Red Action And The LSA

On the heels of Red Action’s application to join the London Socialist Alliance, ‘just what are they up to’ has clearly been the question on many lips. More than once the accusation has been made that we are simply jumping on a bandwagon. And a successful one at that.

But few eyebrows will raise on realisation that the rationale, is a mite more complex than that. Particularly as the support of one and a half per cent of Londoners, is hardly the stuff to set the pulses racing.

What is of genuine interest however, regardless of the motivation of the sponsors themselves, is what the emergence of the LSA signifies. Here at last, is the entire Left (almost) collectively attempting to ‘re-invent itself’. Judged objectively, that has to be regarded in a positive light.

A tacit though untheorised admission that ‘the era of the sect is over’ must also be judged progressive. In such circumstances, if Red Action is to remain true to it’s own politics, it is duty bound to seek to maximise it’s influence within the new formation.

All who voted at the RA conference, including those that moved the motion (particularly them), recognised that even at its most productive, the most the orientation to the LSA offers is - possibilities.

Of the many possibilities, perhaps the vital one, is the opportunity it provides for the entire Left to take stock: to politically re-group. And while the LSA is not itself a real movement of the class, it is for the first time in more than 30 years undeniably a real movement of the Left, the simultaneous movement of the class away from Labour and the rich potential/danger offered up, by the otherwise almost unrelated desertions coinciding, is key to understanding the Red Action attraction.

Given Red Action’s history, it will be no surprise that we are keeping at least one wary eye on the far-right. Already the BNP look more than capable of pulling away from the LSA in London. Barring an implosion, the BNP currently has the potential to repeat the trick in the general election, and thus lay claim to the radical alternative slot nationally. As has been pointed out before, there is no proven antidote to Euro-nationalism.

In short, what the far-right renaissance, not just here but across Europe, heralds (though many on the Left seem unaware of it) is a new phase of struggle. A new phase of struggle always means change. Immense change certainly, over a relatively short time for the more conservative of the left. First, and especially, for the conservative wing of the LSA.

Accordingly a central part of the RA remit within the LSA will be the stress on the need for new thinking, new strategies, new tactics and even new language, if that is -working class hegemony remains the unchanging goal.

An acknowledgement on that issue, and there is a real possibility of the LSA being transformed into something of genuine value. At present the Left may not appear to have changed all that much, but exterior conditions have. Accordingly the dynamic for political change both inside and out is - not - under the control of the Left.

On the contrary, they are, as the pace of their own development shows, controlled by it. They are not changing the course of history as they might imagine, or make out - but adapting to it.

That cherished straplines like ‘Rebuild the Fourth International!’ ‘General Strike Now!’ ‘Vote Labour without illusions!’ now appear cretinous - even to them - is proof of the changing landscape. The day of reckoning between loyalty to antiquated theories and political survival, also beckons.

Currently the LSA meets the immediate needs of the left when the real task is to meet the immediate needs of the class. That is the Red Action objective. Red Action has joined the LSA with honest intentions. It is in short, our intention to revolutionise it from within.

Reproduced from RA vol 4, Issue 8, September/October '00