What's the role of a revolutionary socialist? Or just a decent working-class militant?
The old adage is that there are 3 fronts to the class struggle, which are all interconnected and affect one another in different ways at different times. The 3 fronts are the political, the economic and the ideological.
The political struggle is the struggle for a working-class political representation - what I guess your doing in Sunderland. We need to democratise the existing labour movement, bring large numbers of working-class people into political activity and have representatives in the political sphere which are accountable to that movement. We need to mobilise people around a programme of working-class politics and interests. AWL members fight that struggle at the moment by getting the unions to fight for their own policies within the Labour Party. We believe that if there was a big enough push within the unions to stand up for themselves within the party structures, then this would create divisions within the party along class lines. We also call for left unity - to unite the socialist left in an open democratic party organisation outside of the LP.
The economic struggle is trade union work. AWL members in work are all trade unionists and active in their workplaces. This is the slow work of building the sinews of working-class power. The class struggle is felt most keenly in the workplace and its here that we concentrate most of our attention. We are involved at every level of the trade union movement which, for all its bureaucratism and sluggishness, is the most democratic and progressive force on the planet. We seek to transform the trade union movement into a militant fighting force, through building rank-and-file organisation.
The ideological struggle is the political ideas that the class needs to make socialism. As Marx said, the dominant ideas of any period are the ideas of the ruling class. We see this with the capitalist controlled media and an education system run for capitalist interests. Scientific Socialism, as Marx described it, is an ideology that came out of the scientific study of human history. This study was undertaken by bourgeois individuals like Marx. Working-class people are not naturally socialists. This is not to say that the Marxist intellectuals cannot come from working-class backgrounds. It is simply saying that people do not come to socialism through a process of divine revelation. Someone needs to be hammering out the ideas and the propaganda. And much of the left has been corrupted by another ruling class - the Stalinist dictators - who manipulated the writings of Marx, Engels and Lenin to justify their own totalitarian rule. Our ideological struggle now, through the website and our newspaper, is to revive and develop the writings and methods of the early Marxist movement and cleanse our tradition of Stalinist filth. We place massive emphasis on collective self-education, learning working-class history, Marxist philosophy, political theory and develop our own critical faculties and abilities to convey these ideas.
I agree that breaking stuff is cathartic. When you hear about the latest bankers bonuses or plans to turn the NHS into a slush fund for BUPA, violent destruction is very appealing. However, what I've outlined above is a coherent way to live a life as a revolutionary socialist.