The Left is currently going through a particular transitional stage. Because of the recession and the types of resistance against austerity that sprung up, a fairly wide section of workers are now, under the pressure of reality, and are beginning to give way to a different political perspective. “Left Unity” is at present a growing popular slogan amongst political activists. Many articles are being devoted to this issue but the more that is written or spoken about the unity, the more this subject is obscured by misunderstandings and confusion. That unity is desirable is not disputed for a moment by the members of the Socialist Party of Great Britain but we are faced with the question of unity at the present time with the existence of divided, parallel organisations and the question even if it is possible to attain unity, of how it is to be brought about.
The capitalists and their State are attacking so it must be counter-attacked. The ever increasing cost of living never slackens and wages cannot keep pace. To gather all the strength of the working class and to render the struggle against the capitalists becomes an imperative necessity. The Socialist Party of Great Britain want a united working class because unity is the trump card against the bosses and the politicians. Unity is not an aim, but a means to reach the aim. The aim is to offer an effective defence against the rich and then to take the offensive to overthrow the ruling class. The question of defence is a practical question for every worker. Thus among the problems before the worker which must be solved, unity is one of the most urgent.
For our part we we are against empty phrases about left-wing unity. The differences as to ends and means, objectives and tactics, methods and traditions are too deeply rooted unity to be a realistic objective. Nevertheless, this yearning for unity is still a healthy yearning. Unity can only be for definite and limited aims, e.g., trade union rights, defence of the health service and so on,where there exists some agreement on the Left, irrespective of political differences on other issues. Unity is about uniting in defence of the gains workers have already made and which are now being removed. It is about saying to workers that the capitalists are intent upon lowering our wages — prepare and be ready to resist. Our wages cannot keep up with the cost of living so let’s close our ranks and let’s stop isolated action to better our chances of victory. We are suffering from unemployment — let the employed organise with the unemployed and compel the government to give to maintain our welfare benefits.
The conduct of class struggle is not a party affair but one for the trade unions. We propose that the trade union movement be left to the workers themselves, who form the organisations and have a direct stake in the attainment of trade union unity. We remain convinced that those workers who hold dear the unity of the trade union movement will help to overcome any splits in the trade unions and do not require political parties to impose unity. To mobilise our class for unity is the most important task at the present moment. It is removing the type of society that imposes the class struggle upon us which is the responsibility of a socialist party.
Reformism accomplishes many things, but unfortunately the one thing it doesn't accomplish is to end the wrong-doings. One form of terrible oppression may end only to be replaced by another form. Despite mass demonstrations against war, one war just follow another. Men and women won the right to vote but what good has it done them? Economic inequality has grown to obscene levels. In a world with billionaires, billions of people suffer poverty and worry if they'll have food and shelter and health care. The ruling class destroy the environment if it gets them more wealth. Piecemeal reform, which many hoped would eventually change the world, has not done so and it appears not likely to do so.
Do you want an egalitarian world? One in which everyone is treated as true equals? We can create a new society with no rich and no poor where all people who work reasonably (as they are able) to contribute to society (be it economically, artistically or otherwise) share (not buy and sell) the fruits of their labor according to need. Our task is to make a revolution and to build a movement (hundreds of millions strong) that has the explicit goal of removing the ruling elite from power in order to make society be the way those hundreds of millions of people want it to be. It involves introducing millions to the revolutionary vision. This unity we desire, this unity is why we were founded. However, the meaning of all this talk over the unity theme is that they turn to us and say: “Become reformists and then we can unite!” The Socialist Party has no intention of transforming themselves into reformist corpses, and whoever believes that we will deviate even a hair’s breath from our principles in arriving at unity does not understand anything of our organisation .
The Socialist Party has always been inspired by one idea — the overthrow of capitalist society, built on slavery, exploitation and violence. In this struggle of labour against capital, the working class can win only by mustering all their forces against the common enemy. This is why for the working class, in order to save itself from economic enslavement —unity is imperative but only a unity of purpose.