• 1988: Ideology, Racism and the Party


    Ideology, Racism and the Party

    This was submitted to International Socialism, I think early in 1988.  It was rejected by the editor, who was actively supported by Chris Harman, John Molyneux and Pete Green.

    Pete Green has no memory of supporting any editorial decision to not publish this piece but, having now read ( or reread?) the article, considers it a political disgrace that such a cogent and well-argued submission was rejected at the time and regrets any role he might have had in that process.


    In Socialist Worker last August John Molyneux wrote a piece under the title ‘Is anti-Zionism anti-semitic?’ The main thrust of the article was to reject the argument, now widespread on the left, that

    ‘… all whites are inherently racist, all men sexist, all criticism of black nationalism a reflection of white arrogance, all criticism of feminism a manifestation of male chauvinism, and so on.’

    However, Molyneux conceded that the argument did contain a ‘grain of truth’. He subsequently responded to criticism by defining his position as follows:

    ‘… as products of a society in which racism and sexism (and many other reactionary ideas) are all pervasive, we all – black or white, male or female, Jew or gentile – retain traces of them.’

    This led to an extensive discussion in the letter columns of Socialist Worker.[1] Unfortunately, correspondents on both sides of the argument found themselves constricted by the length and format of contributions to a letters page, and none of them were able to deal with a complex argument in the detail it deserved. The following is an attempt to examine some of the issues at rather greater length and thus, hopefully, contribute to the clarification of some important points.

    It is first of all vital to establish exactly what the argument is about. There is a view current among sections of the left that since all men are sexist, all whites racist, then only women can fight sexism, only blacks can fight racism. This view leads in theory to the denial of the self-emancipation of the working-class, and in practice to organisational separatism. It is a pernicious and divisive view that must be challenged every time it arises.

    As far as racism is concerned there is no need to develop the argument. It has been presented in excellent fashion in Peter Alexander’s recent book Racism Resistance and Revolution[2], which shows clearly, in theory and in practice, how it is possible for white workers to unite with black to oppose and defeat racism. One additional example may reinforce the point. In Algeria in the 1950s European settlers had massive social and economic privileges in comparison to the indigenous Muslim population: they had a real material stake in opposing the liberation struggle against French colonialism. Yet despite this a good number of Europeans – mainly Communist Party members, in spite of the ambiguous position of their organisation – gave active support to the FLN, often paying the price of torture and death.[3] Such courage and sacrifice – one could find contemporary parallels among Israelis and white South Africans – are a practical answer to those who would define anti‑imperialist struggle in purely nationalist terms.

    The sharpness of the responses to Molyneux’s statements on the question of ‘traces’ was undoubtedly motivated by a belief that he was making concessions to an anti-Marxist view of oppression. But the position that all of us – even long-standing, committed revolutionaries – retain traces of reactionary ideas (including racism and sexism[4]) is in no way logically incompatible with a belief that men can fight sexism and that whites can fight racism (the very notion of a ‘trace’ implies that it is not the preponderant element). Moreover, there are good theoretical and historical arguments for believing that Molyneux is right on the question of traces. A good case is not strengthened by attaching a bad argument to it.

    To begin with it is necessary to say something about the question of ideology. Now Alex Callinicos has argued that Marxism as yet has ‘no satisfactory theory of ideology’[5], and it is certainly true that within the SWP’s tradition the area is relatively undeveloped.[6] The reason for this is fairly obvious. In the last two decades many sections of the British left – notably the Eurocommunists and the Althusserians – have fallen into what Callinicos has christened ‘ideologism’[7], that is, the belief that the bourgeoisie rules primarily through its ideological apparatuses, and that therefore ‘ideological struggle’ is the priority for socialists at the present time. The notion is both comfortable for its – mainly academic – advocates, and politically pernicious.

    But in rejecting ‘ideologism’ we must not commit the opposite error of underestimating the power of ideology. We live in a world where the bourgeoisie has ruled for hundreds of years, and where its ideas, its assumptions, its traditions have permeated every level of society. We should be very ill-advised to fail to recognise its enormous resilience and capacity for absorption. Moreover, ideology is not just a question of ideas swimming about inside people’s heads; it is embodied in powerful social institutions. We only have to remember the enormous economic resources devoted to, and immense power exercised by, the education system and the mass media.

    In particular, ideology finds material embodiment in language.[8] Here again, it is important to be clear. We should not accept the view, most vividly dramatised by Orwell in 1984, and since echoed by many on the left, that language can imprison us so tightly that oppositional thought becomes impossible. Nor do we need to follow various left Labour councils into according major political priority to tracking down minor offences of racist and sexist terminology. But without making any concessions to such deviations we have to recognise that all our ideas have to be formulated in language and that the language we use is a social product which cannot be transformed by individual acts of will but only by a much slower and more complex process. To take a simple example. When I became a revolutionary socialist twenty-five years ago our meetings were presided over by ‘chairmen’ and our political opponents were denounced as ‘cunts’. Why is this no longer the case? Because the new generation of socialists are morally superior to their predecessors, or better Marxists? Rather it is the case that major changes in the world at large were paralleled by intense discussion inside the organisation; as a result we are rather more aware than formerly of the nature of women’s oppression, and of some of the manifold minor mechanisms which perpetuate it.

    One important aspect of ideology, then, is that much of it functions at a non-conscious[9] level. It consists of assumptions, patterns of behaviour, linguistic habits etc. of which we are not conscious, and which therefore do not automatically disappear if we consciously embrace anti-racist or even revolutionary socialist politics. This non-conscious nature of ideology has often been recognised in the Marxist tradition, for instance by Lenin

    ‘We, nationals of a big nation, have nearly always been guilty, in historic practice, of an infinite number of cases of violence; furthermore, we commit violence and insult an infinite number of times without noticing it…’[10]

    and by Gramsci

    ‘Everyone is a philosopher, though in his own way and unconsciously, since even in the slightest manifestation of any activity whatever, in “language” there is contained a specific conception of the world.’[11]

    To take a simple and well-known example. ‘Columbus discovered America’. On the face of it this is an innocent ‘fact’, which most of us (certainly of my generation) were taught at junior school. Actually it is a racist statement which denies the humanity of the native inhabitants of the American continent. But the statement is so much part of our common sense that few of us, even dedicated anti-racists, would spot its implications until they were pointed out to us. How much more lumber from the ideology of imperialism do we all carry in our heads?

    (It should be stressed that the above argument makes no concessions whatever to organisational separatism. If we all retain traces of the dominant ideology, then women as much as men are liable to preserve sexist stereotypes, blacks as much as whites to preserve racist stereotypes.)

    Where does this leave committed socialists, and in particular the members of the revolutionary party? Certainly the revolutionary party, in its programme, makes a clean break with bourgeois ideology, and its members are those who have gone furthest  in their rejection of bourgeois ideas. But it is a classic sectarian error to believe that programme, of itself, is decisive. We will not convince black nationalists of the correctness of our position by invoking our programme, but by showing that in practice we are the most determined fighters against racism.

    Can it then be argued that ‘the collective world view of the party is the guarantee of being able to trust it to fight oppression. Indeed the pressure on the individual member will eradicate any trace of such ideas’?[12] Unfortunately not, for this formulation underestimates both the tenacity of bourgeois ideas and the complexity of the process whereby ideas change. The party constantly strives to eradicate bourgeois ideas, but this is a never-ending task (never, this side of communism, at any rate). As Tony Cliff has put it:

    ‘… even the most revolutionary party is subject to pressure from alien social forces. The main psychological support of the social status quo is the belief of the ruling class, of the petty bourgeoisie, which transmits its influence, and of the workers, that the oppressed classes are intrinsicailly inferior, impotent and ignorant. To isolate the revolutionary party from bourgeois public opinion, to cut any link with the bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeois milieu, to insulate the party from these alien influences, was a goal for which Lenin fought all his life… But no party can free itself completely from the pressure of the petty bourgeois environment.’[13]

    Cliff’s formulation is an admirable warning against the complacent belief that simply by being Marxists we are free from ideological contamination. In this perspective we can understand why the Communist International imposed as a condition of adherence that parties must undertake regular reregistration to purge petty bourgeois elements, and why Lenin devoted parts of his very last article (Better Fewer but Better) to an attack on abuses within the party. Marxism in itself will guarantee nobody against the encroachments of reactionary ideas. (We may recall that Marx himself, in moments of rage, would refer to his political adversary Ferdinand Lassalle as a ‘Jewish nigger’.[14])

    Indeed, the notion that party can be wholly free from bourgeois ideology is essentially substitutionist and belongs to the Stalinist tradition; it implies that ‘the masses necessarily live in ideology, and that it will therefore be necessary for there to continue to exist a group of those adept in the sciences in order to guide them.’[15] It has no place in a world view which believes that the working class (despite bourgeois ideology) can emancipate itself, and that the party is the product of the class’s struggle for self-emancipation rather than standing mysteriously outside it.

    The argument that all whites are marked by at least a grain of racism has been attacked as ‘a form of vulgar materialism’.[16] There is an obvious rejoinder, namely that those who reject the position are guilty of a form of voluntarism.[17] For materialists  – however much we strive to avoid vulgarity – it is not enough to proclaim that it is possible for individuals to break with the dominant ideology; we have to explain how and in what material circumstances the break is possible. Otherwise becoming a revolutionary would be a matter of pure will, and building the party would be a question of moral exhortation.

    Of course nobody in the SWP holds a classic voluntarist position. But in a period of downturn, when theory and practice often seem irrevocably separate from each other, there is another danger – that of fatalism and voluntarism existing alongside of each other. The main course of the class struggle seems governed by mechanical laws right outside our control; we can merely wait for the ‘crisis’, the ‘upturn’ to come along. But within the restricted sphere of the party everything seems possible; we can have no influence on the world outside, but we can liberate ourselves from bourgeois ideology by pulling on our own bootstraps. Such a coupling of fatalism and voluntarism leads to the dead-end of sectarianism.[18]

    The Marxist tradition has always rejected both fatalism and voluntarism. As Alex Callinicos has written in commentary on Marx’s third Thesis on Feuerbach:

    ‘What Marx meant was this. Workers, according to the view he is attacking, are too debased and corrupt to do anything about capitalism … But this seems a counsel of despair. How will socialism ever be achieved if capitalism is able to prevent the masses from recognising that their interest lies in its abolition? Only if an enlightened minority of socialists who are somehow exempt from the conditioning of capitalism transform society for the masses. This apparently highly materialist view thus collapses into idealism, since it supposes that there are people who have risen above the pressures of bourgeois society and therefore above the class struggle.’[19]

    The answer to the problem, which has always been central to the SWP’s tradition, is that ideas are changed in struggle. As Chris Harman puts it:

    ‘Workers too accept the bourgeois definitions of reality for much of the time. But struggle begins to lift the veil from their eyes. When they begin to struggle, for example, over the length of the working day, they begin to see that it is their exertions that have produced the wealth of existing society. They begin to understand the nature of exploitation and to grasp the underlying character of capitalism.’[20]

    But if ideas are changed in struggle, then they cannot be totally transformed until the struggle is complete. When communism is established, only then the last vestiges of racism and sexism will be eradicated from the human brain.

    How is it possible for ideas to change in struggle? Fundamentally, it is because bourgeois ideology, though it claims to offer an explanation of the world, cannot do so adequately; the world-view of a tiny privileged and exploitative minority – and, moreover, a minority that competes viciously within its own ranks – cannot offer a comprehensive account of social reality. As Harman puts it:

    ‘A social group identified with the continuation of the old relations of production and the old institutions of the superstructure necessarily only has a partial view (or a series of partial views) of society as a whole. Its practice is concerned with the perpetuation of what already exists, with ‘sanctifying’ the accomplished fact. Anything else can only be conceived as a disruption or destruction of a valuable, harmonious arrangement. Therefore, even at times of immense social crisis, its picture of society is one of a natural, eternally recurring harmony somehow under attack from incomprehensible, irrational forces.’[21]

    Since the dominant ideology cannot provide a comprehensive account of reality, workers have to fill the gaps. This means that most people hold sets of ideas which are not internally consistent, but are full of contradictions. As Nigel Harris puts it:

    People often maintain unreconciled contradictions in their viewpoint, contradictions expressed in different contexts. An obvious example is in some responses to questions about racial discrimination  – “I am against coloured people in this country”; “Jack, the man next door, is very likeable and an excellent neighbour”, and Jack is coloured.’[22]

    Or again, many workers will tell opinion pollsters that they are against strikes in general; but when circumstances drive them into strike action on their own account, they will justify their action – and thereby become open to the possibility of changing their view on strikes in general.

    The holding of contradictory ideas extends to left-wing activists. An obvious example is the case of immigration controls. The SWP has always argued that immigration controls of their nature are racist; the very idea of ‘non-racist immigration controls’ is self-contradictory. But it is also true that many sincere and committed anti-racists disagree with us on this, and while being whole-heartedly opposed to any form of discrimination against blacks in Britain, they believe it is necessary to impose state controls to keep people out of the country.[23] So we have anti-racists (including many black anti-racists) who none the less hold a racist idea.

    The point is not a purely abstract one. In building the Anti Nazi League it was necessary to argue very firmly that supporters of immigration controls (anti-racists with ‘traces’ of racism) should be recruited into the ANL; otherwise it would have remained an agglomeration of revolutionary groups and never become a mass movement. As Tony Cliff argued:

    ‘There are workers who agree with us on A or B but not on C. There are workers who are against racialism, against the Nazis, but not against immigration controls. Of course, we as revolutionary socialists must be consistent and we make it clear that we are against immigration controls. But if somebody joins the Anti Nazi League and he doesn’t agree with the abolition of immigration controls, that’s his headache.’[24]

    The SWP opposes all immigration controls, so this particular ‘trace’, though widespread on the left, is not an issue in the SWP.[25] But other ‘traces’ may be found, even among organised revolutionaries. Take the case of the trade union activist who argues along the following lines:

    ‘Unity in struggle is vital. Therefore we must make every effort to involve black workers in the trade unions, so they can fight alongside white workers. We experienced militants have to teach black workers how to become good trade unionists.’[26]

    Here a fundamentally healthy anti-racism shows a ‘trace’ of a patronising attitude that sees blacks as somehow backward. Obviously this is not a matter for organisational discipline, but the point does need to be confronted.

    The fact that contradictory consciousness is widespread among workers is no cause for dismay; on the contrary, it is precisely the fact of contradictory consciousness that makes political intervention possible. Workers are pulled one way by bourgeois ideology, and in the opposite direction by the experience of class struggle. Which force is dominant will be decided in practice, and by political intervention. Thus Nigel Harris, writing just after London dockers had struck in support of Enoch Powell, wrote

    ‘The dockers who supported Enoch Powell are the same dockers who will come out on sympathy strikes with other workers, who are just as capable of battling to help coloured workers.’[27]

    Thus in 1955 the French government called up reservists and conscripts to fight in Algeria. Not surprisingly, many were unwilling to go. In several cases they rioted and refused to board trains, or prevented trains from leaving by pulling alarm cords and lying on the tracks. In Rouen rioting conscripts were joined by local workers. The potential for a militant opposition to imperialist war existed. But the Communist Party was half-hearted about the movement and no alternative leadership existed. The conscripts were sent to Algeria against their will; rapidly the anger and aggression that had been felt against the Army hierarchy was redirected against the Algerian population and took the form of torture and brutality. What a few months earlier had been no more than a ‘trace’ of racism now, tragically, became the dominant impulse.[28]

    There is a second, and apparently more moderate line of argument which runs roughly as follows: it is certainly true that none of us, even committed revolutionaries, can be a hundred per cent free from bourgeois ideas; we may, for example, retain traces of liberalism, feminism or even religious belief. Racism and sexism, however, it is argued, are different, and it is possible for individuals to eradicate every last trace of them.[29]

    This seems more plausible, but some difficulties remain. Firstly, there is no explanation of how the complete break is possible. Are there material circumstances that make it possible, or is it simply the product of an act of will?

    Secondly, this argument seems to be a concession to moralism. Racism and sexism are, quite rightly, regarded on the left as being morally reprehensible. But for that very reason, many on the left seem to regard them as autonomous phenomena, not directly linked to the class struggle. The SWP tradition has always rejected this line of argument. Racism and sexism are an essential part of the mechanism whereby class rule is preserved. But if this is so, then there is no reason why they should be any easier to escape from than other parts of bourgeois ideology; indeed, given their key role in preserving bourgeois rule, one would expect them to be even more pervasive.

    What must be made clear, however, is that racism is not something homogeneous. It appears in many different forms and varieties, so that the world is not neatly divided into racists and anti-racists. We rightly condemn concessions to racism by Labour leaders, but Labour racism is a very different phenomenon to the racism of the extreme right. We do not respond to a public appearance by Roy Hattersley in the same way as we should to one by Martin Webster. The contradictory and pervasive nature of racism was brought home to me some years ago in a discussion with a workmate. He was arguing that certain psychological characteristics  (for example, unreliability) could be attributed to all Tunisian students. When I challenged what seemed to me to be racist stereotyping, he defended himself by pointing out that his wife was Tunisian. Now clearly he was not a racist in the normal sense of the term; indeed, the out-and-out racists would denounce him as a ‘race-mixer’, and he would have good reason to identify himself with anti-racist campaigning. Yet there was none the less a ‘trace’ of racism (and sexism) in his attitude.

    There is, therefore, a clear logical distinction between the statement ‘all whites are racist’ and the statement that ‘all people in bourgeois society retain some traces of racism’. The second proposition does not imply the first, and the argument against the first is not assisted by an insistence on rejecting the second also.

    One further historical example may help to make the point. The Bolshevik Party remains for us today the model of a Marxist revolutionary party. Its politics were based on the principles of proletarian internationalism. It fought consistently and courageously against the pernicious anti-Semitism which was so widespread in Tsarist Russia. But was the Bolshevik Party free from all traces of racism and nationalism?

    In 1917 the membership of the Bolshevik Party increased tenfold within six months. In the large cities the growth was even greater. Workers flocked to the Bolsheviks because the party had a clear programme for taking Russia out of the crisis. It would be grossly unrealistic to imagine that all those workers were wholly free from anti-Semitic prejudices (Maybe they told anti-Jewish jokes, or would have been distressed at the thought of one of their children marrying a Jew). Yet they willingly aligned themselves with a party that was well known to have many Jews in its leadership. It was not that all the ‘traces’ vanished as if by magic; rather, in the perspective of working-class power, they became irrelevant. As Nigel Harris puts it:

    No doubt some St Petersburg fathers were anti-semitic, but this did not prevent them helping to vote Trotsky in as President of the St Petersburg Soviet. There is a racialist minority who will use any grist for their insanity, but by and large, the majority are not similarly committed. The jokes will go on, the petty back-biting, but it will be, in the struggle to overcome specific problems, trivial.’[30]

    In 1917 the traces of racism were, quite simply, irrelevant. And if the revolution had been successfully spread to the rest of the world they would doubtless have quietly evaporated and no more would need to be said about them. But as the progress of the revolution was blocked, the traces began to revive. Tony Cliff, describing the process, quotes Marx:

    ‘revolution is necessary, therefore, not only because the ruling class cannot be overthrown in any other way, but also because the class overthrowing it can only in a revolution succeed in ridding itself of all the muck of ages and become fitted to found society anew.’[31]

    And Cliff goes on to add:

    ‘What would happen if the “old excrement” were too massive and the proletariat too small, and too much weakened in the process of the revolution, to revolutionise itself?’

    Cliff shows us what happened with details from the civil war, where the contradictions of consciousness were revealed. He quotes one of Babel’s stories in which ‘anti-semitic obscenities flew from the mouths of heroic soldiers’.[32]

    Whether any of the ‘heroic soldiers’ held party cards Cliff does not tell us, but he goes on to show that ‘the party was not immune from the rot of corruption’.[33] Certainly in the very last months of his political life Lenin recognised the growing danger of nationalist ideas, of ‘dominant national chauvinism’ within the Bolshevik Party itself, and launched a ferocious attack on it. And the targets of his wrath were not any old rank-and-file hobbledehoys, not careerists who had crept into the party after the revolution. They were Stalin and Ordzhonikidze, both of whom had been Central Committee members in 1917.[34]

    After Lenin’s death the situation deteriorated further. In the factional struggle against Trotsky Stalin’s agents shamelessly incited anti-semitic feeling against Trotsky. In March 1926 Trotsky wrote to Bukharin: ‘is it true, is it possible that in our party IN MOSCOW, in WORKERS’ CELLS, anti-Semitic agitation should be carried on with impunity?’[35]Of course the composition of the party had changed since 1917, but there were still many old Bolsheviks in positions of influence; the fact that Stalin’s use of racism  (Stalin himself was probably a cynical opportunist rather than a racist) could gain some resonance showed that the once harmless ‘traces’ of anti-semitism had begun to grow into a poisonous cancer.[36]

    Finally, why does it matter? There are, I believe, three reasons why the issue should be clarified:

    1)      We do not advance a good cause by using bad arguments as a short cut. The SWP’s basic position on racism and sexism is a strong one, and in the present period, we have a good chance of persuading a number of feminists and black nationalists of its validity. Why weaken a good case with implausible claims?

    2)      Complacency is not a revolutionary virtue. Claiming that revolutionaries have made a clean break with all the filth of capitalist society merely discourages us from taking a properly critical attitude to our own activities and makes it harder to understand why some comrades succumb to the pressures of bourgeois ideology and leave the party. This is not to encourage introspective soul-searching by individuals. (We do not want comrades to waste hours worrying whether, despite having just denounced the latest WASP video, they didn’t secretly enjoy it somewhere deep inside). It does mean recognising that the party has to engage in a never-ending struggle against alien ideas and that nothing and no-one is immune from criticism.

    3)      At the moment the party recruits slowly. Individuals join us on the basis of general ideas and normally do not become members until they have considered the party’s positions on a range of issues. We have the time to engage in a fairly leisurely educational programme.

    When an upturn comes things will be very different. People will join the party on the basis of its record in struggle and because of its leading role in specific campaigns. As a result far more people will bring into the party significant traces of reactionary ideology. The path between sectarianism and opportunism will be a difficult one to tread. On the one hand we will not expel new members the first time they make a sexist joke; on the other hand we will not turn a blind eye to reactionary attitudes because those holding them  are ‘good militants’. But unless we recognise that traces of racism and sexism are so pervasive that they affect even the best class fighters and even penetrate the ranks of the party, we shall not be able to handle the situation.


    [1] Molyneux’s statements appear in Socialist Worker nos 1048 and 1052; the ensuing debate can be found in Socialist Worker nos 1050, 1054, 1058 and 1060.

    [2] London, 1987.

    [3] There is considerable new information on the role of these European supporters of the FLN in Jean-Luc Einaudi, Pour l’exemple: L’Affaire Fernand Iveton, Paris, 1986.

    [4] For reasons of space this article will confine itself almost exclusively to the argument about racism. A similar case could be made on the question of sexism.

    [5] Is There a Future for Marxism?, London, 1982, p. 213.

    [6] The only book-length treatment of the subject by an SWP member is  N Harris, Beliefs in Society, London 1968. A Callinicos has written at some length on the question, notably Is There a Future for Marxism?, chapter III and Marxism and Philosophy, Oxford, 1983 chapter VI. While both make interesting observations, I do not think either Harris or Callinicos would claim to have set out the ‘party line’ on ideology.

    [7] Is there a Future for Marxism?, p. 78.

    [8] For language as a ‘material process’, see Chris Harman, ‘Base and Superstructure’, International Socialism 2:32, p. 26.

    [9] I use ‘non-conscious’, rather than ‘unconscious’, to avoid any possible confusion with Freudian terminology.

    [10] Works, vol 4, p. 607; cited, T Cliff, Lenin, vol IV, London, 1979, p. 204.

    [11] Selections from the Prison Notebooks, p. 323, cited A Callinicos, Althusser’s Marxism, London, 1976, p. 97.

    [12] Geoff Collier in SWP Conference 1987 Discussion Bulletin 3.

    [13] T Cliff, Lenin, vol II, London, 1976, pp. 376-77.

    [14] Yvonne Kapp, Eleanor Marx, vol I, London, 1979, p. 63. I remember this being pointed out to me many years ago by Tony Cliff, making the point that no leader in the movement is infallible.

    [15] Callinicos, Althusser’s Marxism, p. 101. Althusser’s distinction of ideology and science is the most theoretically developed expression of the Stalinist idea  that the party stands wholly outside ideology. For a critique see also P Binns, ‘What are the tasks of Marxism in philosophy?’, International Socialism 2:17 and C Harman, ‘Philosophy and Revolution’, International Socialism, 2:12.

    [16] Chanie Rosenberg in Socialist Worker no 1050.

    [17] Though I would not go all the way with Alex Callinicos, who sees the mainstream of philosophical thought in the SWP as being corrupted by Lukacsian voluntarism. ‘Marxism and Philosophy’, International Socialism 2:19, p. 114.

    [18] Let me make it clear that I am not saying that this has happened to the SWP; far from it. I am simply pointing to a danger we have to beware of.

    [19] The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx, London, 1983, p. 79.

    [20] ‘Philosophy and Revolution’, International Socialism 2:21, p. 69.

    [21] ‘Base and Superstructure’, International Socialism, 2:32, p. 30. For further discussion of this problem see G Lukács, History and Class Consciousness, London, 1971, for example, pp. 62-66.

    [22] Beliefs in Society, pp. 54-55.

    [23] P Alexander, op cit, pp. 43-44.

    [24] Interview in Socialist Review, no 1, April 1978.

    [25] When Paul Foot, a Marxist of some years’ standing, began work on his book immigration and Race in British Politics, (Harmondsworth, 1965), he did not oppose immigration control in principle; he was convinced of the point by Tony Cliff.

    [26] I recall a contribution along these lines at an International Socialists conference in the early seventies. Tony Cliff has pointed to the fact that ‘some revolutionaries do suffer from elitist notions’, and that they would put blacks and women in the back row at the barricades. Neither Washington nor Moscow, London, 1982, p. 277.

    [27] ‘Race and Nation’, International Socialism, 1:34, p. 22.

    [28] For a vivid account of this process – and of the minority who resisted racism – see the novel by Georges Mattéi (largely based on personal experience) La Guerre des Gusses, Paris, 1982.

    [29] This I take to be the thrust of Lindsey German’s letter in Socialist Worker no 1060.

    [30] ‘Race and nation’, International Socialism 1:34, p. 26.

    [31] The German Ideology, cited T Cliff, Lenin, vol III, London, 1978, p. 106.

    [32] Lenin, vol III, p. 107.

    [33] Lenin, vol III, p. 189.

    [34] Lenin, vol IV, pp. 199-205.

    [35] I Deutscher, The Prophet Unarmed, Oxford, 1970, p. 258.

    [36] Let me make it quite clear that I am not arguing for a continuity between Bolshevism and Stalinism. Stalinism was the negation of Bolshevism and the product of the defeat of the international revolution and the isolation of Russia. But it is still necessary to show the concrete processes by which Stalinism was able to triumph. All I am claiming is that the survival of traces of anti-semitism within the Bolshevik Party was one factor among many others in this process.