After more than 30 years of publishing, we are delighted to announce that this week’s issue – no.400 – is the final edition of Socialist Appeal. In its place, we are launching a brand new revolutionary paper: The Communist.
This is a bold – and necessary – change. It is essential that we, as Marxists, do not lag behind. We need to keep up with the rapidly changing situation worldwide; in particular, with the growing support for the ideas of communism, especially amongst the youth.
Swimming against the stream
Socialist Appeal was established in April 1992, in quite a difficult period. There were those who said we would not last a few issues. Not only have these naysayers been proved wrong, but they themselves have gone into steep decline.
Over the decades, slowly and painfully, we grew. Even then, we faced many setbacks along the way, as we swam against the stream.
Not long before our paper’s launch, the Soviet Union had collapsed. This was accompanied by a tidal wave of euphoria and praise for capitalism and the ‘free market’. In this same year, meanwhile, the Tories won a further general election – their fourth in a row.
We consistently lacked material resources. But we had powerful ideas: the ideas of Marxism. And we were determined to defend these against the most vicious of enemies.
World turned upside down
The last 30 odd years have been a rollercoaster ride in Britain: the emergence of Blairism; the mass movement against the Iraq War in 2003; the titanic capitalist crash of 2008-09; the rise in support for Scottish independence, and the collapse of Labour north of the border; brutal austerity by successive Conservative governments; the emergence of Corbynism; the Brexit vote; the pandemic; and a string of ill-fated Tory leaders, from Boris Johnson, to Liz Truss, to Rishi Sunak.
The world has been turned upside down. Britain has gone from being the most stable country in Europe to being probably the most unstable. This is reflected in the deepening crisis of British capitalism. Reason has become ‘unreason’.
All of this has served to shake up consciousness. The anger and bitterness in society has grown exponentially, especially against the capitalist system and the powers that be. For the first time in living memory, support for communism is widespread.
Objective conditions in Britain are provoking revolutionary convulsions and upheavals. Growing layers, especially amongst the youth, are open to communism as never before. One poll in early 2023 showed that around 4.5 million young people in the UK believe that “communism is the ideal economic system”.
Our task is to win over – and organise – these people.
Reformism vs revolution
The International Marxist Tendency (IMT), especially over the last ten years, has steadily built up its forces. But in the recent period there has been an explosion of growth, in Britain and elsewhere, based on our ‘Are you a communist?’ campaign.
The reasons for this success are clear: our emphasis on theory, combined with a bold revolutionary turn towards the youth.
It would be easy to slip into a routine and simply carry on as before. But that would be irresponsible. The objective situation is rapidly being transformed, in Britain and internationally. And this demands a bold reorientation towards those layers who are now drawing revolutionary conclusions.
Already, significant numbers have moved beyond the ideas of left reformism, especially in the wake of Corbynism. Instead, they are looking for a fundamental change – namely revolution.
‘Socialism’ has become increasingly bland and unappealing. For many, this word is associated with betrayal, and with the false hope of reforming capitalism, not overthrowing it.
We need to draw all the necessary conclusions from this. It has become increasingly apparent that a far bolder and clearer image is needed to take advantage of the radicalised mood in society.
This is why we are abandoning the name Socialist Appeal, and are adopting a far more appropriate, fresh banner for these turbulent times.
But we are more than just a newspaper. The millions of potential communists – in Britain and internationally – represent a potentially mass force in society, providing that they can be organised.
That is why we are linking the launch of The Communist to the founding of a new political party: the Revolutionary Communist Party.
In truth, we are trailing behind events. We need to catch up. Now is the time for audacity and elan.
Our clarion call is the fight for a communist programme, capable of truly transforming society. We will not only challenge the ideas of the capitalists, but also of the reformists – both right and left – and of the pseudo ‘Marxists’, who hold the movement back.
We base ourselves on Britain’s real revolutionary traditions. We stand for class war, and for the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system, rooted in exploitation and oppression. And we maintain the legacy of Lenin, Trotsky, and Bolshevism; of those who built the Communist International, but were betrayed by Stalinism.
We turn our back on the sceptics, sectarians, and pessimists who fester on the fringes of the movement. And we oppose the peddlers of identity politics, whose only role is to sow division and confusion at every turn.
Join the communists!
It is only our organisation – the Marxists of the IMT – that has understood the fundamental change that has taken place in society, and that is taking the necessary steps to foster and channel this radicalisation of consciousness amongst workers and youth.
We are at a turning point in history. The question of socialist revolution will be posed in the not too distant future, in one country after another.
On the basis of the mighty events that impend, we will create the instrument that can lead the working class to power.
If you are a communist, ready to dedicate yourself to the overthrow of capitalism, we invite you to join us in building the Revolutionary Communist Party. There was never a greater or more worthy task.
Memories of Socialist Appeal
I became a Marxist in 1975, as a 17-year-old member of the Labour Party Young Socialists.
When the Militant tendency, the leading Marxist organisation, split in 1992, I joined Socialist Appeal with Ted Grant, Alan Woods, and Rob Sewell.
We had around two hundred comrades, with no resources, no office, and no printing facilities.
I remember going to work early every morning to print some of our first pamphlets on the office copier, hoping no one else would wonder what I was up to!
The 1990s and 2000s were difficult years. Many, including myself, dropped out of activity.
After Corbyn’s defeat in 2019, my partner and I re-joined Socialist Appeal.
There were three comrades in Bristol. We now have more than thirty members, three branches, and regular stalls across the city.
At 66 years old, I am more optimistic than ever that today’s young generation will become the backbone of a mass Revolutionary Communist Party.
Kevin Ramage, former National Chair of LPYS
To me, the first party I believed in was the Communist Party (CP), I was in the CP for years. Now we’re gonna have a real CP that is true to the ideas. The way I’m feeling is “at last! A truly revolutionary communist party!”
When I joined the CP I was proud to say I’m a communist. And I’m still proud to say that now. And the RCP will pick that up. That’s Ted Grant’s party, we will show that Ted’s party is alive and kicking, and a lot of people will come to us for that.
Jim Brookshaw, former National Chair of the Young Communist League
When I joined in 2019, we only had around 300 members. In the run up to the general election, the first paper I sold had the headline “Corbyn to power on a socialist programme!”
I remember the deep pessimism on the left after Corbyn’s defeat. But not us. We were the only group optimistic about the class struggle.
Through reading Socialist Appeal and educating myself in Marxism, I was able to understand the wider processes taking place, how events were transforming consciousness.
I remember the clarity of our perspectives: Johnson would preside over the most hated government in history, and wouldn’t finish his term. We were proven right!
I knew then that this was an organisation like no other, because it based itself upon the rock of Marxism.
Maya Khan, York Communists
As a 19-year-old, I have only known Tory governments, attacks on education, and everyday sexism. During the pandemic, I was forced to teach myself through my GCSEs.
It became clear to me that these issues were systemic: the problem was capitalism. Five months ago, I joined after seeing an ‘Are you a communist?’ poster in my city.
At the time, there was no Preston branch. But I am proud to report that we have built a branch of five members!
With few experienced comrades on the ground with us, we have had to educate ourselves together. By putting ourselves out there, we have learned on the job.
The Socialist Appeal newspaper has been an essential tool in our discussions, helping us raise our understanding of Marxism so we can continue recruiting and building.
We are all excited for the launch of The Communist, which will be just as vital!
CJ Rhodes, Preston Communists