I went to a day school today here in Cork addressed by Kieran Allen, leading SWP member. The first part was on the crisis and the solution to that crisis. His view was that we should expect mass activity over the next period - similar to that in Iceland and Latvia. He argued that there was a need for a socialist solution but this would not be created by 'waving a book by Marx on a street corner'. Socialists should be the best activists and should engage in the struggle to defend people in the present period as well as argue for socialism.
This is all fair enough but what about the need for a political party? I raised this question and got a lot of support from people present. Kieran Allen did not dispute the need but said they had tried to get electoral unity with the Socialist Party with no success. Therefore they had gone on to launch People before Profit.
The problem is though he was again talking about unity around reformist demands, not socialist unity. He made some very good points about the kind of work the left should be involved with - defending people against evictions, supporting workers who have been made redundant etc. But he ended his talk by calling for eveyone to join the SWP.
While I have no problem with him building his organisation, it really does not deal with the need for political representation.
I left the meeting thinking that the SWP are actually unsure how to deal with current challenges. It is a time of rapid change and we do not know what will happen. But the working class are militant and this is good. They are looking for answers. Nearly every political radio and tv show is dominated by debate on what the solution is. The 'sharing pain' consensus dominates but this is unpalatable to many given the behaviour of bankers and government ministers, all caught with their snouts in the trough.
I would say however that the meeting was a comradely one and people were thinking rather than trotting out lines. A good idea would be setting up forums now to discuss and work together. These could include all the left as well as trade unionists and others who want to be politically involved. I would be interested to know what people think.