Saturday, November 16, 2019


Letters to the Editors from the February 1993 issue of the Socialist Standard

Dear Comrades,
It was a pleasure to read your article on “The Politics of Class War”. The subject was dealt with very sympathetically and I hope that any members of the CWF who happen to read it. take up your offer to discuss their views further.

Although the article stated that the CWF attracted the attention of the tabloids down South, I had never heard of them or seen any reference to their organization in the Scottish Press—although, admittedly, I am out of touch with political affairs.

Nonetheless, their viewpoint as stated in your article seemed familiar. About fifty years ago when 1 was active in working class politics, there was a European organization—I think they called themselves “Council Communists" or Spartacists (I can’t recall which)—whose literature was sold by a Glasgow organization the "Workers Open Forum”. The “Open Forum” was just that—an open forum which provided a platform for all shades of working class opinion. Every Sunday evening workers could go to the Open Forum and hear speakers from the SPGB. the SLP, the ILP, the CPGB, the Anarchist Federation, the RCP and the Labour Party. Its committee also organized debates between the various organizations mentioned. Literature from these organizations was sold at all these meetings. As you will appreciate there was little opposition from the “Telly" in those days and the meetings were well attended.

It was at these meetings that I obtained the literature of the Council Communists and, speaking from a somewhat snaky memory, I recollect that their views were similar to the CWF. The exponents of their case that I most remember were Anton Pannekoek, a Dutch astronomer, who dealt with philosophical and scientific matters, and Paul Mattick who dealt with economics. I remember them mostly for their articles in the Western Socialist.

I further recollect that they organized a meeting, either in Paris or Amsterdam, to which the SPGB was invited as an observer. The Executive Committee of that time (some forty or so years ago) declined the invitation. At the time I thought the EC were mistaken in their attitude but I can no longer remember the arguments.

Can it be that the CWF are the modern counterparts of the Council Communists? Whether they are nor not, I hope that your invitation to a dialogue is taken up.

Bob Russell

As far as we know there is no direct connexion between the Council Communist group you mention and Class War— Editors.

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