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Peter Hadden

Our Programme for the 1990s

(Spring 1995)

From Militant Labour Members Bulletin, No. 4, Spring 1995.
Transcribed and marked up by Ciaran Crossey.

The same changed objective conditions which forced our organisation internationally to overhaul and revise both tactics and orientation, now demand a reappraisal of our programme.

This is no secondary or insignificant question. True, Marx once stated that “Every step of the real movement is more important than a dozen programmes”.

With this we concur. But the same Marx was himself meticulous on the question of programme. When he received the draft programme for the 1875 Gotha Congress of German Social Democracy and found within it a political capitulation to a sectarian tendency, he denounced it as a “thoroughly objectionable programme that demoralises the party.”

Like Marx we know and understand that revolutionary conditions are not created by a programme. But like Marx we also understand that without a programme which is tuned and then constantly re-tuned to the outlook or consciousness, as well as the needs of the working class, we will not be able to build any real influence.

Recent events have wrought important changes in consciousness and the first step to formulating a programme has to be an assessment of these changes. The collapse of Stalinism brought a dramatic sea change in world relations and deeply affected the consciousness of the working class, east and west, in the advanced capitalist world and in the ex-colonial countries.

It took place in the context of a general offensive by the bourgeois, begun during the late 1970s and 1980s and still on-going, against the working class, against the involvement of the state in the capitalist economy and against the colonial revolution. This took the form of attacks on trade union rights and an assault on wages and conditions. The carrying through, or attempted carrying through, of mass privatisations, has been a world feature affecting the advanced, the less developed, as well as the former Stalinist states. All of this has been conducted under a huge ideological canvas erected by resurgent ‘neo-liberals’ who have proclaimed and re-proclaimed the supremacy of the market and the demise of state ownership and of socialism.

In face of this offensive the general response of the leaders of the mass workers organisations, trade union and political, has been to capitulate. They have offered no real resistance to the rolling back of past gains. They have also surrendered on the ideological battleground. Today’s right-wing social democrats have become the most sickening proponents of, and apologists for, the so-called free market.

Ideological Offensive

Consequently the old mass workers’ organisations are less visible to fresh layers moving into battle as instruments or channels for their struggles. This has been borne out electorally by increased abstentions and by rising votes for smaller parties. 40% abstained in the congressional election in Brazil last year. In the last election in Greece, where there is traditionally a high turn-out, 20% did not vote. In France the three “mainstream” parties, the Socialists, Gaullists and UDF, now get little more than half the vote between them. In the last regional elections in 1992 they got 51% of the votes polled. In the following year’s general election they got 57%, the rest went to so-called fringe parties of both right and left. Closer to home the results for the Greens in the general election and the European elections in the South show the same tendency to political fragmentation and for the same reasons.

What all of this reflects is a rising tide of anger especially among the most oppressed sections of society, but with no visible organisations and no seemingly coherent philosophy to give this expression. Events have moved on since the Stalinist dictatorships toppled one by one, the false panacea of new prosperity and a new world order on the basis of the restoration of capitalism has been exposed.

Workers and youth are generally not taken in by the propaganda of capitalism. They can see the corruption, the instability, the pollution, the waste and the poverty. They can feel the restricting effects of the economic crisis. The idea of the free market as the answer is no longer believed. In a number of countries our organisation has very successfully campaigned around the slogan ‘against the dictatorship of the market’.

Changed Consciousness

But while there is an increasing appreciation of what is wrong, the problem is that the working class do not see the alternative. Socialism, nationalisation, the idea of a planned economy – these concepts are not as readily accepted today as they were during, for example, the 1970s.

In a general sense, consciousness has been thrown back. This has to be the starting point for a discussion on the programme. It is a feature now in all sectors of the world. In the former Stalinist states, especially the USSR, there has been not just a set back, more a reversal or consciousness, the working class has not just been jolted, it feels itself atomized. Pre-1917 ideas have re-emerged. For the working class the task in terms of consciousness is the elementary one identified by Marx to go from being a class in itself to a class for itself.

For the masses in the ex-colonial world the collapse of Stalinism has meant the loss of a model, with, at the same time, no alternative model coming forward to take its place. There has also been a loss of confidence in the working class as the force for change. Instead the idea of broad alliances, of the need for democratic movements of a broad character, is put forward in many countries, especially in Africa.

For the advanced countries the scene, if not always quite even, is generally as has already been described. For the trade union and social democratic leaders the label “reformist” is by now largely a misnomer. With possibly only one exception – that of Greece – there are no pronounced left reformist currents in existence at this juncture.

Of course it would be entirely wrong to paint a picture with uniform brush strokes. This is not a period of quiescence. Struggles which do break out, very often on single issues, tend to have a very sharp character. Despite the set backs of the 1980s, outside of the ex-Stalinist bloc, the real balance of class forces remains fundamentally unaltered. Events in Italy, where the right-wing Berlusconi coalition was ditched after only months in office by a huge movement of strikes and general strikes, show the other face of the current reality – the deep seated and explosive anger which exists.

Mexico teeters on the brink of a revolutionary crisis which, if it develops, will send shock waves throughout the world. The Zapatista uprising, with it’s socialist or semi-socialist rhetoric may have been a single chord rather than a symphony in the current context or the colonial revolution, but is a clear marker as to what will come quite possibly in the very near future.

Events do not all point in a single direction. Overall this is not an unfavourable period for Marxism. Rather it is a complicated and complex period. There is no shortage of struggles or issues. It is however more difficult to get people to draw general and socialist conclusions from these struggles. This makes the question of programme, of formulations, of the pitch and tone of demands, extremely important.

International Discussion

It was the December 1994 headline of the Southern paper Stop Messing About – Time for Revolution which triggered the current international discussion on programme. That is not to say that a discussion had not already been taking place issue by issue in the sections, or that a fuller discussion was not overdue. The question posed by this headline is whether or not, given the anger and alienation felt by a considerable layer within society, it is possible to pose the issue of revolution in this stark headline fashion.

The consensus reached so far in this discussion is that it is not possible and not correct. While a single headline, or poster, or speech, may deal with the need for revolution in this way, perhaps because of the particular audience that item is aimed at, were this to be a general trend adopted by the international it would be a shift to ultra-leftism. To some extent the very term revolution has become debased. Those layers who angrily speak about revolution as the only answer do not mean socialist revolution. All that they are saying is that what we have now is rotten. It is an expression of what they are against, not what they are for.

Only in periods of revolution, when the masses have decisively entered the arena of history, when the possibility of an alternative form or government and society is posed by the existence of dual power, can the slogans of the revolution, notably power to the workers’ organisations/councils in whatever form they take, be dramatically posed. Even then, because different layers of the working class and the oppressed draw conclusions at different speeds, it is necessary to formulate demands specifically to appeal to those who have not drawn socialist or fully revolutionary conclusions.

When the Bolsheviks, based on the majority in the soviets and therefore among the key sections of the working class, advanced the slogan ‘all power to the soviets’ they also advanced the democratic, and on the surface contradictory, demand for elections by universal suffrage to a Constituent Assembly. This was necessary in order to win the peasantry whose consciousness was still at a democratic stage, to the side or the revolution. By the time elections to the Constituent Assembly had taken place the revolution and with it a dramatic transformation in consciousness, had reached the villages. The poor peasantry saw that those who were elected would not give them the land or end the war and gave their allegiance to the soviets.

Transitional Method

Even for the working class of Petrograd and Moscow, the call for revolution was presented in the form of a series of immediate and practical demands. As late as September 1917, when the issue of insurrection was posed as an imminent task, Lenin in his Impending Catastrophe and How to Fight it, formulated a programme for the revolution. Presented in a briefer form soon after in The Tasks of the Revolution, this set out demands in relation to the war, food distribution, the economy, and other pressing issues. It was in fact a transitional programme for its time.

The transitional method used by Lenin, and developed by Trotsky, remains an essential tool today. Our programme begins from the objective needs, not the existing consciousness of the working class. Its starting point is the objective necessity for state or public ownership, workers’ management and a plan of production, in other words, from the fact that the only solution to the crisis of capitalism is the overthrow of capitalism.

But if this were to the starting point of the public presentation of our programme we would be lost. To the mass of the working class, including our own members, we would seem trapped in abstraction unrelated to the realities of day to day life and of the class struggle. In formulating our programme we do begin from the existing consciousness of the working class, with what workers feel is necessary, just and realisable through struggle. The idea of transitional demands and of a transitional programme is to attempt to connect the out-look of workers today with the need to change society. It is as far as possible to form a bridge between existing consciousness and objective necessity.

Trotsky, in discussing with US Trotskyists while he was drafting the Transitional Programme to be put to the founding Congress of the IV International, spelt out the need for transitional demands: “These are both extreme points, from the development of our transitional programme to find the connecting links and lead the masses to the idea of the revolutionary conquest of power.

That is why some demands appear very opportunistic – because they are adapted to the actual mentality of the workers. That is why other demands appear too revolutionary – because they reflect more the objective situation than the actual mentality or the workers. It is our duty to make this gap between objective and subjective factors as short as possible. That is why I cannot overestimate the importance of the transitional programme.”

At times the gap to be bridged is quite short. Lenin’s 1917 programme was drafted at a time when dual power existed, when the outline of a new society was visible within the old and when the question either/or hung with immediacy over the head or the revolution. The Bolshevik’s programme was one of blunt and immediate tasks.

Conditions in 1938, when Trotsky drafted the Transitional Programme for the Fourth International, were less favourable. The isolation of the revolutionary forces meant that the key task was the winning of the ear of the masses. Still, Trotsky wrote on the back of a period of revolution and counter revolution, of the triumph of fascism in Germany, of civil war in Spain and with the prospect of war appearing on the horizon. Despite the paucity or the forces and infancy of the influence or the Fourth International world conditions demanded that its programme be posed more sharply on many issues than is possible today.

Take for example the issue of armed workers militias. The need for armed defence against fascism meant that in general, if not in every country, this call was understood by the advanced layers of the working class at least. Today, because in most countries in the developed world the threat does not seem so imminent, the call formulated in this way would jar hopelessly with workers.

Programmatic Bridge

Transitional demands form a bridge to the necessity for the socialist revolution but under today’s conditions the bridge is longer, it is harder to see all the way across to the other side. Hence the need for care and skill in the formulation and re-formulation of our programme.

There are those who take Trotsky’s programme as holy writ to be put forward irrespective of time and place. In fact the 1938 programme was really an outline of a world programme. Beyond the conference which adopted it, it needed to be taken down to the individual sections of the new international and adapted to local conditions.

There can be no such thing as a finished programme except to those who are abstracted from the tasks of building real forces in the real world. Trotsky’s programme was to be fleshed out in practice, by dialogue, in struggle.

What we take from Trotsky is not the dot and comma of his programme for that time, but is the transitional method by which he drew it up. While the call for a sliding scale of wages, in other words wage rises index-linked to inflation, took a living form in, for example, the scala mobile in Italy, the concept of a sliding scale or hours is not generally understood by workers. We need to re-present this as the demand for shorter hours with no loss of pay.

Our old demand for a 35 hour week is no longer sufficient. We need to consider either a cut to 30 hours or else a proposal for a four day, 32 hour week. To decide we need to test these demands in the workers’ movement in a number or countries so that, by this form of dialogue, we can arrive at that which strikes the firmest chord.

Trotsky’s demand for factory committees, which he foresaw under certain conditions would become the soviets, is not seen as relevant today. Shop stewards’ committees have developed and our programme must spell out how these can be built, strengthened, democratised and how combines of shop stewards can be established or re-established both on a national and international scale. Essentially our programme is made up of three types of demands, immediate, democratic and transitional. Every struggle throws up immediate and concrete issues around which it is possible to mobilise workers. In the water charges campaign in Dublin we were able to build resistance on the issue of no cut offs. In the workplaces, basic issues such as union recognition, paid union time, even being forced to ask permission to go to the toilet, can trigger strikes. We do not dismiss these issues but must be the clearest articulators of such demands, as well as the firmest advocates of resolute struggle, as appropriate, to achieve them. Very often they form the first rung for the masses of the ladder of the transitional programme.

The role of democratic slogans during the Russian Revolution has already been mentioned. In the North democratic demands, for example repeal of repressive legislation, scrapping of non-jury courts, shortening of remand times etc., have always had to be a key element of our programme. We have also put forward and participated in struggles around democratic demands on the national question.

In the ex-colonial countries, where the revolution has entered what can broadly be termed a democratic phase, democratic demands can often be the most prominent aspect of our programme. Where broad movements for democratic rights spring up. even where, as in some African countries, these have a reactionary economic programme, we must participate as energetic champions of such rights. Our programme may take the form of calls for an end to military rule, for the lifting of bans on political parties, for the implementation of election results suspended by military action, for immediate elections to a Constituent Assembly or whatever is appropriate.

Transitional demands are those which now from today’s conditions and today’s consciousness but which point to the need for a socialist society. The call for a minimum wage tied to the cost of living, for shorter hours with no cut in pay, or for guaranteed jobs, raises the question of where are the resources to be found to implement them. The taking over of industry and the institutions of finance capital and their running under a system of workers’ management and control, points to an alternative form of society to capitalism.

To differentiate between immediate, democratic and transitional demands does not mean that a rigid line can be drawn between them in the course of the struggle.

Throughout the ex-colonial world whenever the Stalinists have put forward democratic demands they have gone further and advanced the idea of a democratic phase or stage of the revolution which must be completed before a socialist phase can be begun. This idea has been used in scores of cases to justify the abandonment of socialist objectives in favour of the policy of broad all class alliances. Using this perverse logic the Stalinists strove to keep the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement free or class ideas or class slogans.

This policy, in the concrete form of an alliance with the nationalist Kuomintang was used to derail the Chinese revolution of 1920-7. In the ebb of the revolution which followed this defeat Trotsky pressed his initially reluctant supporters in China to raise democratic slogans, in particular the slogan of a Constituent Assembly.

Was this not to repeat the mistake of the Stalinists? No. Trotsky pointed out that as in Russia the Chinese revolution would have its democratic phase – but, if the working class put itself at the head of the struggle for democracy, linking this with its other demands, this phase, again like in Russia, could be completed by the working class in power. The revolution could then proceed uninterrupted to accomplish the socialist tasks.

Class Content

To the struggle for democratic demands revolutionaries bring working class ideas and working class methods of struggle. And as Trotsky argued “as soon as the movement assumes something of a mass character the democratic slogans will be intertwined with the transitional ones.” In the Transitional Programme itself Trotsky counterpoises his transitional method to the Stalinist idea of separate stages: “Democratic slogans, transitional demands, and the problems or the socialist revolution are not divided into separate historical epochs in this struggle, but stem directly from one another”.

Classically, the programme of reformists was to put forward only minimum, “realisable” objectives. Socialism was postponed to a mythical future time. Today those who come from the stable of reformism by and large do not advance even a minimum programme, but instead parrot the programme of the capitalists of counter reforms.

We on the other hand do not separate out immediate “realisable” objectives from other aspects of the programme which are deemed unrealisable. Rather the purpose of every demand is to lift the confidence and consciousness of the working class and open up the road of struggle. It is only the course of struggle itself which will determine what is realisable and what is not. The sliding scale of wages, for example, was won and maintained for a period by the pressure of the mighty Italian working class. On the other hand, even demands for the most modest and paltry concessions, can be unrealisable in the hands of a leadership not prepared to fight for them.

In Trotsky’s words: “It is not by devoting oneself to empirical conjectures as to the possibility of realising some transitional demand or not, that the question relating to it is settled. It is its social and historic character that decides: Is it progressive from the point of view of the subsequent development of society? Does it correspond to the historical interests of the proletariat? Does it bring them the consciousness of the latter).”

In a broad historical sense it is true that key transitional demands such as shorter hours without loss of pay, nationalisation of certain industries or banks, cannot be achieved and maintained within the capitalist framework. This is not to say that at high points of the class struggle, as a result of general strikes or especially under conditions of dual power, capitalism will not be forced to make concessions it cannot afford. When it comes to realisability the real issue is whether or not these demands seem to the working class, at least to its advanced layer, to be achievable through struggle. If not, the programme will come across as lifeless and sectarian.

Effect of Struggle

At a time of retreat when the class struggle is at a low ebb workers sense of what can be achieved will not be the same as during periods of intensified and offensive action. In recent years and still today, the mood is mainly defensive in character. Most struggles start out as defensive battles. Our programme must take this into account. Some demands which our organisation put forward in the different atmosphere of the 1970s appear to workers to be too ambitious now. At one time we were able to demand that students should receive the equivalent of the minimum wage which would apply in society generally. Now in Britain students’ grants have been switched to loans and the key demand is more modestly for the scrapping of the loan system and a living grant.

Similarly with pensioners. They should get at least the equivalent of the minimum wage. But when we have put this forward, for example in some election material in Northern Ireland, we found that pensioners simply blinked in disbelief. The level of struggle simply did not exist to make it seem possible. In later material we advanced the idea of free public transport, free TV licences, free fuel for pensioners, plus a living pension. These more limited objectives accorded to the actual level of the class struggle and seemed more real.

Public transport is an issue which is growing in importance and to which we need to devote more material and more work. The real answer to the problem of traffic congestion and urban pollution in a totally integrated and free public transport system. In today’s climate of cuts in services, de-regulation and privatisation the concept of a free system can require a quantum leap of the imagination. We have been pulling this forward and the main response has been that it is a nice, but also a utopian idea. The call for cheap fares plus a vast expansion of public transport, especially of the rail network, strikes a much truer note.

One of the freedoms we have been proud to champion is the free movement of peoples and the open borders required to permit this. But in countries like Germany, Austria, much of southern Europe and also in California, it is impossible to advance this without encountering opposition from workers. At this point our programme on racism is directed to defence of the rights of immigrants, prevention of racist attacks whether by fascists or by the state.

We defend absolutely the right to asylum which is under threat or has been whittled away in a number or countries which upheld it. But when it comes to the matter of ongoing immigration, apart from opposing restrictions, quotas and the brutal treatment of illegal immigrants, it is difficult to find a formula which challenges racism but does not stir opposition from workers who see it as utopian to grant entry rights to everyone. Here is a case where the gulf between present outlook dominated by fear and uncertainty and the solution of harmonious economic development in a socialist federation in which open borders offer no possible threat. is so great that the construction of a bridge is extremely difficult. The general and somewhat ambiguous Slogan “No to racist immigration controls” has been suggested. It awaits improvement.

Defensive Demands

Consciousness is raised in struggle. It will be the development of the class struggle which will simplify such issues. By the nature of the present period many or our headline demands and slogans are defensive in character. These act as a necessary springboard to action. But struggles which set out as defensive have an irrepressible tendency to move over to the offensive as they develop. Generally the more extensive, more protracted the struggle the more this tendency will reveal itself.

Take the health service, part privatised or under threat of privatisation in many countries. Struggles can begin on the single issue of no privatisation. As these develop they throw a penetrating light on other questions. Workers look not just at the threat, but at the nature of the service they are defending. Our alternatives to a poorly run, poorly resourced service – that is adequate funding and workers’ management and control – can be brought into sharp focus as the only alternative to privatisation which is worth fighting for. Funding raises immediately the rip-off of health funds by drug companies. The call for nationalisation of the pharmaceutical and entire medical supply industry becomes more concrete, more immediate.


There has been some discussion as to whether the word nationalisation is the best term to use. Does it now conjure up images of the Stalinist economic model? Does it mean to workers a return to the status quo before the mass privatisations of the 1980s and 1990s? There is no question of a retreat from the concept of state ownership and a plan. The key is to find the wording to best describe what we mean and to differentiate this from past models which are seen to have failed. Nationalisation under democratic workers’ control and management is a formula which can still be put forward but it needs to be explained.

The alternatives of either “social ownership” or “public ownership” have been raised for consideration for more popular use. Different comrades have different preferences. In my opinion “social ownership” is not a familiar term to workers, sounds imprecise and would not be as clearly understood. “Public ownership” in part of every day language. It arises in the course of the key struggles against privatisation. The idea of defending public ownership is part of day to day consciousness. It is a more natural step to go from the defence of, to the extension of public ownership by the taking over of etc., etc. The problem of convincing workers or nationalisation is only in part a question of terminology. In the past if a firm was going into receivership and a battle began to save it, it was relatively easy to argue that the best solution was nationalisation. Now workers will come up with more sophisticated reservations which will need to be answered before they will be convinced.

The company may well be a branch operation producing a component or some part of a component. It supplies the internal market of the parent company and in modern production may be in direct competition with another branch of the same company in a different country. This is a long way from the days when raw material entered one end of a factory and a product which could be put into use either in the production of other products or for consumption come out the other end.

The global nature of production and the transferability of capital, are now issues which need to be addressed. The propaganda of the capitalists, that high wages or shorter hours in one country would only give competitors in other countries an edge, do have an effect. When we advocate a drastic cut in hours with no loss in pay, workers are likely to respond that the idea is good but the capitalists would just move to other countries where labour is cheaper.

This is not an entirely negative thing. There is a growing appreciation that problems cannot be resolved within the confines of a single state. We have always been internationalists, with an international programme, but now this continental and even global aspect of our solution takes on a more concrete aspect and needs to be given more prominence.

European Consciousness

In Europe a European consciousness has developed among the working class, supplementing, not replacing or diminishing, national consciousness. It is possible to answer workers’ doubts on our ideas by posing the need for Europe-wide action. Company threats to shift production need to be answered by European, and indeed world-wide, shop stewards’ combines. Simple agreements not to accept new work in any factory shifted due to a dispute in any other, go a long way to countering the employer’s practice of playing one plant off against the other.

On hours, the idea of an all Europe struggle, perhaps a European 24 hour strike, to reduce the working week, can appear as a more practical way to combat unemployment than limiting action to single countries. The proven attraction of an all-European campaign against racism in the form of the Youth Against Racism in Europe campaign underlines the point.

Likewise the concept of public ownership and of the socialist re-construction of society on a European scale seems more realistic than in one territory. Similarly with the other areas of the globe – Asia, North America, Latin America and Africa. Of course it is necessary to go beyond even this as the globalisation of products and of the financial system poses directly the need for a world plan. For now the production of a European platform is an issue of pressing urgency for all the European sections of our International.

Where do we place our demands? This too is complicated by the new objective situation, especially by the turn to the right at the top of the workers’ organisations. In the epoch which had closed by the end of the 1980s, it was a more straight forward question of placing our general demands on the shoulders of the trade union and Labour (social democratic) leaders.

Now, to demand that the ICTU, TUC or their overseas counterparts conduct a real struggle is about as believable as demanding that a camel should fly. We can say what they should be doing but we then have to go on and state that since they are not prepared to do this, the responsibility rests elsewhere. In Britain and in the North we have raised the call for a one day general strike to oppose cuts and pay restraint in the public sector.

Rather than ask the ICTU or the TUC to call this we have raised it within the individual public sector unions. Even then it is not a question of waiting on the Executives but of branches and shop stewards organisations taking the initiative from below.

By-passing Bureaucracy

For a considerable period, a central demand of the organisation in the North has been that ICTU should convene a conference of labour to build a Labour party. We no longer raise it in this manner. While continuing to try to change ICTUs constitution to allow for political discussion we have to say to activists that the working class in the North cannot wait on the indolent ICTU bureaucracy. Our call is for action by individual unions, trades councils, branches alongside community organisations.

We demand independent working class representation. In the past we said build a Labour party. Now the image conjured up by this is of Tony Blair and his ilk. It no longer holds the same attraction – the best workers see no automatic advantage of having a party of that sort. We now demand a socialist Labour party or simply a socialist party.

The same change in attitude in Britain and elsewhere explains why we no longer put forward the slogan of “Labour to power on a socialist programme”. To workers “Labour”, “social democrat” or whatever the equivalent label may be in any country, can no longer be fitted into the same sentence as ‘socialist policies’. Our orientation to the mass of the working class who still see no alternative to the parties is retained in the call for votes for them, but instead of the rider “on a socialist programme” we now need to add “and fight for socialist policies” or some such formulation.

The new coalition in the South poses a particular problem. This is a capitalist coalition and not in any sense a left government. Yet because Labour and Democratic Left appeared to enter it from a position of strength, because they have half the cabinet seats including key portfolios, it is looked on somewhat differently from past coalitions.

A straight forward call upon Labour to leave coalition at this early stage would seem absurd to workers. Yet there are few illusions that Labour ministers will bring about any real change. Our demands must echo the mood. If we do not make the breaking of the coalition an immediate question neither do we simply place a shopping list of demands on the Labour or Democratic Left ministers. Instead we place our demands on the movement outside, on trade union or community campaigns. We say these should be developed to put pressure on the so called left ministers to force them to implement promises, and to concede further reforms. The fact that we no longer invite workers to join the social democracy to light to transform it, can leave a gap. To some extent we fill this by saying join and build our organisation. Create a real socialist alternative. Put pressure on the old organisation from outside. This suffices only to a point and only to the extent that we have the social weight to appear as a real alternative. There is a layer we can reach but, especially where we are small, will not yet join us. We need to consider what slogans, what practical advice, we address to this layer. It may be that this will take the form of a call for a new party or preparation for such a party. In the South where unions are affiliated to Labour we can pose a choice – if they arc not prepared to go into Labour and change it then the time has come for initiatives towards the building of an alternative.

This Question

This question is made difficult by the absence of left reformist currents or even of any forceful opposition to the capitulation at the top. To some extent our propaganda is therefore addressed to a vacuum. As lefts begin to develop, the problem will become more concrete. Our material to those layers not yet prepared to join us can take the form of proposals, including proposals for joint action, as to what these currents and formations should do.

The subject is endless – it is as long and as deep as the class struggle and as the work or the organisation. Among other issues which we have to formulate demands on, are policing, drugs, the powers of a new Assembly in the North and so on ...

Rather than set down here a programme on these and other issues, the important thing is to establish the method by which such a programme can be worked out. In line with the transitional method of Trotsky, our demands are not sectarian, in that workers can understand and relate to them, but neither are they opportunist, in that they point the way forward in the direction of struggle and of socialism.

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Last updated: 19 July 2015