Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Bread, Peace & Land: 1917-2017

Bread, Peace, and Land (1917-2017) was offered to us last Saturday at the Oldham Street Manchester Methodist Hall, presenting us with a documentary film with the talking heads of no less than eight current working class, peasant, social struggle and revolutionary leaders, men and women, from their places of struggle.  It was put on by the regional International Socialist League (ISL)*.
It was a patchwork quilt of struggles in Latin America, the Middle East, Brazil, Spain, linking these in turn to what was claimed to be the magnificent model of the Russian Revolution of 1917.  
From the jungles of Brazil with the peasant struggles against the loggers we were taken in technicolour to the disputes of construction workers in Madrid, and then on to the troubles on the Palestinians.  
All these events were generalised to being somehow rooted in what happened in the Russian Revolution in October 1917.
Awareness of the disappointing developments of later transformations in the Soviet experiment led one spokesman in the film to argue that simply because one may end up viewing a poor performance of a Shakespearean play with a bad director (Stalin?), and low quality stagecraft does not mean that Shakespeare was a bad play-write.  
The long debate following the film was open and illuminating, and it was suggested that there may be more projects in the New Year, with possible potential discussions between the Marxist and Anarchist approaches to social struggles.

*   The ISL group's origins lie in the disintegration of the Workers' Revolutionary Party (WRP) in the 1980s. It was founded as the Bolshevik Faction of Cliff Slaughter's WRP in August 1987 and from the start was sympathetic to the Latin American-based Trotskyist leader Nahuel Moreno.
In February 1988 the future ISL split from the WRP and under the leadership of the veteran Bill Hunter and Martin Ralph founded their organisation, which affiliated to Moreno's International Workers League (LIT).
The ISL remains active in the North West of England where its small membership is concentrated and was active in the Socialist Alliance. It was supportive of the Socialist Alliance Democracy Platform, the Merseyside-based United Socialist Party, and the TUSC.[1] It is currently active in Liverpool as part of Old Swan Against The Cuts (OSAC);[2] Martin Ralph stood as the OSAC candidate in the May 2014 council election, polling third in Old Swan with 8.5%,[3] and stood again in 2015, gaining 6%,[4] in a general election in which the ISL urged support for TUSC and Left Unity candidates across the country.[5]

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