Socialist Fight: Where We Stand


Aims of the Socialist Fight Magazine

Revolutionary socialism

1. We stand with Karl Marx: ‘The emancipation of the working classes must be conquered by the working classes themselves. The struggle for the emancipation of the working class means not a struggle for class privileges and monopolies but for equal rights and duties and the abolition of all class rule’ (The International Workingmen’s Association 1864, General Rules). The working class ‘cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all other sphere of society and thereby emancipating all other spheres of society’ (Marx, A Contribution to a Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1843).
2. In the class struggle we shall fight to develop every struggle of the working class and oppressed in the direction of democratic workers’ councils as the instruments of participatory democracy which must be the basis of the successful struggle for workers’ power.

Revolutionary strategy and tactics

3. We recognise the necessity for 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-capitalist leaderships when conditions are favourable. In fighting the attacks of this Tory government it is now necessary to work within the Labour party as well as within other proto-parties such as Left Unity and RESPECT that seek to present socialist and anti-imperialist politics in opposition to the neo-liberalism that is now deeply embedded within the Labour Party. We support all genuine left developments within Labour, such as the Corbyn for leader campaign. We seek to cleanse the Labour Party of neo-liberalism as part of the broader struggle to transcend reformism, but recognise that the Labour party is a reformist party which can never be won to the cause of revolutionary socialism but we recognise it may well be forced to defend the working class in future periods of developing class struggle as it has in the past. Work within the Labour party is a tactical and not a strategic issue in the struggle to cohere a revolutionary nucleus to build the revolutionary party. Whether or not to work within Labour depends on our assessment of the opportunities, whether we still regard it as a bourgeois-workers’ party and if sufficient internal democracy allows us to function within it. Comrades on the EB may have different assessments on this.
4. We strongly support campaigns to democratise the trade unions’ traditional link to the Labour party. We are for funding only those MPs who agree to and have a record of fighting for union policies. We demand an end the farcical Warwick-type Agreements which sees top TU leaders, acting bureaucratically as plenipotentiaries and defenders of capitalism, asking for miserable reform, accepting far less and ending up with practically nothing in practice from Labour Governments. National funding of Labour must also be on the basis of fighting for union policies and must be withheld until the Labour leaders agree to represent the interests of trade union members, the working class and oppressed against the bankers and the capitalist system in general. We support union funding for working class left-wing alternatives to Labour when Labour fails to meet those conditions but never the ‘other political parties’ formulation which would mean funding bourgeois parties like the Scottish Nationalist Party, the Greens, the Liberal-Democrats and even the Tories.
5. We fight for rank-and-file organisations in the trade unions within which we will fight for consciously revolutionary socialist leadership in line with Trotsky’s Transitional Programme statement:
“Therefore, the sections of the Fourth International should always strive not only to renew the top leadership of the trade unions, boldly and resolutely in critical moments advancing new militant leaders in place of routine functionaries and careerists, but also to create in all possible instances independent militant organizations corresponding more closely to the tasks of mass struggle against bourgeois society; and, if necessary, not flinching even in the face of a direct break with the conservative apparatus of the trade unions. If it be criminal to turn one’s back on mass organizations for the sake of fostering sectarian factions, it is no less so passively to tolerate subordination of the revolutionary mass movement to the control of openly reactionary or disguised conservative (”progressive”) bureaucratic cliques. Trade unions are not ends in themselves; they are but means along the road to proletarian revolution.”
6. We totally oppose all economic nationalist campaigns like for ‘British jobs for British workers’ that means capitulation to national chauvinism and so to the political and economic interests of the ruling class itself. We are therefore unreservedly for a Socialist United States of Europe.
7. Representatives of all political parties are welcome to participate in blocs to organise and support specific, concrete struggles for quantifiable demands that are in the interest of the working class. Those whose class interests are counterposed to such struggles will exclude themselves. That is the tactic of the united front. But a line must be drawn against anything that even seems to imply a common programme for government, at national or local level, with non-proletarian forces. Such blocs that go beyond practical united fronts for action, with representatives of non-working class parties such as the Greens, Lib Dems or SNP by definition rule out ever fighting for the socialist revolution, the only ultimate solution to all capitalist crises. We are totally opposed to these popular fronts, that is, political alliances of workers organisations with political representatives of the capitalist class to ‘save the planet’, ‘defeat fascism’, ‘stop the war’, etc. These characteristically have broadly defined aims that imply an open-ended bloc tailored to the politics of those parties, or even a joint government. As Trotsky said “no mixing of the Red and the Blue” (or Green – SF). The fact that David Cameron is a member of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) restricts the working class to the politics and programme of its class enemies.”
8. We fully support of all mass mobilisations against the onslaught of this reactionary Troy Government, in particular we stand for the repeal of all the anti-trade union laws and strongly opposed the new ones promised.
9. We are completely opposed to man-made climate change and the degradation of the biosphere which is caused by the anarchy of capitalist production for profits of transnational corporations. Ecological catastrophe is not ‘as crucial as imperialism’ but caused by imperialism so to combat this threat we must redouble our efforts to forward the world revolution.

Special Oppression and Racism

10. We recognise that class society, and capitalism as the last form of class society, is by its nature patriarchal. In that sense the oppression of women is different from all other forms of oppression and discrimination. Sexism and the oppression of women is inextricable tied to the ownership and the inheritance of private property. To achieve sexual and individual freedom women need to fight in the class struggle in general to overthrow class society itself. We cannot leave the struggle against women’s oppression until the revolution but must recognise it as one of the most fundamental aspects of the revolutionary struggle itself or we will never make that revolution. We therefore reject the reactionary “intersectional” theory as hostile to Marxism, to the class struggle and to revolutionary socialism.
11. We also support the fight of all other specially oppressed including lesbians and gay men, bisexuals and transgender people and the disabled against discrimination in all its forms and their right to organise separately in that fight in society as a whole. In particular we defend their right to caucus inside trade unions and in working class political parties. While supporting the latter right, we do not always advocate its exercise as in some forms it can reinforce illusions in identity politics and obscure the need for class unity.
12. We support the rights of sex workers and oppose all laws which criminalise them or tend to endanger their lives and health. Whilst recognising sex work as a commercial activity driven by deprivation is a product of the oppression of women and the deformation of sexuality under capitalism and knowing that this will disappear with the ending of the patriarchal-dominated private property structure of class society we raise the demands to protect their rights now such as free and regular health checks under the NHS and a safe working environment for all sex workers.
13. We fight racism and fascism. We support the right of people to fight back against racist and fascist attacks by any means necessary. Self-defence is no offence, we support it. Two people might make racist/far right comments but on challenging them one might turn out be a hardened racist/fascist and the other might be mindlessly repeating the Sun editorial. It is necessary to distinguish. It is a legitimate act of self-defence for the working class to ‘No Platform’ fascists but we never call on the capitalist state to ban fascist marches or parties; these laws would inevitably primarily be used against workers’ organisations, as history has shown.
14. We oppose all immigration controls. International finance capital roams the planet in search of profit and imperialist governments disrupts the lives of workers and cause the collapse of whole nations with their direct intervention in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan and their proxy wars in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, etc. Workers have the right to sell their labour internationally wherever they get the best price.

Revolutionary internationalism

15. We defend the Leninist position on the differences between imperialist and semi-colonial countries. As Trotsky observed in 1937; “…the difference between England and India, Japan and China, the United States and Mexico is so big that we strictly differentiate between oppressor and oppressed bourgeois countries and we consider it our duty to support the latter against the former. The bourgeoisie of colonial and semi-colonial countries is a semi-ruling, semi-oppressed class.” Leon Trotsky Not a Workers’ and Not a Bourgeois State? (November 1937).
16. We were and are for the immediate withdrawal and/or defeat of imperialist armies in wars like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. Whilst giving no political support to the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Sunni and Shia militias in Iraq, Hamas or Fatah in Palestine, Gaddafi (as was) in Libya, Assad in Syria, the ‘Islamic State’ in Syria and Iraq, the theocratic regime in Iran or the Donbass leadership in Eastern Ukraine we recognise US-led world imperialism as the main enemy of humanity and so advocate critical support and tactical military assistance from the working class to all those fighting for the defeat of imperialism as part of the perspective of Permanent Revolution.
17. We defend the ‘Islamic State’ in Syria and Iraq against the bombing of US imperialism but do not ally with them against the Kurdish defenders of Kobane and Rojava (Western Kurdistan). We support the Kurdish nation’s right to self-determination and to their own nation state, even though they are scattered over four other nations now. The Islamic State is a reactionary utopia and has no legitimate right to self-determination. We do not object if the Kurds take advantage of airstrikes against ISIS to defend their own territory in a process of nation-building but we reject any strategic alliance with US-friendly forces on the ground, like the Free Syrian Army. The Kurds have every right to accept arms from Assad.
18. We are for the overthrow of the Zionist state of Israel and for a Multi-Ethnic workers’ state of Palestine as part of the Socialist Federation of the Middle East.
19. As socialists living in Britain we take our responsibilities to support the struggle against British imperialism’s occupation of the six north-eastern counties of Ireland very seriously. For this reason we have assisted in founding the Irish Republican Prisoners Support Group and we will campaign for political status these Irish prisoners of war and for a 32-county united Socialist Ireland. We reject all ‘two nations in Ireland’ theories.
20. We recognise that many socialists and working class militants may agree with much of the above statement of principles, but still have differences with parts of it. Therefore, the basis of adherence to our trend is acceptance of the above as the basis for current activity, not necessarily agreement with all of it. We are seeking to create a revolutionary party in which Marxism can be developed through open debate of the many complex developments that exist in the real world. This means members must be free to disagree and debate with each other, forms faction and tendencies, and publish their views by whatever means is available, provided they do not disrupt agreed actions of the collective while they are being carried out. This is the real meaning of ‘democratic centralism’
21. We are for the re-creation of a World Party of Socialist Revolution, a revolutionary international, based on the best traditions of the previous revolutionary internationals, critically understood, particularly the early Third and Fourth Internationals, with their determination to combat and overcome both reformism and centrism. It is by orienting to the ranks of workers in struggle, struggles against imperialism, struggles of oppressed minorities against varied all forms of social oppression, as well as political ferment among intellectual layers radicalised through these struggles, that we will lay the basis for regroupments with forces internationally breaking with reformism, centrism and various forms of radical populism/nationalism, and seeking to build a new revolutionary Marxist international party.

5 thoughts on “Socialist Fight: Where We Stand

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  2. Adrian Hartley says:

    Excellent programme Comrades. I particularly like your stand for a Socialist United States of Europe against Zionist Imperialism and for solidarity with the Palestinian people.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stephen Goodman says:

    Jim Robertson: A Fragmentary Retrospective
    By Stephen Goodman

    In the long run a harmful truth is better than a useful lie.
    Thomas Mann

    Now that Jim Robertson has left the scene, it is only fit and proper for those who knew him, even ever so slightly as I did, to share our memories of him. I will present two conversations I had with him over the years. No one else was present then, so I remain the only witness to and participant in these events. But first I wish to offer a rather startling observation.
    At Dick Fraser’s memorial on 8 January 1989 Jim Robertson said, “I first ran into Dick Fraser about 31 years ago, and he was my last personal teacher. ……… Dick Fraser is supposed to have said, ‘One of the best things I ever did in my life was sit Jim Robertson down at a kitchen table and pound at him for a few nights.’ Well it’s funny, because I’d just said across the country, at the same time, ‘The last guy that ever convinced me of anything in an argument was Dick Fraser.”
    So we learn directly and indisputably from Robertson’s own words that in the course of the 31 years after Dick Fraser’s “pounding” no one could ever get Robertson to change his mind on anything. One reads these words in jaw-dropping disbelief! That means Robertson was always right on everything and that his intellectual opposition was always wrong on everything. Seriously? Did any member of the Spartacist League ever dare to challenge this monstrous megalomania and gross grandiosity?
    In very modest contrast, the Pope is hailed by the faithful as “infallible,” but only when he speaks on Catholic doctrine. Yet Robertson soared far above the Pope. He was, in his own eyes, infallible across the board. Did Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Darwin, Einstein or any other genius ever lay claim to intellectual infallibility either on one subject, or, still less, on all topics in the world? Hubris seems far too humble and puny a word to have embraced Robertson’s titanic superego. This self-proclaimed unfailing infallibility falls in squarely with the following two encounters I had with him.
    Robertson certainly could evince a most revolting sense of “humor.” About 1978 we were talking in the Prometheus Research Library. He said he wanted to play me a song on his stereo. I asked him sarcastically if it was the Horst Wessel Lied, the marching song of the Nazis. “Nah, it‘s not that,” he replied dismissively. I felt ashamed for having said this. But, as it turned out, my suspicion was spot on. It was an unknown German song which I asked him to identify. “It’s a song of the Nazi submariners,” he explained smirking broadly.
    “Why are you playing this?” I asked, light years beyond astonishment.
    “I play this for our maritime fraction and our Jewish comrades.” (I was only an SL sympathizer, but still I qualified for this “special” treatment.)
    “Why?” I persisted.
    “I like to see them get angry,” he replied with a broad and self-satisfied grin. He saw absolutely nothing wrong in this outrageous and utterly contemptible behaviour. On the contrary, he joyfully exulted in it. Can anyone imagine any Bolshevik from Lenin and Trotsky on down engaging in such an egregiously obnoxious act? Why would any self-respecting Marxist even own such a record, let alone play it just to infuriate others, especially potential victims of fascism? But then, no one could convince him of anything in an argument.
    The second event occurred when I met him by chance about 1982 whilst in London. I challenged him on why the SL defended Sara Jane Moore who had attempted to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford. I told him that she was an FBI fink and clearly deranged, a thoroughly repulsive character by anyone’s reckoning. This argument had zero effect on him. He defended her thoroughly unpolitical and maniacal act as a legitimate protest against (in his own words) “the growing imperial presidency.” I found this to be bizarre politics, besides being utterly divorced from reality.
    I then asked him if he defended Arthur Bremer, the man who had shot ultra-racist Alabama governor George Wallace. “No,” he replied, “That guy was just a nut!” As opposed to Sara Jane Moore? What was the difference? Where was the logic?
    Yet I persisted. I told him that a defense of such an unsavoury lunatic and her unhinged act would bring nothing but opprobrium and ridicule to the SL. His amazing answer was that had I lived at the time, I would not have defended Alfred Dreyfus. Presumably he meant that though Dreyfus was an agent of French imperialism yet he still should have been defended, so likewise FBI fink Sara Jane Moore should be defended. This vacuous “logic” was worthless. I countered that I would have defended Dreyfus because he was the victim of a massive wave of anti-Semitism. Here the argument stopped cold as Robertson had nothing more to offer. He just couldn’t be wrong about anything or be convinced by anyone in an argument. Magister dixit, the master has spoken!
    Robertson was the most well-read man I’d ever encountered. Bakunin once said of Marx, “He read widely and intelligently.” That was Robertson all over. One couldn’t reference an historical personage or event, however arcane, obscure or esoteric, that he hadn’t read about and knew thoroughly. Innumerable times I’d heard his brilliant public discourses. They were dazzling arabesques all. His mental landscape was breathtakingly broad and prolifically populated. Robertson was intellectually unique.
    Robertson broke in turn from Stalinism, Shachtman, the SWP and Healy. He worked sedulously and patiently to restore and build Trotskyism in America and abroad. As far as I can judge, he never capitulated to reformism or anti-communism, two nearly impossible feats for the American left. For all of this he deserves to be remembered with honor.
    But alcoholism warped his mind. That’s the inevitable mental end-product of that psycho-physical disease. Furthermore, his ego was both inflated and deformed by his near-apotheosis as the object of an uncritical, adoring, obsequious and worshipful personality cult. When the people around you chorus for decades on end that you are always right, you start believing in your own infallibility. Louis XIV’s regal conceit “I am the state” found a modern incarnation in Robertson’s egotistical boast “I am never wrong.”
    There was a dialectical relationship between his rampant alcoholism and titanic egotism, on the one side and the cloying cultism of his membership on the other. They exacerbated each other and were the twin black holes that dragged Robertson down inexorably to his cringeworthy degeneration. They inexorably led the Spartacist League into the twilight of inconsequentiality. That was a great loss for the Spartacist League and Trotskyism. It is a sad object lesson and dire warning for the future. Alcoholism and personality cultism can be tolerated only at a Marxist organization’s greatest peril.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Di Parkin says:

      Interested to read this, having been/or under control of the SL in the early 1980s in UK. The other factor you dont mention, but any woman would, is his gross sexism. I dont mean he didnt promote or encourage the many fine female marxists, but that he was sexually exploitative. I mean that the norm was polyandry. Everyone (especially him) was supposed to have sex with anyone else. So he had what was clearly a harem. I was stunned the first time I met him in the “IS flat” in Edgeware road, which was kept for visiting international dignatories; he was surrounded by 3/4 very glamorous, beautiful women, wearing good make up and jewelry. They had nothing much to say , their role was in bed. They also held orgies. I dont mean that he was like Healy, who was sexually predatory and disgusting, he was also charming and attractive.
      The SL also encouraged “horizontal recruitment” targetting people they wanted to snaffle from other groups and encouraging members to seduce them.

      Liked by 1 person

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