8 February 2021
1. The British Left often suffers from sectarianism, intolerance, and abusive and bullying forms of interpersonal behaviour. This is sometimes seen as an inevitable characteristic of political life. It is not: this is a reactionary idea.
2. A Left group is no different from any other human organisation: it works best when people feel welcome, respected, and valued. People become motivated through encouragement, not criticism, let alone abuse. A Left group needs to be a team of comrades working together, supporting each other’s contributions, and attentive to the needs of others.
3. All comrades should aim:
- To raise the confidence and self-esteem of other comrades and support them in making a contribution to building the A*C.R and the campaigns and struggles the A*C.R supports.
- To act in ways conducive to group cohesion and sense of purpose; to nurture the group as a social microcosm.
- To share knowledge and skills – to act as teacher, mentor, guide, helper – where appropriate.
- To listen as well as to speak and act.
- To uphold the full, equal, and democratic rights of all comrades to participate in debate over the whole range of A*C.R politics.
- To support initiative, empowerment, autonomy, and self-activity.
4. All comrades should avoid:
- Behaviour which is in any way abusive, bullying, discriminatory, or exclusionary.
- Behaviour which is patronising, demeaning, or demoralising.
5. Comrades on leading bodies have a special responsibility to practise and maintain high standards of interpersonal behaviour. But there is no rank and file in a revolutionary organisation: all comrades are actual or potential leaders in campaigns and struggles. We have to be ‘tribunes of the oppressed’. We have to win others to militant action and revolutionary politics. To do this, we have to be exemplars of socialist behaviour. A positive internal culture is inseparable from effective action in the class struggle.
Paulo Freire, 1970, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (available second-hand, as online PDF, and in new Left Book Club edition).
Jo Freeman, 1971, ‘The Tyranny of Structurelessness’, at