Response to Mike Macnair’s article in Weekly Worker Issue 1460 “It’s good to talk”.

We in ‘Talking About Socialism…from a Marxist point of view’ have a clear idea of what we want and we’re prepared to talk about it with anyone who is interested. We want to work together with others who share our aim of creating the basis of a mass socialist/communist party1.

Our website was launched just over a year ago and our fortnightly zoom discussions have been going only since 20 March this year. We have held 15 of them so far2

We launched a statement, ‘Who we are and the ideas that guide us’3 on 4 April 2023, for all to see exactly what we are about. It is not a draft party programme but a set of principles that we believe lay the ground for collaboration between Marxists who are committed to a socialist/communist project, based on democracy and a rejection of Stalinism.

As we say in the opening sentence of our Statement, we are “a group of Marxists who believe that we urgently need a serious, democratic organisation for Marxist ideas and activity, with the aim of building support for socialist/communist ideas and for the construction of a mass socialist/communist party.

Genuine socialist/communist ideas have been set back a long way both here in the UK and internationally over the last 30 – 40 years. We need to make them popular and, therefore, powerful. We need to make these ideas the accepted common sense of the working class: that the majority international working class should no longer accept its role as the provider of profit for the idle capitalist class; that it has the power to change things fundamentally and forever. To achieve this, we believe that we need mass, democratic, socialist/communist parties across the world, linked together in common struggle with a shared goal.

We are a small group of Marxists. But our ambition is immense – we aim to change the world. We can’t do that on our own. How do we go from the small forces who share these ideas, separated as they are into different groups and atomised into ten thousand individuals, to the mass force we need? 

We seek allies. We seek unity with others who share our socialist/communist views. We believe that these are to be found among the layers of Marxists who are not members of any party or group; those who are in existing parties and groups; and ‘new layers’ of working class militants and activists who want to find a way to confront and overcome existing class relations.

‘Talking About Socialism’ aims to provide a home for those many individuals who are not members of any existing Marxist group, who consider themselves to be Marxists but who have rejected those groups because of their intolerant, undemocratic and sectish behaviour. 

No one likes to be hectored, lectured, belittled, or told what to think and what to do. Thinking Marxists want comradely debate. The ‘Marxist’ left abounds with the haughty arrogant egotism of sects and their leaders who think that theirgroup is the party we need. Generally, they ignore each other, pretending that they are the only band in town, insulating or inoculating their members against the ideas of other Marxists. How narrow and short-sighted is their perspective. We need a party that numbers many millions, not handfuls or even hundreds. 

Many working-class Marxists who have experienced the undemocratic internal regimes of these various ‘Marxist’ groups, which put their own narrow sect interests above the need for a genuine united socialist/communist party and therefore above the objective need of the working class, have no desire to repeat that experience. Some have been spoiled by that experience, become disappointed, demoralised and even cynical. 

But many have knowledge, experience, ideas and energy that could contribute to the building of a healthy, democratic workers’ socialist/communist party. We don’t want those precious individual capsules of communism lost to the movement. We want to create a party environment in which the chemical combination produces a much more powerful force for communism than could ever possibly be obtained by individuals acting alone.

Things are more complicated with the larger Marxist groups, such as Socialist Appeal, the Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party. They are large enough to sustain themselves at current meagre levels through their cadre and turnover of members, apparently without ever seriously considering how much more impact they could have if they merged their forces. We do not suggest this would be easy. But it should be the aim, if possible. We propose for consideration the call for all genuine Marxist organisations to seek unity around a shared set of principles and a common programme.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we come to the ‘new layers’. These are the new generations who will build the party from its small seeds into the powerful mass force it must become. These will be militants in the workers’ movement. Not just trade union activists but conscious communist workers who see the need for a political challenge and a systemic change: the working class taking power, deepening and extending real democracy to all areas of society, expropriating the expropriators and so laying the basis for the abolition of exploitation, classes, the state, borders, nations, economic rivalry and wars, and creating a society in which human life can flourish in a natural environment that we can all enjoy.

We aim, in short, to build a democratic, comradely, Marxist organisation with the clear aims set out in our Statement.

As we say at the end of our statement, 

Through discussion and activity we aim to promote the ideas of socialism/communism, to make them popular within the working class and to build a group that campaigns to bring into existence the embryo of the new mass socialist/communist party that we need. 

To this end, we invite all who share our aims or who are interested in finding out more to join our discussions. 

We appeal to all those who agree with our statement, or who at least accept it as a basis for collaboration, to get in touch4.

Will McMahon

Nick Wrack

  1. It’s good to talk, Mike Macnair, Weekly Worker 28 September 2023: ↩︎
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