Anti-Imperialist Struggle is STILL Key to human Liberation by Gerry Downing

Bogus “Trotskyists” Mike Pearn, Jim Monaghan and Liam Mac Uaid are crass pro-Imperialist propagandists. Their bitterest complaint is not that Imperialism is funding and arming the Syrian “rebels” but that they are not funding them enough and not giving them the weapons you think they deserve. You and your co-thinkers would be located somewhere to the right of the Tea Party in US politics.

Poor old Obama and Cameron are somewhat hamstrung by popular opposition to Imperialist adventures; Cameron lost his vote in the House of Commons and Obama was facing defeat in the House of Representatives.

Now if we had the regimes in Britain and the USA you objectively favour, i.e. far right or fascist dictatorships, then there would be no problem with bombing Syria, arming rebels to the teeth and going to war on Ukraine and on to WWIII to secure more favourable areas for the investments for their transnational and win domination over defeated workers like in the Eastern Ukraine and Russia to exploit to the hilt.

This is what really drives your support for Obama and Cameron, which you cannot admit even to yourselves, lost in your petty bourgeois humanitarian haze of “peace, love democracy, decency” etc and whatever else that does not relate to real anti-Imperialist class politics.

Sorry to disappoint you but you have some way to go before you can put your Imperialist war mongering agenda, which you so ridiculously dub “revolutions” in political lockstep with Imperialism, into practice.

Of course when real revolutions breaks out you are on the wrong side of the barricades; in Bosnia you try to re-run your previous pro-Imperialist apology which made Milosevic the main enemy (the local nationalists are the main enemy yet again, will you never learn?) and in the Ukraine you are on the side of US/EU/NATO Imperialism and their puppets, the fascist-dominated coupists of the Maidan (a “contradictory” movement, forsooth, some red flags etc!).

It should be obvious to even the most naive political person that a movement is defined by who dominates it politically and programmatically not by the idiots who wanted to tag along and got beaten up for their pro-Imperialist stupidity.

And, of course, we would be well advised to watch our backs politically in the process because all these forces are willing to compromise with Imperialism when they obtain more favourable terms.
It should go without saying that opposition to global-USA-led world Imperialism does not imply uncritical or political support for all its opponents but it does imply a tactical United Front, workers in the Imperialist countries and anti-Imperialist in the semi-colonial world to face the main enemy.

Only in this way will we gat the ear of the masses, who instinctively identify the main enemy (remember the  Iranian Revolution 1979 and the “Great Satan” war cry with which the Iranian masses identified the USA, albeit in religious terms?) and win the base of left TU bureaucrats in Imperialist countries that of local bourgeois nationalist like Gaddafi, Assad or Putin or anti Imperialist Islamic forces like Hezbollah in the semi-colonial world.

Only on this basis of clear anti-Imperialism can the global working class unite all its forces under revolutionary Trotskyism and a reforged Fourth International.
Leon Trotsky, Anti-Imperialist Struggle is Key to Liberation, An Interview with Mateo Fossa, (September 1938).



Open letter to the SWP and ex-SWP members who supported Jerry Hicks

Grass Roots Left Conference

The Grass Roots Left is holding a conference in Birmingham: ‘Where we are & what’s next?
Saturday 12th April 2014: 12 noon to 4pm.

  • Victories compromises & defeats. From Hovis to Grangemouth, from NHS to Royal Mail privatisation.
  • Proposed merger between Unite and the PCS. Its reason & its effect.
  • Unite & the Labour party.
  • Unite NEC elections & candidates with GRL support.
  • A longer working life, a longer working week. Is the 35 hour week being defended or being surrendered. & what’s happened to the ‘fighting’ fund?

This meeting is open to members of UNITE the union, their families, friends & trade unionists who are supporters of the Grass Roots left initiative.
The Comfort Inn: Station Street B5 4DY opposite Birmingham New St Station:



Open letter to the SWP and ex-SWP members who supported Jerry Hicks

Dear Comrades,

The decision of the SWP to support Jerry Hicks when he stood for General Secretary in Amicus in 2009 (40,000 against Derek Simpson’s 60,000) and again when he stood against Len McCluskey a year ago (April 2013) and got almost 80,000 (36%) was inspiring and revolutionary.

Jerry stood on a clear rank and file (R+F) ticket on both occasions and achieved those magnificent results against the entire union machine who mobilised all their officers and employees to campaign for their chosen candidate (against union rules, of course). After the last election one officer privately expressed his frustration at the regime saying that if he had not campaigned for McCluskey he would have become “the officer for dog shit”.

I am aware that on both occasions there were strong opposition within the SWP to adopting this clear rank and file approach and there is still opposition to this course within the ex-SWP groups, the International Socialist Network (ISN) and the Revolutionary Socialists of the 21st Century (RS21C). The purpose of this letter is to strengthen the left oppositions who favour the rank and file approach so as to effect a fusion between the Grass Roots Left and the Grass Roots Left Rank and File (the new name for the Unite Fightback, the SWP dominated movement set up a year ago following their expulsion from the United Left, the bureaucrat’s front, for supporting Hicks).

I am also aware of the reasons some comrades give for opposing setting up an effective R+F opposition in Unite and across the entire union movement – “the working class is not ready for such a radical step”, “Len McCluskey is a left-winger and we would objectively assist the right by opposing him”, “Len has hinted that he might call for a new party to represent the unions if Labour does not agree to defend the unions”, etc.

I am also aware that the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) are likely to merge with Unite and that the Socialist Party has already begun preliminary discussions with United Left to secure top positions for the coterie of SP members that control the Executive of the PCS. Their National Shop Stewards Network is simply a front for left trade union bureaucrats who sound off about fighting and sell out most struggles when push comes to shove.

The two recent examples are Billy Hayes of the Communication Workers Union, who allowed the Royal Mail to be privatised without a struggle (apart from windy speeches) and Len McCluskey himself, who capitulated over Grangemouth in a humiliating manner that demoralised whole sections of the labour and trade union movement. Comrades it is long past time that we launched a forthright challenge to these fraudsters by building a real Grass Roots Rank and File.

SWP leader Alex Callinicos has made a forthright condemnation of McCluskey’s capitulation on Grangemouth:

Had the Grangemouth workers decided to fight, there is no certainty they would have won. But there is equally no certainty that they would have lost. They are well organised and had seen off an attack on their pensions in 2008. They had also supported the struggles of other workers in the complex (electricians and tanker drivers) so they would have been in a strong position to call for solidarity had they chosen to defy Ratcliffe and occupy.

His exposure of then ISN leader Richard Seymour’s apology for McCluskey is very good. However I question the wisdom of Unite the Resistance giving a platform to Billy Hayes last December when he was in the process of selling out the Royal Mail fight against privatisation.

Similarly the United Left defended McCluskey. Shamefully this offensive against R+F struggle was led by none other than Alan Thornett of Socialist Resistance, former Workers Revolutionary Party and Workers Socialist League militant in the Cowley car factory in Oxford, author of three volumes that set out that struggle, From Militancy to Marxism, Inside Cowley and Militant Years and who did so much himself in the late 60s and 70s to fight the very bureaucracy he is now defending. This from Weekly Worker No 1004:

The right also won out on the question of our approach to the unions. An amendment from Lambeth urged that LU “orients to the rank and file of the trade unions above privileging any relationship with leftwing officials, because we recognise that union leaders, lefts as well as right-wingers, are prone to compromise and call off action at the decisive moment”. While the phrasing of this could be criticised, the general sentiment is correct. However, Alan Thornett from Socialist Resistance urged opposition: “To have that position on Bob Crow would be disastrous”; while another comrade claimed the motion was the equivalent of saying to trade unionists, “Your leaders are a bunch of scabs.” The clear implication of both contributions was that we should look to “privileging any relationship with leftwing officials”. The amendment was defeated.

Comrades I believe that a Rank and File movement needs to have a proper constitution to regulate the organisation and clearly demarcate its boundaries. I propose that if the GRL and GR R+F merger goes ahead then the Constitution of the Grass Roots Left, (attached) is such a document or that it can be amended to suit the new Organisation when it is founded.


Comradely Gerry Downing


Chair Crass Roots Left 8/4/14

The sigh of the oppressed by Gerry Downing

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.
February 01 2007
Weekly Worker 658
The sigh of the oppressed
Gerry Downing looks at the origins of monotheism and assesses the attitude of communists towards believers




Laurence Himphries
The Founding Conference of Socialist Fight will be an important milestone in the development of the Organisation. It will give us an opportunity to break out of the propaganda circles that we are in presently. We are an orthodox Trotskyist organisation within a spectrum of Trotskyist organisations some holding centrist positions others sectarian or ultra-left positions. Some of the organisations claim adherence to the FOURTH INTERNATIONAL, others to the FIFTH INTERNATIONAL.

I will reiterate paragraph 26 of where we stand “We are for the political regeneration and reconstruction of the Fourth International as the World party of socialist Revolution and will fight for for the fusions and splits necessary for this in our International Work”. [1]. In my contribution I want to discuss Paragraph 7 which states “We recognise the necessity for revolutionaries to carry out serious ideological and political struggle as direct participants in the Trade Unions (always) and in the mass reformist social democratic bourgeois workers parties despite their pro capitalists leaderships when conditions are favourable”.[2].

 At the present time myself and GD are active in the Labour Party in entry work and that is an important. We are carrying out the policy that Trotsky advocated (sui Generis) and that was so successfully carried out by The British Section of the Fourth International ‘The Group’ from 1947 -1959. That entry work was very successful and led to the capture of the leadership of the Labour Party Young Socialists and prepared the Trotskyists for training and building a cadre in their own organisation when it was necessary to form an independent Organisation the Socialist Labour League. Our aim must be to win and recruit leftward moving forces in the Labour party to SFG. Unlike the Labour Party Marxists a centrist trend it is not our aim to turn the Labour Party into a Revolutionary organisation, that is an idealist pipe dream. In the past we have worked within the Labour Representation Committee, after last year’s AGM I feel that the LRC is moving rapidly rightwards and is more like a reformist organisation. I have proposed a rule change on the LRC and have reported on the role of some Fake Trotskyists inside the LRC, Alliance for Workers Liberty. I have commented on their role in my assessment of the LRC in SF 16. [3]. The Labour Party Marxists are also represented in the LRC and that maybe a milieu we may have to consider, whatever our work in the Labour Party  we may have to consider working within some centrist or leftward moving force.

The decision of the recent emergency Labour Party Conference to sever the Link between the Labour Party and the trade unions also shows the role of the Trade Union bureaucracy who have schemed and betrayed the working class by agreeing to sever the link. In Unite where McCluskey has crawled to the right wing and promised Miliband that Unite will deliver the Unions to the Labour Party right wing on a plate. Of the 6 Unite representatives attending the conference 5 voted for the proposals and I abstained Martin Mayer from United Left McCluskey’s electoral grouping in Unite. [4].

I think we should orientate ourselves to those leftward moving forces and our best possibility is in Brent where there is a nucleus of a left wing formation around Graham Durham and GD in the Brent LRC.

We should also pay attention to those centrist forces outside the Labour Party amongst the two biggest political organisations laying claim to be Trotskyist, the SPEW and the SWP who are both involved in the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition an electoral grouping of centrists like the SPEW and the SWP and so called left bureaucrats like Bob Crowe of the RMT.

The developing split inside the SPEW is the most interesting. BW and SD have raised objections to the SPEW’s position on the falling rate of profit. This has resulted in a group of members being bureaucratically suspended. Because of GD’s patient work SD is now coming to our Founding Conference. If you read the latest Socialist Party Members bulletin you will see that these comrades are moving to very similar positions to us particularly on Rank and file work around Grass Roots Left and the role of the Trade Union Bureaucracy, which I will talk about later.  In this bulletin the comrades from the opposition have exposed the rightward drift of the SPEW leadership who are moving closer and closer to the Trade Union bureaucracy. The SPEW Leadership heap a number of slanders against us and against Comrade GD in particular. They have written an open letter to Unite prior to the Labour Party conference preparing the way when PCS merges with Unite. Many of the PCS bureaucrats are members of the SPEW and it shows that they want a cordial relationship with the Unite Bureaucracy and a cosy relationship protecting their members when the merger takes place. These developments in the SPEW show that these centrists are moving very rapidly into the arms of reformism. You only have to read their abject defence of critically supporting McCluskey in the Unite General Secretary election to show where their politics lies. They are absolutely reformists in their distinction between an Aristocratic workforce and the emergence of a bureaucracy .SD’s criticism of the SPEW leadership coincides very much with our own position in Grass Roots Left where we supported Hicks the rank and file candidate and  supported him in the General secretary Election campaign.

Other centrists like Socialist Resistance International Socialist network a right wing split inside the SWP, the Anti-capitalist alliance and Workers Power are all involved in opportunist activities in either the People’s Assembly or Left Unity. I am with Lenin when he referred to ‘the Swamp’ in what is to be done in Volume 5 of his collected works. [5]. I propose that we keep as far away from these erstwhile comrades as we can.

In our trade Union work great possibilities open up for us in our work in Grass Roots Left a rank and file organisation inside Unite, although numerically very small we are beginning to forge important alliances. We must pay special attention to developments inside centrist forces moving leftwards and one particular group active in Grass Roots left is Revolutionary Socialist grouping of the 21st century a recent left wing split from the SWP, plus some elements of the SWP who are working with us in Grass Roots Left. We are working with centrists like SR, WP and others who are supporting us in our rank and file work. We are carrying out Trotsky’s advice to the letter in the Transitional Programme.  “The crisis of humanity can be reduced to the crisis of proletarian Leadership” [6].

Our perspective in Grass Roots Left must be to recruit every nominated Branch that supported Hicks in the General Secretary’s Election campaign to GRASS ROOTS LEFT.

As an organisation we need to adopt a more professional attitude based on a flexible democratic centralist approach. We must end the practice of openly meeting in pubs without first booking a room. We must start some Education classes on Imperialism and on Dialectical and Historical Imperialism the cornerstone of the Marxist method. The organisation has much to be proud of, a good blog and hopefully in the coming months be able to have an interactive website where e mails and the various Trotskyist currents can be combined. The magazine is of a very high theoretical level but we need to organise regular sales of the magazine. The Editorial Board must function as an Editorial board and not leave the layout and the organisation of the magazine to one or two comrades. The turn to the youth is of paramount importance and the launch of Bolshie youth will be an important development, but above all we must turn theory into practice and recruit workers and youth into SFG and break out of this propaganda circle and truly begin to influence the class. In Britain we are dominated by many centrist groups who have a petit bourgeoisie, middle class approach to politics. We must break that stranglehold, develop our strength and recruit forces that are moving away from these centrists. We have a close relationship with the RCIT and we welcome them to this conference although we still have differences with them on the nature of Imperialism, Libya, Syria and the Ukraine. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these differences with them in order to unite and broaden the Trotskyist movement internationally and we hope that these discussions can continue to be conducted in a comradely fashion. We also welcome our comrades from South Africa and hope that we may have closer links with them and that they become part of our International movement the LCFI.


  1. Where we Stand SFG
  2. Where we Stand SFG
  3. Socialist Fight No 16
  5. Lenin.VI  ‘What is to be done’ Vol5 LCW
  6. Trotsky.L  the transitional Programme and the tasks of the Fourth InternationalSF Banner (Liaison Committee)2