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Workers' Liberty International

Alliance for Workers' Liberty, Britain

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Workers' Liberty supporters in the USA

See below for other contacts in various countries.


Workers' Liberty texts translated into French by Yves Coleman (with our thanks!)

Workers' Liberty texts translated into Finnish by Aulis Kallio (with our thanks!)


Workers' Liberty International

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1. The Left against Europe redux

Introduction

The revolutionary left once had reputable politics towards Europe, an inheritance from Trotsky that was not finally dispensed with until the early 1970s. The story of how the British revolutionary left went from an independent working class stance to accommodation with chauvinism and Stalinist ‘socialist-in-one-country’ deserves to be better known: it serves as a warning in the forthcoming European Union (EU) referendum, with its dangers of capitulation to reactionary elements.

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2. How the Stalinists shaped the debate on Europe

The hostile attitude towards European unity on the ostensibly revolutionary left derived ultimately from the poisoned well of Stalinism. Internationally, the USSR under Stalin embraced the nationalistic ‘socialism in one country’ doctrine in the mid-1920s, as it sidelined the perspective of international socialist revolution and workers’ democracy.

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3. The attitude of the revolutionary left before 1970

The attitude of the revolutionary left in Britain towards Europe before 1970 was almost unanimously internationalist, a legacy of Trotsky’s consistent support for a United States of Europe. The revolutionary left began the post-war period mostly united within the Revolutionary Communist Party, formed in 1944. It was part of the orthodox Fourth International, led by Ernest Mandel and took much of its politics from that source.

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4. The chauvinist summer of 1971

Before 1971 almost the entire revolutionary left held an abstentionist position on the Common Market: In or out, it was about capitalist integration and not a matter for workers to choose a side to support. Although this left several key questions begging, it at least had the virtue of maintaining a consistent internationalist position, having no truck with chauvinism and championing cross-Europe worker solidarity in the face of bourgeois integration.

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5. How the revolutionary left fell in behind the Stalinists in 1971

The revolutionary left on the cusp of the 1970s was significantly larger than it had been since the mid-1920s, when the CPGB was a real revolutionary force with around 10,000 members. In 1964 the SLL had an estimated 500 members, IS around 200 members and Militant about 40 members. After 1968 all groups grew, and so by the time of these Common Market debates the SLL had around 2,000, IS a similar number, the IMG with around 400 and Militant with 250 members (John McIlroy, ‘Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned’: the Trotskyists and the Trade Unions, 1999: 262).

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6. 1975 and all that

The revolutionary left grew significantly between its volte-face over the Common Market in 1971, Britain’s accession to the EEC on 1 January 1972 and the Labour government’s referendum on membership on 6 June 1975. However this growth was not accompanied by greater political clarity, but rather characterised by chasing after legitimacy on the industrial front. This accommodation was disastrous for the internationalist consciousness among working class militants in Britain and ultimately for the fate of the revolutionary left itself.

International Marxist Group

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A portrait of Gerry Healy's Workers Revolutionary Party, patron of the Livingstone Labour Left, in 1980

Gerry Healy
For describing the WRP as like the Moonies, John Bloxam and Sean Matgamna were in 1980 sued for libel by the actress Vanessa Redgrave. The WRP was then subsidising and producing Labour Herald, the paper of the Livingstone Labour left.

For describing the WRP as a cross between the Moonies, the Scientologists, and the Jones Cult, which exploited young people, etc.,John Bloxam and Sean Matgamna were in 1981 sued for libel by the actress Vanessa Redgrave. This portrait of the WRP was part of an appeal for labour movement support in fighting the libel action. The WRP was then subsidising and producing Labour Herald, the paper of the Livingstone Labour left.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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The Collapse of the Socialist International in the First World War

Author: 

Max Shachtman

“To forget is counter-revolutionary.”*

“If our resolution does not foresee any specific method of action for the vast diversity of eventualities,” said Jean Jaurès in urging the adoption of the famous anti-war resolution of the Second International at its special conference in Basel on November 24, 1912, “neither does it exclude any. It serves notice upon the governments, and it draws their attention clearly to the fact that [by war] they would easily create a revolutionary situation, yes, the most revolutionary situation imaginable.”

A hundred years ago, in August 1914, World War I triggered a collapse of the Socialist International into national fragments. Max Shachtman reviewed the experience on the twentieth anniversary.

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