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Back Free Movement at Labour Conference, Make Sure it Gets Prioritised!

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Labour can’t accept a Brexit deal that ends free movement, says pro-Corbyn union

A pro-Corbyn trade union leader has submitted an emergency motion to Labour conference that would commit the party to opposing any Brexit deal that would end free movement.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, said: “This motion will ensure Labour resist this pernicious attack on working people’s liberty by ensuring the Tory attempt to ban free movement is opposed at every opportunity.”

Cortes was one of Jeremy Corbyn’s earliest backers and his union is affiliated to Momentum. The motion is likely to be controversial, however, as it would lock the Labour leadership’s hands on a Brexit deal.

Whilst the frontbench position on Brexit has softened recently, to favouring an extended transitional arrangement in the single market, Keir Starmer has ruled out staying in the bloc indefinitely unless a new deal on free movement could be struck.

Cortes added: “Theresa May is about to further embarrass our country abroad today when she attempts to lay out the terms of her Tory Brexit in Florence. Whose crazy idea was it to lay out terms of British decline in a city that is the symbol of the European renaissance?.

“Do the Tories not get that Europe will get along just fine without us? But British workers are already being burned on the alter of Tory Brexit with rising costs and falling real wages and the by the loss of our EU workers which is exacerbating problems in our public services and food and agricultural industries. If the Tories get away with ending free movement they will turn Britain into a jail for British workers because the terms of Tory Brexit won’t just lock EU workers out, they’ll jail British workers in.

A shock poll released today suggests that if the EU referendum rerun, Remain would win. 

The full emergency motion tabled to conference states:

Conference notes:
1) The publication of Boris Johnson’s Telegraph article on 15th September exposing Tory chaos over Brexit;
2) William Hague accusing government ministers of “lacking coordination” over Brexit on the 19th September;
3) The lack of a coherent Tory plan for Brexit and continuing differences over the nature of talks with our European Union (EU) partners;
4) Chaos within the Brexit department as another senior civil servant departs whilst the Brexit minister has been sidelined.

Conference believes:
1) Tory Brexit shambles is hurting our economy and livelihoods and is likely to lead to deregulation in areas like workers’ rights;
2) A ‘no deal’ outcome looms large due to Tory Brexit plans;
3) Retaining tariff-free trade access to the EU’s Single Market is vital for our industries, our jobs and our livelihoods;

Conference strongly condemns those who blame migrant workers for low wages. It’s unscrupulous bosses and our Westminister engineered deregulated Labour market who are at fault – not migrants.

Conference resolves that Labour will:
• Leave all options open on our future relationship with the EU;
• Re-regulate our labour market including implementing a real living wage and ending bogus self-employment;
• Install sectoral collective bargaining so there is a rate for every job and a trade union in every workplace whilst also ensuring greater workforce planning with more apprenticeships in place to close our yawning skills gap;
• Oppose any deal which doesn’t allow the continuation of freedom of movement between the European Economic Area and the UK and vice verse.

Word reaches us that the CDLP and Momentum are not prioritising this motion and that elements within the Labour leadership, some of whom are anti-EU, wish the issues to be buried.

If this is true a clue to the thinking behind this can be seen on the site run by Momentum chief Jon Lansman  who is close to the CLDP, Left Futures.

This article by David Pavett virulently attacks Free Movement, from the standpoint that it would interfere with the “control” of capital, and labour, that a planned economy would require.

A Spectacular Own Goal?

A new group called the Labour Campaign for Free Movement has been launched. It says that thousands have already signed up to its campaign statement. It is also clearly hoping that the model resolution it has circulated will make it through to annual conference.

The truly astonishing thing is that the people signing the statement would appear to see no connection between this (generously motivated) liberalism and the doctrines of neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is only interested in national government insofar as it facilitates the freedom of big capital to operate just as it wants to across national borders and entering into every sphere of social life. That is the basis of the EU’s four freedoms. Behind the free movement of people lies the free movement of capital which is its determinant. There is not the slightest hint of a recognition of this in the Campaign Statement.

..

Not only Labour but even Maynard Keynes opposed the free movement of capital on the grounds that it would undermine national economic planning. Let me say that word again because it is so important: “planning”. Without overall control of resources the economy and therefore social development cannot be safely planned. How much do we need to argue that after 2008? This is the elephant in the socialist room.

Currently many on the left want to oppose racist anti-immigration with its opposite: absolutely free immigration. But just as the proper opposition to white minority rule in South Africa was never properly “black majority rule” (a phrase never used by the ANC) but “majority rule” (a point never understood by many on the left), the proper opposite of uncontrolled immigration is not no immigration but “controlled immigration”.

To those on the Labour left attracted by free movement rhetoric I think we should say “Just where do you put national democratic economic planning for social purpose in all this?”. My guess is that the triumph of neo-liberal ideology has meant that many of them have long since ceased to believe in the possibility of such a rationally and democratically organised socialist society. All that remains is managing capitalism and fire-fighting its crises.

..

If this isn’t a drive towards a spectacular own goal then I don’t know what is. That it should be advanced with such astonishingly poor arguments speaks volumes about the current state of debate within the Labour Party. I hope that people who take this issue seriously will acquaint themselves with the case made and will be ready to respond to it wherever comes up e.g. at LP branch and GC meetings.

Apart from comrade Jim Denham’s excellent reply on the site, there is also this by Don Flynn, a comrade from Chartist, who was the director of the Migrants’ Rights Network.

Don Flynn

You clearly haven’t got a clue as to what is involved in the business of managing migration. Your statement that “The vast majority of migrant workers in a controlled migration system would be here by agreement and would therefore have a clear status and a clear reason for being here” is breathtakingly naive.

The essence of being a migrant is that your residence rights are conditional on remaining compliant with the terms of your entry. This means that every migrant has to be kept under surveillance in order to ensure that they haven’t broken any rules. Since the rules themselves are constantly changing – 40,000 changes during T. May’s period in the Home Office – and run into volumes that cover not just the migrant herself but also just everyone who comes into contact with her – then this surveillance operation functions a machine that creates the conditions for breach of the rules and illegality.

Employers, landlords, university tutors, bank staff, social services departments, housing officials, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries, Jobcentre staff, teaching staff at schooks- the list goes on.

To justify a policing opelation of this scale politicians have to ramp up public anxiety about the migration system being abased and too many of the ‘wrong’ sort of immigrants are getting into the country. The public is appealed to to be vigilant and use Home Office hotlines to report suspicions about ‘illegal’ immigrants moving into their neighbourhood. To show that officials are taking these anxieties seriously periodic campaigns have to be mounted, with street level ID checks and raids on
businesses that are run by migrants.

The outcome of all this action has to show up in government statistics that show more people are being arrested and detained – currently around 30,000 people a year go through detention centres – and more people are deported from the country. To ensure that challenges to this level of state action are kept to the minimum rights to legal aid are taken away and the opportunity to appeal reduced to the barest minimum. Civil society organisations that attempt to stand up for the rights of migrants also get caught in the net- accused of aiding and abetting illegality.

You think this climate of each treated hostility is one in which migrants can look forward to their eventual integration into British society? Dream on. Look at what managed migration has come to mean in any of the destination countries of the world – state thuggery and the ramping up of racism. Wake up and check out what is really going on out there!

More on Shiraz Socialist Labour conference: prioritise Brexit; vote for free movement, The Clarion and the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.

And this: Labour could support free movement if single market was reformed, says John McDonnell.

Independent.

 

Labour would be in favour of keeping a form of free movement after Brexit if a “changed single market” could be formed, John McDonnell has said.

The shadow chancellor hinted at a softening in his party’s position on the single market after the EU withdrawal, suggesting European leaders might agree to reforms which retained some of the benefits of the existing deal.

Mr McDonnell said it would be “difficult to see” how Britain could stay in the existing agreement due to “exploitative” freedom of movement rules that allow employers to undercut wages.

This outrageous generalisation was followed by,

It comes as Jeremy Corbyn said he was prepared to listen to Labour members who want to remain within the EU trade agreement as he acknowledged there would be “a lot of movement” by EU workers after Brexit.

Speaking on the first day of Labour’s annual conference, Mr McDonnell told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “In that way, we think we can achieve all the benefits of the single market, overcome some of the disbenefits that were perceived in the referendum and in that way achieve a close and collaborative relationship with Europe in all our interests.

Asked if he would remain in the single market if suitable changes were made to freedom of movement, he said: “It wouldn’t be the single market as we now know it, based on the four freedoms (of movement of goods, services, capital and labour). Those four freedoms would be adjusted.

“We believe we can reform freedom of movement of people on the basis of protecting wages. That would be a changed single market.”

He called for “a relationship which is based on tariff-free access, the structures renegotiated but the objectives are the same” after Britain leaves the bloc.

Clear?

I thought not.

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Written by Andrew Coates

September 24, 2017 at 12:14 pm

Catalan Crisis: Between Opposing Repression and Opposing Nationalist Separatism.

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Left-Wingers in Spain who Call for a Boycott of the Catalan Referendum.

Spain’s Guardia Civil police have detained 14 Catalan officials and raided regional government ministries involved in organising a banned independence vote.

Tensions were already high before Josep Maria Jové, number two in the Catalan vice-presidency, and others were held.

Thousands of Catalans took to the streets in protest and the regional leader complained of a power grab.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the state had been forced to act.

Catalonia’s separatist government is defying a Constitutional Court order to halt the planned 1 October vote, which has been condemned by the Madrid government as illegal.

BBC.

Some on the Spanish left wholeheartedly support Catalan Independence, others, the right the hold the referendum.

In reaction to this clamp down it is unlikely that we will hear in the left media much about those who, while disagreeing with the Spanish government’s tactics, refuse to participate in the vote or those who are simply opposed to the break away of one of the most prosperous parts of the Iberian peninsula.

Here is a link to the former group, which includes  figures on the left: ‘1-O Estafa antidemocrática. ¡No participes! ¡No votes!’.

El Periódico notes two names of interest, the anti-corruption investigator activist and  (see below) Carlos Jiménez Villarejo  and the former coordinator of the Izquierda Unida (United Left) Paco Frutos.

The around 1,000 people behind this statement describe themselves are left wing figures, or a variety of ideological, cultural and political backgrounds, who have fought for freedom against Francism, against terrorism and against war, for the rights of women and social minorities, and today against cuts and austerity, the corruption and who oppose the policies of the Rajoy governments. The signatories seek a common future, freely chosen, in a pluralist Spain in which all the different people’s identities are recognised.

.. personas de izquierdas, de variada adscripción ideológica y de distintas culturas políticas, que hemos luchado por las libertades contra el franquismo, contra el terrorismo y contra la guerra, por los derechos de las mujeres y de las minorías sociales, y ahora contra los recortes, la corrupción y que rechazamos las políticas del gobierno de Rajoy, y con el convencimiento de que es posible un futuro común, libremente elegido, en el marco de un España plural donde estén reconocidas todas las identidades de los pueblos que la integran:

They charge the Referendum process with a lack of democratic transparency, with no proper rules, such as a minimum level of participation, and with having been launched “unilaterally” without the agreement of the opposition forces in Catalonia – all of which are indeed true.

It is also more widely the case that forming a breakaway state, that is to oppose the Catalan ‘people’ against the diverse People of Spain, rather cuts against the Podemos Laclau-Mouffe inflected self-declared aim of ‘federating the people’. It could be said to be a case of what Chantal Mouffe calls the “constitutive Other”, making the rest of Spain, lined up behind the ‘State’, the Enemy in the constitution of this new sovereign ‘People’.

This is a different view: Solidaridad con Cataluña! Viento Sur.

Solidaritat amb Catalunya! Kataluniarekin bat! Solidariedade con Catalunya! ¡Solidaridá con Catalunya! ¡Solidaridad con Catalunya!

La suspensión del autogobierno de Catalunya y la escalada represiva que están emprendiendo el gobierno y el poder judicial suponen la instauración de un estado de excepción permanente frente a la voluntad mayoritaria del pueblo catalán de decidir su futuro a través del referéndum el 1 de octubre.

In English from the Fourth International.

 

It is of interest to those Trotskyists in the UK now supporting the alliance between the right of centre Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, the representative of  regional capitalist interests, and various left nationalists, including apparently some on the ‘far left’  in their fight for a breakaway from Spain to read Trotsky himself on the past of the issue. 

In the 1930s Trotsky did not back the creation of another bourgeois state in Catalonia.

Leon Trotsky The National Question in Catalonia

(July 1931)

  • Maurín, the “leader” of the Workers and Peasants Bloc, shares the point of view of separatism. After certain hesitation, he has resolved himself with the left wing of petty bourgeois nationalism. I have already written that Catalan petty bourgeois nationalism at the present stage is progressive. But on one condition: that it develops its activity outside the ranks of Communism and that it is always under the blows of communist criticism. To permit petty-bourgeois nationalism to manifest itself under the Communist mask means at the same time to deliver a perfidious blow to the proletarian vanguard and to kill the progressive significance of petty bourgeois nationalism.
  • What does the program of separatism mean? The economic and political dismemberment of Spain, or in other words, the transformation of the Iberian Peninsula into a sort of Balkanic Peninsula, with independent states, divided by, customs barriers, and with independent armies conducting independent Hispanic wars. Of course, the sage Maurin will say that he does not want this. But programs have their own logic, something Maurin hasn’t got.
  • Are the workers and peasants of the various parties of Spain interested in the economic dismemberment of Spain? In no case. That is why, to identify the decisive struggle for the right to self-determination with propaganda for separatism, means to accomplish a fatal work. Our program is for Hispanic Federation with the indispensable maintenance of economic unity. We have no intention of imposing this program upon the oppressed nationalities of the peninsula with the aid of the arms of the bourgeoisie. In this sense, we are sincerely for the right to self-determination. If Catalonia separates, the Communist minority of Catalonia, as well as of Spain, will have to conduct a struggle for Federation.

Background,

During the first part of the 20th century, the main nationalist party was the conservative Lliga Regionalista, headed by Francesc Cambó. For the nationalists, the main achievement in this period was the Commonwealth of Catalonia a grouping of the four Catalan provinces, with limited administrative power. The Commonwealth developed an important infraestructure (like roads and phones) and promoted the culture (professional education, libraries, regulation of Catalan language, study of sciences) in order to modernize Catalonia. The failure in being granted an Estatute of autonomy in 1919 within the Restoration regime, led to radicalisation of the moderate nationalist parties in Catalonia, leading in turn to the creation of Acció Catalana (Catalan Action) and also Estat Català (Catalan State),[12] drifting apart from the Lliga. Among the leaders of Acció Catalana founded in 1922 and chiefly supportive of liberal-democratic catalanism and a catalanisation process were Jaume Bofill, Antoni Rovira i Virgili and Lluís Nicolau d’Olwer.[13] It also featured an internal elitist faction, moved by the thinking of Charles Maurras and Action française of which Josep Vicenç Foix and Josep Carbonell were representatives,[14] while Jaume Bofill was ambivalent to the extreme right French thinker.[15] Estat Català, somewhat more attached to the idea of downright independence, was founded right after the creation of Acció Catalana by Francesc Macià.

Currently, the main political parties which define themselves as being Catalan nationalists are Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya, Unió Democràtica de Catalunya. The Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, although deriving from nationalism, refuses the term “nationalism” and prefers to describe itself as pro-independence; so does Soldaritat Catalana

The most prominent figure in the Catalan politics in  the post-Franco years was Jordi Pujol President of the Generalitat de Catalunya from 1980 to 2003.

Pujol, and Catalan nationalism, have been associated with the massive corruption scandals he was involved with.

In July 2014, Jordi Pujol released a note explaining that for 34 years, including 23 as the President of Catalonia, he had maintained secret foreign bank accounts inherited from his father. The note apologized for his actions and explained that the millions had been declared and taxes paid. The scandal erupted in the Spanish media as it involves allegations against many family members, including trafficking of influence, bribery, money laundering and public corruption. At this time, his sons Jordi and Oleguer Pujol Ferrusola are being investigated by tax authorities. Another son Oriol Pujol resigned from his leadership position in CiU earlier in the month to face charges of public corruption as well. As a direct result of Pujol’s admission on 29 July, Judge Pablo Ruz issued an indictment against Jordi Pujol Ferrusola and his wife for money laundering and tax evasion. [10][11][12][13][14]

On 29 July Catalan president Mas, after a meeting with Pujol i Soley, announced that Pujol renounced both his salary and the office that he had been assigned as ex-president, as well as the honorary title of founding chairman of CDC and CiU.[15] The opposition parties from both left and right, nationalist and non-nationalist, have demanded he testify before the parliament. The main government allies in the Catalan parliament, Esquerra Republicana, have declared that they support stripping Pujol of all his honors.[16] The Catalan government has declared this a “private matter” that will have no impact on the movement for Catalan independence and the referendum scheduled for 9 November 2014.[17] In announcing his resignation from all party offices, President Mas initially stated that Pujol would keep the right to be called “The Right Honorable” as a former president of Catalonia.[18] Hours later the party spokesperson Francesc Homs stated that Pujol must “forfeit everything,” including the Medalla de Oro of Catalunya and all honorifics previously awarded to him.[19] Indicative of the conflicted reaction of many Catalan nationalists, his personal friend Xavier Trias, the Mayor of Barcelona, lamented on Catalonia Radio “He must disappear…He failed us. It is a disaster that has taken place and the shadowy times of Pujol are finished while a new era begins.”[20] Perhaps no one is more deeply conflicted than current President Mas who has acknowledged that Pujol is his “political father” and has stated that “he does not know the details and he is not interested in them either.” [21] The impact of the Pujol family scandals on the Catalan independence movement, the CIU party and Mas’ political future remain to be seen.[22]

Pujol and his family have been suspected for many years of cashing in on the political power he amassed as a 23-year president of Catalonia. In 1984 his family’s bank went bankrupt and was taken over by the Spanish government. His children have amassed a fortune in private businesses that frequently did business and received contracts from the Catalan government. Pujol’s wife and children have investments in the tens of millions of dollars in Mexico, Panama and Argentina. Financial records show the movement of money between foreign banks in Andorra, Switzerland, Jersey, Cayman Islands and other tax havens in excess of €100 million. Critics, including Jordi Pujol Ferrusola’s former girlfriend, charge that this family wealth could not be accumulated from a family inheritance or successful business practices.[23][24] Ever since the 1984 bankruptcy of Banca Catalana, as well as in subsequent years, whenever corruption allegations were made against Pujol, his supporters claimed that the charges were politically motivated against Catalonia.[25][26]

The matter is still under Investigation in 2017.[27][28]

While parts of the left in Spain support Catalan Independence, others charge them with wishing to free the wealthiest part of the country from the ‘burden’ of the poor South and compare them to the Italian  Lega Nord.

The Socialist Party, the PSOE, itself not stranger to corruption and other scandals, sides with the government against the Referendum.

Ahead of planned Catalan poll, main opposition Socialist Party sides with government. El País

SOE leader Pedro Sánchez shows support for PP’s attempts to deal with secessionist challenge.

In these conditions to reject the heavy-handed approach of Rajoy, and to call for a return to democratic norms, should not be confused with backing for the middle class separatist aspirations of Catalan nationalism.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm

Corbyn to Back Tough New Anti-Semitism Rules in Labour Party.

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Jeremy Corbyn will back change to allow tough line on antisemitism

Guardian.

Backers of antisemitism motion say unified Labour position on rule change is vital to win back Jewish voters.

Jeremy Corbyn is to back a significant rule change so Labour can take a tougher line on antisemitic abuse, which supporters hope will send a signal at the party’s conference that it is serious about tackling hate.

Supporters of the motion say it is vital the party has a unified position on the new antisemitism motion when it is agreed by Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) on Tuesday, although the exact wording of the rule change was still being fiercely debated late on Sunday.

Momentum, the party’s leftwing grassroots movement, has said its support for the motion is not assured and will depend on the final wording. Its backers, including the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), have argued there is a need to make a significant gesture in order to win back Jewish voters.

The proposed change would also mean a tougher stance on sexism, Islamophobia, racism and homophobia. At the moment, party members cannot be disciplined for “the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions”.

But the motion, which will be voted on by members at the party’s conference in Brighton next week, argues that rule should not apply to those who express racist, sexist, Islamophobic, homophobic or antisemitic views.

The proposed change has been brought by JLM, the largest group of Jewish Labour members and supporters, who say the current wording led to a more lenient approach to remarks by the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, that were widely perceived as antisemitic, when he was found by the party to have breached the rules.

..

A Labour source said Corbyn was in favour of the change in principle. “Jeremy is committed to tackling antisemitism and is hopeful that the NEC will pass this motion,” the source said.

The change has already been agreed in principle by Labour’s equalities committee and will be debated when the full NEC meets on Tuesday to decide the motions delegates will vote on in Brighton.

Senior Labour sources backing the JLM motion said they were still concerned it may be watered down before it goes before conference. Some leftwing party activists, including the shadow fire minister, Chris Williamson, have accused Corbyn’s critics of “weaponising antisemitism” in order to attack the leader’s supporters.

Labour List confirm the story,

Labour officials set to back rule change on anti-Semitism in run-up to conference

Labour is set to back the Jewish Labour Movement’s rule change on anti-Semitism ahead of next week’s conference.

The proposed change is expected to be put before Labour’s ruling national executive committee (NEC) tomorrow, and, dependent on final wording, is likely to get wide reaching support, sources suggest.

The motion’s supporters believe it is key to ensuring the party can win back Jewish voters, which in certain key target seats is thought to have made the difference to Tory MPs clinging on in June.

The rule change would mean a tougher line from the party’s compliance unit on anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sexism and homophobia. Presently, members cannot be disciplined simply for “the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions,” and the motion would change that for these examples.

The Jewish Labour Movement was not slow to react:

For reasons best known to themselves the Guardian presents  the main opposition to the motion to be Labour Party Marxists (founder, Stan Keable, membership around 20, though no doubt on this issue backed by the Monster Raving Greenstein Party) that is the Weekly Worker,

In a conference voting guide published this week, Labour Party Marxists called on delegates to oppose the motion, calling it “anti-democratic” and likely to stifle free speech. “This is supported by the Jewish Labour Movement, which already tells you that you should probably oppose without even having to read it,” the voting guide reads, adding that the motion “removes the need to rely on rational evidence”.

These other examples of Labour Party Marxist policy get less coverage, but no doubt their time will come:

Our 10-point-programme to transform the Labour Party

  • Our goal should be to transform the Labour Party, so that, in the words of Keir Hardie, it can “organise the working class into a great, independent political power to fight for the coming of socialism”.2) Towards that end we need rule changes to once again permit left, communist and revolutionary parties to affiliate. That is what we mean by a united front of a special kind. As long as they do not stand against us in elections, this can only but strengthen us as a federal party. Today affiliated organisations include the Fabians, Christians on the Left, the Cooperative party … the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Business. Allow the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party in England and Wales, CPGB, the Morning Star’s Communist Party of Britain, etc, to join our ranks.
  • Being an MP ought to be an honour, not a career ladder, not a way for university graduates to secure a lucrative living. A particularly potent weapon here is the demand that all our elected representatives should take only the average wage of a skilled worker – a principle upheld by the Paris Commune and the Bolshevik revolution. Our MPs are on a basic £67,060 annual salary. On top of that they get around £12,000 in expenses and allowances, putting them on £79,060 (yet at present Labour MPs are only obliged to pay the £82 parliamentarians’ subscription rate). Moreover, as leader of the official opposition, Jeremy Corbyn not only gets his MP’s salary. He is entitled to an additional £73,617.3) Let them keep the average skilled worker’s wage – say £40,000 (plus legitimate expenses). Then, however, they should hand the balance over to the party. Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott ought to take the lead in this.
  • We must establish our own press, radio and TV. To state the obvious, texting, Twitter and Facebook etc have severe limits. They are brilliant mediums for transmitting simple, short and sharp messages. But, when it comes to complex ideas, debating history and charting political strategies, they are worse than useless.
  • Programmatically, we should adopt a new clause four. Not a return to the old, 1918, version, but a commitment to working class rule and a society which aims for a stateless, classless, moneyless society, which embodies the principle, “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs”. That is what socialism is all about. Not a measly £10 per hour “living wage”, shifting the tax balance and a state investment bank. No, re-establishing socialism in the mainstream of politics means committing the Labour Party to achieving a “democratic republic”.4)

You can’t help feeling that this is a complete distraction from an important issue.

 

This Blog completely backs the changes but it is wrong to try to present – even if only by implication – critics as part of the same pool of thought as the ‘Labour Party Marxists’, still less their close associate, Monster Raving whose ‘writings’ can be sampled here.

As controversy continues over defining Jew-hate, read a Marxist view.

Appealing for an outbreak of sweet reason between Zionists and anti-Zionists is never easy, especially when undertaken by a veteran Marxist with political views a long way from those of the average JC reader.

But, at the risk of displeasing both sides, I want to urge the hard-left to back the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. Then let me double down, and urge Jewish organisations to commit to using this reasonable instrument in a reasonable way.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 18, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Two Years of Wandering. A Menshevik Leader in Lenin’s Russia. Fedor Il’ich Dan. Review.

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Two Years of Wandering. A Menshevik Leader in Lenin’s Russia. Fedor Il’ich Dan. Translated, Edited and Introduced by Francis King. Lawrence and Wishart.

Fedor (Theodore) Dan was a leading figure in Russian social democracy. A prominent Menshevik during the 1917 Revolutions, he had chosen their side after the 1903 split with the Bolsheviks in the RSDLP (Russian Social-Democratic Workers; Party). During the Great War, King notes, Dan was a “Siberian Zimmerwaldist”, that is he opposed the conflict while under administrative exile in Russia’s far East and during his compulsory mobilisation as a Doctor in Turkestan. King writes, that Dan was described by Nikolai Sukhanov as, “one of the most major figures in the Russian revolution, one of the most outstanding actors in both the Russian workers’ movement and the events of 1917.” (Page 9)

Known to many on the left as the author of The origins of Bolshevism (in English, 1964), this is the first translation into any language of Dan’s Two Years of Wandering. Francis King is the Editor of Socialist History. His introduction outlines Dan’s background and his role in the crises of 1917. Dan, in conditions of political freedom, was part of the leadership of the Petrograd Soviet. Still calling for a “general peace” he took the Menshevik line of ‘revolutionary defencism”, which committed the country to continue fighting until this could be reached and support for a coalition Provisional Government.

This policy, opposed by its left wing around Martov, played a key role in the ‘end’ of Dan’s career in Petrograd. Bolshevik victory in October was not the only indication of their political dead-end. In the All-Russia Constituent Assembly elections of 1917 they won just 3% of the vote.

Continuing to support, “the idea of popular sovereignty, universal suffrage, and the Constituent Assembly” and demanding an end to terror for economic liberalisation, the Mensheviks tried to work within the new soviet structures. But what had begun in the Spring and Summer of 1918 with the “arrests and harassment of non-Bolshevik activists”. In June 1918, they, and the Socialist revolutionaries, were removed from the Soviet CEC. Yet they continued political activity. They focused on the defence of “the rights of labour” and the “defence of trade unions, with as a backdrop plans to make unions agents of “labour discipline” and “compulsory labour service” or the “militarisation of labour” exalted by Trotsky in Terrorism and Communism (1920). With their position set out in What is to be done: The Menshevik Programme July 1919 they had had a wider echo, Marcel Liebman and others record, within the official bodies (1)

For Trotsky the Mensheviks had in 1917, “together with the bourgeoisie, declared civil war against the Soviets”. In the Winter of 1920-1 the Mensheviks were systematically suppressed. (2)

In Lenin’s Gaols.

Dan’s serious travails began in 1919, when he spent 3 months in the Butyrka prison. Mobilised, again, in his medical capacity, he was put in charge of the Surgical Subsection of the Department of Medical Supplies. This was impossible task, faced with general chaos, the “constant inference of organs of the Cheka”, the sabotage of those who hoped for a return to private ownership and the prevalence of bribery. After protests, in an atmosphere of increasing hostility to the Mensheviks, Dan was reposted in what he describes as “official exile” to Ekaterinburg (Yekaterinburg), where he continued his “work service”. Further “wanderings”, which took him back to Moscow, then to Minsk and the Front in assault on Warsaw and finally to Petrograd, his native city, where Dan was finally caught in the Bolshevik repression and sent to Peter-Paul Fortress.

Two Years of Wandering is shot through with insights into those years of upheaval, the gaoling and exile of “thousands of socialists and non-party workers who (had) been so bold as to doubt the divine infallibility of the Bolshevik authorities, with all their fantasies, scandals, petty tyranny and occasional 180-degree turns. “(Page 53) From the famous 1920 visit of the British delegation to a meeting addressed by Printers’ leaders and Mensheviks, which criticised the “terrorist dictatorship of the minority”, the last Congress of Soviets at which the opposition was reluctantly tolerated, to the crackdown after the Kronstadt (1921) which marked the beginning of systematic elimination of dissent, the Mensheviks were disorganised. (3) A party that “had adapted all its tactics to the struggle for an open existence despite the Bolshevik terror.” was unable to mount any effective challenge (Page 98).

Dan was in prison during the Kronstadt revolt, which, when the news of this, following a strike wave, reached them, convinced those arrested that they were about to be shot. There were indeed mass killings. A gaoler, ‘S’ regaled Dan with tales of massacring whites. He also had this anecdote, “some Jewish trader they had arrested on suspicion that the leather he was carrying in his cart had concealed weapons under it. There were no weapons, but before letting the trader go, he wanted to have his ‘little joke’ at the expense of the ‘bourgeois’ so he stood him against a wall and ordered that he be shot – but they fired blanks. They did this three times – just to they could bring a little happiness to their prisoner when they told him he was free to go – although he could easily have died of heart failure.”(Page 121)

Sent to Remand gaol, Dan observed waves of new arrivals. Protests and demonstration were followed “on each occasion, a few intellectuals and party workers, together with hundreds of grey, non-party workers, would pass through the prison. There were tramway workers, workers from the Skorokhod, Obukhov, Putilov and Rechkin factories – all of working class Petersburg.”(Page 138) Conditions deteriorated, but perhaps what was most striking is that “once entering a Soviet prison, nobody can know even approximately how long he will be in there and how the imprisonment will end.” (Page 142)

Dan met an American ‘K’, identified by King as Adolf S Carm, arrested at the Third Congress of the Communist International “According to him he had been arrested on the strength of a denunciation by another American delegate, Haywood, in revenge for a polemical pamphlet K, had published against him in America. K was obviously very frightened and repeatedly stressed his devotion to everything the Bolshevik government did, including the practices of the Cheka.”(Page 155) Carm was released a couple of months later….

Dan was then sent to Butyri, a Cheka ‘internal prison’, a place where the “smell of human blood” was in the air. “the most dreadful aspect of it is the ordinariness of the circumstances in which this mass slaughter of people is taking place, where it has become an everyday occurrence.” (Page 145)

Hunger Strike and Exile.

For Two Years of Wandering hunger strikes, and a campaign “waged in the workers’ parties and working-class press of Europe” rather than kindness towards people who “had been in the same organisation at the Bolsheviks” The first response of the Bolshevik leadership came to them in the shape of the news that the All-Russia Cheka Presidium had sentenced all Mensheviks to be exiled for one year, and members of the party Central Committee for two years. As negotiations proceeded, their strike ended with the alternatives of, for imprisoned Mensheviks, either administrative exile in remote areas, or departure from Russia (Pages 179- 80) He chose Germany and arrived in Berlin in the winter of 1922.

As Francis King writes in his introduction – a significant contribution to the history of Menshevism in its own right – “it is the immediacy of this book which makes it so valuable” (Page 36). Dan shows understanding towards a variety of people, including anarchists, and a grasp of the plight of even imprisoned ‘whites’, that demonstrates the highest “common decency”. But Two years of Wandering is more than a personal memoir; it illustrates the “creation of a “large body of political of political police, operating with few constraints” built to enforce the governing monopoly of one party, the Bolsheviks” (Page 37).

Nevertheless, the Menshevik project of creating a ‘bourgeois’ democratic regime without a bourgeoisie that backed it was far from a viable alternative to the Bolsheviks, lacking, as King observes, both the “will” to govern and the instruments to do so. Dan’s evolution towards a form of “reform communism” also missed the tide of history. Yet, apart from its striking honesty, the book, smoothly translated, is a powerful antidote, written from the losing side of history, to the view that the early years of Bolshevik rule were only a joyous carnival of the oppressed.

********

(1) Trotsky’s reply to the Menshevik was, “If it were true that compulsory labour is unproductive always and under every condition, as the Menshevik resolutions says, all our constructive work would be doomed to failure. For we can have no way to socialism except by the authoritative regulation of the economic forces and resources of the country, and the centralised distribution of labour-power in harmony with the general state plan. The labour state considers itself empowered to send every worker to the place where his work is necessary.” Page 153. Terrorism and Communism. Leon Trotsky. New Park Publications. 1971. Pages 249 – 251. Leninism Under Lenin. Marcel Liebman. Merlin. 1980.

(2) Page 15. Social Democracy and the Wars of Intervention. Russia 1918 – 1921. Leon Trotsky. New Park Publications. 1975.

(3) King reproduces the speech of the Socialist-Revolutionary leader Viktor Chernov to this meeting with the British Labour delegation in Appendix 1. Liebman called his invitation ”an act of provocation” Liebman. Op cit. Page 251.

See Socialist History Society Newsletter.

Also, What is to be done: The Menshevik Programme July 1919

Economic Measures

1. The peasants should retain, on a collective or individual basis as they may freely decide, the public and privately owned lands which they seized and parcelled out at the time of the Revolution. Other lands, not as yet distributed, should be leased on a long-term basis to needy peasants and peasant associations, except for those lands on which large-scale model husbandry is being, and can continue to be, carried out by the state or by leaseholders. The decrees abolishing the Committees of the Poor should be put into effect without exception.

Agricultural communes should not be established by force, either directly or indirectly. Government-held supplies, agricultural implements and seed should be equitably distributed not only among communes but to all peasants who need them on communes and soviet lands.

2. The present food supply system should be replaced by one on the following basis:
a. The state should purchase grain at agreed prices involving a large application of the barter principle; it should then be sold at low prices to the poorest dwellers in town and country, with the state making up the difference. The state should make purchases through its agents, co-operatives or private traders on a commission basis.

b.  The state should purchase, at a price equal to the cost of production, a certain proportion of the grain surpluses held by the better-off peasants in the more fertile provinces, the proportion being decided with the advice of freely elected representatives of the local peasantry.

c. Grain should be purchased by co-operatives and workers’ organisations, who should at the same time make over the stocks they have procured to government organs concerned with food supply. The state retains the right to requisition supplies from large landowners who are deliberately hoarding them for speculative purposes. Transport arrangements are under the primary control of the state, co-operatives and workers’ organisations. All anti-profiteer detachments should be disbanded. The transfer of foodstuff from a particular locality shall not be prohibited save in exceptional circumstances and by a decision of the central legislature.

The state shall assist, materially and by administrative measures, the transfer of workers and their families from places where food is scarcest and their resettlement in fertile areas.

3. The state should retain control of major industrial enterprises that are fundamental to economic life, such as mines, metallurgical plant, the chief branches of the metal-working industry, etc. However, in all places where this seems likely to improve or animate production or to extend its range, recourse may be had to organising such enterprises by a combination of state and private capital, by the compulsory formation of a trust under state control or, in exceptional cases, by means of a concession.

All other large industrial enterprises except where state control is desirable for fiscal or other reasons and would not be deleterious to production, should as a rule be gradually transferred into private hands, by leasing to a co-operative or a new entrepreneur, or to the former owner on  condition that he accepts the obligation to restore and organise production. The state shall regulate the distribution of fuel and raw materials to different branches of production, enterprises and areas.

4. Small-scale industry should in no case be nationalised.

5. The state shall regulate the distribution to different areas, in accordance with a fixed plan, of the chief articles of mass consumption such as textiles, farm implements, salt, lighting materials etc with the aid of co-operatives and private traders.

6. As regards trade in other articles of the firs necessity and also in luxuries, the state should refrain from imposing restrictions and should allow co-operatives and private enterprises to function freely except in cases where regulation or even monopoly is desirable on account of the extreme scarcity of the product, e.g. medical supplies.

7. The credit system should be so reorganised as to facilitate in every way the use in trade and industry of available funds accumulate by producers in town and country and to afford scope for private initiative in trade, industry and agriculture.

8. The repression of speculation and trading abuses should be left to the courts and governed by specific legal provisions. All arbitrary acts of requisition, confiscation and the detention of goods should be punished. The law should protect rights of ownership in the case of all industrial and commercial concerns that are released from nationalisation. In future, when expropriation is required by the public interest it should take place on the basis of a decision by the supreme legislative bodies and on conditions determined by them.

9. Workers’ unions, in addition to taking a direct part in the work of regulatory bodies, are also and primarily representatives of the interests of the proletariat vis-a-vis the sate and private entrepreneurs. In this latter capacity they should be wholly independent of any state bodies.

10. Wage rates in state enterprises should be raised and minimum rates fixed for private enterprises in accordance with the commercial price-level for necessary goods….

11. The decree on consumers’ communes should be revoked. Workers’ and general co-operatives should be preserved as autonomous organisations, without the imposition of appointees or other interference in their internal affairs. They should also have the right to carry on non-commercial activity such as publishing, education, etc.

Political Measures

The right of voting for members of soviets should be extended to all workers of both sexes. Town and village soviets should be elected by all workers, with a secret ballot and freedom of canvassing by word of mouth and by the press. Soviets and Executive Committees should be subject to re-election at fixed intervals. Soviets shall not be entitled to exclude individual members or groups from their midst on political grounds. All officials and public bodies shall be subordinate to local soviets and Central Executive Committees.all workers of both sexes. Town and village soviets should be elected by all workers, with a secret ballot and freedom of canvassing by word of mouth and by the press. Soviets and Executive Committees should be subject to re-election at fixed intervals. Soviets shall not be entitled to exclude individual members or groups from their midst on political grounds. All officials and public bodies shall be subordinate to local soviets and Central Executive Committees.

2. The Central Executive Committee of Soviets should once more function as the supreme legislative and administrative body, its proceedings being open to public observation. NO law shall come into force without being discussed and approved by the CEC.

3. Freedom of the press, of assembly and of association should be restored, and any party representing the workers shall have the right and be allowed to use premises for meeting, paper supplies, printing workers. Etc. Any restriction of this right that may be necessitated by the war against counter-revolution shall be established and clearly defined by the legislature; it shall not infringe the basic liberty and shall be applied only by the courts and institutions under their direct control.

4. The Revolutionary Tribunals shall be reorganised in such a way that the judges are elected by all the workers. Together with their subordinate investigatory commissions they shall have sole responsibility for combating counter-revolution. All officials should be directly liable to prosecution before these Tribunals for illegal acts committed in the execution of their duties, at the suit of the injured party in each case. Terror shall be done away with as an instrument of government; the death penalty be abolished , and likewise all investigatory and punitive organs independent of the courts, such as the Extraordinary Commission (CHEKA).

5. Party institutions and cells should be deprived of state authority, and party members of all material privileges.

6. The bureaucratic apparatus should be simplified by the extension of local self-government.

7. A policy of understanding should be pursed vis-a-vis the nationalities which have for any reason broken away from Russia, in order to put a speedy end to the Civil War an restore the unity of the state on a basis of national self-determination. The Cossack districts – Don, Kuban, Tersa, The Urals, Astrakhan, Orenburg, etc – should be allowed the widest possible autonomy and there should be no interference in their internal affairs or system of land tenure. Siberia should have regional self-government, and the independence of Finland and Poland should be recognised.

Central Committee of the RSDLP, 12 July 1919
Sotsial-demokratiia i revolutionsiaa. Sbornik dokumentov (Odessa, 1920), pp 9-15.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 17, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Pakistan: Christian Man Sentenced to Death for Blasphemy.

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Demonstration last Year in Pakistan. 

Pakistan Sentences Christian man to death for blasphemy.

Nadeem James was arrested in 2016 after he allegedly sent a poem ridiculing Prophet Mohammad to his friend on WhatsApp.

A Christian man has been sentenced to death on blasphemy charges by a court in eastern Pakistan after a close friend accused him of sharing anti-Islamic material, the defendant’s lawyer said.

Blasphemy is a criminal offence in Muslim-majority Pakistan, and insults against the Prophet Mohammad are punishable by death. Most cases are filed against members of minority communities.

Nadeem James, 35, was arrested in July 2016, accused by a friend of sharing material ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad on the WhatsApp messaging service.

Lawyer Riaz Anjum said his client intended to appeal against the verdict, passed on Thursday by a sessions court in the town of Gujrat.

READ MORE: In Pakistan, a shrine to murder for ‘blasphemy’

There was widespread outrage across Pakistan last April when student Mashal Khan was beaten to death at his university in Mardan following a dormitory debate about religion.

Police arrested more than 20 students and some faculty members in connection with the killing.

Since then, parliament has considered adding safeguards to the blasphemy laws, a groundbreaking move given the emotive nature of the issue.

While not a single convict has ever been executed for blasphemy in Pakistan, there are currently about 40 people are on death row or serving life sentences for the crime, according to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Right-wing vigilantes and mobs have taken the law into their own hands, killing at least 69 people over alleged blasphemy since 1990, according to an Al Jazeera tally.

In March, Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered the immediate removal and blocking of all online content deemed to be “blasphemous” to Islam from social media – and for those responsible to be prosecuted.

Background:  Persecution of Christians in Pakistan.

Most recent story, September the 11th.

Christian Member of the National Assembly Khalil George and others paid a call to Sharron Masih’s bereaved family. 17-year-old Christian student was callously lynched by his classmate at Government MC Model High School for Boys in Burewala city of Vehari District. MNA Khalil George offered condolences to the Ilyasab Masih and family ensuring them of an all-out support and assistance.

MNA Khalil George who also holds the position of Parliamentary Secretary for Religious Affairs met with Ilyasab Masih and told him that the perpetrators will be duly punished. On this occasion, parents of Sharoon Masih detailed the incident to Khalil George; expressing grief over the fact that their son lost his life to anti-Christian sentiments of his mates. MNA Khalil George was accompanied by Bishop Abraham Daniel, Major Michael Paul, Elder Dilber, Pastor Peter Imran and Pastor Arthur Daniel.

Parents of Sharoon Masih strongly believe that their son was lynched for drinking water from a glass which was used by all the students. They said that the assaulter did not relent until Sharoon breathed his last. Afterwards, Bishop Abraham Daniel offered prayers for the bereaved family. He prayed for peace and comfort for the friends and family of Sharoon Masih.

Previously, talking to a local media stated: “His teacher, Nazeer Mohal, sent him back home because he was not wearing the proper uniform. His mother told me later that evening that Sharoon had told her that the teacher had hit him in front of the whole class and also called him a Choohra, among other curse words. She said that he was quite upset at being humiliated in front of the whole class on the very first day of school.”

Detailing the excruciatingly agonizing moments he said: “Sharoon went to school wearing his new uniform. Hardly a few hours later, a Muslim neighbor whose son studies in the same school told us that Sharoon had been killed in school.”

“I cannot express the agony I went through when I saw my son’s dead body lying motionlessly on the hospital stretcher, his new blue shirt covered in dirt and blood,” Ilyasab said as he sketched the horrific incident. Sharoon’s family was told by his classmates that Ahmad Raza engaged Sharoon in a brawl; expressing annoyance because Sharoon had drunk water from the glass used by all students,” he told the media.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Feminists Attacked by Transgender Activists.

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Yesterday evening I went to a meeting. It was a meeting similar to any other I have been to in my 40 years of socialist political activism. It involved a discussion about legislation, it was a feminist meeting. I was meeting up with friends to go.

And there the similarities end because this meeting was actually unlike every meeting I have ever been to. Firstly the meeting was targeted by activists, not of the right but claiming to be on the Left who harassed the venue and got the meeting closed because of fears of the “risk” posed by a left wing feminist meeting. Sisters spent the day organising a new secret venue that could not be targeted. The trans activists spent hours trying to find and close down the second venue.

We were given Hyde Park Corner as our rendezvous. A big group of women were there when I arrived. One woman approached me saying are you here for the feminist meeting and I said Yes, how did you know? And she laughed saying :because you look older”. This was true the point being we looked like a group of older, mainly middle aged women. How threatening is that?

Also at the rendezvous were a group of trans activists with banners. At the time I was there they were in a huddle. A couple had banners, one saying ‘support trans’ another something about TERFs. There were several males amongst them wearing military type boots and make-up. I don’t want to make an assumption about how they identified but want to say this mobilisation for a meeting of feminists was sickening. One of them randomly yelled ‘kill TERFs’ at us whilst I was there.

Each of us was given a piece of paper with venue details written on it. We were told to drift off in small numbers to make our way to the venue. I heard that the trans activists had snatched the phone from one of our speakers, Transwoman, Miranda Yardleyand been threatening towards her. How deeply ironic and sickening i thought that Miranda was being harrassed.

I left Hyde Park Corner with my friend and we went to the meeting so I did not see what happened next. A 60 year old woman was knocked to the ground and assaulted by the military bearing males. Her statement is attached.

The meeting started late. The trans activists found out where we were meeting. They made trouble on the door. 60 of us gathered finally in a room. There were many young women there as well as the stalwarts. It was an amazing room, books lined the walls, a wooden lecturn was placed at the the front, outside a group of people were chanting “burn it down”.

The meeting took place. The police arrived and stood outside. The speakers were brilliant under the pressure. We had the meeting. Outside the protest seemed to be losing it’s momentum. We left in groups for protection to just five people shouting “shame on you”. I still have the paper on which the venue was written and I will keep it because This was a watershed meeting.

This was a feminist meeting in 2017. Everything has changed.

This is beyond belief, as are attempts by some people to try to explain this away.

It is not the time to make points about the difficulties that transgender issues and feminist responses in ‘intersectional politics’ face except to note that “no platform” is the worst possible reaction in these conditions.

 It is not the first time that a hostile  protest has happened, but it the first occasion on which such violence has been seen.

There is no doubt that violence in these conditions is beneath unacceptable.

Update: Trans Activist Men Attack, Beat Dissenting 60-Year-Old Woman

The DailyWire.

The “tolerant” transgender activists beat up a 60-year-old woman at a protest meant to silence a transsexual speaker with whom they disagree.

On Wednesday night, 60-year-old U.K. woman Maria MacLachlan was attacked by male transgender activists while she was videotaping a protest at Speakers’ Corner in London.

A scheduled forum on gender and the 2004 Gender Recognition Act set to take place Wednesday night was initially cancelled due to “safety reasons,” according to New Cross Learning, the host of the event. A number of trans activists posted threats against “TERFs” (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) online before the forum.

(Note from TC, it’s worth looking at the unpleasant comments this Tweet met, from all quarters) 

The discussion, which included guest speakers Miranda Yardley, a writer who identifies as transsexual, and Dr. Julia Long, a lesbian feminist, was eventually relocated but was cut short due to the protest outside the event, where MacLachlan was assaulted.

Per MacLachlan’s account, which is backed by video evidence, the 60-year-old was first attacked by a transgender activist who attempted to steal her camera. As the scuffle over the camera broke out, another trans activist ran over and punched the 60-year-old before others piled-on.

MacLachlan told The Daily Wire she estimated her assailants to be males in their 20s, whom she classified as “students virtue signalling.” To her knowledge, none of protesters were trans; in fact, MacLachlan suspects “the only trans person was our speaker Miranda, who they were trying to silence.”

“Basically I was hanging around at Speakers Corner, chatting to people as we waited to be told the new location for the meeting that New Cross library had cancelled thanks to the actions of trans activist bullies. A load of these bullies had turned up at Speakers Corner and one or two had shouted ‘Kill all terfs’ and there were a few arguments going on between people on our side and some of them,” wrote MacLachlan of the incident.

The woman said the protesters then began chanting, “when terfs attack, we fight back” before the unprovoked attack against her:

“Nobody was attacking anybody but they were obviously trying to intimidate us,” she said. “As I was filming I asked them, ‘Who’s attacking?’ They had no answer of course, they just increased their volume, so I asked again and again and then suddenly some kid in a hoodie ran past me and tried to knock the camera out of my hand but it was attached to a loop round my wrist so he came back at me, I think trying to get my camera. I was determined not to let him get my camera and I was also terrified that my glasses were going to get broken because then I wouldn’t be able to see. I don’t remember much else except that somehow I ended up on the ground and it felt like a few of them were punching and kicking me and it seemed to last forever but I guess it was just a few seconds.”

Further Update, Background: Trans-exclusionary radical feminism (TERF; also Trans women exclusionary feminism or TWEF) is a subgroup of radical feminism characterized by transphobia, especiallytransmisogyny, and hostility to the third wave of feminism. They believe that the only real women are those born with a vagina and XX chromosomes. They wish to completely enforce the classic gender binary, supporting gender essentialism.

1. THREATS OF VIOLENCE, HARASSMENT, AND ABUSE

Threats of violence towards ‘TERFs’, lesbians, radical feminists, and anyone critical of the ideology

More via  link.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2017 at 11:48 am

Russian Revolution: when workers took power. Paul Vernadsky. Review: ‘1917 and problems of democracy’.

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1917 and problems of democracy.  Solidarity. 6th of September. Alliance for Workers’ Liberty.

The historian of the French Revolution, François Furet, wrote in 1995 wrote that that after the fall of the USSR, the October Revolution had ended its journey. Unlike the first French Republic, Soviet power, and Lenin, “left no heritage”. Over 800 pages later the critic of the Jacobins concluded that while it was hard to “think” of another kind of society, democracy manufactured the need for a world beyond “Capital and the Bourgeoisie”. If the figure of the Bolshevik party had disappeared, the “idea of communism” could be reborn in new forms.1

Twenty-two years later, on the anniversary of the October Revolution, much debate on the left remains about how to assess the legacy of the Bolsheviks. Many reject Lenin’s party, arguing that movements for socialism or communism should seek novel constituencies, structures and objectives. In contrast to these judgements, Paul Vernadsky begins The Russian Revolution by asserting, “The Russian revolution of 1917 was the greatest event in political history so far. It was the first occasion that working class people took political power and held it for a significant period.”

He states, “In October 1917 the Russian working class, led by the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP, Bolshevik party), took power through their mass, democratic soviets (councils).” The lessons of the revolution remain relevant to working class politics today.2 Vernadsky tells the story of 1917, from the slaughter of the First World War, initial protests and strikes, to the February Revolution and October.

The Bolshevik resurgence faced with a Kerensky-led government determined to continue the war, the July Days when the state was on the brink of a hard-right clampdown, to the dissolution of the elected Constituent Assembly in January 1918 and its replacement by Soviet Power. Celebrating the Carnival of the Oppressed, the “creative transformations” unleashed by the workers “ruling their own state”, he outlines the progressive decrees issued by the new Soviet government, beginning with the delivery of the slogan: “all land to the peasants”. “Without the RSDLP, the Russian Revolution would not have occurred.”3

The Russian Revolution is not just a history of events.

Vernadsky offers a valuable introduction to debates about this party, the Bolsheviks, much of which was stimulated by Lars Lih’s Lenin Rediscovered: What is to be done in context. Other writers covered include Lenin enthusiast Paul le Blanc, and Tom Twiss’s measured account of Trotsky’s evolving, contradictory, views of the development of bureaucracy in the wake of revolution. There is a strong section on the Women’s Revolution, paying special attention to the “futuristic vision of Aleksandra Kollontai, as illuminated by studies of “Bolshevik feminists”.

Other areas in which members of Workers’ Liberty have contributed important debate figure in this context. Of particular interest are the critical sections on Lenin’s theory of imperialism in the chapter ‘War and the Myth of Defeatism’, inspired by Hal Draper’s studies. Unlike knee-jerk ‘anti-imperialists’ the author cites Trotsky: “working-class policy on war is not “automatically derived from the policy of the bourgeoisie, bearing only he opposite sign…”4 One imagines that same quarters will reject the passages on nationalities, including the Jewish Question. In his conclusion Vernadsky is clear that “Israeli Jews are a nation and they should have the right to self determination today like any other nation.”5

Lih argued that the Bolsheviks were a lot more than, as the party leader Zinoviev put it in his lectures in 1923, a “hierarchical, closely knit organisation”, run from the top-down to enlighten the workers. It was not a “party of a new type”, but in the mould of democratic Marxist based organisations of the Second International, above all the German Social Democrats (SPD). Although it had its own stamp by operating in autocratic conditions, Lenin was, in key works such as What is to be Done? “directly inspired” by the German “model”. In more detail Lenin’s strategy was designed to bring together the “purposive worker” and the social democratic worldview conveyed by practical-minded activists, by the “power of a genuinely sound explanation.”

The Bolsheviks, if this account stands, were very far from political outriders, a messianic party-sect, but part of the mainstream of European socialism.6 Lih saw this as the basis for “fighting for democracy to the end” as a precondition for workers’ power, and socialism. For Lih this “old Bolshevik” stand guided Lenin right up to October and the overthrow of the Provisional government, “to carry out a thorough-going democratic transformation”. Vernadsky enters into the — lengthy — debate on this claim. He states that Lenin’s assessment of the growth of the soviets and soldiers’ committees meant that his call for the overthrow of the Provisional government meant that Lenin took “steps towards permanent revolution”.

That is, an acceleration of revolutionary “stages” towards, he contentiously asserts, a position where the victories of the Bolsheviks, “deconstructed capitalist relations of production and put in place an economic system where the imperative was social need, not private profit.” It is undeniable that this prospect inspired millions inside and outside Russia, with the hope that socialism was on the agenda. For many of us that wish still burns.7 Yet, many unresolved issues remain to be discussed from this thought-provoking book.

Two could be signalled; questions about the body that “led” the Russian working class, and the direction it began to take them in the aftermath of October. If we accept the view that the Bolsheviks were a democratic party with open debate and a real base in the working class and popular masses, what kind of template had Lenin and his tendency adopted? A critical description of the pre-1914 SPD “oligarchy” by Robert Michels developed themes already circulating on the left in Germany itself, and internationally by “revolutionary syndicalists” like the French writer George Sorel. In light of the monstrous oligarchy of Stalinist bureaucracy these limits inside Lenin’s “model” apparatus might inspire further reflection.

Only Lenin’s most uncritical admirers would deny problems about the practices of “committee people”, however small in number they may have been initially, brought into the “smashed” state machine.8

The next is that even supporters do not argue that in power the Bolsheviks were always democratic. Many would also question as to how far they respected the workers’ democracy they contrasted to “formal” Parliamentary pluralism. The well-documented cases of human rights abuses, which began with October, and were accelerated by the creation of the Cheka, cannot be explained away by “external conditions”, the civil war, and the need for Red Terror to stave off the very real threat of a far-right regime that would have drowned the revolution in blood.

The need for independent law, in however difficult circumstances, respect for the people’s rights, was denied during the dictatorship of the proletariat. What kind of political instrument can introduce non-capitalist relations of production with these limits on democratic decision-making? Socialism was, and is, far from a self-evident thing. How can a transitional mode of production to communism be formed without free debate about what kind of economy, what kind of production, what social goals people are working towards?

Outlawing opposition papers, bourgeois, then all non-Bolshevik parties, ignoring the voices of “non-party” workers, stifled not just conflicting views but fostered the belief that those doing the outlawing knew better than anybody else. It was under Lenin that Soviet democracy was finished off. It was in the early 1920s that the acceptance of a military and political police entered into what would become the established doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat — the first, far from “temporary”, stage to socialism. This is a very negative lesson from the Russian revolution.9

Notes

1. Pages 8 and 809. Le passé d’une illusion. François Furet. Éditions Robert Laffont. 1995.

2. Pages 9 and 19. The Russian Revolution. When the workers took power. Paul Vernadsky.

3. Page 114. Paul Vernadsky Op cit.

4. Page 197. Paul Vernadsky Op cit

5. Page 346. Paul Vernadsky Op cit

6. Page 398. Lenin Rediscovered: What is to be done in context. Brill. 2005.

7. On Lih Pages 163-9. Next quote, Page 19. Paul Vernadsky Op cit. Political Parties. Robert Michels. Transaction Publishers. 2009 (originally published, 1911.) Georges Sorel in 1902 had already written of the SPD’s “spirit of authoritarianism and bureaucracy in a New Church run like an huge civil service (“administration”) page 188. L’illusion du politique. Georges Sorel et le debate intellectuel 1900. Schlmo Sand. La Découverte, 1984.

8. “La démocratie soviétique a été définitivement étouffée au moment de l’interdiction des partis soviétiques, après la guerre civile, et non pas lorsque l’alternative était soit capituler devant les Blancs, soit défendre la révolution par tous les moyens. Elle fut donc étouffée après la victoire, alors qu’aucune armée blanche n’était plus présente sur le territoire de la Russie des soviets. Ernest Mandel. Octobre 1917 : Coup d’Etat ou révolution sociale ? La légitimité de la révolution russe. Cahiers d’Etudes et de Recherches, n°17/18, 1992.

9. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat from Marx to Lenin, Hal Draper. Monthly Review Press. 1987.

Extract from Paul Vernadsky’s book: The opening days of the Russian Revolution.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

September 7, 2017 at 11:26 am