"Organising from outside"/ "Target areas": defeated amendments on Inside Organising (documents 6.1/6.2)

Submitted by martin on 20 May, 2007 - 7:12

Amendments 6.1 and 6.2 to the Inside Organising document

AMENDMENT 6.1: "ORGANISING FROM OUTSIDE"

(Refer also to the preamble for this amendment and amendment 6.3. The preamble was not voted on.)

Add after para 10 of the Inside Organising document:

Our history is full of socialists who helped the working class to organise and spread ideas within the class without being workers in an industry or even in the class. Starting with the early Marxists, through Eleanor Marx, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Tom Mann who built the dockers’ union as a full time organiser but was an engineer. J P Cannon was an organiser for the IWW and later the Trotskyists in the US built a base in the Teamsters not by sending Max Shachtman off to load lorries but by winning key communist militants in the union like the Dunnes to Trotskyism. LO in France probably has the most proletarian base in the Trotskyist movement today but does not colonise.

The relevant passage would then read:

The prime example is the SWP-USA in the late 1970s. It announced that "world revolution" was becoming "more proletarian" and that therefore all its activists needed to get jobs not only in industry but in the hardest, most-exploited sectors of industry. The organisation shrivelled to a sect; much activity outside industry withered away; many activists became demoralised; not much was gained in the chosen sectors of industry.

Our history is full of socialists who helped the working class to organise and spread ideas within the class without being workers in an industry or even in the class. Starting with the early Marxists, through Eleanor Marx, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Tom Mann who built the dockers’ union as a full time organiser but was an engineer. J P Cannon was an organiser for the IWW and later the Trotskyists in the US built a base in the Teamsters not by sending Max Shachtman off to load lorries but by winning key communist militants in the union like the Dunnes to Trotskyism. LO in France probably has the most proletarian base in the Trotskyist movement today but does not colonise.

Sensible encouragement to activists to get jobs where they can best be effective revolutionaries in work time as well as outside it is different from moralistic compulsion based on hype. It does not mean, for example, that activists who are currently school students should not go to university if they have a chance. We should strongly encourage comrades to use that chance. They can be politically effective at university as well as using what they will get at university (and possibly never again in their lives) in the way of access to libraries, free time, and so on, to learn a lot.

AMENDMENT 6.2: TARGET AREAS

Delete para 7 of the Inside Organising document and replace by:

The AWL should adopt a short and consistent policy on comrades' employment to which everyone is expected to adhere, along the following lines: "In taking a job AWL activists are asked to assess its likely impact on their political effectiveness as revolutionary socialists and should discuss this assessment with fellow comrades. Issues which they might consider include but are not restricted to: the size of the workplace, the level of existing union organisation, the level of existing AWL activity in the industry, the impact of the choice on other political activity, and the impact of the job in relation to the comrade's personal or family commitments."

The existing para 7 is:

We summed it up in our 2005 conference document:"The unions are a critical element in the work of a Marxist organisation that aspires to lead the working class. Persuading student comrades and sympathisers to take certain jobs and to add their commitment to our campaigns in certain unions has to be made a priority once again. The NC must set out the political arguments for, and strongly encourage, student comrades and sympathisers to get jobs in the Post, BT, health service and on the tube".