From International Socialism (1st series), No.34, Autumn 1968, pp.22-27.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
We have recently seen a public resurgence of racialism and, on a less dramatic scale, nationalism in Britain. The economic background to this change is fairly clear, but the mechanism by which the change is achieved is not clear. The resurgence of racialism has prompted comparisons with earlier periods of history, precisely because we are so unfamiliar with the mechanisms by which men change their ideas. Sometimes, the comparisons are useful, but sometimes – as when, in the German context, the NPD is compared to the Nazis – positively misleading. For the denunciation of the NPD as ‘neo-Nazi’ helps to conceal the much more significant changes taking place in the centre of German politics, and forces people to stress the ‘non-Nazi’ (and therefore, liberal) nature of the governing coalition. Labour’s denunciation of Enoch Powell helps to conceal the fact that the Labour leadership has itself played an active part in the racialist auction, has betrayed its liberal promises of the opposition days and, with cold brutality, excluded Kenyan Asians on grounds solely of colour. Enoch Powell is not Sir Oswald Mosley, and the undoubted elasticity of thought among British Conservatives is still not elastic enough to permit them to incorporate fascism proper without a major social crisis. These comparisons suggest something of the confusion which exists about Right-wing ideology and about its relationship to working-class thought. This article is a very preliminary introduction to a discussion of this relationship, and an attempt to relate its conclusions to a socialist strategy.
The two central ideas of any modern Right-wing ideology are ‘race’ and ‘nation.’ The nation is supposed to be the popular basis for the State, and ‘race’ is the underlying biological relationship between the members of the nation, what makes them one group. It is as if a family was simultaneously a group linked by common parentage (its race) and was also in sovereign political control of the territory it inhabited (in which guise, it would be ‘the nation’). In practice, the ‘nation’ means the existing State, the status quo, the ruling class, although for obvious reasons, it implies a majority of the citizens of any country. When the majority are quite clearly committed against the status quo, when there is a major social crisis, the idea of ‘race’ is recreated to suggest that, whatever temporary ‘differences’ may exist, a common biological unity still unites all the inhabitants.
Today, the world is entirely parcelled up into exclusive segments of territory under the control, actual or theoretical, of particular governments. But this is a very recent phenomenon. The imperialist phase of capitalism was also the last phase in extending the control of particular governments over un-demarcated areas of territory. Imperialist competition settled what have now become known as nation-States. But in the past, the more common pattern seems to have been power concentrated in particular important cities or families. Their power extended only over the immediate area of physical control or potential control. Between the areas controlled by particular cities or families, there could exist extensive tracts of land unclaimed by one or other major power centre.
Cities grew as centres of economic and military power, controlling their hinterland. In the process of growth, they struggled to subordinate neighbouring cities, and when they had done so, extended their territory to include the area formerly controlled by the vanquished. This is certainly not the only kind of power to exist historically – clan and tribe organisation, without what we would call a ‘city,’ was also a system of power. However, in the European case, the class which controlled the cities was ultimately able to subordinate all other sources of power, just as one city was most often able to subordinate all other cities in a given area. The accident of power thus determined borders which subsequently became the boundaries of nation-States. Once in control, the major city began to centralise not merely economic resources – through trading and credit networks – but also established a common culture. It enforced a common language and literature, it created some of the key elements associated with a ‘nation.’ Out of the medley of clans and tribes, defined by the limited territorial area occupied, it created an overriding loyalty in common subordination.
All this, however, does not add up to nationalism. Enforcing a common subordination does mean that all inhabitants of a given territory must, for survival, understand the language of the dominant group, but it does not mean the inhabitants give positive support to that group. All that the dominant group needs is an apathetic acceptance, a willingness to avoid death by paying taxes and, for some, performing services. Provided the peasants grow the grain, the lord can collect it by force and the merchant by fraud.
But capitalism needs far more than this. It is no longer primarily a city-based power unit, but rather one in which one class successfully incorporates a whole area into its power, cities and rural areas alike. The network of its trade and banking pulls the whole territory into one unit, and its manufacturing requires a stream of willing labour beyond the resources of the traditional city. As the economy becomes more complex, its parts become more interdependent and therefore more vulnerable to the sudden effects of revolt or the long drawn-out results of apathetic resentment. Capitalism needs increasingly the psychological participation of all the inhabitants of the territory, the willing co-operation of all. Pure physical force will not keep the wheels of industry running at their most profitable pace. It is an essential part of gaining the willing co-operation of all that all must feel that the existing regime is, in some sense, ‘their’ regime (without all trying to make it their regime in practice).
In a very over-simplified form, this suggests the need of a capitalist ruling class for nationalism. But the territory controlled by the ruling class, the nation-State, is too vast for it to be clearly perceived by all; nationalism is an abstraction, apparently remote from the concrete reality each man faces in his own locality. To make nationalism stick, it must be related to any affection men feel for the places in which they live. Yet the affection does not develop except where men experience districts other than their own (and for many not even then). The mobility of the labour force under capitalism, particularly the migration of peasants to the city, does produce in many a nostalgia for their birthplace. Of course, a necessary part of this nostalgia is a rejection of the place where they have settled. But this is true only of the first generation migrants. Their children experience the nostalgia as ideology, unrelated to their concrete experience. For the nationalist, this ideology is something to be exploited. The memory of a golden past, when the true values of the native culture were unsullied by foreign and urban corruptions, can be a potent one for a population harried by the problems of existence. The ‘foreigner’ here lives in the midst of the native city and seems to embody all that is threatening and evil in the city, but at a later stage, he can just as well be living in other nation-States, threatening the ‘national’ territory, the national exports, ‘flooding’ the natives with immigrants or dumping his inferior exports at cut rate prices.
It is understandable that when the rural newcomer arrives in the city, he seeks to defend himself against the threats he faces and to console himself for the insecurity he feels, by trying to recreate something of the place from which he came. He chooses his friends and wife from among those who come from the same place, who speak the same language or dialect, share the same customs or religion. The association may remain at a purely sentimental level and even disappear in the second generation if it is possible for the migrant’s children to be as successful as those whose families have always lived in the city. This sentimental level will include discriminating between those from one’s own background and all the rest, but it need not mean hostile rejection of all the rest as ‘foreigners’ or outsiders.
What creates the hostile rejection is the inability of the migrant or his children to operate on terms of equality with all the urban population. He is excluded, and his origin is the sole basis for his exclusion. He has the choice of trying by every means to pretend he was born and bred in the city – or, what is the same thing for members of different language groups – change his name and family history; or accepting his ‘peculiarities’ with defiant pride and rejecting the local population as intrinsically inferior.
What can make the situation explosive is if the new migrants are large enough and are forced to play a specific role in the division of labour of the economy. Then the ordinary tensions become inextricably tangled with, at least, the rivalry between different occupations, at most the whole class struggle. Jewish capitalists are singled out as the worst capitalists in Poland or Germany, just as, today, in – for example – Bombay, Gujerati capitalists face Marathi workers. Here all the trivial symbols of different backgrounds – what you eat, wear, the language or dialect, religious customs and so on – become major issues of principle. Men seriously settle down to try and create arguments as to why Sikh busmen should not wear turbans. Where there is so much potential for fragmenting a common class interest into separate sectional demands, any ruling class will automatically play upon the elements which divide different sections in order to preserve their own power.
But people’s willingness to side with ‘their’ minority or majority within the working class is not a simple question of how easily the members of the minority can act on a basis of equality with those of the majority (and so dissolve their minority). The choice as to whether to try and belong to one or the other is crucially determined by what can be gained from membership of one or the other. Membership of the minority entails one kind of strategy for survival for its members; membership of the majority another. Where the majority has no strategy at all for change – it is, at least passively, committed simply to preserving what already exists – then the potential member of the minority who needs change to overcome the peculiar problems he faces, has no option but to join the minority. Thus, where there are no alternative political strategies available to the working class – in particular, class solidarity – to tackle common problems, the class fragments, and one of its fragments may be a cultural or ethnic minority.
If newcomers to the work-force like to remember home (and this applies as much to people moving, say, to London from other parts of Britain, as to people coming from abroad), they do not thereby become in a serious sense a ‘minority.’ Minorities, in the political sense, are invented, created, by the equally fictitious ‘majority.’ To invent one is to create the other, to suggest that what divides the ‘majority’ is less than that which separates the majority and the minority. In practical terms, the divisions in the majority status quo are concealed in order to highlight the separateness of the minority, the gap between the ‘coloured immigrant’ and ‘us’ (i.e. Harold Wilson, the Queen, Sir Oswald Mosley, Enoch Powell, me, and Mrs Hubbard down the road). It is explained that ‘they’ have a different culture (not, of course, colour) even though it is quite clear that on any definition of culture, there is very little uniting newcomers to this country. What does or can alone unite them is a majority hostility which forces the immigrant to identify with each other. It is the British, and in particular Enoch Powell, who are inventing a ‘coloured minority,’ and doing so, consciously or not, in order similarly to invent the unity of the majority, the unity of rich and poor, the unchallenged stability of the status quo.
Inventing a minority is the easiest tactic for any ruling class threatened by a new set of problems that might stimulate challenge to its rule. It is, of course, most easy where physical characteristics partly coincide with the minority so that people’s immediate perception connects with the abstractions of a national politics. But where the population is physically the same, the same creation of minorities goes on. It was not so long ago the Irish in Britain, and it could as well be in some areas the Poles, the Cypriots, the Jews, or whoever else can be found as scapegoat for current problems. In their colonial rule, the British perfected the art of inventing minorities in the name of protecting them against majority hostility. They thus safeguarded their own power as the only outside force capable of arbitrating. Whatever the intentions of the colonial officers involved, they succeeded in creating groups which cut straight across class divisions, which for a long time effectively prevented the majority seeing that the British were the first minority of all.
With the narrowing of the perspective for British capitalism, the sporadic sense of crisis, national-speed-up, unemployment and rising prices, a whole range of new problems faces the British working class without it having a common strategy to overcome them. The sense of pervasive insecurity threatens the status quo unless it can be deflected off on to some harmless scapegoat. Of course, the British ruling class has no use for a pogrom at this stage – it needs immigrant labour urgently. No doubt many of the largest employers strongly deprecate anti-immigrant feeling, yet on the other hand, such feeling is a trump card in their hand when the game gets fiercer and unemployment makes the demand for labour less pressing.
Thus the battle on race is not over whether the fictitious majority should be decent to the ‘minority,’ the pursuit of ‘racial harmony,’ but is a struggle over concepts and strategies for change. It is a struggle over what concepts are most useful to workers in understanding the world and seeking to change it. Indeed, anyone who assumes that ‘race’ exists (and ‘we have to live with it’) is playing the racialist game, is accepting the racialist terms of the argument. Men certainly have differently coloured skins, but unfortunately for the racialists, these do not fall into neat groups of ‘minorities.’ It is the same with the other supposed grounds for discrimination, language, culture and so on. Many of the immigrants are, ironically, better versed in what goes under the name ‘British culture’ than most of the natives. It is the native population which forces the newcomer to become a ‘minority,’ forces him into dependence on other newcomers for help, friends, welfare assistance and so on, forces him to live with other newcomers in the worst housing. But none of this follows from the fact of being a newcomer. It follows from the conflict endemic in the ‘host’ society; from deflected class struggle.
Those that assume that ‘race’ in principle exists, assume yet again a common interest on each side of the fictitious ‘racial’ border. In doing so, they assume the common interest of the majority, the ‘nation,’ and thereby line up with the interests of the ruling class. The battle has been conceded to the Right without any fight at all. It is not that ‘black men are as good as white men,’ but that the statement is as silly and irrelevant as ‘bald men are as good as spotty men.’ The liberal approach to ‘race relations’ is thus essentially one which helps to invent and sustain the problem the liberals are supposed to be trying to overcome. To say that a racial problem exists is not to make a statement about the world so much as to recommend a way of seeing the world.
Where, as in the United States, men have been seeing the world in this way for a very long period of time, ‘racialism’ can perhaps exist partly independently of other factors. But in Britain, this is not so, although if the liberal approach to racialism wins out, the liberals will have successfully helped to created a US-style situation.
Of course, prejudice exists. Some people do insist on choosing in an irrational manner. They want to buy a packet of soap, but they refuse to buy it from a particular kind of people; what defines the kind of people is in no way related to soap, its purchase or use. Such people are very rare in general, and crackers. Yet less rare is a much vaguer kind of prejudice against someone who is darker than the average. And this prejudice is only one of an amazing range of idiotic prejudices. The working class, being the most exploited class, has more than its fair share of such prejudices, and the members of the class not directly involved in collective work – for example, working-class mums – sometimes have an even larger share. One dimension of their attitudes to other workers is contempt for poorer neighbours or petty snobberies about who washes whiter or who plays bingo; the savagery emerges most strongly when child-murderers are caught.
But only a fool would think this was the whole story. Such trivialities abound, at the same time as workers (including their wives) are able in battle to commit immense resources of solidarity, self-sacrifice, bravery, and active sympathy with those poorer than themselves. The dockers who supported Enoch Powell are the same dockers who will come out on sympathy strikes with other workers, who are just as capable of battling to help coloured workers.
What this means is that what people think, consciousness, is not a thing, defined simply and clearly at any given moment. At every moment, it has contradictory tendencies, not just within the working class as a whole, but within the same individual. The contradictory elements are the roots of contradictory strategies to overcome the problems people face. On the one hand, people threatened by a certain problem – speed-up in the factory, how to survive on the housekeeping money when the supermarket prices have yet again gone up, how to get a flat – try to preserve what they already have and to assert that what they have entitles them to a better deal in the hierarchy; they are, they say, superior to all those others around them who betray the morality or standards of the ruling class. On the other, the worker throws in his lot with a wider collective, submerging his private demands in the demands of his factory or district. Insofar as the second is possible, the first becomes trivial. If the second is not possible – whatever the reasons – the first becomes an ad hoc strategy for mere survival. The first takes the situation which faces the worker for granted, and stresses piecemeal measures for self-survival. The second begins the task of transforming the situation, of changing the rules altogether. Of course, the first cannot be successful for the survival of the many.
Fragmentation of the working class as a class – creating particular groups of workers seeking solutions which benefit only their group – has its reflection in fragmented consciousness. What overcomes the contradictory and irrational elements is the possibility of real collective action, action which embodies the power either of all workers or a particular group of workers. That possibility transforms the available strategies for each individual worker. He is no longer left with only his own resources to fight an impossible battle. At one moment, he is faced with – say – the threat of sack, and nothing to fight with against this; at the next, his battle is lost in the collective campaign to fight sackings. In the first, he cannot be militant and he can win very little – indeed, he may ruin his work record for the next job. In the second, the utmost of his militancy can only do good, and he can, positively, win.
The degree to which contradictions co-exist also varies with the degree of organisation and traditional militancy in the factory. In some factories, the tradition consistently militates against seeking private solutions, particularly solutions which depend on betraying other groups of workers. The further one moves from such factories, the higher the possibility of contradictions. For the working-class housewife who experiences factory solidarity only indirectly and district or locality solidarity only rarely, the collective strategy is necessarily more remote.
It is because of the transforming effect of collective power on what strategies men choose that the orthodox machinery of parliamentary elections is so often irrelevant. The referendum measures nothing except what a simple question asks. It excludes the vast range of contradictory strategies available, and most important, strategies which demand collective power. A strike vote in an open meeting measures what workers think should be done, assuming everyone does it here and now. A parliamentary vote measures a choice between strictly limited alternatives, without assuming any collective power under the control of the voters.
Open discussion is thus vital in exploring the different strategies proposed to overcome the immediate problem. And in this discussion, the role of the militants is crucial. For their experience of past battles can crystallise the maximum commitment of the rest, can prompt workers to see as possible courses of action things they would ordinarily dismiss as impossible. The larger the group, the more radical the strategies that become possible. Nor is there some great gap between ‘economic’ and ‘political’ strategies, for the same principles apply. Without the militants, some strategies remain unspecified and it takes much longer for the same group of workers to reach the same conclusions.
Ruling classes always accuse rebel movements of being the invention of a few ‘rabble-rousers,’ wreckers or saboteurs. In the Barbican, Cameron found his ‘pocket-Napoleons’ just as in other battles, there are always Reds under the bed. The accusation has a small grain of truth in it. Politically dedicated men certainly cannot invent a revolt. There have always been such men, and they fail consistently to raise revolts except for brief moments. But it is true that such men can, on the one hand, provide an example of what action to take, and on the other crystallise a programme, a strategy, out of their experience and the current problem. In the first instance, ruling classes understandably try to knock off particular individuals or leaders just so that this function is not performed. Theoretically, we could say that where a rebellion is really massive, such tactics cannot stop it. But more often, people are restlessly seeking a strategy to overcome their problems, and in this situation, the militants in the factory and the political minority in society as a whole, play a crucial role. They do not know any God-given answers; they also experiment with the ideas thrown up in the battle, but they have sufficient knowledge and experience, a sufficient grasp of the aims, to play a key role in crystallising what is to be done. The best militants have long since overcome the contradictions which impede rational action, and can thus help the mass of workers to do likewise.
To return to the original theme then, inevitably hostility towards newcomers, immigrants, becomes politically important where both are competing for the same thing – for, say, jobs and houses – and there is no collective strategy available to force an expansion of these things so that everybody can have enough. The maximum hostility attaches to the largest and most easily identified competitor. The hostility in its turn forces the newcomers to organise in defence, to turn what may be no more than clubs of sentiment to remember home, into proper minority organisations which enforce a common discipline and solidarity on their members. These organisations themselves can become avenues of power for some, entry points, for example, for the black bourgeoisie into the status quo. They can also defensively exaggerate the differences between outsiders and insiders, very effectively preventing solidarity between the two. In some cases, time stands still; second generation immigrants practice rituals already obsolete in their parents’ homeland. The ritual consoles the member for the hostility he experiences from outsiders. And even where the rituals do not exist, they can be invented or acquired (as with Islam for some American negroes).
But again, it has to be stressed that all this is a function not of some intrinsic racial or cultural differences, but of the hostility of the wider society, the deflection of class struggle. There is nothing inevitable about the group a person chooses to belong to. Take the case of a West Indian clerk, aged 30, married with children, working for Ford’s at Dagenham. In that brief description, we have already mentioned a whole host of groups which, for particular purposes, this man might join. He is a West Indian, a man from one rather than all of the islands; he may be coloured (and so identified with other ‘nationalities’ of which he knows nothing); but he is also a white-collar worker, a Ford worker, a worker, a citizen of Dagenham, a man (versus women), a married man (versus bachelors for tax purposes), perhaps a member of the ‘younger generation’ for those older and older for those younger; a family man, a parent, a father, and so on. For each of the contrasts, there may be a club or association to bring him in contact with others distinguished in the same way. In general, the occurrence of a specific problem will make one of the discriminations loom larger than others – say, as a white-collar trade unionist, or as a parent in a Parent-Teacher association, or a tenant in a tenant association. The one thing which forces him to abandon all these other possible groups and see himself as nothing but a ‘coloured immigrant’ in all circumstances is the attitude of the non-coloured non-immigrants in these other groups. And the non-coloured nonimmigrants will behave in this way when faced with some central threat that makes most of these groups irrelevant and when there seems to be no alternative means of survival except by acting as a craft union to exclude newcomers. Any grounds at all will be used to prevent competition where there is no collective strategy available to challenge the system.
’Race,’ then, serves the purpose of eliminating from men’s minds an awareness of the divisions within the ‘nation.’ It may also disconnect workers’ concrete experience of struggle here and now and national politics. Nations are not as exclusive as races, and the second only becomes fully effective in times of great crisis. A ‘race’ is by definition completely exclusive. You cannot join it. You are born into it, a member by ‘blood.’ By contrast, classes are not at all exclusive. Not only can you join them, but they are not particularly circumscribed by national boundaries. The working class has no direct material interest in the territory controlled by the ruling class. The obverse of the attempt to force unity at home is the export of violence. War between ‘races’ and ‘nations’ is permitted, even if deprecated, and international war is itself the final expression of deflected class struggle. The two concepts of internationalism and class stand sharply contrasted to nationalism and race.
Racialism is pervasive in our society simply because we lack an alternative strategy for change. But racialism is not fascism. All Right-wing ideologies are, to a greater or lesser extent, racialist, even if some Right-wing employers need the additional labour. But this kind of racialism, while it may indicate a crisis of working-class strategy, does not demonstrate that the ruling class is already so threatened that it needs to import fascist thugs to rule the State for it. A widespread hostility towards foreigners is an essential basis for fascism as for any Right-wing nationalism, but there are many more forces dabbling in racialism, positively or negatively, than just the fascists. A fascist regime is created not so much directly by what the mass of the population thinks (though this is important by default), but rather by the willingness of the ruling class to gamble on this strategy, to play with the rhetoric of revolution while instituting a radical conservative government. Hitler came to power when the German ruling class swallowed its doubts and invited him in, not through a mass popular movement seizing power. Some popular basis was there, and infiltration in the organs of the State was important, but at every stage Hitler had to control his movement lest it exceed the limits he imposed, lest it frighten the ruling class and become genuinely revolutionary.
There are certain lessons for our tactics in all this. While we can see that the dockers’ march for Powell was a vicious and contemptible act of aggression on the most exploited section of workers, while it vividly illustrates how far the canker of fragmentation has gone and how generalised is the feeling of threatened impotence among some sections of workers, this is only one part of the picture. The march and the strike were also political acts, attempted collective intervention to secure a political solution to some of the problems dockers feel. On the one hand, it shows the bestiality of one docker strategy; on the other, the dockers connecting the problems they face with political action. How temporary the movement was, how quickly dockers recognised that an anti-immigrant action would not solve the problem, is perhaps shown by the feeble turnout on 7 July.
This said, racial prejudice will continue to exist on the docks. We cannot fight such prejudice directly everywhere it exists. The fight would be endless and hopeless since we would not be coming to grips with why racialism exists. As a result, we would not affect very much the level of prejudice. It is no use telling people just that men with a darker skin than theirs are harmless, any more than merely repeating the facts and figures adds up to a strategy. The facts and figures must be known and used in argument, but they will not clinch the case on their own. If you are desperately searching for a house for your family, and you see darker people from abroad living in such houses, it does not help you to be told that darker people are decent or there are only so many of them. That does not provide any houses, nor dissuade someone from the argument that if all darker people (or lighter people for that matter) were removed from the housing market, more houses would be available. In this position, most anti-racialists have no option but just to urge the importance of being nice.
What can alone in the longer term overcome prejudice is an alternative answer to the problem, an answer that is realistic in terms of collective action. This does not necessarily eliminate prejudice, but it makes it relatively unimportant. A father may remain reluctant to let his daughter marry a black man, but he is not going to join a campaign on the streets to expel all immigrants. But the strategy has to be practical. It is as useless saying that, after the revolution, there will be houses for all, as that, if everyone had a million pounds, we could build enough houses. To be practical, the strategy has to start from the actual power available to particular groups of workers here and now, and to incorporate politics.
This is part of the background to International Socialism’s appeal to other groups and individuals on the Left to join a common organisation. If the militants are linked together in a common organisation, we can fight the real battles and demonstrate that there is collective power available for an alternative strategy. We can go a long way towards preventing the deflection of the class struggle up the cul-de-sacs of racialism or nationalism. For if the Left had been able to mobilise ten or twenty thousand socialist opponents to Powell, the dockers would have seen that there were other alternatives, that they were not absolutely alone in facing the dock employers, the State and the press. Racial prejudice would not have stopped, but it would have been relatively unimportant. We could have afforded to laugh in Powell’s face, to lampoon his exotic terrors at being overwhelmed by letter-box excreta.
But the alternative strategy has to focus clearly on the real problems workers face, not be diverted off on to whether or not people want their daughters to marry black men. No doubt some St Petersburg fathers were anti-semitic, but this did not prevent them helping to vote Trotsky in as President of the St Petersburg Soviet. There is a racialist minority who will use any grist for their insanity, but by and large, the majority are not similarly committed. The jokes will go on, the petty backbiting, but it will be, in the struggle to overcome specific problems, trivial.
For us today, politically significant racialism means the attempt by groups of people to overcome the problems of jobs, wages, housing, schools, hospitals, of generalised insecurity. The racialist answer to these questions assumes that the status quo cannot be changed, that the housing stock and rent levels are God-given, and that therefore the only solution to a shortage is to cut down the number of people seeking houses. The population of the country should retailor itself to fit what there is. It is here the argument must begin. The problem is not idiotic landladies who refuse immigrant lodgers, but a housing shortage which makes landladies’ idiocies matter at all. If there was enough housing, racialist landladies would either have to change their practices or go bankrupt.
Of course, where rampant prejudice occurs, we must tackle it. But we must also recognise that this is only a negative, defensive reaction. It does not attack the basis of racialism, nor ultimately can it overcome either prejudice or politically significant racialism. Only a revolutionary movement can do that by creating a credible strategy and a credible collective force. The strategy links together the real problems people face and ultimate solutions; the movement links together the sections and groups of an entire class. The two are inseparable, uniting the militants of the class in terms both of organisation and consciousness. Collective action as part of such a movement and to achieve the aims of the strategy creates priorities which sort our prejudices, which offers hope, forces rationality: and puts first things first.
1. This article owes much to Insiders-Outsiders by Ruth Glass, New Left Review 17, Winter 1962.
Last updated: 5.2.2008