The State: A Marxist Programme and Transitional Demands


On 29 March 2006, Michael Wainwright posted a statement on the Socialist Party Youth Forum, ‘Re: Marxists and the State’. Having reviewed some of our material, Michael had come to the conclusion that the Socialist Party and its predecessor Militant have adopted a reformist position on the state. Several members of the list responded to his statement, answering some of his points. Very soon, however, Michael sent a slightly longer version of his statement – together with a letter resigning from the Socialist Party. Evidently, he had already decided on his exit strategy and was not interested in debating the issues he raised within the party.

We disagree with Michael, but the issues he raises are important and we think that, if there are political differences, they should be debated. Michael’s “fairly comprehensive review” actually focuses mainly on some Militant articles published in the 1980s, dealing with our general programme and the police. As it happens, some of the articles to which he refers, together with others on the question of the state, were brought together in a pamphlet, entitled ‘The State: A Warning to the Labour Movement’, published in 1983. This is available on the Socialist Party website ( The pamphlet is just one selection of articles on the state from that period, but it contains ample material to refute Michael’s criticisms. The issue of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and Immigration Service workers raised by Michael will be dealt with separately.