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South London Anticapitalist Network launched

Simon Hardy reports on a successful meeting in South London for an anticapitalist alternative.

Around 40 people met on Saturday 22 January to discuss the way forward for the left in the face of the crisis.

Anticuts activists, trade unionists, student activists, socialists and anticapitalists gathered together to debate problems on the left, and the way forward to a revitalised left which could defeat the cuts and pose the question of an alternative to capitalism. Members from Workers Power, Permanent Revolution, Committee for Marxist revival, the SWP and Green Left were present, all contributing useful points to the discussion.

There was a thorough debate, covering the present situation, past and the way we the left needed to change for the future. A number of contributions focussed on the problems of the socialist left, why there was a decline in numbers of active socialists since the 1970s, and the problems of disunity in the anticuts movement.

In the debate some activists raised the question of whether this would be another anti-cuts organisation. Others replied that this new initiative was not designed to replace the already existing anticuts groups but would unite those within the anti cuts movement that wanted a more radical and active orientation, a political response which is more than just resistance and protest, and that would actively work to overcome to divisions and disunity on the left.

As the meeting went on, more people began to focus on the future and what to do next. Other important issues which were only really flagged up for future discussions include how the new horizontally organised “new left” and “old left” can work together, what kind of action we need to stop the cuts and what kind of politics a revolutionary organisation would need to have to defeat the cuts and change the system. Some raised a criticism of even using the terms new and old left and asked if we could move beyond these concepts.

The meeting had been called by south London activists and brought together people from across Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. Activists also came from other parts of London to see what the meeting involved, to hear the discussion, and similar events will now be organised in other parts of the capital.

The meeting came after discussions by several groups and individuals to launch a new anticapitalist organisation, aiming to bring together those that want to fight the cuts and challenge the system. Whilst there are many different views on what we need, most agreed that there was an urgent need for a new kind of politics on the left, and the need to create a forum where these debates could be had out, and steps towards and new organisation could be made.

 

Next steps

The meeting voted to invite Paul Mason to speak at a public forum in 3 weeks time to speak on his new book. We will also set up a blog and a facebook group to organise ourselves. The name South London Anticapitalist Network was adopted.

Workers Power members handed out a document (attached below) which made the case for why we wanted to build an anticapitalist organisation and what kind of politics we think it should have.

If you want to be part of a new initiative to build a radical alternative to the mainstream parties and

the capitalist system that they defend then get in touch at anticapitalistalternative[at]gmail.com. The initiative is open, and activists can and should try and launch similar meetings in their area. We already have meetings being planned in Sunderland, Liverpool, Leeds and Doncaster.

If you want to get involved, want support to hold a meeting in your area or just want more information get in touch.

If activists build Anticapitalist Meetings/Networks/Forums across the country, bringing in people who are currently unorganised, as well as people in groups and important campaigns we can develop the discussion on the way forward, and begin the next task of organising a national meeting with delegates from each group to launch a proper national co-ordination.

 

Workers Power perspective for building an anticapitalist alternative

We need to open up a debate on the wider left, student movement, and amongst the trade union rank and file, about what we want to achieve, what we need to do to win, and how we need to organise ourselves to achieve these aims.

We have come together because we recognise the main organisations of the left as they stand are not ‘fit for purpose’ and are failing to rise to the challenge of the capitalist crisis. We want to see a realignment on the British left, and a change in its ethos and political practice.

Our aim is to build a groundswell of support behind the need for a new anticapitalist organisation in Britain. To this end, we are organising a nationwide series of meetings and forums on the issue.

We are contacting activists in a number of cities across Britain to organise venues, speakers and dates.

Those already involved will facilitate the process, but we want to ensure that local activists organising the meetings have real ownership over their structure and content.

In some places, we will be able to attract large numbers of people to meetings with speakers, in other places it is a case of bringing together small groups of activists for an open forum. We will need to be flexible depending on each place. But we should also be ambitious – we are in touch with enough activists across the UK that we can organise a series of meetings with a good geographical spread. It will also be important to emphasis they are not ‘just rallies’ but will have plenty of time for discussion and debate, and, crucially, a practical outcome.

We expect to attract significant support for the project in the next few months and intend to take practical steps towards the formation of a new anticapitalist organisation thereafter, including discussion of policy and structure.

We expect this would include:

a) Campaigning for mass strikes and occupations to bring down the government
b) Support for an anti-bureaucratic rank and file movement in the unions
c) Organising the unemployed, precarious workers and youth
d) Opposition to imperialist wars and state repression
e) Support for the Arab revolutions and the right of the Palestinians to return
f) Against racism, sexism, Islamophobia and homophobia
g) Against the capitalists’ destruction of the environment
h) Support for the formation of a mass political alternative to the Labour Party

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