Revolution or Reform? Should we aim to win through to a new society by reforms? Is revolution the only way to rid ourselves of capitalism, or is this implausible nonsense at best and a betrayal of the working class at worst?
The longevity of the battle, and the acrimony with which it is sometimes conducted, is astonishing. The same arguments trundled out. The same counter-arguments deployed. Neither side convinces the other and the status quo remains.
At least Left Unity is trying - again - to get the Left to overcome this temptation to fight each other rather than capitalism.
It all springs from the notion of Revolution as a means instead of an end.
Though they are much to blame, Marx and Engels did not (always) believe the Proletarian Revolution was a single moment in history when the world would be turned upside down. They realised reforms were part of the process, the change from capitalism being achieved in part through changes in the tax system.
'Of any economic system we must ask: Does it enhance human dignity? Does it create self respect? Does it encourage creativity? Does it allow everyone to participate in the material blessings of this created world? Does it sustain a climate of equal regard - for employees as well as employers, the poor no less than the rich? Does it protect the vulnerable and help those in need to escape the trap of need? Does it ensure that no one lacks the means for a dignified existence? Do those who succeed share their blessings with those who have less? Does the economic system strengthen the bonds of human solidarity? And does it know its own limits - does it recognize that its values are not the only values, that there is more to life than a perpetual striving after wealth, that the market is not the only mechanism of distribution, and that an economic system is a means not an end?'
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks