Why we’re not signing the Socialist Party’s ‘Declaration’
The Socialist Party’s ‘Campaign for a new workers’ party’ (www.cnwp.org.uk), launched at their ‘Socialism 2005’ weekend in November, has produced a ‘Declaration for a New Workers’ Party’ for all who support the creation of a new workers’ party to sign. While we are certainly committed to building a revolutionary workers’ party, the International Bolshevik Tendency cannot politically endorse the declaration. This is why:
- We do not ‘believe that the chance to reclaim the Labour Party has long passed’, or agree that ‘In the past the Labour Party, however imperfectly, provided a voice for the working class’. The Labour Party, while organisationally independent of the capitalists, could never be ‘reclaimed’ by revolutionaries; it has only ever provided a voice for the reformist misleaders of the working class – the labour bureaucracy or ‘labour lieutenants of capital’ as Lenin called them.
- We do not agree that ‘the recent success of the new Left party in Germany, winning 8.8% of the vote and 54 MPs, gives a glimpse of the potential for a new left force’. The PDS/WASG electoral alliance did not represent a serious political break with the SPD traitors – it is a roadblock to socialism and not a model for revolutionaries.
- We believe that the ‘basic aims’ of a new workers’ party should be to lead a socialist transformation of society. Anyone serious about undertaking such a project must begin by being clear about whether they want to get rid of capitalism or reform it. The SP draft instead attempts to build a false unity between these two counterposed poles within the working class by calling on ‘all those who want to work together against the neo-liberal onslaught on the working class’, regardless of political programme.
- For a workers’ party to be of any use to the working class it must give no political support to any section of the bourgeoisie, no matter how ‘radical’ they may seem. It would therefore refuse any electoral support to Ralph Nader in the US, Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian slate in Venezuela, or popular frontist initiatives in Britain such as Respect or Ken Livingstone’s 2000 mayoral campaign.
- The party must be internationalist and it would be necessary to win its members to understand the importance of actively defending the remaining deformed workers’ states – China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam – while also recognising the need for workers’ political revolutions to overthrow the bureaucratic regimes in those societies. The party must stand for the defeat of US/British imperialist forces in Iraq and oppose all such neo-colonial adventures; it must clearly call for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of British troops from Iraq, Afghanistan and Ireland. In Britain, internationalism also means fighting for full citizenship rights for all immigrants.
- The ‘basic aims’ of the party must include the goal of winning the class war – destroying the bourgeois state apparatus and replacing it with a state controlled by the working class. This stands in stark contrast to the Socialist Party’s reformist utopian notion about gradually taking over the existing capitalist state through gaining control of bourgeois institutions such as local authorities and parliament.
The British working class desperately needs a new, revolutionary, party. We look forward to participating in the process of debate and programmatic clarification that will be necessary to lay the political basis for creating a class-struggle leadership in this country.
IBT Britain, 21 January 2006