Not Waving, RA Vol 4, Issue 2, Aug/Sept '99

Comparison of RA with the Conservative Left

'A WEEK ', it is often said, 'is a long time in politics '. Yet it has taken a little over 750 days to lay bare the political contradiction of the century. ln May 1997 New Labour formally abandoned Social Democracy as a strategy, and in June 1999 the working class in turn abandoned Labour.

In much the same way, without the fig leaf of the 'Labour Movement ' (capital L, capital M) to hide behind, Trotskyism, which has dominated progressive politics in much of post-war western Europe, is undone. History has simply passed it by. As a recent Independent editorial commented: "the conservatives of the Left have no solutions relevant to today 's problems". As if to prove that very point, the archly conservative SWP responded by calling for a lobby of the Labour conference "in order to make them meet our demands."

The irony for a group like Red Action who at one stage very nearly turned working class self deprecation into an art form, but which took out a considerable investment in the early 1990's in freeing the decks of the Leninist legacy, now finds itself at a pivotal moment in the history of the British working class, promoted by default to the frontline. Not only has the death of progressive reform neatly coincided with the renaissance of the Far-Right in Europe, but as we have both predicted and are still preparing for, in the mainstream over here. So even while accepting that it has as much to do with organisational dotage of one as the vigour of the other, the recent head to head contests between the BNP and Scargill 's SLP in the Euro elections nonetheless confirm socialism as dead.

Far more interesting from a radical perspective than the fortunes of rivals, is 'learning the revolutionary trade ' and the sure footedness which only comes through being proved right time and time again on the essentials. It is no accident that Red Action can anticipate events and identify diverse trends the conservative Left are incapable of working out - even after the fact. SF advances, Labour and middle England, Euro Nationalist gains, SLP fiascos are some which immediately spring to mind. Now there is no mystery in this.

The key to the Red Action method for solving political conundrums, for identifying core contradictions, for getting to the heart of the matter, is simple. Internal democracy. An internal democracy combined with a working class composition not only allows, or indeed welcomes, honest and bracing discussion, but demands it. Class composition without internal democracy or internal democracy without a radical working class instinct instantly renders the advantage of one or the other void. So in effect those posing the questions are at least as important as those to whom the questions are posed, in that the ultimate responsibility is always on the membership rather than any leadership to get it right. Putting the long term interests of the working class first, at all times, completes the jigsaw.

Only by taking in the bigger picture can you accurately position yourself to make a difference, and 'making a difference ' rather than simply self promotion is what Red Action from the beginning has always been about. Only by being aware of the bigger picture is it possible to identify the cutting edge of the struggle and thereby formulate a strategy grounded in objective reality. This is the Red Action method. 'Amazing ' as the man from Vision Express says 'we are the only ones to do this '.

Self evidently, shaping the future is what politics is all about. And working class political independence or Euro-Nationalism is the radical future. Not just here but across Europe.

In such circumstances, providing a political lead, even for a 'despised outsider ' such as Red Action is not an option - but an obligation.

J. Reilly

Reproduced from RA Vol 4, Issue 2, Aug/Sept '99