In our view a very good balance sheet can be drawn of the (regroupment) conference organised last Saturday (April 26th) between the International Socialist Network, the Anti-Capitalist Initiative, Workers Power, RS21, and Socialist Resistance. It was attended by around 120 comrades and contacts,from the five organisations.
The conference was the product of discussions that have been taking place between four of the five organisations concerned with a view to possible regroupment. The RS21 comrades joined the process shortly before the conference – a very welcome addition. The bulletins with the documentation for the conference have already been made available on this site.
Although it had been billed as a regroupment conference since it was originally proposed by the IS Network, there was no proposal to found a new organisation on the day. Realistically the conference was a part of an ongoing process to explore the possibility of regroupment in order to the address the problem of the fragmentation of the far left. Socialist Resistance would also like to see those comrades who left the IS Network earlier in the year more directly involved in the process.
The conclusion of the conference was that each organisation will make its own assessment of the day and where this leaves us and there will then be a meeting to discuss whether and how the process will continue.
The fact that it was a well run and comradely day of discussion was an achievement in itself given the track record of the far left. In our view it demonstrated that a serious possibility of regroupment exists, at least amongst four of the five organisations involved: the ISN, ACI, RS21 and SR.
The agenda was overcrowded with the day divided into four set-piece discussions: the trade unions and the People’s Assembly, Left Unity, feminism and Ukraine. This problem was understood in advance but there was no appetite for taking any of these items off the agenda. In fact there were hugely important items, such as the environment, that were not on the agenda at all and that have not yet been discussed at all in the course of this process. But choices had to be made on a majority basis.
All this meant that introductions and interventions were short and that each organisation was limited to around four floor speakers in each session. There were no summaries, which we think was probably the biggest problem, as comrades had no opportunity to correct misconceptions that arose in the course of discussions.
The most difficult discussion to have is such a short session was on the trade unions where there were debates to be had on the defensive nature of the period we are in, which is still in the shadow of the defeats of the 1980s, the relevance today of the trade unions themselves, the role of the left trade union leaders, building amongst the rank and file and the possibility or otherwise of a rank and file movement. It was the start on an important discussion.
There was a high level of agreement in the Left Unity debate. Both ISN and ACI speakers spoke strongly for building Left Unity and the RS21 comrades were open minded about it, though they have yet to discuss it in detail themselves. There was a lot of agreement on women’s liberation and a remarkable degree of agreement between SR, the ISN/ACI and RS21 on the complex question of Ukraine.
All this represented important points of convergence between those four organisations that bodes well if this process continues as we strongly think it should. We remain unconvinced, however, that any convergence is taking place with Workers Power and whether they have any constructive role to play in this process.
Meanwhile, while we discuss the next formal stage in this process, the name of the game is practical collaboration between the organisations involved – that is already taking place. One of the most important things to come out of the regroupment process was the conference on Syria in March and the campaign that has arisen out of it.
On Tuesday of this week we had a very successful joint meeting in London with RS21 on Ukraine and on June 7th we have the national event with them on ecosocialism.
As far as SR is concerned we are in favour of both continuing with such joint initiatives as well as discussing a new stage in the regroupment process itself. As we have argued since such possibilities arose opportunities to regroup the far left do not arise very often and we should maximise the possibilities when they do.
May 1, 2014