AWL conference 2007

Iraq — troops out now? The debate in AWL

Published on: Thu, 21/06/2007 - 18:04

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty has been discussing the question of the troops in Iraq since the end of the last year. The debate will continue at our conference on 19-20 May. Here, two contributions to the debate (note: the second is not a reply to the first).

“Troops out”

In the face of the carnage brought on by the invasion, occupation and ensuing sectarian conflict, the Iraqi workers' movement must seek to build itself as an active element of social change. Its slogans must be oriented towards cohering the working class as a united, independent force for democracy and liberation.


Educating the educators

Published on: Sat, 09/06/2007 - 11:03

Paul Hampton reports on the AWL 2007 annual conference

Anyone wondering why AWL members are combative with those we disagree with in the left and the labour movement might be surprised at the way we argue with each other — it’s even sharper.

The culture of the AWL is to fight for clarity in our ideas, to tell the truth and to call things by their right names. It is a culture of debate we want in our press, in our public meetings, and of course in our annual conference.

Marx warned that the ruling ideas of the epoch are those of the ruling class. Lenin followed Engels in defining the

Assessment and orientation: "everything depends on our ability to act as Marxist educators" (document 1.0)

Published on: Sun, 20/05/2007 - 19:32

1. The assessment we made in our long document last year on "Building a Marxist presence in the unions" remains cruelly true.

The shift to the left in unions at the level of general secretary elections has not been matched by a new organising or class-struggle effort by those general secretaries, or by an upsurge in rank-and-file organisation or confidence: witness the limpness of union reaction on local government pensions or civil service jobs and pay. Working-class confidence remains generally low. That can change, and maybe quickly, but for now it shapes the basic framework in which we

"Public sector alliance" (document 1.1)

Published on: Sun, 20/05/2007 - 19:30

1. In 2005, long before the public sector unions formal retreat on retirement age, we identified the need, within our very limited resources, to propagandise and agitate for a cross public sector rank and file movement in counter-position to the likely Alliance of Bureaucrats for a Deal with New Labour.

Last year we noted that "the inadequacy of the Left opposition (such as it was) to the [pensions] reserved rights deal, with much of the Left actually supporting it, demonstrated yet again the need to for us to organise wider layers of the Left around our distinctive industrial policies, to

"United working-class campaigns against fascism" (document 1.2)

Published on: Sun, 20/05/2007 - 19:27

1. The growth of the BNP is largely a result of three factors:
a. The Labour government's continuing attacks on the working class
b. The organisational and political weakness of the any visible fighting left within the trade union and labour movement
c. The flight from class politics of sections of the far-left, in particular the SWP and Respect, and towards communalist politics

2. The BNP are primarily targeting right wing dissident Tory voters and are recruiting significantly in that milieu. Their model is the fascist French Front National. Gaining an electoral base is essential for them in

"Educating AWL members so we become educators" (document 2.0)

Published on: Sun, 20/05/2007 - 19:21

1. The fundamental long-term task of a Marxist organisation is to help the working class educate itself.
In order to do that, the Marxist organisation must educate itself. We do our work by educating the advance-guard; educating, organising, and equipping, morally and materially, a revolutionary cadre that works within the working class to educate it, from books and from experience.

Marxism is essential to working-class self-emancipation. Though general socialist ideas arise spontaneously in certain conditions, Marxism cannot be improvised in that way. It has to be created and augmented and

"Inside Organising" (document 6.0)

Published on: Sun, 20/05/2007 - 19:19

A large part of our whole effort is about organising ourselves to be at the right place at the right time - at the right meetings and demonstrations, in the right places for public agitation and paper sales, on the right doorsteps to talk with contacts.

To operate well, we need a number of activists who give their full time to political activity, or who take part-time jobs so that they can give most of their time to political activity.

Most of our activists have to work for an ordinary wage. But the time they spend working for a wage need not be dead time as regards socialist activity. In fact

"Organising from outside"/ "Target areas": defeated amendments on Inside Organising (documents 6.1/6.2)

Published on: Sun, 20/05/2007 - 19:12

Amendments 6.1 and 6.2 to the Inside Organising document


(Refer also to the preamble for this amendment and amendment 6.3. The preamble was not voted on.)

Add after para 10 of the Inside Organising document:

Our history is full of socialists who helped the working class to organise and spread ideas within the class without being workers in an industry or even in the class. Starting with the early Marxists, through Eleanor Marx, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Tom Mann who built the dockers’ union as a full time organiser but was an engineer. J P Cannon was an

"A 'rank and file youth project' - a quick fix?": preamble to amendments 6.1 and 6.3

Published on: Sun, 20/05/2007 - 19:09

Preamble for amendments 6.1 and 6.3

Marxists have built a real base in a section of the class as the result of winning over existing militants and winning new activists from the existing workforce, whether that is in the Second International, the building of the Communist Parties or the work of the SWP (US) in the Teamsters in the 1930’s and 40’s. Even the rank and file movements in the 1960s in Britain were based on a network of existing militants being won over by the SLL or the IS.

I learnt a great deal about trade unionism in the years I worked on the post, both positive and negative. I

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