Nelson Mandela once said, “I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death”
He also said, “I never lose. I win or I learn.” A very Leninist approach when we consider the big man himself gave the youth one task, to learn; further, to learn communism. It’s with this in mind that I would like to propose some thoughts for action.
It has been widely reported since I joined the YCL of our rapid recruitment. While numbers aren’t everything, genuine working class party members engaged at work and in education in developing and learning the struggle to build the party and the revolution are.
Revolution is undoubtedly an idealistic term to throw about in the current climate, it is very much the done ultra left thing to bandy about revolutionary sloganeering, presenting themselves as being modern revolutionaries leading the struggle to overcome the monstrous blood thirsty bourgeoisie.
I have learned my lesson in this regard, we cannot merely throw about slogans without having a basis in reality, in the application of our thought and theory into the modern struggle in the communities and work places, on the political stage. Everything we do must be linked up, from our very basic demand to see everything we do geared towards improving the lot of the working class; moving up to our highest demand, the establishment of communism, a feat we are far away from achieving, but one which must form our vision of the future; which must be used as a rallying call and an inspiration from which to build the hopes, trust, strength and most essentially faith, of the working classes.
We must go the masses, learn from them, develop in service to them, and apply the lessons learned in the struggle in order to effectively lead them and win them over. The day when the Communist Party ushers in a Socialist Britain is regrettably far away, not quite belonging to the realm of science fiction, more philosophical in the current situation; but Lenin himself never thought he would live to see the events of October 1917, and so I think we must temper our pessimism with faith; faith in ourselves, in the righteousness of our cause, and in the vision of a better world fit for all to cherish and enjoy, in which we can build not only a new society, but a new type of human being; free of the corruptive elements that have scarred not only previous political systems, but which has seen the great actually existing socialist projects of the past century flounder and make mistakes along the way, criminally falling apart in the case of the Soviet Union’s revisionist leaderships towards its untimely end. We must understand why this happened, just as Marx and Lenin learned from the failures of the Paris Commune.
The rollercoaster ride that has been the Labour Party under Corbyn and the fallout that is still being played out under new leadership has brought many to question the correctness of Britain’s Road to Socialism, the programme of the Communist Party – recently updated to better reflect the new conditions we find ourselves in.
While we may see the failure of Labour to win the election, we also see many of the demands they made and which were made initially by the wider trade union movement now astonishingly being adopted by the Tories in response to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Ours is not to reason why, but to ensure that extraordinary measures such as the miraculous housing of the homeless in London, and here in Glasgow, the essential ban on tenants being evicted, and the massive injection of capital into the economy are not cast aside as soon as it looks like we’ve escaped the worst of the virus.
We need to inject class politics back into the labour movement, not just in the oratorical sense that Labour under Corbyn gave, but taking it to the next stage, putting practical demands in place and showing people in practice what exactly we are all about.
Free Broadband is a great example, dismissed as pie in the sky nonsense, the crisis has demonstrated the woeful inadequacy of our current infrastructure and the urgent need to invest in it, precisely given the nature of home working could yet be here to stay more permanently.
We need to be constantly present campaigning for real demands that the people have, avoiding Jargon and bookishness, applying Marxism as Lenin did, not to point score and present a convenient excuse to retreat into online shelters of moral anti-activism, but being bold, brave and optimistic. Being ruthlessly critical of our mistakes in order to throw ourselves with new energy onto the correct path and bringing as many of our broad allies with us.
The new conditions of the lockdown world will see us having to adopt new methods of organising to reach out to people, and frankly it’s about time we properly modernise and take up the challenge. Shares in Zoom, Slack and all things Silicon Valley have rocketed, but they have given us a new form of organising. Just as the Soviet form of democracy in 1905 was a revolutionary new form the Bolsheviks learned from, we too can use these forms to continue reaching out to more people than ever through online social activities like the ever popular pub quiz or games night that so many of us have used to break the boredom of confinement; or as we have started to see, as online learning tools to host political meetings, educational’s and discussion.
Our humble journal is now active and soon to be prospering in a re-energised online setting taking inspiration from the many great and growing sources of online left wing literature and journalism. It will be reinforced by the dynamism of podcasts and video content, giving a much needed presence online for many young communists and broad allies to express their rage and hope.
The practical work on the ground must complement this new arm of ideological struggle. Across Britain, the YCL will be counting on its activists to continue engaging in trade union work, in food bank collections, care package distribution, leafleting, postering, stickering, public meetings, street stalls, street meetings, petitions, door knocking, protesting, marching, banner making, banner drops, soup kitchens, popular education, occupation and a whole host of other activities.
But we will be counting all the more on you, the reader who for whatever reason has not yet took the plunge and joined the struggle for a better world. What is clear now more than ever is not just the need to fight for a better future, but organising and agitating for it effectively.
Join us in that effort and together we will make Britain red.