Danny, a member from Liverpool, writes on his experience of getting involved with Red Fightback.
I was broadly apolitical up until the time I left school, but my life experience meant that I had the general working class instincts to not trust the police, not grass up your fellow workers and not be a scab. I was drawn more into politics by Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to Labour leadership, while ostensibly holding some more radical views; I had also become a great admirer of the Cuban socialist project and begun to read more about Marxism-Leninism. I was a pretty avid ‘Corbynite’ up until the point he announced his policy to put 10,000 more police on Britain’s streets in 2017, which I knew was a betrayal of working class and oppressed people.
The Labour Party does not encourage its members to become self-motivated or critically engage with party democracy, but merely to pay subs, campaign at election time and vote. They work along the lines of bourgeois discipline rather than proletarian self-discipline.
At that point I cancelled my Labour membership, but I also didn’t know of any alternative and felt that because the other ‘leftists’ around me were relatively unbothered by it and that there was a culture that “no true working class person would go against Corbyn” I assumed that this must just be the way the world works. So despite feeling betrayed by Corbyn, I continued to hope he would win an election as the “lesser evil” option, talking a big game on social media about how we would be far better with him than Johnson, and how we all need to get behind Corbyn. At the same time, I was also incredibly apathetic, rather sitting at home than doing any kind of campaigning. This is true of my whole experience with the Labour Party, as I never attended any meetings or engaged with the party in any way beyond voting in elections – there was no incentive to do so. The Labour Party does not encourage its members to become self-motivated or critically engage with party democracy, but merely to pay subs, campaign at election time and vote. They work along the lines of bourgeois discipline rather than proletarian self-discipline.
When Corbyn lost to Johnson I was initially very disappointed. But like many others, I got over it remarkably quickly when I admitted to myself that he was always bound to lose, and that if he had won he would have eventually betrayed whatever principles he claimed he had. I don’t know whether Corbyn himself is sincere in what he claims to believe or not, but ultimately this is immaterial when in practice he is willing to give his MP’s a free vote to bomb Syria and to affirm the Labour Party’s support for NATO. I realised that by supporting what I deep down knew was a profoundly capitalist, racist and imperialist party – under Corbyn or not – I had been compromising on my principles, and promised myself that I would no longer make that kind of compromise.
I finally decided to join Red Fightback in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020. I’d had an eye on them for a while but didn’t feel confident until then about committing myself to a Marxist party. But at a time of big political upheaval, seeing Red Fightback there not selling newspapers or waving banners but providing water and masks to demonstrators I knew I had to get involved somehow.
The other local applicants and I were provided with the necessary education, support and skills to enable us to organise within our communities, with the intention to build a deep sense of connection and duty to the people who live in our neighbourhoods, work in local shops, and are oppressed by the capitalist state.
On initially joining I didn’t know what to expect, and assumed I may just end up being a paper member who contributes to some articles every now and then, but within a few weeks I came to realise that this wasn’t going to be the case, and that the party wanted to integrate me with other members in my area so we could become leaders in our own right. The other local applicants and I were provided with the necessary education, support and skills to enable us to organise within our communities, with the intention to build a deep sense of connection and duty to the people who live in our neighbourhoods, work in local shops, and are oppressed by the capitalist state.
I felt a sense of self-motivation, accountability and ownership over my own work that I never felt in Labour, as well as a deep connection to my community and my comrades. From then and to this day I feel that my contributions are valued and that the work I am doing, while initially small in scale, is producing tangible, observable results every single week. We are also encouraged to develop the skills to think critically about the work we are doing, so that while I do take a great sense of pride in the work we are doing now, I also know that it is not enough, and that we must always be thinking of where to go next rather than become complacent with where we are. Our accountability to our communities is key to this, they will tell us what we are doing right or wrong and we must have humility to listen and apply the feedback our communities provide us.
Feel similar? Wondering how to join the struggle against racial capitalism, imperialism and oppression? Join Red Fightback today!