Interview with a Communist

I met with Chris Walker last month to give him an interview on my politics, where they came from, and what it’s all about:

1. At what age and where did your support for communism come from ?

I grew up in a strict family as the daughter of a baptist minister. We were working class, permanently skint and crowbarred by our parents into stereotypes we hated. 

When I was 18 my “rebel phase” got out of hand and my dad kicked me out. I began squatting in London.

The anarchists I met in those squats, although I didn’t necessarily agree with them all the time, had passion and courage of conviction which I admired. I called myself an anarchist too, for a few years, and attended demos with my face covered and dressed black head to toe, I was naively waiting for that round-the-corner revolution we all see as imminent when we’re kids.

This was definitely the root of my political views as I saw them then, these guys had a real desire to smash the status quo, tear down the systems of oppression, shake the world. But in the end, as I grew up and had children, immersed myself in the working world and all the challenges that come with it, I began to look for something else. Something that suggested a remedy, a plan – for after the smashing of the state.

After the last general election, I went through some old boxes of stuff and found the Communist Manifesto. A friend had given it to me years before and begged me to read it, I had forgotten all about it. I read it, and read it again, and it completely changed my life. It’s been changing my life ever since.

2. In the current political situation in Britain how would communism change britain for the better ?

Communism is as much an answer in Britain as it is anywhere. Its a solution for all of the worlds ills, not just ours. It’s not a political party or a special measure – it’s a complete brick by brick dismantling of the whole capitalist system of corruption, exploitation and oppression which has crippled us for so long.

It is the building of a system in which the backbone of humanity – the working class, are afforded all that is owed to them, put simply – the fruits of their labour; the world itself. 

It is not about changing what we have and making it better, or taking it back to when it wasn’t quite so bad. It must be obliterated altogether, scrubbed from the earth, and replaced with the dictatorship of the proletariat – the working class. 

3. Who in Britain’s current political arena could help bring communism to Britain?

This is something that I learned as a young anarchist booting off at the G20 and going home with an empty feeling in my belly, frustrated cos half my mates had been nicked and I’d lost a glove.

There are no shortcuts. Communism won’t be built overnight just because somewhere, the right guy fell into the right job. The only people who can enforce a working class revolution and establish communism, are us – the working class. The only way this will happen, is if we are motivated, educated, supported and connected.  

There will always be sympathetic politicians. There will also always be those politicians who would love to see you swinging from a lamppost. We must rise with our class, all of us together, and not one above the rest. We must build the movement if we want it to be built. Join the unions, fight for the working class and stand strong when we are attacked, rally and defend each other, and build the movement. I can’t say it enough, its the only way it can be done.

4. What advice or information would you give to people wanting to find out more about communism and who inspired you?

Find other communists, for a start. I am very lucky to have a close network of likeminded friends who have all been very supportive and patient with me while I learn. I also joined my local branch of the communist party who hold monthly meetings where you can ask questions and learn more. There is also a library in Clerkenwell in London called the Marx Memorial Library – they not only hold books they also run courses on Marxist material, it’s an amazing place. 

It is of paramount importance for any communist to find comrades and to connect with them. None of us can do it on our own, we need each other. Also, read the manifesto. Read it until you understand it, there are a lot of resources out there which can help you study. A lot of the writings that we refer to as communists are old and academic – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t relevant or accessible. The manifesto is a love song to our class, and we must learn to sing it.

5. What direction is the communist movement in Britain heading towards?

Toward communism, haha!

Communists don’t exactly have a stranglehold on the political sphere in Britain right now but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of work to be done. Jeremy Corbyn is a strong socialist who values many of the same ideas and issues that we do. As communists we must learn to use the vehicles available to us to our advantage. 

The divisionary tactics and sectarianism of the liberal left will be their own downfall. We can and must work with all areas of the working class to further our aims, but as I said before, class revolutions do not come about overnight. Build it from the ground up, and if there’s nothing where you live then build it there.

6. What would you say to people who still fear / misunderstand what communism is?

That’s a huge chunk of the world there that you’re talking about – there has been a colossal campaign of ferocious propaganda against communism which is still strong today. 

It’s no wonder that the capitalist giants of the world will do all in their power to discredit and destroy us – we are the antithesis of everything they are, and their greatest threat. 

But maybe the message shouldn’t be for those who are afraid of us – maybe it should be for us, to tell working class people there is nothing to fear. 

Hoist that hammer and sickle high, let it fly in the wind, let the blood of the martyrs wash any doubt from your mind. Do not be ashamed and afraid of knowing the truth. Only when people see and fear will they question and understand.

7. Have you a message for people this interview might inspire to look at communism in a new light?

I think, as with anything in life, the message is simple. Find out for yourself. Read. Educate yourself. Find who your friends are, and build with them. Move forward, push. Spread the word. Join a union. Fly that red flag proud. See you on the barricades.

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If They’re Black

As I trot up the thirty concrete steps from the platform at Bank Hall I feel it looming toward me. The sun is beating down on the railroad and the heat rises up in waves to the road above as the giants roll under the bridge, the day is absolutely beautiful, but I know its there.

I pass over the bridge to look out on Kirkdale station, I dont know why but I’m walking towards it on purpose. Its grotesque, and I hate seeing it, it ruins my day – but I have to look. Articulated lorries cough and stutter at the lights, the air is suffocating and the fires from the dockland could make you believe the world was ending. Who wants to build a fire in this heat?

Ive looked away as long as I can. I look at the pavement, willing myself to look up, and eventually snap my head bacl at the last second. And there it is. Its on the other side of the drop, over the bridge on the opposite wall. The wall is coal black, as if the air round here had once had chance to settle and that was the result. Six rough patches of sickly magnolia paint, on which is daubed

“IF THEIR BLACK SEND THEM BACK”

I stare at it, as I always do, and feel the now familiar prickle up my spine. First of all that fucking spelling mistake. The irritation that anybody thought for a single second that this was ok to do, and worst of all the absolute shame.

At least with the summer leaves on the trees its partly obscured, but it doesnt matter. I know what it says. Every groundsman on the railway that lifts his hand to wipe his brow has seen that scar on the landscape, the endless stream of lorries that pass cant miss it. The dog walkers hang their heads and pretend not to see it, and the kids who pedal bikes from corner to corner have known it all their lives.

Its not in an easy place to cover up, its hundreds of feet up on the railway bridge, and unless I had the hulk dangle me over the side id have no chance of removing it myself, and the council dont seem to think its a priority – that graffiti looks older than me. 

Its been there all that time. Decades of people walking and working above and around it, and nobody bats an eye. It makes me ashamed, that I live on this street, that people will judge my area based on things like this, that kids in these streets are so accustomed to hate in the world around them, that it is allowed to exist in the midst of this city of migrants and industry.

Racism in America is the biggest scourge on that country, it is the one tool used most effectively to divide and conquer the people. People who have been conditioned for generations to ignore and excuse racism in order to preserve the exploitative system it aids.

I walk down my street and I cannot understand how such a disturbing image is absorbed into the every day. This city is famous for the historic slave trade that built it, there are streets named after slavers all over it from corner to corner. This city was ripped apart by race riots in toxteth and has seen some of the most awful hate crimes paint its streets.

And for all of our progression, our industry, our solidarity through tragedies such as Hillsborough and James Bulger, our famous working class actions, trade unionists and even cries for independence – for all the good in Liverpool, this evil still lurks. In the heart of each of us in kirkdale who walk past that monstrosity and say nothing, do nothing, we perpetuate this culture, this idea that it is ok. 

We show the world each and every day that we dont mind it here, and I am utterly ashamed.