Lincoln Socialist Party member Nick posted an article on the group’s website which criticises the actions of the LUC with regards to the public sector strike on 30th November (available HERE). We would like to take this opportunity to respond to these criticisms, as we feel we have been portrayed unfairly and inaccurately.
Firstly, Nick claims that the LUC ‘criticised the role of the Lincoln & District Trades Union Council’ and the decision to hold a march and rally after the morning’s picketing on 30th November (N30). This is due to a misunderstanding on Nick’s part of an article about the N30 strikes which was published in the LUC’s newsletter The Lucky Devil (available HERE). The article offered a light-hearted criticism of the monotony of protests in Lincoln (we know them, we’ve done them, we’ve seen it before) and the decision to hold an indoor rally. The N30 march was a very good one. With over 800 people taking part, it was by far the biggest demonstration Lincoln has seen in a long time and LUC members very much enjoyed taking part in it. We were certainly not criticising the decision to hold a march. However, we still retain our position that marches alone do not achieve much at all and that other methods should be actively discussed and encouraged in order for the movement to progress effectively. As far as the rally is concerned, as we encourage greater resistance methods on top of strike action and protest marches, we do not feel an indoor rally tucked away from the public is an effective tool to promote such ideas.
In addition, the article suggests that the LUC ‘fails to understand the importance of holding a show of collective strength’. This is simply not true. As class-struggle anarchists, we have always emphasised the importance of mass collective action on wide scale to actively use collective strength rather than just showing it, as well as employing additional supportive solidarity actions.
Whilst we’re on the subject of solidarity actions, the article fails to acknowledge such actions carried out by LUC members on the day. Working alongside other groups and individuals as part of the Lincoln Solidarity Network (LincSol), we put colossal amounts of time, effort and resources into preparing food and hot drinks to take round to picket lines and serve outside the rally by way of directly offering active support to those on strike. We visited many picket lines and were received with much gratitude by striking workers, who thanked us for our support. We also distributed flyers and posters in advance of N30 detailing anarchist solidarity and support for the actions (available HERE). We feel it unfair that Nick would not even acknowledge this in spite of his criticisms. We will post a full report of our N30 actions in the near future.
Another accusation made was that we take an ‘abstentionist’ position towards political representation for working people, and that this ‘lets the leadership of the Labour Party off the hook’ at a time when there is a call for ‘political leaders who will back the strikers’. This is purely an ideological difference that the LUC and the Socialist Party will never agree on. We promote self-organisation, not just amongst workers but other groups as well (the unemployed, communities etc.) and the idea that the working class should take control of it’s own struggle, rather than looking to leaders or ‘representatives’ to do it for them. We have always been deeply critical of the Labour Party leadership and argue that they do not represent the interests of the working class anyway. We contest that rather than leaving the movement with ‘one hand tied behind it’s back’, as the article suggests, we actually promote an essential idea in workers’ self-determination which can only result in a much more effective struggle which is not stifled by the bureaucracy of party politics.
The final point that needs addressing is the issue of support for prison officers. As anarchists we view police and prison officers as people who actively carry out state oppression and uphold the oppressive will and law of the ruling elite, something we feel is in opposition to working class interests. It is for this reason that many of us in the LUC will not offer active support to prison officers, particularly those at the Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre, where innocent men, women and children are held against their will in poor conditions. However, it is not true that we deny prison officers their democratic right to unionise and take industrial action. It can only be a positive if they take strike action and we would never deny any worker the right to do so, it is simply the case that we will not actively support them from our ideological standpoint. As this has proved quite a contentious issue, we will be publishing a more thorough post regarding our stance on prison officers soon.
We hope this fully addresses the criticisms presented in Nick’s article. Whilst we think that debate and discussion is important, we feel perhaps that the Socialist Party’s focus on negative criticism of the LUC’s actions distracts from the positives and negatives of the N30 actions as a whole. It is also worth mentioning that the criticisms we have responded to here are criticisms that have been directed towards us before. Now that we have addressed them and responded to them publicly, we have to state that any further pursuit of these criticisms will be overlooked unless anything new is offered.
Lincoln Underground Collective