Galloway Faces Strong Left Challenge as Communist League Silberman Stands for London Mayor.
Silberman Threatens Galloway’s ‘left’ Mayor Campaign.
The newshounds of the IBT had a scoop a few days ago.
Jonathan Silberman was a teenager when he and his friends sketched out their plan for global revolution – half a century later the factory worker and veteran Communist is still waiting.
But unlike so many other teenage revolutionaries, Silberman, 64, has not lost his zeal in the years in between. He is currently running for London mayor under the banner of the Communist League. He is a few days away from his annual trip to the Havana Book Fair as IBTimes UK meets him in a north London pub.
Ace-reporter Orlando Crowroft continues,
Founded in 1988, the Communist League grew out of one of many schisms in the British socialist left, remaining close to the American Socialist Worker’s Party (SWP) which, in typical fashion, is a mortal enemy of the UK party of the same name. Silberman is rarely seen without a several copies of the party’s magazine, the Militant, under his arm and a selection of books from US-based radical publishing house, Pathfinder.
The influence of this group, the Socialist Workers Party (US) on the British Communist League (Wikipedia) is clear -in fact it derives from a faction inside the International Marxist Group which was essential a branch of the American organisation with, how can I put it tactfully, certain ‘special’ characteristics of their own. Okay – a slightly cultish obnoxious groupuscule.
…neither that nor the bloody authoritarian nightmare that the Soviet Union had become after Stalin served to change Silberman’s mind about revolution. There was a still a shining light for him in the form of Cuba which, even now, he defends as a true a socialist revolution. A fluent Spanish speaker, Silberman still visits Cuba annually and speaks glowingly about the country’s health care system and Che Guevara, the late revolutionary and global icon.
In truth much to admire in Jonathan.
I recall him in the International Marxist Group as a sensible (in IMG terms that is) and dedicated bloke. Despite being in a rival faction (Tendency ‘B’ – led by Livingstone’s economics Guru, John Ross), he was one of the few able to have a rational conversation with his opponents – in this case me. The drift to the US SWP is something I know little of, for the good reason I was living in France when this happened. His views on Cuba aside (although given the ‘new thinking’ that began in the 1980s from his group’s New York HQ and Jack Barnes it’s hard to ever put Cuba to one side) he has lived the life of somebody who followed the “turn to industry” in all seriousness – working in factories.
Silberman sees trends that bode well for working class consciousness in this country and, to be fair, as a worker at a factory in Hertfordshire he actually comes into contact with workers on a daily basis – unlike the massed ranks of the radical London left, content to cheer the revolution from posh North London cafes.
Silberman spends the bulk of his Saturdays knocking on doors in working class housing estates, and finds the respondents receptive.
“I’ll tell you something interesting, it doesn’t matter if someone is Labour, Tory or Ukip. It makes no difference to their interest in our politics. Supporting Ukip doesn’t signify some big right wing ideology. I don’t think that there is a massive anti-immigrant sentiment in the working class,” he said.
Silberman, who visited Calais last year and believes in open borders, said that when people do express anti-immigration views he is often able to convince them that far from being divided from workers from abroad, they should be joining with them to fight for better pay and conditions.
“Our proposal is to use the unions to organise a real campaign to recruit workers, foreign-born workers, through militant struggle and through defence of our rights. Why don’t we fight for massive rise in the minimum wage that would benefit all workers? Why don’t we fight for more housing?” he said.
In the article Silberman professes not to know how many members the Communist League has. Which is surprising since I saw them at a TUC Demonstration a couple of years ago – around 7 – around a stall in Hyde Park. Somebody a lot more familiar with the group than I am pointed them out by name. He suggested that perhaps there were a couple absent that day, no doubt drawn by the rival attractions of a Derby and Joan dance.
Despite the loyalty towards Cuba the SWP (US) is not universally loved, admired, or even given the time of the day by much of the left, anywhere.
Here are some of many accounts of the disputes which have left the ‘party’ with reportedly under 100 members: What happened to the SWP (U.S.)?: Recent memoirs stir discussion by Dayne Goodwin
Silberman stood in last year’s General Election in Hackney North, and got 102 votes, which if repeated across the country means that the Communist League had potentially 66,300 ballot papers.
Working Farmers – Allies of the Working Class Dairy farmers facing rising costs and cuts in the price they get for milk have taken to the streets. Such struggles by family farmers should win the support of the workers movement.
United in struggle, workers and working farmers are stronger. And through struggle a revolutionary alliance of workers and farmers can be forged.
London farmers and revolutionary workers will no doubt respond this time round.