By Vicki Morris
The SWP's "Marxism" event is the biggest gathering of the far-left in Britain, and anyone who seriously wants to build the far-left needs to relate to it. The Alliance for Workers' Liberty maintained a stall outside "Marxism 2002", intervened - where allowed - in the debates, and co-hosted three fringe meetings, with the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and the Revolutionary Democratic Group (RDG), on issues on which we broadly agree.
Our topics were: does the Socialist Alliance needs a paper?; should the Socialist Alliance oppose the euro?; and can "two states" solve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians? The meetings were intended to attract people attending "Marxism", to propose alternative politics to the SWP - they tended to become debates between the organisers. In future we need to let more "Marxism"-goers know that the meetings are happening.
At the Socialist Alliance paper meeting, Dave Osler, SA independent, stressed the technical leap forward for the left that a paper would represent. Broadly everyone agreed that the SA needs a paper.
Differing in emphasis, the AWL sees a paper more as a tool for agitating among the working class, and the CPGB sees it more as a means of regrouping revolutionaries.
Alan Thornett of the International Socialist Group debated at the Euro meeting. He stressed the negative aspects of the Euro project for the working class. Some members of the audience stressed the positive aspects.
Jack Conrad, CPGB, and Sacha Ismail, AWL, talked of the need for socialists not to choose between options presented to us by the ruling class, but to promote their own political demands. That is what we will do in our campaign to win the Euro debate to be held in the Socialist Alliance in October.
In the liveliest meeting, that on Israel-Palestine, debate centred on interpretations of the demand for a Palestinian "right to return". AWL opposition to the slogan of a collective "right to return" for all Palestinians is interpreted by the CPGB as negating support for individual rights of freedom of movement - and that is probably the least of their objections!
As well as CPGB, RDG and AWL speakers, Deborah Maccoby spoke for Just Peace UK. She stressed the positive role played by campaigners inside Israel for an end to Israel's repression of the Palestinians.
In all, the collaboration between the three groups yielded three interesting meetings, better understanding between us, and, I hope, renewed resolve to take on the politics of the SWP.