Jonathan Silberman
Communist League’s Jonathan Silberman brandishes a copy of The MilitantEleonore de Bonneval

Jonathan Silberman was a teenager when he and his friends sketched out their plan for global revolution – half a century later the factory worker and veteran Communist is still waiting.

But unlike so many other teenage revolutionaries, Silberman, 64, has not lost his zeal in the years in between. He is currently running for London mayor under the banner of the Communist League. He is a few days away from his annual trip to the Havana Book Fair as IBTimes UK meets him in a north London pub.

This is Jeremy Corbyn's neighbourhood, the Islington North MP lives a couple of blocks away, but there is no love lost between the Labour leader and Silberman. The media may have Corbyn firmly under the red banner but Silberman has no interest in making capitalism fairer – he wants to demolish it.

"I am going to say something that might surprise you: I don't consider myself part of the British left. My objective isn't to push capitalism to the left or the right, my objective is to overthrow it," said Silberman.

This isn't the first time Silberman has run for public office. He stood in the first elections for the London Assembly and more recently as a candidate for Hackney North in the 2015 General Election, running against Dianne Abbott. He won praise from the Guardian for his "dapper [...] brown suit and matching tie" and his "vintage, over-arching, Marxist analysis of everyone and everything rarely heard in public meetings these days."

He eventually won 102 votes with even Jon Homan of the Animal Welfare Party beating him on 221 (Abbott got 31,000) but Silberman wasn't in it for the votes then, and he isn't now either. Don't get him wrong, he would like to be mayor of London, but even he acknowledges that his chances are slim. In light of that, what is the point of his candidacy?

"Well that is the question. What is the point of the Communist League? Well, it is not to be another leftist organisation in a plethora of leftist organisations. It is to build a party that will lead a revolutionary struggle in this country. It exists to join the worldwide fight for socialism. There is no other reason," said Silberman.

Communist League

Founded in 1988, the Communist League grew out of one of many schisms in the British socialist left, remaining close to the American Socialist Worker's Party (SWP) which, in typical fashion, is a mortal enemy of the UK party of the same name. Silberman is rarely seen without a several copies of the party's magazine, the Militant, under his arm and a selection of books from US-based radical publishing house, Pathfinder.

The son of middle class Jews who fled Germany during the Nazi-era, one of Silberman's most formative political memories is joining a chant of 'Victory to the NLF', the political arm of the Viet Cong, in an anti-war rally. When he got home he was rebuked by his mother, who saw the march on TV and argued that Silberman should be marching for peace not for a victory of the north, who wanted to create a Communist state. He didn't agree.

"That was when I realised I was a revolutionary. I didn't just want peace, I wanted something different. And I wanted to achieve it by any means necessary," he said.

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That radicalism grew in the heady years of the 1960s when revolutionary fervour swept Europe and protests and general strikes came close to toppling the government in France in 1968. Silberman and his friends were convinced that their plan for revolution – penned just a couple of years earlier while still at school – was coming true.

It was not to be, of course. After concessions from French President Charles de Gaulle, the movement collapsed.

But neither that nor the bloody authoritarian nightmare that the Soviet Union had become after Stalin served to change Silberman's mind about revolution. There was a still a shining light for him in the form of Cuba which, even now, he defends as a true a socialist revolution. A fluent Spanish speaker, Silberman still visits Cuba annually and speaks glowingly about the country's health care system and Che Guevara, the late revolutionary and global icon.

Silberman sees trends that bode well for working class consciousness in this country and, to be fair, as a worker at a factory in Hertfordshire he actually comes into contact with workers on a daily basis – unlike the massed ranks of the radical London left, content to cheer the revolution from posh North London cafes.

Silberman spends the bulk of his Saturdays knocking on doors in working class housing estates, and finds the respondents receptive.

"I'll tell you something interesting, it doesn't matter if someone is Labour, Tory or Ukip. It makes no difference to their interest in our politics. Supporting Ukip doesn't signify some big right wing ideology. I don't think that there is a massive anti-immigrant sentiment in the working class," he said.

Silberman, who visited Calais last year and believes in open borders, said that when people do express anti-immigration views he is often able to convince them that far from being divided from workers from abroad, they should be joining with them to fight for better pay and conditions.

"Our proposal is to use the unions to organise a real campaign to recruit workers, foreign-born workers, through militant struggle and through defence of our rights. Why don't we fight for massive rise in the minimum wage that would benefit all workers? Why don't we fight for more housing?" he said.

The Militant
The Militant, the newspaper of the American Socialist Workers Party and the Communist LeagueThe Militant

While Silberman is realistic about his prospects in the mayoral race, he has policies. He hates that the mainstream and radical left who apologise for the anti-Semitism of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas in their attempt to promote the Palestinian cause (which he believes in). He despises the reluctance of the British left to support the Maidan protests or the anti-Assad movement in its efforts to oppose British intervention (which he also opposes).

Silberman wants to build houses, schools and hospitals and put people to work. He wants to open the borders to refugees and fight anti-Semitism and Islamophobia at the same time. He wants to fast-track a new Thames Barrier while improving flood defences in the north and protect victims from parasitic insurance companies with their rising premiums.

He supports environmentalism because it is the poor that are worst effected by climate change.

It is still Silberman's ultimate desire to see what occurred in Cuba take place in Britain, but even he admits that it may be a while. He is evasive when asked about how many members the Communist League has: "It is not a secret but I don't know," he said.

His time-frame on revolution used to be five years, so what is it now? "I am not going to put a time limit on it and I don't really care. Whether I thought that the revolution would be in my lifetime or not, it wouldn't change what I am doing. So why speculate?"