... Meanwhile in the UK

Workers face draconian cuts to pensions, welfare benefits, hospitals and public services in general. In short, a head-on assault on present and future living standards. In the wake of the TUC’s ‘March for the Alternative’ opposition to the cuts has been dispersed to localities and fragmented sector by sector. So far, at any rate, there is no sign of a general groundswell of workers prepared to act and fight outside the unions’ suffocating frame. So we have the familiar picture of strike ballots in the offing (teachers, civil servants) … leading to the possibility of ‘strike action’ … by one group of workers and then another … maybe for a day … if it’s not postponed by the union leadership…

This phoney war cannot go on indefinitely. The economic crisis is certainly here to stay and at this stage - when the capitalists are up to their ears in debt and when they have little room for manoeuvre - it is difficult for anyone to pretend that workers are sharing in the ‘growth’ on which the capitalist vampire depends.

In January Mervyn King, (Governor of the Bank of England) predicted that VAT increases and general inflation would mean, “in 2011 real wages are likely to be no higher than they were in 2005. One has to go back to the 1920s to find a time when real wages fell over a period of six years.”

He is wrong. Real wages have been falling since 1973. Inflation is rising and real wages are falling but the powers-that-be are in denial. One of the reasons for this is that they are scared of putting up interest rates and instantly attacking the privatised ‘property-owning’ British worker where it hurts directly: the mortgage payment. Sooner or later though the tactic of direct attacks on the weak and vulnerable whilst the majority face the slow erosion of health and welfare provision, accompanied by gradual belt-tightening for now and the promise of an old age in penury… will become something much more unbearable, an intolerable misery which has to be resisted…

In the meantime the political parties of Westminster provide plenty of diversions. At the moment the ‘debate’ over alternative voting is supposed to attract ‘voters’ disillusioned with the present political set-up to take an interest in what’s going on. The Con-Lib coalition is showing the first signs of cracking. Not over the draconian cuts in public spending which all parties were unanimous in implementing (Labour disagree only on timing), but over how best to involve the working class in choosing a party to rule over them from one parliament to the next.

As the global capitalist crisis develops the onus is on those workers who see there is no future within capitalism to combine. Without a clear revolutionary programme the struggles which workers will have to mount in future will be beaten down and fizzle out. Otherwise, as in North Africa and the Middle East today, they will be diverted into racism, nationalism, religious fundamentalism or some other ideology suited to exploitation and further wars. We have to strengthen the voice of those of us who can see a revolutionary alternative to capitalism. This can only be communism: By this we do not mean the sort of state capitalist regimes which existed in Eastern Europe etc.

We hold to Marx’s original vision of a community of freely associated producers without states, national frontiers, exploitation and money, run by workers themselves. If you share this view we’d like to hear from you.



A good piece which highlights the hold that reformist ideas have over workers. To expect left union leaders to lead meaningful strike action is whistling in the wind it wont happen. At best all they will do is have one day strikes which will be contained within sections. At worse they will call of strikes in the hope of a Labour government. I agree that a communist party is needed which has a revolutionary programme.

In yet another good article, you write: 'we have to strengthen the voice of those of us who can see a revolutionary alternative to capitalism.' I totally agree. But how can we do it? In the face of all the media led news that flogs relentlessly the bourgeois view of everything, and the persistent dumbing down which provides the setting for this, apart from taking over the news-media (which will need to be an early act of a conquering proletariat) what can anyone do? Perhaps revolutionary militants will show us the way, by finding what they have in common, rather than shitting endlessly over each other about the use of words like 'decomposition', and who has succeeded best at firing the latest insult. But we love you all anyway.

We hope so too. We are not incompettion with anyone in thefight against capital. Have you actually thought about joining a group or do you think you would lose your freedom to criticise?

Dear Cleishbotham, thank you for your response.I'm glad you are not competitive about the only thing that matters. I thought about joining a group in 1978, but I was very politically immature then and concluded that they wouldn't want me and that I wouldn't be able to stand the heat. But it's I curious that you make the point about the 'freedom to criticize': it's always struck me that someone, or some group,has to be able to do that from a point slightly removed from the totally committed view of those who've joined. This is probably a continuation of my immaturity at an advanced age. Or is it a sort of fear that highly centralized groups - whether currents or tendencies - could get it wrong again, and go on relentlessly steaming ahead in the wrong direction, convinced they'd got it right and with the best of intentions. This could be a left-over from what happened to the Bosheviks. Or it could just be my suspicions about conclusions reached together by people who are a bit special (like revolutionaries), and who maybe are a bit and unknowingly, elitist, and who maybe want to agree with each other in a phony solidarity. About ideas for action coming out of a mass meeting of striking workers, which can include revolutionaries, I'm happy. The workers can be trusted, as Luxemburg has shown. So, finally, I agree with your suggestion that in joining a group, in some people, their ability to criticize may well be threatened.

Agree with Kinglear about the necessity of not only members of a revolutionary organisation but also the wider working class having the freedom to criticise the decisions of the leadership of the organisation. Without this freedom the organisation will atrophy into a meaningless sect without any hope of being able to influence the wider class. What made the Bolsheviks so strong was this ability of the members to criticise and influence the leadership. What went disastrously wrong was the decision in the early 1920's to ban factions. This was one of the early signs not only of the degeneration of the revolution but also the degeneration of the bolsheviks.

Unfortunately many 'revolutionary' organisations have taken the banning of factions aand turned it into a necessity. What has to occur is the recognition that in any mass struggle there will be a wide variety of organisations and that each of them has a right to exist. What the revolutionary organisation needs to be able to do is to winthe political leadership of the class.


Wholeheartedly agree. It was March 1921 when the Bolsheviks formally banned factions - this did not stop factions coming into being (that is the nature of the process of arriving at class consciousness) but the formal ban could be used as an a priori criticism of any dissent from the proposed line (and Stalin used this to the full in 1924-8). We have to learn fromthe past espericen ofthe class both postive adn negative (and the Bolsheviks were both). We have formal provision for faction rights in our statutes. I don't see how we can have a healthy organisation in any other way.

However (adn here I reply also to Kinglear) if an organisation is to function as part of the class it is inevitable that we all have to occasionally go along with things we might not fully agree with in order to arrive at a coherent action. Obviously this can only happen from time to time or esle you would find yourself at odds with everyone else and thus end up leaving the organisation. Curently though when the class as a whole is not struggling at the level demanded by the crisis it would be a rare issue which would create profound differences over immediate activity.


One of the problems of relying on internal constitutions is that they can become articles of faith to be brought out at symbolic events while the real power remains unaccountable. I'm thinking of Rosa Luxemburgs struggles against the SPD revisionists of the early part of 20th century. While she won many of the arguments the trade union leaders simply ignored her and carried on in the same way. Only by having both a culture of criticism within the organisation and a commitment to develop a marxist cadre which can intervene however small within the class struggle will internal democracy be protected.

You mention the present low level of class struggle in relation to the severity of the attacks as being the reason why it's uunlikely that CWO would see any splits in the organisation. However I think this is a bit optimistic as the CWO would face problems even with a low level of struggle. For instance what is the CWO's position of working with COR in the fight against austerity. Considering that COR only offers left reformist solutions to the present crisis can revolutionaries participate with them in struggles. Or is it more productive to intervene at the workplace and try to set up independent organisations to fight the cuts.

I don't know a lot about the CWO and would be interested in finding out more about how the CWO intervenes in struggles.


I don't know what COR is (or if I do i don't get the acronym).

Hi Cleishbotham

Sorry bout that COR is the Coalition of Resistance. I was wondering what is CWO position in regard to working with such organisations and how such decisions are made in the organisation.

Dave Now I know why the acronym escaped me! We are in total and direct opposition to the COR's first line of their basic document "The Coalition of Resistance’s aim is to force the ConDem government to abandon its cuts programme." We campaigned in the March 26 demo specifically against that line (touted by everyone else except the communist left and the anarchists) - though I personally did not see any other paper but ours carrying the slogan that "to fight the cuts you have to fight capitalism" (but then I did not meet all our comrades on that day given the size of the demo!). We need to be able to reach the same people that the COR are trying to reach (and some of us have been trying to get to local union meetings to see how far this extends) but a the moment this is a union cum capitalist left body with little support in the wider working class.

Hi Cleishbotham

I'd agree with you there regarding COR. One problem is that groups such as COR come into existence and say that they speak for the working class without being able to attract workers in any significant numbers to their meetings and demonstrations. I've been unable to get to any meetings due to poor health but from what I've managed to hear from friends COR isn't all that big in the North East, where I'm living.

Seems to me that all that can be done at the moment is to try to attract workers especially young workers to the perspective of independent working class action be it reflection or be it taking part in strike action. The June 30th strikes will be contained by union beaucracies and will if followed lead to paralysis of workers struggles. what worries me is that the cuts will slowly erode workers confidence, which is at a historically low level, to resist the cuts.


Sorry not to reply earlier but that is because I largely agree with what you are saying. The way in which the cuts are being brought in is a bit like salami tactics (some cuts will only hit us in 2012). The bosses papers are full of arrogant articles bsically pointing out how unmilitant the class is but this is partly because the new generation has no idea what the battles of the past were like. We have to make revisiting the best of these as part of our work. What might be more dangerous from the point of view o the demoaralisation of young workers is that the unions and capitalist left are demobilising resistance before it has even begun.

Our comrades in Italy just issued a leaflet with the title "When are we really going to fight. It was given out to striking workers all ove Itlay in a general strike (wait for it) of 4 hours (which had been announced two months earlier by the unions). We are at a "phoney war" stage were the forces of capital are invading working class existence bit by bit whilst we are still hoping that by keeping our heads down the worst will not ahppen or we'll cling to our jobs (under any conditions at any pay rate). It will take some time yet before experience demonstrates that you cannot appease capitalism. And then we'll see ....

I agree that one of the tasks in Britain and probably elsewhere is to approach younger working class militants and even older ones who see the necessity of taking militant action but are not yet in a position to be able to do so. With March 26th out of the way and now 30th June is going to be the next big event for both the trade unions and the leftists to show the employers that they are able to deliver action. Of course this ability to deliver will only be used to demobilise the strikes and stop them developing into more militant forms of class struggle. As you say all we can do is to wait for events to develop for this is the best recriting agent we have. In the meantime where possible revolutionaries have to win these younger workers to Marxism. Not the anodyne Marxism of the leftists but the revolutionary Marxism of pre stalinism. Without this there is a danger that the bourgeoise may actually win and end up pushing workers further into uncertainty and poverty.

All this talk of waiting, appeasement, phony wars, uncertainty, demobilizing the struggle, the bosses tittering at our lack of militancy and dumb acceptance of increasing poverty, has got me so pissed off I don't know what to do with myself. Thank god for the aggravated militancy of our Italian comrades with their provocative: WHEN ARE WE REALLY GOING TO FIGHT?

Come back to this a little later. I was wondering if its possible to buy individual copies of revolutionary perspectives? reason is that I'm on benefit and can't really afford a subscription.

Dave Of course we can get some individual RPs to you. I'll contact you via pm. To cheer Kinglear up I attach the text of a leaflet written by one of our comrades who is participating in a struggle against job cuts at Barnsley College. We need to be realistic about where the class stands (Dave's genuine concern I think) but we also don't let that realism paralyse our activity.

Massive compulsory redundancies -This barbaric attack must be resisted – Our response must be real! Barnsley College Management has decided to throw a third of staff onto the dole queues, and shut down whole areas. We knew the attacks were coming, the Union has already voted to strike over any compulsory redundancy, only the scale of the attack is a shock, a full frontal slap in the face. This attack must not be allowed to succeed. The stakes could not be higher. On our knees and accept, on our feet and resist. There is no room for a ritual, no games of 1 or 2 day strikes. The management has drawn a liner in the sand, and we must cross it, there can only be one outcome –no redundancies, no erosion of conditions. We must do whatever is necessary to ensure that our colleagues, fellow workers are not abandoned. Unemployment, cuts, poverty - that is not a future we can accept. Strike indefinitely until the threat is retracted! Escalate the struggle!

Good leaflet aimed just right considering the level of confidence in the class. The now ritual calling for 1 or 2 day strikes must be challenged. The argument must highlight that the 1-2 day strikes arose during the 1980's a period when the class experienced significant defeats. Before that strikes were indefinate strikes while some of them aimed at getting other workers out on strike. Class solidarity must be renewed if we are going to have a chance of defeating the present scale of cuts.

On our feet and resist, no union rituals or games, attacks must be resisted. Excellent stuff. But to strike indefinitely is difficult: better to escalate the struggle quickly to other workers, and establish an expanding solidarity. So, we are really stating to fight at last. Thank you Cleishbottom for some good news. You've eased my paralysis a bit.

Sorry to post this twice. This is what happens if paralysis eases suddenly.

Thats the amazing thing Kinglear when the class begins to move then all our past inertia falls away, or at least thats how I experience things. Not only in the UK where we had the magnificent turn out on 26 march, unfortunately union leaders will do nothing concrete which will develop this mood they are as afraid of working class action as is the bourgesie, but also the actions in the Arab countries but also now in Spain. All of this shows the potential for the influence of Marxist ideas and practice to develop within the working class if only we are patient. I agree that an all out general strike at the moment is not on the cards however this should not stop us arguing for it in both union meetings but also in the workplaces. After all a general strike cant be ordered into existence.

Aurora (en)

Aurora is the broadsheet of the ICT for the interventions amongst the working class. It is published and distributed in several countries and languages. So far it has been distributed in UK, France, Italy, Canada, USA, Colombia.