Online Discussion: After Corbynism, what next for the left? Part Two.

Zoom session on 17th April 2023. Watch the video here. Read Nick Wrack’s background paper here.

In the second of our sessions looking at the tasks and challenges facing the left after the demise of the Corbyn project, Nick Wrack introduced the discussion by focussing on our fundamental goal as socialists. Should we just settle for trying to achieve piecemeal reforms, living with the constraints of capitalism? Or must we recognise that capitalism can’t solve the crises that the working class face across the world, and that those crises can only be solved through an international response which abolishes the profit system, and transforms society to socialism?

Discussions about the need for a new left (reformist) party, whether Corbyn should stand as an independent, whether someone should stand against Starmer etc: these tactics can only be judged by whether they help or hinder our ultimate goal. We need mass socialist parties across the world, sharing an aim to get rid of capitalism.

Some say that’s far-fetched, and that we can’t persuade people of the need and possibility of socialism. It can seem that we’re a million miles from that right now but, as Nick argues, just as each of us came to see the need to replace capitalism, so can every member of the working class. We have to be bold, and argue for socialism explicitly. If we limit ourselves to demanding reforms, we will never persuade people of the need to replace capitalism. Nick makes a case for socialists to proceed, step by step, and present our arguments honestly. There is no substitute for persuading people of the need for socialism, and in particular of persuading younger workers.

There followed a wide-ranging and engaged debate, covering many points of view:

– The potential role of the trade union bureaucracy in the formation of a new workers’ party, especially when rank & file militant workers are not well organised, and the need to engage with workers who have been embarking on strike action for the first time in recent years (with ballot majorities knocking the anti-trade union laws for six, and despite bureaucrats keen to find the earliest opportunity for compromise with the bosses);

– The need (or the futility) of trying to create a broad left Labour Party Mark II, and the distinction between what we (as revolutionary socialists) should be prioritising and building ourselves, and how we should intervene in any new developments in the labour movement and on the wider left;

– The need for a national convention of the Marxist left, but with a recognition that the lack of democracy is one of the biggest factors putting people off from joining existing socialist parties;

– The pros and cons of standing candidates in local and national elections against Labour, including the strategic sense (or otherwise) of socialists supporting Corbyn, should he stand as an independent, and the OCISA campaign to unseat Starmer in his own constituency;

– And of course, as always, how to persuade young people of the need for socialism, and how to mobilise them?

Do watch the video to hear an inclusive, comradely and lively discussion expanding on these topics.

Meeting chaired by Soraya Lawrence.

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