MANCHESTER, England — “Workers’ anger has intensified since the 2007-2008 crash, with declining real wages, growing job insecurity and uncertainty of what the future holds in today’s world of crisis, conflict and wars,” said Jonathan Silberman, a leader of the Communist League, reporting on a political resolution that was adopted by the League’s 10th Constitutional Congress here Dec. 16-17. “There’s a deep desire for change within the working class. Millions of workers are prepared to discuss politics with communists.”
Going door to door in working-class neighborhoods to discuss a communist program and perspectives is the foundation of our work, the resolution begins. “We carry out this work as CL members building a proletarian party. In the course of this work, we seek to establish long-term relations with fellow workers, pave the way for engaging together in political activity, and recruitment,” it states. “Central to this, and a key measure for assessing how we’re doing, are sales of books on communist politics and subscriptions to the Militant.”
“At this congress, we’re proposing an additional step to go deeper into our class to build the party,” Silberman said. “That’s to organize League members where they work into trade union fractions — meeting up with workmates for relaxed discussion outside of work, meeting with co-workers’ families and friends, organizing house meetings and going door to door in areas nearby to their places of work.”
Fraternal delegates to the congress from the Communist League in Canada and the Socialist Workers Party in the United States enriched the congress discussion with reports on the experiences of their parties’ trade union fractions.
“As the League carries out this course, some members will be changing jobs, others will move to allow them to live closer to where they work,” Silberman said.
“Our job is not to explain how bad things are. Nor is our thrust to make fun of the difficulties of the capitalist class and its politicians. Most workers know these things,” he said. “We address the crisis our class faces, our need to break from the self-image the rulers teach us and recognize we can take power and organize society.
“Central to this is defense of Cuba’s socialist revolution — the best living example of what working people are capable of achieving when they come to realize that their condition will never change as long as we remain trapped in the con-trick of the capitalist political set-up, and embark upon a revolutionary line of march toward taking power,” he said. Building participation in a May Day brigade from the U.K. to Cuba will be a central League activity.
“The changes in the working class were given electoral expression in the June 2016 Brexit referendum, and again in the 2017 general election. But how someone votes doesn’t determine who we talk with,” Silberman said. “There’s nothing for workers in the shifting sands of the capitalist political divide over Brexit. Prime Minister Theresa May used to say, ‘no deal is better than a bad deal.’ Now her government speaks of ‘structural alignment’ with the EU.
“This marks a change. It’s a reflection of the rulers’ fear of the new increasingly outweighing their hatred of the old,” he said. “That’s true for the rival capitalists in Germany and France, as well as in the U.K. Our course is not to choose between factions within the capitalist parties, but to point toward independent working-class political action. We reach broadly to the working class, as a whole.”
Silberman announced that to facilitate expanding its reach into the working class, the League plans to run in the May 3 local elections in London and Manchester. “We’ll take on all comers, including the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party, which looks to the capitalist state as our protector and benefactor,” he said. “Whereas they see the working class as a problem to be socially engineered, we see workers as the solution.”
Discussion enriches League’s course
Dag Tirsén reported in the discussion how the League’s Manchester branch had responded to the arson attack on a mosque in Newton Heath. “Left-wing groups saw this working-class district as enemy territory,” Tirsén said. “We went door to door explaining that opposition to such attacks is in the interests of all workers. We’ve sold many subscriptions to the Militant and books by communist leaders in the process.”
Ólof Andra Proppé reported on how the London branch reached toward workers who joined a march called by the Football Lads Alliance, which raises reactionary demands for government action to counter Islamist terrorism and “extremism.” “We found that among the marchers — condemned by middle-class counter-protesters as ‘racist scum’ — were workers looking for a solution to the crisis, and open to discussing with League members and buying communist literature,” Proppé said.
A public meeting held on the Saturday evening of the Congress heard Communist League leader Pete Clifford speak about the “gut-wrenching” memorial service for the 71 victims of the Grenfell Tower fire two days earlier, attended by members of the British royal family, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and others. “Six months after the blaze just 42 of the 209 families made homeless have permanent new homes,” Clifford said. “It’s another example of how the rulers have no solution to the crisis other than to make workers pay.”
Clifford explained how the League had campaigned on independent working-class proposals to answer the social catastrophe. “We should join with the survivors of Grenfell Tower in their fight for immediate quality rehousing in the local area and serious compensation,” Clifford quoted from the CL’s public statement the CL campaigned with after the deadly fire. “The trade unions should engage in a mass campaign — working together with tenants around the country — demanding immediate dismantling of cladding, installation of sprinklers and other protective measures nationwide.”
“They’re clinging to the relics of the ‘special relationship’ with the U.S.,” Clifford said, pointing to how the U.K. rulers’ political crisis is intensified by London’s relative decline within the imperialist world pecking order. “Much was made in the media of Theresa May’s distancing herself from President Trump over his Jerusalem statement. In fact she emphasized the government’s support for what Trump is doing in the Middle East.”
Clifford was joined on the platform by Patrick Tremblay, a leader of the Communist League in Canada; and by Steve Clark and Bea Stanswick, leaders of the Socialist Workers Party in the U.S.
“I was stunned by how similar were the conditions in the U.K., U.S. and Canada — and also the work of the communist movement in the three countries,” Sajda Begum told the Militant after hearing the presentations. “It was a real eye-opener.”