Revolutionary Unity

Protest march by the Liverpool 8 defence committee

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 12, September 1981

Imperialism in its rapacious drive for profits has divided the world into oppressor and oppressed nations. In the oppressed nations, the poverty and starvation suffered by millions has forced the people into revolutionary war to drive out the imperialists. The people look to the IRA/INLA in Ireland, ANC/SWAPO in Southern Africa, PLO in Palestine, PMOI/OIPFG in Iran, FMLN in El Salvador and many other revolutionary movements fighting imperialism. These represent the vanguard forces of millions of people in the struggle to destroy imperialism throughout the world.

It is of little surprise that under the banner of anti-communism, British and US imperialism are at the forefront of the imperialist alliance to crush these revolutionary forces. And it is the socialist countries, themselves under assault from imperialism, who, led by the Soviet Union, have consistently come to the aid of the revolutionary anti-imperialist forces throughout the world. Never has it been more clear that the world is divided between those forces fighting for freedom, democracy and socialism and those wealthy imperialist nations intent on crushing them.

Not only does imperialism divide the world into oppressor and oppressed nations but it also divides the working class. It creates in the imperialist country a privileged layer of the working class, which, through its relatively prosperous and secure conditions of existence, becomes separated from the mass of the working class. Most significantly, imperialism has created within the imperialist nations an oppressed layer of the working class. Forced out of the oppressed nations by the poverty and starvation imposed by imperialism, immigrant workers and their descendants have become a super-exploited section of the working class. By this process imperialism has sown the seeds of its own destruction. For, as the recent uprisings in Britain show, it is the black working class that has taken the path of revolutionary struggle and in so doing has joined the struggle being waged by anti-imperialist movements worldwide. In fighting against the imperialist state and its protectors, the police, black workers are giving a lead which, in some areas, has been readily followed by white working class youth themselves increasingly recognising that the capitalist system offers them nothing but unemployment, poverty and despair.

Imperialism means poverty, oppression and starvation for the vast majority of the world's people. And as the crisis of imperialism deepens the same fate is approaching whole sections of the working class within the imperialist countries. Growing opposition to imperialism is inevitable. Increasingly its very existence will be threatened. Imperialism will then turn to its major supporters in the working class — the privileged sections of organised labour, and their political and trade union representatives. In Britain this means the Labour Party and TUC. Without their leadership of the workers imperialism would not survive. This is the significance of the Labour movement's pathetic and purposely limited response to the 3 million unemployed and the cuts in living standards imposed by the Thatcher government. What these leaders have done has been designed to contain militant struggle and the compromises over jobs and wages have been made with that in mind.

But the leadership of the Labour Party and TUC does not extend over the black and white youth, who this summer have taken their anger on to the streets. That is why the ruling class has responded with direct and vicious repression. They know that they must isolate and crush these emerging revolutionary forces before they draw more sections of the working class behind them and become too strong.

Alongside the repression on the streets and in the courts has gone the condemnation of the uprisings by the Labour and trade union leadership. They also wish to isolate these forces before it is too late and the spirit behind the uprisings spreads to other sections of the working class. So Len Murray, head of the TUC, warns his followers:

‘Violence is no solution to the problems of the inner cities and I condemn those who have used it'.

Len Murray recently had an 'amiable' meeting with Margaret Thatcher to discuss the dangers of the uprisings to both of them.

The left of the Labour movement also opposes the use of violence by the oppressed but they are more concerned that the state's violent response will spill over and begin to erode the democratic rights and status which is the foundation of their own privileges. Thus Tony Benn:

‘The Labour Party does not believe in rioting as a route to social progress nor are we prepared to see the police injured in the course of their duties. But law and order without social justice and civil liberties are a recipe for a police state'.

The violence of the state must not be too naked if the justifiable anger of the oppressed is to be diverted into safer channels. So the Morning Star paper of the misnamed Communist Party, and backer of Mr Benn said:

‘The way the young people in Toxteth have responded is a dead-end politically but that is only another way of saying that it is the labour movement's responsibility to direct their feelings of anger and frustration into forms of political action which will be effective in solving the problems they face.' (7 July 1981)

The primary consideration is that these forms of action should not threaten to destroy the imperialist state.

The middle-class socialist left — also backers of Tony Benn — wish to contain the revolutionary threat along similar, if more radical sounding, lines. So the SWP, after the Brixton Uprising told the youth: ‘We have to build a link between that power [of the miners] and the spirit of Brixton'.

After the uprisings had spread to other cities the SWP then told the youth that they could not win by rioting alone.

‘The heart of the beast is where the employed are. It was the miners who brought down the Tory Government in 1974. Rioting alone cannot do it'.

This is how the SWP wants to contain the revolutionary spirit of the uprisings. We remind the SWP that the power of the miners, however militant their struggle, has been used to defend their own sectional interests and today, as in 1974, will be used to see the Labour Party — a reactionary imperialist party — returned to power. It is the miners and other organised workers who need to break from their traditions and follow the lead that was given during the uprisings.

The left of the Labour movement together with their middle class socialist friends, have not only attempted to divert the struggles of black and white youth into safer channels, but have also consistently attacked all anti-imperialist movements which have taken up the armed struggle. They have saved their most hysterical opposition for the revolutionary forces of the IRA, since the Irish struggle, like the uprisings, is much too close to home.

The uprisings have shown that a section of the working class now exists which is totally opposed to the imperialist state, which rejects the imperialist Labour Party, and which will not allow its struggle to be diverted into ineffectual constitutional paths. Communists recognise this, and will defend this newly emerging revolutionary vanguard. Major campaigns must ensure that these forces are not victimised and isolated by the police, courts and prisons.

The possibility at last exists of breaking the influence of the imperialist Labour Party and TUC over the working class. The struggle of workers in Britain against the British state can be united with that of revolutionary anti-imperialist forces throughout the world. It is in that unity that the strength and organisation will be found to destroy British imperialism, and so end the misery and oppression it creates.

Jack Woddis Award

This month's award for National Chauvinist Hypocrisy goes to Pink Charlatan Mr Anthony Wedgewood Benn for his perverted call to 'liberate Britain' from USI IMF/Common Market 'oppression'. What he really wants is the 'liberation' of British imperialism from its rivals and the challenge of the oppressed. His record tells the truth

  • Voted for 1968 Immigration Bill
  • Voted for PTA in 1977
  • Voted for expulsion of Agee and Hosenball
  • Signed contract to allow RTZ to steal Namibian uranium

Benn and his jet-set acolytes, in the same document, graciously offered to limit themselves to £28,000 a year for their services to imperialism. The ranks of the unemployed, the low-paid and the homeless will no doubt welcome this step towards their 'liberation'.



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