The third in the AWL's new series of political day schools is scheduled for 19 November (in London) and 3 December (in Sheffield). It will be about “AWL and SWP”. Every week, in trade union branches, in colleges, on demonstrations, even on the doorsteps, AWLers have to argue our differences with the SWP. In Iraq, should we support the new labour movement, or the Islamist “resistance”? In elections, should we back George Galloway’s “Respect”, or vote socialist and Labour?
In the unions, should we focus on building rank-and-file organisation round issues like levelling up pay and conditions and organising the unorganised, or on trying to use the unions as pools of support for “Respect” and other campaigns? In the Middle East, do we support an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, or the subjugation of Israel into an Arab state?
On 19 November and 3 December, we want to go beyond these current debates and draw out some more fundamental issues about the different basic political traditions which AWL and SWP represent, and what Marxist politics is and must be.
The SWP once used the slogan, “Neither Washington nor Moscow, but international socialism”, borrowed from the “Third Camp” Marxists of the Workers’ Party and Independent Socialist League of the USA. Today their approach is more “Not Washington, but Ramadi”, or even “Not Washington, but Beijing” (they see it as “anti-imperialist” principle to side with the Chinese dictatorship in any clashes it has with the USA).
In fact the whole history of the SWP current shows them, despite their (peculiar version of a) “state-capitalist” analysis of the USSR, to be a maverick variant of the “orthodox”, Cannon-Pablo, strand of neo-Trotskyism — only with a “pragmatic”, opportunist bent which leaves them without even those virtues which Cannon and the better of the “orthodox” had.
We will systematically compare the “Third Camp” approach to continuing and developing Trotsky’s politics with that “pragmatic” variant by discussing three main themes: transitional programme vs “fake ultra-leftism”, Marxism vs “Apparatus Marxism”, and striving to be “the memory of the class” vs invention of tradition. More: www.workersliberty.org.