A Rose By Any Other Name?

A short article on the Left from Class War issue 73

Class War has never allied itself rigidly to any one tradition - we have always taken our ideas from everywhere. We are not concerned with what something calls itself but with what it is and what it does. So this paper is written for the revolutionary movement in general, for want of better words. To simplify things, we refer to ourselves here as anarchists with whom, in the broadest terms, we have much in common. But we are 'anarchists' with the class struggle at the centre of our politics and we believe in the mass self-activity of the working class. So, on the one hand, we are very close politically to many who call themselves 'socialist' or 'communist' (or neither of these terms), and on the other, there are 'anarchists' with whom we have no agreement.

THE LEFT AND CLASS WAR

It has sometimes seemed that the entire left press has existed for no other reason than to slag off Class War. At many times this has appeared obsessive: one paper, Red Action, has distinguished itself in this respect by slagging off anarchists in general, and Class War in particular, almost continually for years on end. For the ultra left groups it seems that life would become meaningless if they didn't have us to whinge and moan about. Other groups have had a more sinister intent behind their often bizarre and hysterical criticisms of us.

When we laid into Militant for offering to grass up poll tax rioters they wrote in their paper that when we abused their leaders we were "abusing the democracy of the working class". They even accused us in October 1990 of wearing wigs on demos to cover up our "short-cropped scalps"! This was Militant joining in with the long-term smear campaign Searchlight has been waging against us. This started in the mid-1980s when the MI5-influenced magazine reported that 'senior police officers' had told them we were all nazis! (And as we all know, the police never lie). Over the years particular journalists have continued this fiction, despite (or perhaps because of) it being an obvious smear. As recently as Spring 1997 Searchlight were busy embellishing this sad old lie. International Times (March 1986) did an excellent piece on Searchlight's MI5 links and its smear of Class War, as have various other publications.