Yesterday, I made the case for all Marxists, at least in England, joining Labour immediately: here. In that article, I recommended we refer to ourselves as ‘Marxists’, rather than a subdivision of this group, specifically ‘Leninist’ and ‘Trotskyist’. I promised I’d explain why we should drop the latter terms, and I will do that now. Prior to addressing that specifically, however, I want to tackle the question of ‘entryism’.
Marxists joining Labour should reject ‘entryism’ as a label for what we’re doing. That term is nothing more than an insult used by McCarthyite ballot riggers who successfully smeared Jeremy Corbyn, mass purging his supporters while stealing their money, and rigging the party’s annual conferences by purging delegates known to be supportive of Jeremy Corbyn. As consequence of this illegal behavior, they have rigged the National Executive Committee as well. They purge people without so much as resorting to even kangaroo courts, denying the accused natural justice. These ballot riggers deserve to be persued through the courts for their illegal activities.
Are Marxists ‘entryists’? No. Not so long as we join Labour with the intention of making it our home. ‘Entryism’ implies a strategy of splitting, a smash and grab operation. I’m not proposing that. Under first-past-the-post, you only split votes if you don’t care who is the beneficiary of your electoral successes, even if they’re only measured in terms of saving your deposit. But Marxists are far from being impartial in the struggle between Jeremy Corbyn on the one hand and, on the other, Theresa May or any other alternative Tory Party would-be prime minister.
Should Britain’s electoral system enable unstable coalitions to break up relatively painlessly, then voters could feel free to vote for who they like, rather than against who they dislike most. But we deal with reality as it exists today, not how it could turn out at some unspecified point in the future. Marxists don’t intend to enter, then leave the Labour Party. We want to make this broad church our home. Marxists are not bothered about sharing a broad church with non-Marxists. And that brings me to why I reject the term ‘Leninist’ and ‘Trotskyist’.
Neither Lenin nor Trosky advocated splitting the parties of the Second International until the betrayal of their leaders during World War One. Marxists today – certainly under first-past-the-post – can’t afford to split parties like Labour, not the Labour Party of today with Jeremy Corbyn as leader. This is the party that is once more giving the exploited and the oppressed hope of a better world. Voters and activists are investing their hopes in this party, and only deluded sectarians would not want a piece of the action.
Only sectarians fear having our ideas subject to critical scrutinty. Let a thousand flowers bloom. Go to CLPs to listen, as well as have your say, and be respectful to those who disagree, turning the other cheek if necessary. No one has a monopoly of wisdom, and Marxists need to develop strategy and tactics in line with what our brothers and sisters are prepared to do. The masses are moving, and Marxists need to march with them, not criticize from the sidelines.
Why should we not call ourselves Leninists or Trotskyists? Those terms are associated with hard splits from non-Marxists based on, among other things, whether or not there is a parliamentary road to socialism. This is simply not a credible option today, not so long as alternatives exist, and exist they do.
Lenin and Trotsky split parties based on existing consciousness and organization at their time. Today’s consciousness has been thrown back a century and more, and when most people have no idea what socialism means, whether it can or can’t be achieved through parliament is a meaningless abstraction.
Tony Blair’s notorious ripping up of Clause Four changed reality. From 1918 (directly inspired by the Russian Revolution) until the Blair’s theft of the Labour Party’s leadership, every Labour membership card committed its owner, including yuppie entryists like Tony Blair to the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. The justification for public ownership derived from Karl Marx’s labour theory of value: surplus value rests on the exploitation of ‘wage slaves’ – those with nothing to sell but their ability to work. Unpaid labour is effectively stolen by a tiny class of parasites who monopolise access to the means of production as a consequence of accidents of birth.
Today, employees feel their exploitation, including those employees involved in the gig economy, mislabelled as part of the self employed workforce. Nevertheless – thanks to the censorship of Marxist ideas by the five television networks: BBC, SKY News, Channel4 News, ITV, C5 – there is zero access to the categories in the mainstream media essential to put effective resistance to capitalist exploitation into practise.
With or without Marxists, today’s Labour Party members will rediscover the key to class struggle. Why should Marxists not accelerate this process by sharing our ideas with those who have been blinded by Tory censorship, sharing our ideas while simultaneously sharing all non-Marxists’ day-to-day struggles. And part of this sharing involves full participation inside the broad church of anti-Tories: Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.