Cutting Edge Project

Socialism is dead. If working class hegemony is the unchanging goal then our tactics and strategy are in need of serious revision.

If the battles for hearts and minds begins with the battle of ideas, then the issues and problems that need addressing are not of a working class victorious but the day to day conflict of a class betrayed, out flanked, politically destitute and oppressed.

At the beginning of the year thousands of leaflets, containing this somewhat blunt message were distributed across the entire left. It was an open invitation, and indeed challenge to all who interpret the term, class struggle literally, to be involved from the very beginning in discussions around a new publication. On March 7, the first editorial discussions on the proposed Cutting Edge magazine took place in Conway Hall. While the meeting had been widely advertised throughout the left the attendance itself, was not in anyway representative, nor could it hope to be, as roughly, 85% of the misnamed revolutionary left still orientate toward, or identify with the right of centre party in power. A reasonable cross section of the remaining 15% were represented however, including tenants representatives, unaligned anarchists, militant anti-fascists, a prominent veteran of the Poll Tax struggle, and individuals from various groups and traditions.
At the end of the four hour meeting, while there was widespread agreement on the general thrust of the proposal, it was concluded that a further effort should be made to broaden the base. It was felt that the broader the participation in Cutting Edge at an editorial level from the beginning, the greater its appeal, and the less likely the prospect of it being still born as result of sectarianism.
This caution is not unwarranted. With Cutting Edge still in the womb, genuine confusion mixed with malicious speculation is already rife in certain circles. Dismissing the declared objectives, Open Polemic have launched a 'slashing attack' on the entire project and in particular Red Action's support for it. On a similar vein some have added to the confusion by insisting it has something to do with the IWCA. Others have gone so far as to imply that what is really on the table is a new - organisation! One response commented "I showed the document to some people and we all ended up scratching our heads trying to understand what you are driving at." In Party Notes (Weekly Worker Jan 22) Mark Fischer for one, showed no such hesitation. The initiative was dismissed as "a product of profound defeat and the ignominious collapse of previous perspectives." More on that later.

Meanwhile, according to our old friends Open Polemic "addressing the contemporary problems of the working class" or even attempting "to provide progressive working class thinking with a strategical and theoretical cutting edge" is certainly counter productive if not counter-revolutionary. "Until we, the revolutionary section of the class are united in the nucleus of a party we can offer little but pious rhetoric to the class as a whole." So pious rhetoric it is then. Have you ever heard such errant nonsense? OP argues that the working class "offers a home to all sorts of bourgeois prejudices, sectional one-sidedness and outright bigotry." Of course when the far-right dominate the politics of many countries in Europe it would be hard to argue otherwise. But in contrast to the "stultifying backwardness" of the mass of the working class, the most advanced sections internationally still "shine as a beacon for all humanity." Clearly for OP it is not the advanced sections; the 'beacons for all humanity' that have failed the working class, rather the reverse.

Nothing wrong with socialism then. Or indeed Soviet Communism. It's the working class that's got to change. And until they come to their senses they should be ignored. For real communists like OP the immediate aims, the enforcement of the momentary interests are of no concern. Fighting to achieve immediate results in the interests of the working class is merely pandering to existing prejudices: "RA doesn't fully realise the complexity of the class that it chooses to align with." It would be far more productive in the long run if all existing pro-active work ceased immediately and "the revolutionary working class leaders (RA included)" settled down to the political, philosophical and ideological debate with OP instead. Which is, we are informed at various times the real class struggle: "class struggle at it highest point" and "the essence of class struggle today."

In contrast to this lop-sided and hermetical delirium, the real objectives of Cutting Edge can be summarised as follows. (a) To provide a sense of political direction to progressive working class thinking in regard to contemporary issues of universal concern. (Social, economic and political.) (b) To create and define independent working class perspectives in response to society's contradictions. (c) To prepare the ground tactically and strategically for the return of an independent working class to the political mainstream and real politics. So in one sense Mark Fischer is correct. Cutting Edge is the product of profound and ignominious defeat. But the defeat is not restricted to the sponsors as is implied. But is, as Weekly Worker has on occasion acknowledged, a political defeat currently being endured by the working class as a whole.

A substantial part of the discussions at the inaugural editorial meeting was in regard to marketing the magazine, in recognition, that at least initially Cutting Edge would have to be financially subsidised. "Given the current state of affairs politically, can we afford it?" was a question posed. "Given the current state of affairs can we afford not to" came the reply.

Reproduced from RA vol 3, Issue 1, June/July '98