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Theory – a guide to action

(October 1979)

From Militant, No. 474, 12 October 1979, p. 12.
Transcribed by Iain Dalton.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Dear Comrades,

Dave Hughes’ letter (issue 471) makes an important contribution to the debate on the future of the labour movement. He is right to point out that the labour movement must be seen to lead the fight on behalf of all the oppressed minorities.

We must be the most resolute fighters in their defence, just as we must be in the forefront of the fight back against the Tories, and this means mass action not speeches in Parliament or Council Chambers. Our discussion would be abstract and sterile indeed, if limited to a debate on a manifesto for the next Labour government.

We would deserve to be dubbed armchair philosophers if we retired to the drawing room to debate the future, while our class are engaged in a desperate struggle to defend jobs, living standards, social services and trade union rights.

Just a cursory glance through any issue of Militant will show that our supporters are involved in all, and to the forefront of many of these struggles.

However it would be an error in the opposite direction to adopt the ‘struggle is all’ approach of some of the sects, who throw themselves into one campaign after another, making no attempt to generalise these struggles and link them to the need to change society. They just add as an afterthought the need for socialism.

I do not, of course, imply in anyway that this is the position of Dave his letter leads inescapably to the need for a transitional programme as put forward by Militant.

Theory and practice are not mutually exclusive but are indivisible. Marxist theory is not for study by learned professors. Theory is the distilled experience of the class struggle and a guide to action by the working class.


Ray Apps
Brighton Kemptown CLP

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