Socialist Appeal (UK, 1992)

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Socialist Appeal is the publication of a British Trotskyist tendency[1] operating within the Labour Party which was founded by supporters of Ted Grant and Alan Woods after they were expelled from the Militant tendency in the early 1990s.[2][3][4] The organisation is popularly known as the Socialist Appeal group, and publishes a monthly newspaper of the same name. It is the British section of the International Marxist Tendency.[5] Socialist Appeal describes its politics as descending from Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky.[6]

History[edit]

Main article: Militant tendency

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Trotskyist Militant tendency had been a significant force within the British Labour Party.[7] At the height of its influence in the mid-to-late 1980s, Militant had three Labour MPs, control of Liverpool City Council, and initiated the campaign that brought down the Poll Tax.[8][9] Ted Grant had been one of the founders[10] and a major theoretical leader of the Militant tendency but was expelled with other supporters after the 1991 debate on the Open Turn.[11]

A special conference decision to endorse the Open Turn by 93% to 7% entailed Militant supporters abandoning the entryist strategy of working within the Labour Party and leaving to form an independent organisation. The new party was initially known as Militant Labour, changing its name in 1997 to the Socialist Party in England and Wales, while in Scotland Scottish Militant Labour instigated the formation of the Scottish Socialist Party.

The split was caused by the Militant tendency's majority adoption of the 'Open Turn', Grant's continued support for the tactic of entryism within the Labour Party and what Grant and Woods claimed was the bureaucratic centralist degeneration of Militant's internal regime.[12][13] After the debate and conference decision, the Militant tendency claimed that Grant and Woods had begun a separate organisation and had split from Militant, whilst Grant and Woods claimed to have been expelled. The Socialist Party drew the conclusions that owing to the adoption of right wing economic polices by the Labour Party leadership under Neil Kinnock, it was effectively a bourgeois political party. Conversely, supporters of Socialist Appeal argued that the Labour Party's funding was still based on trade unions, and the Labour Party retains support amongst the working class.

As Labour under Tony Blair embraced the Third Way and moved away from its traditional socialist roots, most Trotskyist tendencies in Britain that employed the tactic of entrism have left Labour and either run candidates under their own banner, such as the Socialist Party, or joined electoral coalitions such as the Scottish Socialist Party or the Socialist Alliance. The Socialist Party, along with other left-wing organisations, intiatiated the Campaign for a New Workers' Party in 2006, arguing that trade unions should break with Labour and construct their own political formation.[14] However, supporters of Socialist Appeal have rejected this turn and they are the main Trotskyist group in Britain which maintains the entrist tactic in the twenty-first century. Socialist Appeal began publishing their own journal in 1992. In 2000, the group was estimated to have around 250 supporters.[15]

In 2013, the tendency in Britain made a turn towards the student movement by launching the Marxist Student Federation.

Politics[edit]

Socialist Appeal puts forward a set of transitional demands for the transformation of the economy on socialist lines similar to the programme drawn up in 1938 by Leon Trotsky.

The Labour Movement[edit]

Socialist Appeal argues that the Labour Party must break decisively with capitalism and adopt a socialist programme, based on the nationalisation of the "commanding heights" of the economy. They argue that through the introduction of a planned economy, a socialist Labour government could introduce full employment, a 32-hour week, and "reasonable" wages and pensions.[16]

Socialist Appeal calls on trade unions to "reclaim" the Labour Party for themselves, away from the domination of supporters of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and its supporters typically work within their respective Constituency Labour Parties or trade union branches to that end. The organisation also carries out open work outside of the Labour Party. Socialist Appeal demands full trade union rights, including the repeal of the anti-union laws introduced by Margaret Thatcher, as well as for officials in the Labour Party and Trade Unions to be subject to the right of recall, and to receive a "worker's wage".

The Economy[edit]

Leading theoretician of the International Marxist Tendency Alan Woods, in a meeting with Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez.

Socialist Appeal is in broad agreement with the classical Marxist view that capitalism inherently results in "boom and bust" cycles as a result of overproduction, and thus attempts to prevent this through monetarism or Keynesianism are not possible.[17] Therefore, the only solution to this is the introduction of democratic socialism, based on a planned and nationalised economy, based on the socialisation of its "commanding heights" (i.e. the top 150-200 financial institutions and companies). They argue that a planned economy is able to replace production on the basis of profit with production on the basis of need.

Socialist Appeal Publications[edit]

The new Socialist Appeal masthead, adopted when the journal made the transition to newspaper format in 2009.

Socialist Appeal refers to the monthly journal of the same name. In September 2009, the publication Socialist Appeal changed from a magazine journal format to a full colour tabloid.[18] Similar to the newspaper of the old Militant tendency, an issue of Socialist Appeal typically contains theoretical articles, industrial reports, and political analysis. Socialist Appeal also produce and publish a number of pamphlets and books through their Wellred publishing arm.[19]

Socialist Appeal was also the name of two British Trotskyist newspapers associated with Ted Grant in the 1940s: one was the newspaper of the Workers International League and immediately following that of the Revolutionary Communist Party.[20]

It was also the name of the paper of the Trotskyist Workers Party of the United States during its period of entrism in the Socialist Party of America in 1936-38.[21]

Socialist Appeal is the name of the English-language newspaper of the Workers' International League, the US section of the International Marxist Tendency, and a newspaper in New Zealand which is also affiliated.

International Marxist Tendency[edit]

The banner of the International Marxist Tendency. Socialist Appeal is the British section of the IMT.

Although they remain small in Britain, the international group to which they are affilitated, the International Marxist Tendency, has grown in number, especially in the Indian subcontinent and Latin America, where they are enthusiastic supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution (they instigated the formation of the Hands Off Venezuela campaign group).[22][23][24] As well as publishing their magazine Socialist Appeal, the group has also published a number of books by Leon Trotsky, Ted Grant and Alan Woods.[19] The group has devoted much of their time to developing the multilingual website In Defence of Marxism.

Theory[edit]

Supporters of Socialist Appeal value the importance of theory highly, and dedicate a large amount of space in their paper and website to theoretical articles. They have been criticised by some left groups[who?] for spending too much time on 'abstract' theoretical subjects; however, Socialist Appeal argues that a thorough understanding of Marxism, history, economics and politics is necessary to understand the world today.[25] They argue[26] that neglect of theory in the late 1980s led to the Militant tendency turning in an ultraleft direction.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ted Grant". The Telegraph (London). 27 July 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  2. ^ Crick, Michael (27 July 2006). "Socialist revolutionary who used Labour movement". Financial Times. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Ted Grant: Trotskyist who gave the Labour Party a scare through his leadership of Militant Tendency". The Times. 26 July 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Wade, Bob (27 July 2006). "Ted Grant: Trotskyite behind the Militant Tendency's infiltration of the Labour party". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Socialist Appeal Conference 2012 - Full Report". Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "A Brief History of the International Marxist Tendency". In Defence of Marxism. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Crick, Michael (1986). The March of Militant. London: Faber & Faber. 
  8. ^ Taaffe, Peter (1995). The Rise of Militant. London: Militant Publications. 
  9. ^ Sewell, Rob. "How the Militant was Built – and How it was Destroyed" (10 October 2004). In Defence of Marxism. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  10. ^ Grant, Ted (1989). The Unbroken Thread. London: Fortress Books. pp. ix. 
  11. ^ McSmith, Andy (9 August 2006). "Ted Grant: Founder of the Trotskyite group Militant Tendency who never abandoned his revolutionary ideals". The Independent (London). Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  12. ^ "Against Bureaucratic Centralism". In Defence of Marxism. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  13. ^ Taaffe, Peter (1995). The Rise of Militant. London: Militant Publications. p. 133. 
  14. ^ "The Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP)". Campaign for a New Worker's Party. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  15. ^ Peter Barberis et al, Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations, p.519
  16. ^ "Socialist Appeal stands for". Socialist Appeal. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  17. ^ "The Crisis: Make the bosses pay! - Manifesto of the International Marxist Tendency". Socialist Appeal. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  18. ^ Editorial Board (September 2009). "Welcome to the new look Socialist Appeal!". Socialist Appeal (177): 2. 
  19. ^ a b "Welcome to Wellred Online Bookshop!". Wellred Books. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  20. ^ Crick, Michael (1984). Militant. London: Faber & Faber. pp. 34, 38. 
  21. ^ "Workers Party of the United States. Publications, 1933-1939". Cornell University Library. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  22. ^ "Venezuela's economy: Towards state socialism". The Economist. 20 November 2010. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  23. ^ Yapp, Robin (5 December 2010). "Welsh Trotskyist in row over claims he is key adviser to Hugo Chavez". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  24. ^ Walker, Ross (13 April 2012). "London commemorates 10 years of the defeat of the coup". In Defence of Marxism. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  25. ^ Woods, Alan (15 October 2009). "In defence of theory — or Ignorance never yet helped anybody". In Defence of Marxism. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  26. ^ Grant, Ted. "Scotland—Socialism or Nationalism? A Marxist Analysis". Retrieved 27 June 2012. 

External links[edit]