SAP and Enhedslisten
Political resolution from the extraordinary congress of the Socialistisk Arbejderparti-SAP (Socialist Workers Party, Danish Section of the Fourth International). January 7-8, 1995.
[Note: Enhedslisten, "The Unity List" is also referred to as the Red-Green Alliance. It was formed in 1989 on the initiative of the Left Socialists (VS), the Communist Party (DKP) and SAP. The founding parties were joined by the Communist Workers Party (KAP) in 1991. Since then, it has developed into an independent organization with no special privileges for any affiliated party.
The most important goal that the SAP had in 1987 when we adopted the first resolution on the formation of Enhedslisten has been reached: The left wing is now represented in parliament. This opens new possibilities for Enhedslisten as well as SAP:
Firstly, the parliamentary representation of Enhedslisten may be able to promote a shift of focus of public attention to the left that would result in progress for the left wing. SAP would have a good possibility of latching on to this process.
Secondly, Enhedslisten representation in parliament now means that the public in general regards it and its consisting elements as the primary representative of the left. This means that a lot of people will turn to Enhedslisten when they want to know about left policies on education, trade unions and so forth.
Thirdly, parliamentary representation implies a vastly improved possibility for gaining access to nationwide media and thereby getting into contact with broad layers in society. This will in turn lead to more people requesting information from Enhedslisten and people will have a more positive attitude when they are contacted by the list.
Fourthly, the six parliamentary seats and the amount of votes that were gained in the election greatly improve the financial situation of Enhedslisten through Danish rules of state financial support to political parties.
However, although Enhedslisten has reached its primary goal the election victory raises new questions both within SAP and among other members of Enhedslisten. How should the parliamentary representation be used? In which direction should Enhedslisten evolve? What should the relationship between SAP and Enhedslisten be?
What is Enhedslisten?
Enhedslisten is primarily a congregation of the remnants of the different currents and parties of the left wing in the 70´s and 80´s. The large majority of the old left wing has moved to the right or fallen into political passivity. Enhedslisten contains reformists, centrists as well as revolutionaries. In addition to this, there is still only a limited amount of people who are joining Enhedslisten. People who have been radicalized in the 90´s – i.e. during the existence of Enhedslisten
The formal influence of the parties in Enhedslisten has been abandoned. Membership is based on individuals and the majority of the members are no longer connected to any of the parties.
The formation of Enhedslisten does not imply that the old differences between parties have disappeared, but rather that the different currents, in spite of the differences, have found common ground and tasks to solve. Politically Enhedslisten encompasses everything from left-reformist to revolutionaries including a large group of politically disoriented people. The list has collected a number of more or less far-reaching demands of reform but there is no accepted or common strategy for how these demands are to be carried through and how to proceed from present day struggle for immediate demands on to socialism. In regards to this aspect, the answer different people give depends on their present or former affiliation to the parties.
As of yet there are within Enhedslisten no clearly defined currents or main adversaries. We can not precisely point to a left or a right wing. However, if the process of clarification proceeds this may well change. It may be necessary to establish a more precise political and organizational basis for a left wing.
Within Enhedslisten, there is no common understanding of the kind of role it should play. For a large number of the old VSP (Left Socialists) and members of the Danish Communist Party, Enhedslisten is simply a replacement of their old parties, which have become superfluous thereby. The dissolving of the KAP (Communist Workers Party -a "soft" Maoist party which joined the list a few years ago) was accompanied by a statement that: "The parties have become a millstone around the neck of Enhedslisten"
What is the role of SAP?
There is still a need for SAP both within Enhedslisten as well as outside. In contrast to Enhedslisten, SAP is not only held together by a number of demands. SAP has a revolutionary strategy. This is the reason why the party has an independent role to play. We base ourselves upon:
– The historical experiences, which have been summed up in the programmatic documents of the Fourth International
– A Marxist analysis of society and class forces
– A democratic centralist organization consisting of active and politically schooled cadres and of being a part of an international
– The need for a revolutionary party which is a necessary instrument for the working class in order to overturn capitalism and start the construction of socialism.
In stating these things, we have automatically taken on an assignment that lies far beyond the foundations of Enhedslisten. We must emphasize the difference between a revolutionary nucleus and an organization like Enhedslisten.
It is not possible to build a revolutionary party solely by working within Enhedslisten. Without an organizational independence and practice it would be difficult, if not impossible, to hold on to a revolutionary political and programmatic identity and to develop this identity. Even with the best intentions of turning Enhedslisten towards the left, the result would inevitably be that the list would drag SAP members to the right.
At the same time we would risk being cut of from radicalized people, who are not attracted to the list because they do not se it as being far-reaching enough. With an independent organization and political profile we could have an influence on these people. Therefore in the public debates and political struggles the SAP will especially underline the revolutionary and internationalist points of Enhedslisten´s reform demands.
Finally, it is our independent organizational strength that ensures that we are taken seriously and that our arguments get a hearing.
How should Enhedslisten develop?
For a left wing forum with an anti-capitalist programme of action
Enhedslisten should not emphasize reform models, claiming they are realistic within the framework of capitalism. Enhedslisten should unite around a programme of action containing demands that are to be put forward in different movements and in parliament and other elected assemblies.
* Creation of new jobs by reducing the working week to 30 hours with no loss of pay and full maintenance of production .
* A stop on privatization and anti-social cuts. The start of public production
* Defense of unemployed and their union rights
* Extension of social and health care
* An increase in the funding of the housing programme
* Young people’s right to an education that they choose for themselves and student management of curricula
* An ecological change in industrial production, agriculture, energy, and transportation
* Working people’s right to control work on shopfloor level
* Nationalization of the financial sector and control over movements of capital
* A progressive tax reform
*Resistance to the European Union and its effort to control trade unions and movements
* Rights of asylum for all refugees
* Opposition to discrimination due to ethnic origin
* Opposition to sexual discrimination and defense of free abortion
* Active opposition to racism and fascism
* Democratic control over police forces
* Demilitarization of Denmark
* Solidarity with anti-imperialist and democratic movements in the third world.
The perspective must be that movements and organizations join forces and raise these demands in opposition to the Nyrop government´s bourgeois policies. The left wing within the trade union movement must organize to prepare members for a rebellion against bureaucratic leaderships. Enhedslisten must demand that the Socialist Folkesparti (a left reformist party three times the size of Enhedslisten) and the Social Democratic Party unite in working for these demands. Enhedslisten should not conceal the fact that Holger K. Nielsen (chairman of the SF) and Poul Nyrop (Chairman of the SDP) are more interested in defending their own privileges.
Enhedslisten as a party?
SAP is supporting and working inside Enhedslisten while at the same time building our own party. We do not consider Enhedslisten to be a competitive organization to SAP, but an organization in which SAP is collaborating with other socialists. One can also define our work as intervention in a movement – although a movement of a very specific type, because in principle it has a position on all political questions. It is a movement that tends to demand our contribution on all political and organizational levels. A movement in which we are part of the leadership ourselves.
Does this mean that we are against Enhedslisten becoming a party? It depends upon the content you put into this notion. In a certain sense, Enhedslisten is already a party. Not a revolutionary Marxist party of the kind SAP wants to build. But a party in the sense of a political organization around a parliamentary slate. Instead of discussing for or against "Enhedslisten as a party", the discussion has to be concretized.
If one means that membership of Enhedslisten should exclude members of SAP (or other political parties), then we are against. If one means that Enhedslisten should take political initiatives and organize campaigns, then we are in favor. If one means that Enhedslisten needs an organizational strengthening with elementary rules for publication of meeting minutes and division of responsibilities between leadership bodies and commissions, then we are in favor. If one means introduction of obligatory militant activity, then we are against (although we, of course, are in favor of as many activists as possible).
Enhedslisten must respect the diversity of left currents on which it built its parliamentary breakthrough. To be precise, this means too that Enhedslisten must maintain an openness towards individuals, groups and movements opposing the system as such or parts of it, for instance opponents of the European Union or active trade unionists – even if they do not identify with or are members of Enhedslisten. However, candidates for Enhedslisten in parliamentary or municipal elections must accept the central points of Enhedslisten program.
We want to maintain the political breadth existing today. Enhedslisten should be able to attract everybody wanting to break with the system and everybody wanting to fight. The political breadth may be even broader if it is necessary to embrace major left social movements.
Necessarily, Enhedslisten will increasingly be forced to take positions on political questions, and these discussions will touch strategic disagreements. At the same time, many of Enhedslisten members will want to place the political demands into a more fundamental framework.
Of course, SAP will participate in these discussions with the with the aim of developing Enhedslisten as much as possible to the left. It is fine to debate socialist strategy, visions on socialism etc. with a confrontation between different positions and in which SAP of course will present our program, not least to the new and young members who may be recruited to Enhedslisten.
However, we will conduct this political fight with respect to the unity of Enhedslisten, as long as it is serving its primary goal as a parliamentary means for extra-parliamentary mobilization and anti-capitalist education.
Thus, SAP is not trying to transform or develop Enhedslisten to a revolutionary party. However, we try to recruit individuals – including members of Enhedslisten – to our program and organization. At the same time, we will be open to new possibilities for closer co-operation and possible regroupment with revolutionary socialists inside or outside Enhedslisten.
We do not want to predict how big a part of the existing alliance can become part of a revolutionary party in some years. However, to engage old left forces in a militant organization based on a revolutionary program, you must get new major experiences from struggles which encourage a radicalization in the union movement, the workers parties, the youth as well among the non-organized political left.
In the coming years the tasks is to activise new generations and re-activate those forces who are not totally burnt out. On this field, Enhedslisten has its role a means for social mobilization.