SP article “United Left Alliance must argue for socialist policies”


“Therefore, as well as fighting the attacks, the ULA has the responsibility to advocate a real alternative – a complete break with capitalism and a socialist programme and plan for economic development, the only alternative to private ownership of wealth and profiteering.

“The Socialist Party thinks that the ULA should aspire to lead the revolt against austerity, which is likely to include young people, the working class and sections of the middle class. However, the job of the ULA is not to become the leadership of a revolt on the basis of hiding the left and socialist policies necessary to overcome the crisis. That would contradict the purpose for establishing the ULA in the first place.

“The job of the ULA is to argue for socialist policies and strive, over time, on the basis of peoples experiences of capitalism in crisis, to win mass and then majority support for genuine socialism as the only way forward.”

Well it would be nice if the SP were to argue for the ULA to adopt a coherent programme for how to get to socialism however the reality is that they will leave out any elements that point towards building working class organisations in opposition to the capitalist state and the framework of bourgeois democracy – without which all the nice “socialist” aspirations amount to very little.

Which of course stands in direct contradiction to the political method of Trotsky (who the SP claim to stand in the tradition of):

‘We have repeated many times that the scientific character of our activity consists in the fact that we adapt our program not to political conjunctures or the thought or mood of the masses as this mood is today, but we adapt our program to the objective situation as it is represented by the economic class structure of society. The mentality can be backward; then the political task of the party is to bring the mentality into harmony with the objective facts, to make the workers understand the objective task. But we cannot adapt the program to the backward mentality of the workers, the mentality, the mood is a secondary factor — the prime factor is the objective situation. That is why we have heard these criticisms or these appreciations that some parts of the program do not conform to the situation.’
(‘Discussions With Trotsky: On the Transitional Programme’, 7 June 1938)

What exactly do the SP think the “objective situation as it is represented by the economic class structure of society” means today?

Are we not in the midst of a deep economic crisis with massive attacks on working people as the capitalists seek to make us pay for their crisis?

That objective situation requires working people to resist and the job of revolutionaries is to provide a programme that will both maximise that immediate resistance and point towards the overthrow of this whole rotten system.

The SP are quite happy to include in their programme calls for strikes and occupations, up to and including, a general strike. They are quite happy to call for a campaign of mass non-payment of the water tax and for moblising to stop house reposessions. They even pose the idea of “nationalising the commanding heights of the economy under workers control”.

And yet we are told that this kind of militant class struggle, which is required as the result of the “objective situation as it is represented by the economic class structure of society”, should be raised without discussing the reality that the capitalists will use their repressive state apparatus against any of these developments and therefore that the workers’ movement will need organisations to defend ourselves.

And it is important to understand that these different approaches are not just abstract “how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin” debates. Instead they will soon be tested in reality.

If, as everyone expects, there is a rise in class struggle in the autumn as the details of the attacks in the next budget become clearer then we will be in a very interesting situation.

Both I and the SP comrades will be calling for strikes, occupations, mass non-payment campaigns etc.

I will be arguing, entirely sensibly I think, that part of this is the need to be ready to defend ourselves when the capitalists use their state apparatus against us.

Presumably the SP will instead be telling workers not to listen to ultra-left hotheads like me and to organise this militant class struggle without making any preparations for defence against the Gardaí.

Apparently its not until some heads have actually been broken by batons that it is the right time to start arguing for organisation to defend ourselves because apparently working people aren’t able to be convinced of the need for this until after they have directly seen the reality of the ugly face of the capitalist state for themselves.

And actually it is worse than this because up until such time as the SP decide working people are ready to be told the truth that we need to organise to defend ourselves against Gardaí the SP are not being completely silent on the question.

They are going to be telling working people that the way to deal with the capitalist state repressive apparatus is through “community control”.

So why bother organising to defend ourselves when it is possible to “control” the Gardaí through:

“…the establishment of local, democratic committees made up of elected local representatives, which would include representatives of trade unions and community organisations. These committees should control policing priorities as well as having powers of appointment of senior police officials to ensure these officials carry out democratically decided policies.”


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