CS response to Revo on unity

Don't hide it under a bushel

Here we publish our reply to comrades from the Revolution youth group, who emailed CS (see below) suggesting closer collaboration between our organisations.

Dear comrades,

We thank you for your correspondence dated April 20 2012.

The question of revolutionary unity and rapprochement is absolutely vital to our movement today. We in Communist Students are willing to debate and discuss with anybody who is raising this key question. CS exists to promote Marxist revolutionary unity in the student movement.

If you in Revolution have also moved towards this perspective, then this a very welcome development indeed. The last time our organisations had an exchange about the need for revolutionary Marxism in the student movement (back in 2009), you unfortunately dismissed our Marxist perspectives as a “comfort blanket” for us to wrap ourselves in.

Many of the criticisms that we made of your ‘Student Coordination Network’ proposals back then could equally apply to an initiative in which your comrades are playing a key role: the ‘Anti-Capitalist Network’. At this conference, leading comrades on both sides of the recent split in Workers Power were clear that what was needed was a kind of ‘transitional party’ (or network), not an openly Marxist political formation. But the history of such ‘broad front’ formations has shown that they lead not to revolutionary unity, but to disillusionment and disappointment. We need to start discussing unity around the Marxist politics that purportedly unites us all. Centrism and reformism are not ‘signposts’ to Marxist unity.
We are convinced that there are no short-cuts. No quick fixes. The fight for the revolutionary unity that is necessary to provide effective action is a tough one. But it cannot be dodged. We can only win revolutionary unity with a hard fought political struggle against the sectarian and opportunist ideas dominant on today’s left. This requires a sharp, polemical intervention into the left that wins you few friends in the short term. But it is nonetheless vital.
As we put it in our 2009 correspondence, we will argue “as we have consistently done, for the unity of the left around the acceptance (not agreement with every dot and comma, as in the Workers Power tradition) of a Marxist programme – a crucial distinction in the history of the Marxist programme.”

In a certain sense, the method outlined in one of your articles from May 2003 seems to us a qualitatively better basis from which to proceed. The article states: ““How can we attract mass forces from the reformist Labour Party if we adopt a revolutionary policy? Should we not reach a more limited agreement first? This argument, which sounds so realistic at first sight, is in fact a council of despair. It assumes that mass forces cannot be won from reform to a revolutionary policy. Every attempt to make headway by presenting a halfway house programme to the working class has ended up strengthening reformism.” The last sentence is, we feel, particularly apposite.

We hope that we can publish online our discussions and debates, thereby providing a service to the wider far left as a whole.

Yours for principled, revolutionary unity,

Communist Students executive



Dear comrades,
After a discussion at the Revo National Council and after working with closely with your organisation in Manchester, we wanted to have more formal discussions with you about closer collaboration. In particular, one issue we would like to discuss would be how to build larger socialist and communist youth organisations in Britain. We would like to discuss in more detail where our organisations have agreement and whether there are any areas of the politics of our groups which may need to be discussed more fully.
Myself and Kady from Revolution have been asked to meet with you to discuss these issues, and we hope to hear from you soon. In the meantime you may wish to read our action programme for Britain that can be found here: http://www.socialistrevolution.org/actionprogramme2011/
Kind Regards
John Bowden
Revolution NC


  • I’m not in Revo or CS but this response reeks of childish bitterness and arrogance. If you want to change society you have to work with other socialists. On the left we don’t have the numbers or the privilege to be happy to remain isolated organisations of far fewer than a thousand comrades.

  • Hi Joe,

    CS HAS worked with other socialists on a number of issues. And we are not ‘happy to remain isolated organisations of far fewer than a thousand comrades’- our central argument -if you have read any of our material??!!- is for the UNITY of the revolutionary left.

    But political unity is only sustainable on the basis of political honesty- not ‘fronting’ and diluting politics for the sake of a diplomatic unity which never lasts and leads only to more disillusionment. Given what has happened with the ‘new’ Anticapitalist Initiative, you will excuse us for not being convinced that Revo comrades want the unity of revolutionaries on revolutionary politics. Taking part in broad organisations thrown up by the class struggle- YES! Setting up ‘broad’ organisations which actually consist of a small Trot group, and hiding your politics to not scare the few hangers-on- yet still hoping to recruit them, quietly, to your sect… NO.

    We have to be upfront about our politics if we are to get anywhere. And allow room for the inevitable disagreements that life throws up. Otherwise the only option is to split, as Revo’s ‘parent’ organisation, Worker’s Power, has done, messily, in several different directions. Perhaps giving these comrades a lecture about unity might be more productive.

    Hopefully CS will continue to provide a home for students who are Marxists or interested in Marxism. Who don’t want to be treated as leaflet fodder or gagged when they disagree with the prescribed line. Most students see right through the left’s various student fronts, whose almost sole aim is to channel recruits into the mothership, and whose attitude to debate and democracy is sorely lacking if we want to train the revolutionaries of tomorrow.

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