Facing Up To A New Challenge

As we face into the new millennium it is probably a good time to reflect on the dramatic changes that have taken hold of Red Action over the last couple of years. The most significant of these are the modest but extremely encouraging forays into developing a new form of working class politics. This has meant the membership has had to adapt to the challenges that this new arena of struggle has thrown up. Beforehand things were a lot more ‘straightforward’...

Red Action and AFA members developed a camaraderie born out of adversity, of confronting an enemy who were more often than not superior in numbers. Facing at times the daily threat of serious physical injury or even jail as multiple court appearances piled up meant that reliability was essential. Failing to show-up at a mobilisa­tion might mean leaving your colleagues under-strength and poten­tially vulnerable in any street confrontation. The thought of having to look them in the eye at a later date was usually motivation enough to ensure few ‘cried-off’. This commitment ensured that even through the most testing times, morale remained high.

Today that commitment is called for once again. OK, so the battle­ground may have changed and the expertise required, i.e. being ‘first through the door’, may have altered, but that is all. The raison d’etre for Red Action remains the same as it ever was. Stripped to the bare bones that can be summarised as ‘making struggle in pursuit of the advancement of working class self-emancipation’.

Red Action was never and has never been a single-issue organisation, although at times, with almost the entire responsibility for militant anti-fascism dumped squarely in our lap, it is understandable that we may have appeared as such. Sometimes it is necessary though, to remember why most of us entered into politics and joined RA in particular, in the first place. It was with the aim of not just preventing the disease of fascism but with working on a cure, which would ensure a steady and full recovery of class politics in this country.

We now need to refocus our attention and concentrate our energies. At the moment a relatively small number of members are busting a gut to make headway. Due to their efforts the first chinks of light are just beginning to appear, hinting at a possible breakthrough in the future. At the same time, less inspiring is the habit some members appear to have fallen into, of creating their own ‘ratios of commitment’, picking and choosing which and how many meetings, activities and events they attend, often with the result that their colleagues are being left shouldering the load.

Obviously this is something that will have to be addressed. While this new area of struggle may not open up our members to the same physical or legal dangers as before, it must be remembered nonethe­less, that we are now confronting an enemy far more experienced, bigger. better-resourced and more ruthless than the Far Right ever were.

If we are to be successful in the coming period, it will mean remaining as committed as ever, it will mean utilising expertise and attributes that might have been shelved in the past, it will mean those who had been forced to take a back seat in the past now coming to the fore in this new area of struggle. As I have been at great pains to make clear in the past, everybody has a role to play and new members who feel they have something to offer should push themselves forward instead of waiting in line to be asked, afterall this new arena is one where we are all still learning the game.

To my fellow RA members I say enjoy the festive season and return in the New Year determined to play your part and play it to the full.

Steve Potts

Reproduced from RA vol 4, Issue 4, Dec '99/Jan '00