We should be arguing for a reassembling of the groups not as a principle in itself but should certainly be for left unity in action on the tried and tested basis of the united front.
In other words we don't elide, hide or dissolve political differences or blunt or modify our politics for the sake of a false and inauthentic unity but do undertake common action. Now of course this is almost a truism and uncontroversial but and it's big but hardly anyone really approaches it in the spirit of building vibrant and powerful campaigns.
Go to almost any left meeting and the suggested way forward is 'join us': this though is no way to build a movement and susbstitutes an evangelical method for what should be done- building organisations of class struggle to lever sections of the working class into action against capitalism and then uniting those sections in a class wide battle to establish the organised and revolutionary power of the working class. Within this we work with the devil and his grandmother including thodse with whom we have fundamental disagreements (without in any way blunting or suspending our disagreements). The key task is to work practically and urgently in creating united fronts together as the seeds of building mass movements that can actually begin to make a difference.
Yesterday I went to an interesting meeting about how resources in the Congo continue to be stripped, millions dead over the last decade or so, British and multinational companies using armies to enforce slave labour, war and death to fuel their considerable profits whilst destroying the earth.
A Congolese activist asked what can we do? How can we ensure what we do here makes a difference?
Go to any class struggle battle however bug and small and this will be the urgent plea- what can we do, how can we build the campaign, how can we win?
We will win people to communism if at all by how well we win the leadership in struggles to win partial struggles and make the links and political points to generalise them. As Farrell Dobbs writes in the excellent Teamster Rebellion
"I was impressed by the way Grant snd Miles [Dunne] had handled themselves during the strike. They appeared to know what had to be done, and had the guts to do it.
One night after a meeting, I went into a beer joint across from the union hall and saw Miles Dunne standing at the bar. I took a place next to him, and after engaging in a little small talk, I came straight to the point,
'Are you a communist?' I asked.
'What the hell's it to you?' he shot back.
' I heard that you are,' I told him. 'If so, I guess that's what I want to be.' "p24 Monad Press, 1972
Action speaks louder than words; winning real struggles is worth a thousand years of preaching.
In my opinion, the AWL should be far more enthusiastic about building the Convention of the Left
It should be made a major part of the tactics and mobilisation of the organisation and indeed of other left groups as well and we should argue to orient the disparate groups, campaigns and activists to actions that win something tangible and big and attract people to both the working class movement and revolutionary socialism within it.
As part of this we should be absolutely for preliminary discussions and democratic debate about anything and everything with socialist groups and other groups on the left such as anarchists and social democrats like a kind of Socialist Alliance but without the immediate prospect of an electoral formation but certainly including unity in action. We need to listen to the woman from the Congo and the millions like her involved in desperate and vital battles for the very survival of humanity. I absolutely agree with ditching the Zinovievite perversion of demo-centralism with party lines- there should be free and open debate with rights for minorities to openly publish and prmote dissenting views- the only centtralism required is the centralism of the picket line- in implementing agreed common actions.
Let's loom bigger than the groups and start acting like socialists.