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.

The Confession of Faith

The Communist Manifesto is basically a piece of writing that says “this is the way we should run our shit, and this is why.”

It was written by Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels. Marx and Engels met at a party or something in 1842 and they didn’t get on, but then they hooked up a few years later in 1844 and had a bit of banter and sort of a “yeah, you’re sound actually, let’s write a manifesto of our boss ideas.”

Marx and Engels set out to sort of shake up the left, so they joined this socialist league on the condition that they gave it more of a structure and, from what I can understand, got some proper IDEAS about things rather than just being sentimental. 

To sort of set that in stone, Engels wrote the Confession of Faith. Now my dad is a preacher, so I know what a confession of faith, or catechism, is. It’s basically a set of questions and answers that solidify your core beliefs into a series of statements, and this is basically what Engels confession of faith said:

[[ This is not the entire thing, I have cherry-picked, ha. But you can find it here: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/06/09.htm ]]
– Are you a communist?
Yes (pretty standard)

– What is the aim of the communists?

To develop a society where every single person can achieve their potential and exercise their rights in complete freedom without fucking things up for anybody else.

– How do you wish to achieve this aim?

By completely getting rid of private property, and making it so that everybody collectively owns all of the property.

– How do you wish to prepare the way?

By enlightening and uniting the proletariat.

– What is the proletariat? (This ones a biggie, everyone loves this word)

The proletariat are the people who solely survive from the work that they do. They don’t get anything of any real worth from it, they live hand to mouth. Which means their standard of living, even their life and death, depend on wether business is good or bad. They only bargaining chip they have, is their labour, or ability to work.

– Where did it come from?

At one point almost all labour was done by hand – building, manufacturing, farming, but loads of machines turned up that could do the job faster and cheaper. They were expensive as well, so only the rich people could buy them, and so the workers became worth very little to anyone. This meant all the produce, all the wealth, went straight to the bosses and the workers got nothing. Factories popped up and suddenly something which would have been one mans masterpiece was built on a line, he wasn’t a master anymore. So now we have two huge classes, one very rich and one very not:

– the capitalists, or bourgeoisie, who in almost every country own all of the produce and wealth, and all of the means of getting it, like factories and machines.

– the proletariat, who have to sell their labour just to get enough to survive. Because they are not on an equal footing, the proles have to accept whatever conditions the bourg offer no matter how bad they are.
The Confession of Faith then goes on to explain how the proletariat are the only class of it’s kind, and how it has been brought about by this new influx of machinery and efficiency. It also explains what they plan to do a bit more in terms of getting rid of private property and making sure everyone is cool.

Engels said that Marx defended the new theory in fairly lengthy debates, until everyone agreed and they were unanimously accepted. Marx was apparently big on “the practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments.” Well no shit. Somebody said of Marx at this time “…Marx represented the manhood of socialist thought.”

Now what I understand from that is that this man recognized in Karl the evolution from an idealistic socialism that everyone was bang up for before, into a practical, straight-forward and *implementable* Communism that more concretely addressed the needs of the proletariat.

(You should defo know proles by now, man.)

That, to me, is what this whole manifesto was about. It was designed to coagulate the left and say “look, we might not agree on this or that, but let’s focus on what we DO agree on, get that down on paper, and move forward from there.”

From there it was pretty much “holy shit man, good idea, cool story bro.”

And more on that later. The point is that this unification of the left is as relevant an issue now as ever. Again, we see that there are a class of ruling elite, and a whole class of people struggling to get by, living hand to mouth, and barely (if at all) meeting the cost of living. 

As Marx & Engels did with their Manifesto, again it is necessary to coagulate the left and to give it a sense of direction. So many people have such a lot of love for the left, so many go on marches, demos, start activist groups, squat banks. 

But the fact of the matter is that no matter how good the intentions are, if there is no sense of direction and especially of solidarity between everyone, then it’s a totally pointless exercise. There is no sense, no sense at all, at standing on a street corner with a placard railing against the system on behalf of somebody else. 

What is necessary, is to encourage, educate, and empower that person to do it on their own behalf. It is all well and good to tout ourselves as the great protectors and saviours of the lower class, but the fact of the matter is if they’ve never heard of you and they don’t know what you’re about, and there’s about three of you in total, then it’s pretty fucking pointless.

We don’t need to be kicking off at every injustice we see along the way, this will only serve as a distraction. What is needed is a new wave of ideas and solidarity on the left, a real alternative to the way that shit is run at the moment rather than this feeling, that at least personally I get, that we are bailing out a sinking ship with a thimble. 

Good intentions and good works are great, and nobody should stop striving for that. But what we should be doing is striving for a common goal, pooling our ideas and yes, where necessary compromise to further the aims of the left as a whole.

Comrade.

This is a letter I wrote to one of my closest and dearest friends when he made the decision to travel Syria to make his contribution to the Rojava Revolution. The link below it is his story.

Comrade, 
As the day marches toward us I feel it important, essential, to remind you of who you are to me and the immense and unique impact you have had on my life. I had not thought this would be as difficult and emotional to write as it was, but then I had not envisioned so soon such a necessity to do so. 

When first we met I was Tank Girl, lemming. No hair and less sense, with a whole host of “I’ve nevers” that you were thrilled to challenge, like a little Anarcho-Doolittle you loved to teach me from the start – cider, pop punk and life lessons filled the summer. Squatting evolved from cold floors and tinned soup to Neverland with the lost boys. We did what the fuck we wanted in Aden & Caspian House. You taught me to cook, or dared me to try. You taught me to look after myself in a lot of ways. I was so sheltered as a child, I had no idea this was to be such a momentous time in my life. 

We both had such energy, and that’s what drew us together from the start, but you saw something more – you sat their reading the school reports I had from when I was 15 that I’d been carrying indignantly to prove I wasn’t think, and your eyes twinkled. In a mixture of debate, mockery, and of course books you began to demand more of me than a the simplistic drop-out rebellion around us in the squats. You saw a kindred spirit. 

Of all the books you gave me, The Communist Manifesto was to be the next almighty earthquake. I didn’t understand what it was at the time, you gave me a lot of books I thought I couldn’t read. I remember trying and getting no further than the first page, but I kept it, and now it sits on my shelf full of memories and promises and solid gold truth. I read it, and it changed my life all over again. You have a talent for total disruption, for revolution. 

The most important thing you gave me was the passion. The combination of love and rage that fills us and makes us what we are. Passion drives your politics, a desire to simplify the problems of the world so that the sides are obvious, and then build up our side with your ardent belief – you take a hackneyed song lyric and ask why it can’t be a political slogan; you take a working class single mum and ask why she can’t be a revolutionary icon. “There is a light and it never goes out”, and it bursts from you chest making everyone around you burn with the same intensity. 

You took my anger and passion and you taught me to direct it, at myself, to believe in my capabilities, and at the real enemies. You were my compass, an essential aid in navigating the politics of London, of the world, my own mind. I trusted you implicitly, from the start, and I still do. You have never steered me far wrong, always reliable, always true. 

You are often misunderstood, always locked someone or another’s set of sights, and I think I partly know why; not everyone can live up to your expectations, and even if you don’t ask them to, some people feel small and ashamed just to see your example. I want to tell you never to doubt that for every person who falls into this trap, you create five more who are inspired. 

As we move out of realm of lifestyle leftists, who feel so threatened in their tiny kingdoms, you will find more and more people like me, who respond like me, and see you as I do. I see is a man who has always loved passionately – his friends, his partners, his cause. Desperate for justice and understanding, desperate to find those people, places and moments that makes sense of a person like you. All your emotions you use as fuel, from love, to anger, to fear. 32 dead is 32 more reasons to go. 

You are the reason that Cherry Red exists, the reason I am a communist. The reason I am who I am today. My first source of inspiration, my constant companion in this struggle. I am so blessed and proud to call you brother, friend, comrade. You are the very definition of the word. Wherever you go, the world will surely be a better place for it. Nowhere could ever be the same. You will not falter. You will not fall. It is not in you. You will march ever forward, pushing on to victory, with the flag, dyed in the blood of the martyrs held high. I am so proud of you, and I will tell your story always and everywhere. 

Please make it home. 

You have so much more to do. 

In deepest Love & Solidarity, 
Your Comrade

CR

REVOLUTION IN THE MOUNTAINS:

 http://littleatoms.com/revolution-mountains-syria-kurdistan