Manchester Calling

The Red Menace: very stimulating reading.

Thanks for the three issues of The Red Menace which I found very stimulating reading. I'll pass them round our Manchester group and do a short write up for our internal newsletter. Your political statement in the last issue seems to show that our politics are very close, although you will notice certain differences of emphasis with our own statement 'As We Don't See It'.

I'd like to make a few brief comments on three areas of your statement which I feel need some clarification.

Your criticism of Parliament and parliamentary elections seems to be based on their inadequacy as a democratic form and underestimates their ideological value in legitimising class rule and in branding direct class struggle as undemocratic. I would expect libertarian socialists today to take a principled stand against these institutions.

Your position on trade unions and trade unionism is a bit unclear to me. At one point you appear to say, correctly I think, that trade unions today are not only NOT potentially revolutionary but in fact more or less part of the state and management apparatus and inadequate even as a means of self defence. However, in the next breath you talk of supporting "the self organisation of people into unions" and "participating in their activities" etc. Of course, we should attend union meetings and speak out, but our 'participation' should be aimed at taking struggles outside of union control and union boundaries. It is not possible to do this and be a union official level.

Lastly, your attitude towards 'national liberation' whilst clear in theory seems contradicted by your support for a possible new capitalist nation state in Quebec (and elsewhere?). Your inability to apply your theory boldly in practice is perhaps a result of the difficulty in separating certain struggles for cultural diversity from their attachment to outmoded nationalist and patriarchal concepts. It is an area our own groups needs to do more work on.

I hope we can maintain a dialogue, either independently and/or as part of the international discussion. journal promoted by the French group PIC detailed in our newsletter.

Yours fraternally,
Mike Ballard
Manchester