Online discussion: Who we are, and the ideas that guide us

Zoom session on 4th September 2023. Watch the video here. Read the statement here.

The group who organise the Talking About Socialism website and Zoom discussions have published a statement about who we are, and the ideas that guide us.  It is the basis of our collaboration, and on the back of which we are inviting others to engage and work with us in these discussions and on our first steps towards a coherent political intervention.  This session was held to launch and discuss the statement.

At the session, Nick Wrack spoke on behalf of the organising group to introduce the statement.  He explained that we are committed socialists or communists – we use the terms to mean the same thing, namely the necessity to replace capitalism with a society in which there is shared ownership and democratic control of the means of production.  A society of abundance for all, which is classless, and in which there is no repressive state.  We believe that it is only the working class who can bring about that change.

Both the terms ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’ have been distorted and devalued, by social democratic and Stalinist currents around the world.  We want to reclaim both of those terms, as they were used by Marx and Engels, but applied to the modern world.  We believe that there is no isolated “national” socialist solution to today’s crises, and we believe that the needs of the working class cannot be met within capitalism.

We want to work with other socialists/communists, both independents and those who are in existing organised groups.  We have put together the statement as a basis on which to engage more widely.  We are at the very beginning of a long journey, but our aim is to move towards a mass democratic socialist/communist party, bringing together all who share this vision.  In this endeavour, we welcome and are keen to discuss differences of political opinion, within the broad framework of our statement.  It may seem ambitious given where we are now, but we have a world to win!

After Nick’s introduction, there was a wide-ranging discussion touching on many issues:

  • Capitalism is in decline; the shift to finance capital, and its relationship to imperialism; the impact of Stalinism, and how we differentiate ourselves from Stalinism;
  • the direction of the Labour Party, and the retreat of social democracy; the role of the union bureaucracy in acting against the interests of members, despite a revival in worker militancy; what a mass socialist party would look like; the importance of orienting to people in the trade unions and in campaigns, who may well not be in the Labour Party; the pros and cons of standing candidates in elections; the need for explaining our ideas clearly and making them accessible, but also engaging in political theory;
  • whether the working class will turn to the Labour Party once it is elected to government and implements anti-worker policies (as it has done in the past), and if they do how we should intervene;
  • the risk of an inter-imperialist world war, yet we have so little by way of socialist organisation, political voice and leadership, the weakness of the organised Marxist left today, and the vacuum that we need to fill; the danger of the far-right exploiting the retreat of social democracy and the weakness of the socialist movement, and co-opting our language to appeal to the working class.

Watch the video and hear the discussion – it’s worth the time!

Ed Potts chaired the session.

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