant and liberal country losing touch with it's own values'.

In truth, it is some time since Britain could accurately be described as a 'liberal society'. A champions league position in regard to race attacks, incarcerations, in addition to spawning 'the most reactionary youth in Europe' are not normal by-products of such a society. A society perfectly capable of re-producing the Stephen Lawrences and the David Copelands is hardly, as the saying goes, 'at ease with itself'.
Of course it is perfectly possible, the communities that live on the sink estates, that house the perpetrators are no longer judged to be part of society.
Indeed, those considered undeserving of first class rights, are multiplying at an astonishing rate. Withdrawal of trial by jury, has been followed with the proposed loss of benefit without due process for probation offenders. Late for an appointment? Loss of benefit the penalty. As well as suspected football hooligans losing their rights to hold passports, such sanctions were at one stage to be extended to include those convicted of any offence, including the crime of wearing an 'offensive tattoo'! All too firmly within the catchment considered unworthy of first class rights, are of course refugees. As non-citizens and even lower on the food chain, the political right demand they be treated most harshly of all.
On the contrary the left counter, in the interests of justice, their rights to housing, education, health etc must be given priority. A priority that should if necessary, override the interests and rights of their inherently second class, and lets not forget, racist hosts,
Such a resolute approach is widely considered to be both honourable and tactically astute. A tad disappointing then, when following the adoption of their recommendation, animosity to refugees, race attacks and support for the far-right all - visibly intensify.

A recent audit commission report 'Another Country', concluded, that a perception of preferential treatment, does refugees few favours. Among other things, it warns councils 'not to feed hostility by providing services for asylum seekers that are not available to other residents. It cites cases when asylum seekers were 'given money for furniture that was not available to homeless people'. In another case 'asylum seekers were provided with taxis to take them to new accommodation, while local people had to use public transport'. Where the accommodation of asylum seekers is most inflammatory it flagged up, is where 'the cost of support is borne by local tax-payers' alone. A problem sharply compounded by 'the shortfall of up to £30 *million spent by local councils, but yet to be reclaimed from central government'.

That a government, which can at the drop of a hat, donate almost exactly that sum to shore up the Dome, is allowed to escape its responsibilities so blatantly, with hardly a murmur of protest from the left lobbyists is damning.
Rather than grasp the opportunity of confronting an enemy, common to both immigrants and working class hosts, liberals pass, exposing again the essential dilettantism at the heart of the pro-refugee lobby.
(According to the Association of London Authorities the disparity will reach £50 million - in London alone - by the end of the year incidentally.)

In such circumstances, that it took the leader, of arguably the only progressive party in Europe with an authentic working class base, to identify the need for a more holistic approach, is telling. Speaking at an internal meeting on May 17, Gerry Adams claimed that the strategy of the Dublin government was failing on two fronts."Not only has the government failed to address the needs and rights of refugees and asylum seekers" it has" Adams claimed "also ignored the needs and rights of urban and rural communities. Communities have a right to be consulted, and to expect adequate resources and supports. But communities also have obligations and responsibilities as human beings". (Republican News May 25 2000)
Rather than allowing, or worse tacitly supporting the 'pitting' of the most wretched against the most disadvantaged, forging precisely such a unity of interests model, is for a variety of reasons, 'the way forward'.

Broadly speaking, it would for one, serve as a bridge between the call for the 'smashing of all immigration controls' and the slightly seedy realpolitik witnessed in Haringey. It could also begin to establish a connection between the harsh reality of present conditions and the principle of unconditional immigration. In addition it would go some way toward re-establishing the sense of a common goal between the working class and the left, and between the working class and immigrant communities - and not just on this issue. It would in a nutshell, be the tangible link - currently missing - between what is real and what is politically ideal.

Conversely the continued failure to acknowledge that the working class as well as refugees have rights is to play directly 'into the hands of our enemies'. Understandably, what is seen to be imposed will be automatically opposed - in one way or the other.
Not to champion the economic needs and democratic rights of working class communities on this issue, also ignores the consequent plight this failure causes refugees:
a hypocrite invariably makes a poor apologist.

To fail both sections equally, ought not to be regarded as evidence of a balanced argument. While standing up for the 'rights of refugees' might win brownie points on the letters page of the Guardian, it is not socialism. Nor interestingly, is it perceived to be. A 'minority first' stance is instinctively, and quite properly understood to be nothing more than a reverse of the 'majority first' arguments of the BNP. It is not that the 'working class do not understand' as the Socialist Party fear, rather it is that they understand only too well. From where they stand, (and who can blame them) further immigration is viewed as a stratagem, specifically designed to sustain their emasculation. Which is precisely why for the left, minority over majority will always be the wrong argument, pitched to the wrong audience.

More pertinently, for the likes of the LSA, who express the ambition, and are indeed historically obliged to try and replace New Labour, in it's now, former heartlands, it is an argument it cannot win. One consequence of multiculturalism of often overlooked, is that it casts race rather than class as the motor of history. The implication being that communities are thus encouraged, if not obliged, to think along nationalist lines politically. What do we get out of it? Meaning my tribe first. Or only. More to the point my tribe rather than my class. In such a climate to identify with the stand point of a race or culture other than your own, to see it from a perspective other than your own, can come across as mealy-mouth, weak, and ambiguous: the standard hallmarks of a renegade whose views thereafter, are not to be trusted.

Dribbling virtue, is generally a poor substitute for a strategy of constructive engagement. A poor substitute too, for a strategy grounded in objective reality. To return to winning ways rather than seeking out the race in every equation (as the BNP do); rather than recklessly racialise social problems, the strategy must from here on, be to try and socialise racial problems instead. In simple terms anti-racism should be just that; the absolute and automatic rejection of discrimination or victimisation on racial grounds. No more no less.
Any attempts to right past wrongs, socially engineer a black middle class, or allocate resources by divisive criteria, is to dangerously over reach, to the utter detriment of anti-racism's core value: 'fairness'.

('It's not fucking fair' is a common refrain in working class communities when confronted with yet another initiative to 'improve' race relations. We can all now happily explain, that 'divide and rule' is never fucking meant to be!)

Besides which, hierarchical divisions are overwhelmingly determined on the grounds of class not race. For instance while black men may suffer disproportionately in regard to police stop and search, it is self-evidently their colour that gets them stopped. But it is their class, that gets them fitted up; it is their class that get them killed. So to volunteer race not class as the remedy, is to both skim the surface, and promote division by providing a platform for respective nationalisms.

The new nationalisms, needless to say, manifest themselves in the ways of the old nationalisms. Council records in Tower Hamlets for instance show that on the Isle of Dogs, Bangladeshis are at least as likely to be perpetrator, as victim in incidents deemed racial. In Bradford following the murder of a local black youth outside the Young Lion Cafe, the black community marched in protest at what they claim is a Pakistani monopoly of local affairs. Amid claims of ethnic cleansing, The Young Lion Cafe symbol of the 'Frontline' since the 1970's, but now situated opposite the new mosque, was prior to the fatal shooting, attacked by a 150 strong mob of Asian youth. Accussed by Asian elders of being a focus of drug dealing it has also been firebombed twice. According to Marsha Singh the local MP "the black community in Bradford feels very isolated, very neglected and fearful". (Independent 29.7.00) In Tipton in the West Midlands local whites complain that the local Labour party is 'by Asians for Asians'. A fact exacerbated by surgeries being held in the local mosque. Not insignificnatly the BNP vote there has doubled to 26% in two years.

Eighteen months back, the CRE reported that the greatest number of race attack victims nationally were in fact white, over twice the tally of the 100,000 offences committed against Asians. Obviously such statistics fail to take into account that Asians are substantially less than 5% of the population. The lessons here are primarily two fold: 1) when the minority becomes the majority, they can be just an 'insensitive as the rest of us' and 2) in a country 95% white, a recipe for Balkanisation can leave only one winner.
Therefore we must conclude taking 'the race out of anti-racism' is in the interests of everyone - bar a hungry and rejuvenated far-right.

Only when released from minority over majority constraints, would a 'unity of interests' paradigm allow for the putting forward of forceful demands, not only for 'adequate' resources sufficient to ameliorate hostility, but for the extra resources, necessary to both grease integration and refloat the 'sink estates' 'invited' to play host to immigrants of whatever classification .
An unapologetically vulgar demand, for an injection of Lottery money, to finance projects seen to benefit the entire community, would instantly outflank all who currently seek to exploit the refugee crisis negatively. Rather than lobbying the Home Office in pursuit of what is widely perceived to be sectional interests, imaginatively targeting prestige projects, who have themselves enjoyed huge subsidies from Lottery handouts, would see race instantly displaced by class in the debate. Having demanded sacrifices from everyone else it would be revealing to see how liberals responded when invited to make some of their own?

Moreover, as is evident from the political invective unleashed by the "10 minute riot" in Charleroi, (surely the shortest 'riot' on record ?) anti-racism is increasingly a camouflage for anti-working class elitism. Official anti-racism allows the middle classes to publicly air their fear and hatred of the lower orders publicly. By invoking the anti-racist clause liberals feel free to express their contempt for society's base. Anti-racism makes it perfectly all right to hate the poor.

One Observer reporter for example 'regretted that the Belgian police were not armed with real bullets, while another 'wondered whether the [England supporters] were human at all?' Topping them all was the "GRUNT, GRUNT, GRUNT: the only language they understand' headline in the Mirror. A timely reminder that Mid Victorian perceptions of race, related originally to social gradations within European society, and were only later transposed to the non-European world.
What we now see as social distinctions, were then seen as racial ones - and may be again. As author Nic Cohen put it recently: "We live in an age where racial hatred is persona not grata, so is hatred of women and hatred gays, but the one thing that's flourishing is class hatred."

To assume that such negative stereotyping, and the near Victorian perceptions of the 'white' working class, are confined to the liberal media would be a grave error. Across the left, and specifically within the LSA, finger-wagging and worse, (as attempts thus far to promote rational debate on the refugee issue have exposed) is de rigeur. During one discussion, it was even suggested that 'military occupation' of working class areas like Tipton was the practical solution to support for the BNP there.
Fascism was once described as 'socialism without the proletariat.
And here is the flip side. The novel but increasingly popular concept of 'anti-fascism not only without the working class - but opposed to it'. So for Tipton ditto Bexley, and if necessary naturally the working class as a whole.

Not unnaturally those who regard the working class as 'a lost cause' champion the Greens as natural allies. At present within the LSA this may even be a majority. Happily others recognise that in the 'battle for working class hearts and minds' it is not the Greens, but the far right which will be the LSA's arch rival for the title: radical alternative.
Thus far, in all other countries in Europe when 'new right' has met 'old left' it has proved no contest. If the LSA is to break with this pattern of defeat, it will need to need to break with, what up to now, is the accepted custom and practice of many of its sponsors. Decommissioning dogma, will include resisting the temptation to strike impeccable poses which serve no other purpose but to 'distinguish' the proposers from one another, and more importantly from the working class. There is an ocean of difference between moralism and morality: between feeling good and doing good.

'Unconditional immigration' by all means, as long as it is understood that there must be a bridge between the macro and the micro in its presentation. Also if the LSA truly wants to represent the working class, it must seek to cross bridges with them, rather than as has been the norm for the left hitherto, instead of them. Many people point with satisfaction to the recent Haringey result as proof of 'life in the left'. Saving a deposit is 'perfectly respectable for a party of the far-left' we are told. A mindset yet to come to terms with the LSA, to all intents and purposes, these days actually being the Left. Here now, with all the attendant responsibility, is where the buck stops.

Over the last century, socialism has lost the economic argument with capitalism, the ideological argument with liberalism, and is now faced with the possibility of losing the tactical argument with fascism. Realistically, the only hope of ever returning to winning ways, is by first having the courage to acknowledge 'a lucid registration of historical defeat'. Meaning that if working class hegemony remains the unchanging goal, then tactics and strategies require some serious revision.

To return to winning way means, also winning the battle of position with both Labour and the BNP. Winning the battle of position means lining up comfortably along side the working class, not as is currently the case, feeling obliged 'on principle' to line up against it. Tactically, it means avoiding scenarios where your limitations are exposed. For instance it is time the left learnt, that no matter how it is introduced, race plays to the rights agenda: it excites them.
For the simple reason, no matter how apparently unfavourable the circumstances, battle is joined on their terms.

More fundamentally winning the battle of position means stubbornly rejecting the solutions proffered by both middle class liberalism and nationalism alike, and constructing, from scratch if necessary, a progressive working class alternative to both. How is this to be done? To begin, with each situation must be looked at from the long and short term interests of the working class itself. Which is to say by first assessing objective conditions and only then envisaging what the working class as the ruling class might consider an ideal. A method of operation made possible only by, as Marx did, 'entirely trusting to the intellectual abilities of that class' itself.

So, if the LSA is to prove the way forward, if the LSA truly wants to change society, it must change the working class. To change the working class, the left must first be prepared to change itself.

Something else 'communists', will I suspect need, to be 'uncompromising' on.