New socialist organization in Britain

Anti*Capitalist Resistance

Posted March 18, 2021

After the defeat of Corbynism and a Tory Brexit, the Left must reorganise. We have an English nationalist government, pandemic chaos, and climate catastrophe.

We must build mass movements to resist the ecological disaster, economic collapse, grotesque inequality, mass impoverishment, growing militarisation, and creeping authoritarianism.

We cannot remain divided. We have to unite around principles of internationalism, ecosocialism, anti-racism, feminism, democracy, solidarity with the oppressed, and struggle from below.

Anti*Capitalist Resistance is a framework for working towards a united, democratic, revolutionary Marxist organisation. Regardless of the groups, campaigns, and struggles you are involved in, if you agree, join us and become part of creating the Anti*Capitalist Resistance.

So reads the the “join us” appeal of Anti*Capitalist Resistance (ACR), founded in January 2021. The Founding Conference Report explains ACR’s origins, program and analysis. The report is well worth reading, but it may seem too detailed to readers unfamiliar with the British political scene.

Below is an article by Socialist Resistance, the British section of the Fourth International and the largest component of ACR, succinctly explaining its reasons for participating in the convergence.

The formation of ACR in 2021 is like the formation of Solidarity in 1986, in that it is a coming together of revolutionary socialist kin in a politically difficult situation. Conditions in Britain today differ from those in the U.S. 35 years ago, but the reasons for the convergence should still resonate with revolutionary socialists here.

SR and Anti-Capitalist Resistance

Socialist Resistance

Socialist Resistance is enthusiastically participating in a process of convergence with Mutiny and individual comrades from a variety of other political backgrounds in England & Wales. The outcome of this process will be a new revolutionary Marxist organization, Anti-Capitalist Resistance.

It may seem quixotic to do this at a time when the Marxist left in Britain is weaker than it ever has been, but we believe that the need for Marxist, ecosocialist, feminist answers to capitalism’s crises is now virtually an existential one for much of humanity.

We are modest enough not to claim that a small propaganda group holds all the ideas to the challenges facing our class in Britain and internationally. And we certainly do not believe that parsing Trotsky’s writings, important and valuable as they are, is the way to find the solutions to the issues of this decade. We have to think for ourselves.

The starting point for this convergence was an identical view of Brexit. While believing that the European Union is a supra-national authority charged with ensuring that the member states comply with the neo-liberal agenda, all of us involved in this convergence agreed that the Brexit was an utterly reactionary project led by the hard right of British politics who based themselves on the demoralisation of sections of the white working class who were won over by appeals to reactionary British nationalism. No progressive Brexit was possible in those circumstances.

We agreed that Brexit was the British expression of the international advance of the far right which put Trump, Orban, Modi and Bolsanaro in power. We also agreed on the severity of the ecological crisis. Most of us were active in Labour in the Corbyn years and while some have left, we all agree that the party is central to working class politics in Britain.

Democracy is crucial

All of us are frustrated with the fragmentation, dogmatism, and sectarianism of much of the organised left. Their endless supply of bureaucratically manufactured front organisations is the direct opposite of independent working-class activity. The absence of real democracy prevents the emergence of new generations of independent class struggle leaders and offers no alternative to the bureaucracy of the labour movement.

Their insistence on a Stalinist version of democratic centralism in which every member must agree with the organisation’s line in public can only prevent them from developing as independently minded critical Marxists. Marxist organisations without a culture of comradely debate and a high tolerance for dissent are bureaucratic sects.

Socialist Resistance has always maintained its support for the autonomous self-organisation of the oppressed as a response to sexism and misogyny, racism, disablism, homophobia and transphobia. We recognise that these oppressions (which often intersect) have impacted not only historically but currently such that, the personal and social experiences of oppression will differ from each other and that organising against oppression requires autonomous self-organisation. It is our duty as Marxists to not only recognise oppression but to stand together in solidarity with the oppressed.

Socialist Resistance argued for the first decade and a half of this century that there was a space for a broad left organisation of about 20,000 members in England and Wales. Maybe there was, but then came Corbynism and we saw that there was an appetite for a left organisation of half a million. The defeat of the Corbyn leadership was a defeat for the whole left and all the currents involved in this convergence have analysed it.

A conclusion we share is that Marxists, and people who are attracted to Marxism – especially young people – who share these core ideas have nothing to gain by being in separate organisations. What distinguishes Socialist Resistance’s approach is that we see no value in a new organisation being simply an amalgamation of existing groups all retaining their own political lines and channels of communication and decision making. All that will lead to is every discussion and every proposal being a test of organisational strength and ability to organise factionally. As those of us who have sat through umpteen meetings called by front organisations know, there is no point being in a discussion if you know how everyone is going to vote before anyone has spoken.

Our preferred model is an organisation comprised of individual members who agree with a core set of ideas. When the time comes to elect a leadership, it should be done on the basis of representing each stand of opinion in proportion to its support among the members for its political ideas.

An issue which will need to be resolved through comradely discussion is the ongoing relationship members of Socialist Resistance would continue to have with the Fourth International.

While in the longer term we would hope that the whole of the new ACR would become the organisation in England and Wales with such a relationship, we think this is a process that needs a lot of discussion and exploration. But in the interim we are not going to change our current relationship.

Politics in Scotland are completely different. Polling evidence suggests a rapid increase in support for independence and our comrades there are involved in other initiatives and we will publish details of these shortly.

Socialist Resistance members are looking forward to Anti-Capitalist Resistance being a new home for critical revolutionary Marxism. In these times of crisis, we need activists who will fight for ecosocialism, internationalism, feminism and anti-racism. We have to fight for action now to resist disaster capitalism. But we also must argue for revolutionary transformation for a society that meets the needs of people and the planet, not that of private profit. We will ensure that Anti-Capitalist Resistance makes its contribution in that fight.

This statement was agreed at a conference of Socialist Resistance and published on its website on December 14, 2020 here.