United fronts today (2)

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The labour movement has revived and the time has arrived to build a front against racism, Islamophobia and all the other associated forces of repression perpetrated by this monstrous government.

It was heartwarming to read Tom Kay’s thoughtful and timely article on the need for a united front. Such a body requires having sufficient organisational coherence to enable it, as Trotsky enjoined in 1921, to work “at every given moment” for “joint, coordinated actions” between revolutionaries and non-revolutionaries.

The notion of the united front is as old as the working class movement itself, the Chartist movement having been one of its initial national manifestations. Despite political differences existing among the various strands and layers of the working class, the call remains no different from the one heard and pursued by those pioneers of revolutionary change: to combine in concerted action around common working class objectives.

It should not be a condition of participation in a united front that all are agreed on any wider socialist front. However, the danger of the movement progressing no further than discussion needs to be recognised; an effective front is no mere talking shop. Debate and discussion are required, as Tom suggests, but the way forward also requires effective resistance and action. A united front becomes one only when it acts.

For revolutionaries the self-activity and self-determination of the working class, present in all struggles no matter how insignificant, remain the axiomatic tenets dovetailing revolutionary socialists to reformist workers who, out of a desire to achieve the most effective methods of struggle, arrive at the same conclusions.

Because of the altered political realities of the left brought about by Jeremy Corbyn’s ascendancy and by the crisis of people desperately fleeing from war-torn Syria and other beleaguered states, it has become more possible than before to instigate united front activity. The SWP has always been foremost in the organisation of class struggle and in the opposition to every variety of racist bigotry, but for several decades its members have been working in a restricted field.

The present mood of anti-capitalism, anti-racism and opposition to privatisation of the NHS, together with widespread public support for the junior doctors, demands that revolutionaries make the call for others of like mind to join forces and to show a face of flint to the forces of capitalist repression and racism.