I first came across this text back in 1973. At that time I was a member of the Socialist Party of Great Britain - of which maybe more at another time. As We See It suprised me. Until that time I had not come across any anarchist or libertarian material. All I had seen apart from the SPGB material was idiotic leninist garbage - the typical workers are too stupid to go beyond trade union consciousness, they need a party of intellectuals to lead them stuff. Suddenly I had discovered a group that looked at workers' industrial struggles and showed how these struggles themselves were the place where revolutionary consciousness began to evolve. Solidarity and its publications were to have a big influence on a group of us who were trying to change the SPGB. We called ourselves Libertarian Communism and published a journal of the same name. Looking back on it, a lot of it was pretty crass, but it was a part of our political evolution. In the end , it was people from that tendency that went on to form Wildcat and Subversion. (Counter Information was partly the work of another of us) Before then, we were kicked out of the SPGB (rightly so!) and set up on our own calling ourselves Social Revolution, during which time we were an active part in the rediscovery of class struggle communist politics in Britain. By 1978 we had begun to find it difficult to sustain our activity and anyway thought we had a lot in common with Solidarity. We held a series of meetings with them and a dissident faction of the then Anarchist Workers Association (a precursor of today's Anarchist Federation). The upshot was a convoluted process of merger negotiations. This led to changes in the statement As We See It and As We Don't See It. We wanted them to be more explicit on socialism as the end of commodity production and wanted the whole thing rewritten to remove sixties sexism.
What follows is four documents:
When, in 1967, we first published 'As We See It' we felt it to be both an accurate and a fairly concise summary of our views. Alternatives had been discussed and every possible effort made to avoid ambiguities. We thought we had produced a fairly explicit text acceptance of which should be the basis of adherence to a SOLIDARITY group.
Over the years we have come to realise that we were wrong, There was either something the matter with the document - or with some of those who read it. Or perhaps there -was something the matter with us - for having -thought the text was self-explanatory. Radicals repeatedly told us that they agreed with every word of the statement ... and in the next breath asked us why we were not doing faction work in the Labour Party, or living in communes or campaigning for the T.U 'lefts', or eulogising the Black Panthers or Karume' s anti-imperialist regime in Zanzibar, or participating-- in the anti-Common Market agitation. Some even asked why we were not advocating the launching of a ‘real, revolutionary, leninist party’.
We now feel it necessary to dot some i's and cross some t's. What follows is an attempt to state explicitly thoughts that were only hinted at, and to formulate in writing propositions that were only implied. 'As We Don't See It' would convey the general tenor of what follows. In an attempt to avoid further ambiguity we will also discuss some matters that were not dealt with in the original text.
We here reprint both texts: first the original As We See It, then our comments.