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Socialist Worker and Novara Media Attack Anti-Fascist Anti-Brexit Demo Against Tommy Robinson Great Brexit Betrayal Rally.

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Pro-Brexit Rally Calls for Anti-Brexit Response.

The Another Europe is Possible protest “No to Tommy Robinson, No to Brexit” continues to create controversy.

Leave or Remain, We All Hate Tommy

Callum Cant and Benjamin Walters write,

Another Europe is Possible (AEIP) is an ultra-remain campaign group that positions itself as the left wing of the ‘Stop Brexit’ movement. Its support base varies from Alliance for Workers’ Liberty members to Guardian columnist Zoe Williams. AEIP have called for a People’s Vote/Stop Brexit counter-protest to the far right march.

They argue that it’s not enough to simply oppose racism and fascism – we have to specifically oppose Brexit. For them, Brexit is not just a recruiting ground for the far right, it is actually a far right project in its entirety. So, the anti-fascist response has to be to try and stop Brexit.

After having carefully established that AEIP is “ultra”, AWL backed, no less, and, apparently has a view (which is not referenced) on the Brexit basis of the “far right project in its entirety” they outline an alternative.

Cant and Walters argument appears to be that the left needs to talk to  Brexit supporters, to weed them away from Robinson and UKIP leadership.

Whereas the Momentum-backed counter-protest is using the slogan ‘No to Tommy Robinson, No to Fortress Britain’ without taking a line on Brexit, AEIP are linking together an ultra-remain position with an anti-fascist position. This is a very bad mistake.

It is a mistake because it maps the political division of the Brexit debate (48% Remain, 52% Leave) onto the political division between fascists and anti-fascists (90% anti-fascist, 10% fascist). It gives Robinson exactly what he wants: leadership.

Instead of challenging his attempt to lead Leave voters and splitting the hard core of the far right away from the 52%, it consolidates his position from the other side of a police line. Robinson is a general looking for an army. AEIP’s line, if pursued, will do much to form his battalions for him.

Yes, we “all hate Tommy”.

But, one might ask how, as they suggest,  is the left going to lead Leave voters?

By arguing for a People’s Brexit?

By saying that a Brexit Britain with a “socialist economy” will be (as a Counterfire contributor put it recently) a “Beacon” off the shores of Europe?

Brexit is not a “floating signifier” that you can moor to the left’s politics.

It is a reactionary project through and through.

Trying another tack the authors assert,

…..anti-fascist fronts should only express the limited politics necessary to defeat the fascists on the day. They should appeal to as many people as possible (regardless of what they think about Brexit). They should recognise that the goal of the front is only to prevent the fascists from taking leadership.

Just how limited?

They argue that the demonstration called by the SWP Fronts Stand Up To Racism and Unite Against Fascism is against ‘Fortress Europe” is such a step

It is against Europe, that’s for sure.

Here is the SWP:

Unite and stop the racists and fascists on 9 December

Tomáš Tengely-Evans writes,

The Another Europe Is Possible campaign has called a separate mobilisation under the dangerous slogan of “No to Tommy Robinson—no to Brexit”. The organisers link opposition to Robinson to demands for a “People’s Vote” to stop Brexit.

Racism against migrants pushed by both Tory Brexiteers and Labour ­“centrists” who want to block Brexit has added to the racist atmosphere.

So the ‘limited’ united front is also against “Labour ‘centrists'”.

The SWP view on “anti-fascists” who “send volunteers to the Middle East to fight Isis” is not known.

In the meantime back in the real world of Brexit:

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

November 28, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Socialist Worker Warns, Vote for Anti-Brexit Resolutions will be a “Huge Victory for the Right.”

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“Right wing faction” Championing People’s Vote, says Socialist Worker.

Beware the union leaders’ moves against Corbyn at Labour Party conference

Socialist Worker. Today.

More than 100 Constituency Labour Parties have reportedly submitted motions calling for a “People’s Vote” on a future exit deal with the EU.

The motions have been championed by right wing factions in the party as a way of pushing Labour into opposing Brexit altogether.

As in…

The Independent says, “A substantial amount of the motions, however, are based on the left-wing statement backed by Another Europe is Possible and Labour for a People’s Vote. “

John McDonnell says,

 “I’m still saying all options are on the table. We’re never going to reject any form of democratic engagement so a People’s Vote is still on the table – but I want a General Election.” 

Left Foot Forward. (Today)

 

Socialist Worker, in its campaign to divide the labour movement, and ignore the threat from the far-right fomented by Brexit, says,

Labour’s leadership has rightly avoided both calling for a second referendum and opposing Brexit.

But since the vote to Leave, it has constantly fudged its own position—neither backing remaining, nor making a clear left wing case for leaving.

Instead it has made semi-retreats and compromises—such as seeking “access” to the pro-privatisation European single market.

Crucially, this has helped the right to sell opposing Brexit as something progressive to left wing, Labour members who ­support Corbyn.

If Labour conference votes to back a second referendum it will be a huge victory for the right.

At last year’s conference delegates overwhelmingly voted not to debate motions on Brexit that could have led to defeat for Corbyn.

Those opposing them included the influential Corbyn-supporting Momentum faction.

This year Labour’s leadership may not be able to avoid the debate—and the vote on whether or not to have a second referendum may not be so clear cut.

If it’s a close call, the votes of one or two major unions will probably swing it.

After the TUC union federation last week voted to support a “People’s Vote,” it looks likely that union delegates will back the right’s motions.

I think we can do without this Ladybird ‘History’ full of venom against the trade unions.

History shows why unions back the right wing’s People’s Vote initiative

Watch this instead:

Written by Andrew Coates

September 19, 2018 at 1:06 pm

SWP and others call for relaunch of the Anti Nazi League (ANL).

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Is the Past Another Country?

In Socialist Worker this week,

Labour’s John McDonnell’s recent call for a movement “emulating the work of Anti Nazi League” was incredibly important. Paul Holborow, who co-founded the organisation, looks at its history and its legacy.

How the Anti Nazi League beat back the fascists

We learnt from the revolutionary Leon Trotsky, who argued for the need to build a united front against fascism.

Today, Stand Up To Racism, Unite Against Fascism and Love Music Hate Racism are active and provide focuses for opposition to the far right.

The founding members of the ANL are all supporters of these organisations, which stand in its tradition.

But with the scale of the challenge we now face, we need to broaden and deepen those three organisations.

Anything that John McDonnell can do to assist us in this process of extending unity is hugely welcome.

We need to get together and create a genuine mass movement that takes on one of most serious challenges of fascism since the 1930s.

In the Guardian today,

All of us who are committed to a tolerant, multiracial and multicultural society face a growing and serious challenge from the racist and fascist right in the UK, encouraged by Donald Trump and his close associate Steve Bannon and now boosted by the release from jail of former EDL leader Tommy Robinson.

The storming of the socialist bookshop Bookmarks (Report, 6 August) and the disturbingly large mobilisations on the streets of London, Leeds, Manchester and elsewhere underline the scale of the threat.

Boris Johnson’s recent remarks are a calculated bid to appeal to the same audience and can only give them further confidence.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell’s recent call for an Anti-Nazi League-type cultural and political campaign is therefore very welcome and timely. We need a broader-based, imaginative and vibrant campaign that unequivocally opposes all forms of racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.

As founder members over 40 years ago of the original Anti-Nazi League (ANL) and its sister organisation Rock Against Racism, we think that Stand up to Racism, Love Music Hate Racism and Unite Against Fascism have been established firmly within this tradition, and indeed these organisations have already provided essential and much-needed rallying points of opposition to the rising far right.

This is a process that, as John argues, now urgently needs to be deepened and extended, uniting all people and organisations of goodwill against the huge challenges we face over the next few years from the far right and fascists.

This will involve applying the ANL’s tactics of mass propaganda, unrelenting opposition to the racists and fascists wherever they organise, and the cultural appeal that ANL/RAR pioneered, with large-scale music and similar events asserting the values of our multiracial and diverse society.

We believe this needs to done with the utmost speed. Tommy Robinson and his international backers are likely to be preparing further national and international events in the autumn, seeking to build support and influence. Developments in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Italy highlight how urgent this is. Echoes of the 1930s are all too real.

Whatever our other political differences, we believe the time to come together against the poison of racism and fascism is now.

Peter Hain House of Lords; founder member, Anti-Nazi League 
Paul Holborow Founder member and national secretary, Anti-Nazi League 
Red Saunders Founder, Rock Against Racism 
Roger Huddle Founder, Rock Against Racism 
Jerry Dammers Musician, The Specials, 2 Tone, Rock Against Racism 
Carol Grimes Musican, Rock Against Racism 
Tom Robinson Musician, Rock against Racism 
Mykaell Riley Musician, Bass Culture, Steel Pulse, Rock Against Racism

Divisively  there is no mention of the effect that Brexit has had in encouraging the “growing and serious challenge from the racist and fascist right in the UK.”

This is despite the fact that the movement behind Tommy Robinson and the “storming” of Bookmarks were created and led by groups and individuals linked to UKIP and the Brexit Right, not to mention that Bannon and Trump’s backing for Brexit is a pillar of their politics.

There is nothing about  Hope not Hate in the list of organisations to learn from.

It is equally hard to see that unity on anti-semitism is easy to achieve.

Counterfire, a faction which left the SWP and which plays an important role in such bodies as the Stop the War Coalition and the People’s Assembly, is at present engaged in a campaign to “defend Jeremy Corbyn” against charges of anti-Jewish sentiment.

Whatever the merits of this initiative they, supporters of a non-existent ‘People’s Brexit’, link it to this claim:

The right will also increasingly seek to couple this campaign around antisemitism with pressure to modify the party’s stance on Brexit in favour of keeping Britain in the Single Market or even calling for a second referendum on Brexit. In this, the right has the support of the British establishment and much of the media.

Corbyn is right – the left needs to fight back against the slander of antisemitism

There are other, substantial, reasons why unity with the SWP looks unlikely.

Background to Stand up to Racism, (October. 2016)

Stand Up To Racism: Stand Up To Rape Culture

We, the undersigned, want all planned speakers and delegates to withdraw their attendance from Stand Up to Racism’s conference on 8 October. We ask because the speakers will share the bill with Weyman Bennett, Stand Up To Racism’s co-convenor and a central committee member of the Socialist Workers’ Party.

This must include refusing to lend any support to the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) either directly, or indirectly through its front organisations including “Unite Against Fascism”“Unite the Resistance”“Stand up to UKIP” and “Stand Up To Racism”.

We call on people to do this because the SWP’s well documented failing of two women members who accused the then central committee member of the SWP, known as “Comrade Delta”, of rape and sexually assault. The complainants were asked classic victim-blaming questions about their behaviour and drinking habits. Some members of the SWP leadership denounced the complaints as motivated by a “dangerous feminism”. SWP members who in 2012-2013 challenged the central committee’s kangaroo courts were expelled from the party – many more left in disgust.

This is not about bad individuals. The SWP as a whole is an acute example of collective disregard for sexual violence. Their culture and leadership continues to put its own internal interests above tackling rape and supporting complainants within its ranks. Sexual assault and harassment are not unique to the SWP, or to left-wing organisations, but the SWP’s unwillingness to address its failings show it should not to be worked with.

The racialised violence that has followed the Brexit vote demands a strong anti-racist movement; this movement must be principled and intersectional. This means recognising what Kimberlé Crenshaw and other Black Feminists have shown, that sexism and racism do not operate in silos rather oppressions often overlap and intersect. We cannot build an anti-racist movement organised by rape apologists and anti-feminists. We must end the bankrupt politics of the past, not rehabilitate some of the worst proponents.

It is vital for women and non-binary people – particularly people of colour who wish to resist the racism they experience – to be able to organise politically without groups that facilitate or cover up sexual assault. The SWP and the campaigns they lead are demonstrably not capable of offering this.

AFem Conference organising committee
Bis Of Colour
Black Lives Matter UK 
Brighton Solidarity Federation
East End Sisters Uncut
Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth
London Campaign Against Police & State Violence
Nottingham Solidarity Federation
Southall Black Sisters
Southwark Notes
The Free University of Sheffield

Amendment:

After sending our letter to those billed to speak at the conference, at least one high profile speaker dropped out. We were also assured by a member of Jeremy Corbyn’s media team that Corbyn had agreed not to attend. However, on 8th October it was widely documented that Jeremy Corbyn went to the conference. We suspect that we were deliberately misled to stop us from going public with our concerns about Corbyn’s association with the SWP.

Some signatories have publicly defended Corbyn’s politics in the past. However we are all agreed that any platform for the SWP is counter-productive for grassroots community and labour organising. This is because of its leadership’s abuse and gaslighting towards women inside and outside the organisation. Stand Up To Racism cannot be an effective anti-racist movement if it actively condones misogyny by having rape apologists in its leadership and paid staff.

The Guardian reported in 2016.

Weyman Bennett, one of two co-conveners of Stand Up to Racism, with whom Corbyn shared a platform at Saturday’s event, is a longstanding member of the SWP, and a recent entry on the SWP’s website listed details of SUTR planning meetings and called on members to attend the rally.

“Comrades in every local Stand Up to Racism group should be fighting down to the wire to build the biggest possible event,” it says. Many mainstream political figures also serve on the SUTR steering committee, including Abbott, its president, and Labour MP Kate Osamor, one of five vice-chairs.

Corbyn is also set to face questions over his attendance at the rally and its links to the SWP from his own MPs on Monday night, according to a report in LabourList. Several speakers, including the Guardian columnist Owen Jones, pulled out of the event after learning of activists’ concerns about the link to the SWP.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 16, 2018 at 11:17 am

Socialist Workers Party Thuggery Returns.

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“SWP stewards overturned the AWL stall, stole leaflets and threatened violence while we were leafleting at Marxism, for our meeting on the left and Brexit.”

Today (Saturday 7 July), a group of Workers’ Liberty supporters went along to the SWP’s annual Marxism festival. We wanted to talk to attendees and challenge some of the SWP’s politics, and especially their support for “Lexit” during the European referendum.

We were leafleting for a fringe meeting hosted by ourselves – The Left Should Oppose Brexit. One of the guest speakers was from Another Europe is Possible/Left Against Brexit.

The result of this activity? The SWP first overturning and breaking our stall while it was set up outside the Institute of Education. The material overturned from the stall was picked up by SWP organisers and put on the floor on the footpath. One of the organisers stole a chunk of the Brexit event leaflets. Some of the material was torn up.

Later, when standing outside Student Central (Malet Street) SWP members stood round our leafleters making petty comments and obstructing them for over an hour.

Behaving like police enforcers against picketers or demonstrators we were continually asked to move one or two metres in order to stand on the pavement. One SWPer challenged one of our members to a fight.

The image shows the result of a gang of them coming to remove us from IoE: the stall on it’s side, broken with a pile of material in the gutter, including some which has been ripped up.

The SWP have form here. At Marxism 1993 two of our comrades were physically assaulted by SWP thugs (see what we published about it here). At the time the AWL launched a campaign against violence in the labour movement. We said then and we repeat it now: the left has disagreements but these should always be resolved by discussion and debate.

It should be completely taken for granted that the left should interact without resorting to physical obstruction, removal from venues, destroying literature and threatening physical fights.

Workers’ Liberty.

The SWP has promoted a call for ” a united mass movement” against the rise in racist far-right street protests and this,

Unity protest against Tommy Robinson, Trump and the far-right.

Some on the left (Socialist Resistance) have already noted that,

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Unite Against Fascism (UAF) mobilised about 300 people against them. Both these groups are front organisations of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and receive their political direction from its leadership. They are sometimes able to get Diane Abbott or Jeremy Corbyn to speak at their events but they have no relationship with Labour Party members and many on the left are unwilling to work with them because of their leaderships’ role in dealing with an allegation of sexual assault. Whatever one’s political judgement on that view, it’s a fact which won’t go away.

What kind of unity can we have with the burly SWP toughs who act in this way against political critics on the left?

Having been to the Chartist AGM yesterday where one of the main speakers in the morning was the same as the one addressing the later in the day meeting the AWL were advertising (see above), Alena Ivanova (Another Europe Is Possible), perhaps the SWP should had come to Toynbee Hall and beaten us up as well.

Some History:

This year’s Marxism was marred by a disgraceful physical assault by SWP national organiser Martin Smith. Mark Fischer demands the setting up of a workers’ commission to investigate

On July 7, the second full day of Marxism, Socialist Workers Party national organiser Martin Smith physically assaulted comrade Simon, a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Tower Hamlets branch of Respect.

Weekly Worker 11.7.2007.

Martin Smith is better known as Comrade ‘Delta’.

In 2010 a man called Martin Smith (“Comrade Delta”) was the National Secretary of the SWP, its day to day leader, the person who employs the other party workers. In July of that year, a 19 year old woman (“Comrade W”) complained that he had mistreated her. She didn’t use the word “rape”, but the people who met her and heard her knew what she was talking about.

More here.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

July 8, 2018 at 11:18 am

Leftist Trainspotting Fun from Labour Party Marxists, from “bewildered” LRC, “silent Corbyn”, to AWL Stasi “busybodies”.

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Labour Party Marxist in the Thick of the Class Struggle.

The Irish Socialist Workers Party has dissolved itself into a “network”. “The change in name to Socialist Workers Network reflects a decision to focus on building People Before Profit, and within that to win and educate as many members as possible in revolutionary socialist politics.” (SW Ireland)

Now while the SWN is honest about what it is doing, and has good reasons to do so given that People Before Profit has some, limited, political presence, we cannot say the same for Labour Party Marxists.

This is from its mission statement,

  1. The central aim of Labour Party Marxists is to transform the Labour Party into an instrument for working class advance and international socialism. Towards that end we will join with others and seek the closest unity of the left inside and outside the party.

No doubt about that  which it trumpets – if that’s the right word for declarations that practically nobody ever reads.

But  there’s nothing about LPM’s inks with the Weekly Worker and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Provisional Central Committee CPGB-PCC).

The Weekly Worker is a paper which produces some interesting material, some indeed very useful articles, but whose owners, said CPGB-PCC, have taste for political stunts not to mention an alliance with cascadeur  in chief, Tony ‘Monster Raving’ Greenstein Party. 

Not much closest possible unity with the rest of the left from that quarter!

They have just issued a spate of articles on the site of Labour Party Marxists  which may perhaps indicate this….

Cde Stan Keable (today, 15th of February)  sums up last week’s Labour Representation Committee Meeting, 

Labour Representation Committee: Reduced to a think tank?

Around 120 Labour Representation Committee members gathered in London’s Conway Hall on February 10 for yet another angst-ridden ‘special’ general meeting (SGM), in which a bewildered leadership shared with its rank and file its own failure – like most of the left – to draw into membership or engage with the ‘radicalised’ mass intake of Corbyn supporters into the Labour Party.

Perhaps they ought to have debated this  other 15th of February recent article?

Clause 4: Why revive a stinking corpse?

Jack Conrad (Chamberlain) questions the worth of the ‘Labour4Clause4’ campaign being promoted by Socialist Appeal. Instead of fostering illusions in Fabian socialism, surely the task of Marxists is to win the Labour Party to Marxist socialism.

But the prize must go to this chef d’oeuvre by Carla Roberts, also on the 15th of February (a busy day for LPM indeed!)

Witch-hunts: When chickens come home…

Roberts begins by citing the case of  “Jeremy Newmark, until recently chair of the Jewish Labour Movement” now embroiled in a corruption case after his swindles came to light. A particular gripe is that the Jewish Chronicle reported the affair in depth, “The enthusiasm with which the pro-Zionist Jewish Chronicle has attacked Newmark is quite breathtaking”.

That over we get attacks on the real enemies.

Jeremy Corbyn, “Corbyn has silently stood by, allowing pretty much any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel to be branded as evidence of anti-Semitism.”

 Jon Lansman ” who literally owns Momentum”. Selecting candidates for the Momentum list for Labour’s NEC, “Jon Lansman did what he does best: went nuclear.”

And,

Hope Not Hate, while not playing an active part in the witch-hunt, is a rightwing version of the Socialist Workers Party’s ‘Stand Up To Racism’.

At the conclusion there is the inevitable: The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, (AWL),

the AWL lacks the numbers and finance for that type of campaign. It represents more the type of busybody who would report their neighbour to the East German Stasi for watching West German TV.

Oddly some people in the Labour Party, including the left, are not fond of Labour Party Marxists or their antics.

But their drive to make the Labour Party into a Marxist Party, guided by their own interpretation of Lenin, proceeds apace.

Sovereigntists say, “Reject Reject Starmer’s Single Market u-turn” and “Fight for a Socialist Brexit.”

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‘Socialist’ Brexit. 

Editorial of the Socialist (Socialist Party), issue 960

Reject Starmer’s Single Market u-turn

Where is the ‘workers’ Brexit‘ that Jeremy Corbyn spoke about during the general election campaign in this plan? Where is the promise to reject the EU rules which place barriers in the way of nationalisation *- like that of the railways and energy companies promised in Corbyn’s manifesto – or which say that companies’ right to make money trumps workers’ right to strike? As explained in an article in the last issue of the Socialist: “From its inception [the EU] has aimed to drive through neoliberal, anti-working class measures in order to maximise the profits of the capitalist elite.” This is a fact that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have long argued too.

At the behest of the capitalist class they are openly collaborating with pro-EU big business MPs in all parties, including the Tory Party. If it is not countered Starmer’s announcement will be a significant victory for these pro-capitalist, neoliberal forces.

The Socialist Party says,

Fight for a socialist Brexit. Organise a campaign with European socialists and workers’ organisations to use the Brexit talks to tear up the EU bosses’ club rules. For a new collaboration of the peoples of Europe on a socialist basis.

This was the last collaboration they went in for, a pro-Brexit  beano organised  in Paris on the 28th of May 2017  by the tiny Trotkyist Parti ouvrier indépendant démocratique (POID), and attended by people from the British Trade Unionists Against the EU. POIDS’s 64 Candidates for the French legislative elections this year on an anti-EU platform received too small a vote to resister. Their leader, Daniel Gluckstein stood in the Presidential contest in 20012 and got 0.47% of the ballot in the first round.

 

The Socialist Workers Party joins in the cry,

The left in Labour can put forward a left wing vision for Brexit.

That has to involve extending freedom of movement, ending austerity and privatisation—and opposing the single market.

Meanwhile the Workers  Revolutionary Party opines,

Smash Labour’s right wing coup attempt – Leave the EU at once!THE Labour Party leadership has moved to sell out and stab the Brexit referendum result and the working class in the back.

Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, has turned the office into its opposite. It has become the Office for Remaining in the EU at any cost, and by any method. Starmer wants to agree a transitional period that is ‘as short as possible but as long as is necessary’ in which the UK will remain in the single market, the customs union, and remain bound to pay financial levies to the EU, and also obey the jurisdiction of the European Court for that indeterminable period.

In a further move that will delight many pro-EU Labour backers, Jeremy Corbyn’s party at the end of the transitional period may decide to remain in both the single market and the customs union!

Starmer got the agreement of the Labour leadership and key members of Labour’s shadow cabinet for this coup last Thursday, according to both his and Corbyn’s office. His policy makes the sell-out of the Greek workers by Syriza seem even heroic – Labour is collapsing before the battle has even been joined!

……


Pro-EU MPs and activists within the Labour Party are now mobilising. MPs Heidi Alexander and Alison McGovern have published a motion for members to submit for debate at next month’s party conference in Brighton. This says: ‘The Labour Party is serious about protecting jobs, tackling austerity and defending the rights of workers and consumers, so staying part of the customs union and in the European Economic Area is a no-brainer.’

Starmer wrote in the Observer: ‘That is why a transitional period under Labour will be as short as possible, but as long as is necessary. It cannot become a kind of never-ending purgatory. That would simply create its own uncertainty and ambiguity… It must be based on a deal that, as Labour made clear in our manifesto, retains the benefits of the customs union and the single market. How that is ultimately achieved is secondary to the outcome.’ The outcome is remaining in the EU.

Workers in the Labour Party and in the trade unions must now act to smash these coupists and expel them from the Labour Party. CLPs must pass emergency resolutions calling for the resignation of Starmer, and the members of the shadow cabinet that support him, and the deselection of all MPs that support this Labour coup attempt.

Trade unions meeting at the TUC Congress must pass resolutions denouncing this attempted coup and call for the UK to leave the EU at once. Further the TUC must carry an emergency resolution calling for a general strike to bring down the Tory minority government from the left and bring in a workers’ government that will quit the EU and carry out a socialist revolution in the UK, expropriating the bosses and bankers and bringing in socialism.

For a truly left-wing view see, Another Europe is Possible.

With Article 50 triggered, we are entering a dangerous moment for our democracy. The government is pursuing a harmful, extreme form of Brexit for which it has no democratic mandate. Corporations will seek to influence the outcomes. But popular will and progressive politics are increasingly shut out.

In the shadow of an increasingly volatile world, we stand for co-operation between people and across borders, and we are for democracy. The British people must have the defining say over what kind of deal is reached.

Be a part of the flagship campaign to save the 6 progressive elements of EU membership.  We identify those as:

  • Rights at work
  • Environmental protections
  • Freedom to move
  • Human rights
  • Education and innovation
  • Science and research funding

We all have the right to know what is being negotiated on our behalf. The result of the referendum was not a mandate to undermine our human rights or our rights at work, to scrap environmental protections or to attack migrants. We will not allow this government to pursue a race to the bottom in which we all lose.

There is still everything to play for, and in the coming months we will unite to campaign for a deal which guarantees the rights of workers and migrants, and which maintains key environmental human rights protections. In an increasingly nasty and divided world, we will fight for a future of international cooperation and social justice.

This is our deal – bringing together people across civil society and different political parties in order to put forward a progressive vision for the outcome from the negotiations.

You can join the fight for a Progressive Deal today.

  • Write to your MP to ask them to sign up to the Progressive Deal
  • Download a leaflet for the campaign here

1. Rights at work

When Britain leaves the EU, workers could lose important legal protections. These include the 48 hour limit on weekly working hours; four weeks of holiday per year; strengthened equal pay legislation; guaranteed breaks; maternity and paternity pay rights; and protections for agency and temporary workers. If Britain and Europe attempt to compete with each other, this could lead to a race to the bottom on employment rights. We want a deal that:

  • Preserves all of these protections in British law
  • Contains an ongoing commitment that British and EU working rights will match each other, levelling up rather than levelling down

2. Environmental protections

In the EU referendum, no-one voted for environmental protections to be scrapped – but that could be the reality unless we retain those currently enshrined in European regulations. Climate change and pollution do not respect borders. We want a deal that:

  • Enshrines equivalent or better environmental protections in British law
  • Commits Britain to working hand-in-hand with European and international partners to radically reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate chaos

3. Freedom to move

The right to move across borders is a right that should be enjoyed by everyone. Without freedom of movement, it is a right enjoyed only by the rich. Free movement of people between Britain and Europe has enriched our societies, offered millions of people opportunities, and created bonds of love and friendship that cut across national frontiers. We want to see the right to choose where to live extended, not curtailed in the name of a concept of fairness that leaves everyone with the lowest common denominator of rights. However much the political establishment try to blame migrants for their own failure to provide stable employment and affordable housing, immigration makes a massive net contribution to the UK. We want a deal that:

  • Guarantees the rights of EU citizens already resident in the UK, and British expats in Europe
  • Preserves the freedom for British citizens to live and work in the EU, and for EU citizens to live and work in Britain
  • Sees the UK take play its part in building a humane and generous solution to the refugee crisis

4. Human rights

The European Convention on Human Rights, set up in the aftermath of the Second World War, enshrines the basic rights of European citizens – including the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and association, and freedom from torture and religious oppression. Britain’s membership of the Convention does not disappear on leaving the EU, but it will become much easier for the government to withdraw from it. The current government has already indicated its intention to abolish the Human Rights Act, which covers much of the same ground. We want a deal that:

  • Commits Britain to continued membership of the European Convention on Human Rights

5. Education and innovation

Tens of thousands of British students study abroad every year, using programmes like Erasmus to improve their education and expand their horizons. Free and easy access to higher education institutions in the EU is a vital part of sharing and creating research which saves lives and advances humanity’s understanding of the world. We want a deal that:

  • Preserves Britain’s membership of Erasmus and other study abroad schemes
  • Gives British and European students and researchers continued free and easy access to education institutions

6. Science and research funding

Britain’s science and academic research receives a large quantity of its funding from the EU. The UK is the second largest recipient of EU research funding through the Framework Programme (FP7) funds. Between 2007 and 2013, the UK received €8.8bn in research funding, much more than it contributed. 71% of this went to universities, which are more dependent than ever on these funds to produce vital research. We want a deal that:

  • Maintains Britain’s access and contributions to EU-wide science and research funding programmes

On nationalisation: Guardian 27th of July 2017.

France nationalises strategic shipyard to thwart Italian ownership.

President Emmanuel Macron orders ‘temporary’ state control of SFX France to save jobs and preserve only shipyard capable of building aircraft carriers.

 

 

October. The Story of the October Revolution, China Miéville. Critical Left Reflections.

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October. The Story of the October Revolution, China Miéville. Verso. 2017.

Autumn and the 100th Anniversary of the October Revolution are drawing closer. The harvest of books on the new Soviet Power is still being gathered. It is, no doubt somebody has written, the duty of socialists to study, and this crop comes, for many, at the top of the left’s reading list. Should we begin with Lenin and the debates that have arisen after the publication of Lars Lih’s Lenin Rediscovered: ‘What is to Be Done’ in Context (2008)? The 17th century Jansenist theologian, Saint-Cyran, claimed to have gone through Saint Augustine’s writings, 22 volumes, ten times, and his writings against the Pelagian heretics thirty. (1) There are Leninists whose familiarity with the Collected Works of Lenin  exceeds that modest accomplishment. Far better, if we are to grasp what was a stake in Russia in 1917, to start first with accounts of events: the contending politics and theories, Bolsheviks and their opponents, are embodied in the acts of the revolution.

China Miéville’s contribution is, as he announces, “a short introduction for those curious about an astonishing story, eager to be caught up in the revolution’s rhythms. (Page 2). If it is more than as a “story” that he tells the tale, Miéville, from the radical left, and the accomplished author of the BasLag weird fiction trilogy, brings a freshness and enthusiasm to the narrative, which begins in the 19th century Tsarist Russian opposition, the 1905 Revolution, and above, all the immense tragedy of the Great War which overshadowed the events that unfolded. October leaves little doubt that the immediate alternative to All Power to the Soviets was not a coalition of the left, but the threat of a successful far-right coup that would have accomplished what General Kornilov had failed impose. Miéville has both charmed and irritated those already familiar with the plot, and, one hopes, instilled both interest and caution in those not.

The Saint-Cyrans amongst the left have not been slow to argue about the take on Lenin’s Letters from Afar (March 1917), which called for the Bolsheviks to take state power. For some this remains a “bombshell”, advocating an accelerated move towards a socialist regime, telescoping previous alliances and revolutionary ‘stages’ into an immediate drive towards something close to socialism. But Miéville claims (following Lars Lih) that, “His argument that the revolution must continue remained clear, as did his exhortation to worker, ‘you must perform miracles of proletarian and popular organisation to prepare for your victory in the second stage of the revolution’ – a stage not of socialism, he would soon clarify, but of taking political power, of winning over the Soviet, to ensure the victory of the (necessarily bourgeois, democratic) revolution (Page 98). It was “continuity Bolshevism, and yet contained the seeds of a distinct and more trenchant position”. (Page 99) Readers who wish to make their own judgement can follow debates on the relationship between socialism, the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry and other aspects of Bolshevik programme and doctrine.

Defending the Revolution.

Of far greater interest are Miéville’s defences of the Revolution. In a concluding chapter there is a series of reflections on its outcome, to put it simply, Stalinism. The state organised Red Terror was, in a manner familiar to anybody acquainted with Miéville’s former organisation the Socialist Workers Party, explained as a result of external circumstances. The Civil War was the cause, ““Under such unrelenting pressures, these are months and years of unspeakable barbarity and suffering, starvation, mass death, the near-total collapse of industry and culture, of banditry, pogroms, torture and cannibalism. The beleaguered regime unleashes the Red terror.”(Page 312). Yet, ““there is no doubt that its reach a depth expand beyond control; that some agents of the Cheka the political police, seduced by personal power, sadism or the degradation of the moment are thugs and murders unconstrained by political conviction and wielding new authority. There is no shortage of testimonials as to their dreadful acts.”(Ibid).

October does not examine the view that the “dictatorship of the proletariat” unconstrained by the rule of law is fertile ground for abuse, thugs and murders. One may disagree with Kautsky’s critique of Bolshevism. But if Lih is correct that Lenin accepted the view that the democratic republic was an important stage in the “ripening of the proletariat” it is not the view that this is a “stage” “the essential basis for building up a Socialist system if production” that favours the eventual conquest of political power, that strikes us most today. It is his opinion that “people’s rights” such as “the protection of minorities” are the bedrock of socialism. (2)

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat. 

Was Soviet Power, on the basis of interpreting Lenin’s reflections in State and Revolution (1917), made up of “working bodies, executive and legislative at the same time” a vehicle for these rights? Could take the state and politics back into the hands of the – restricted – electorate who controlled them? Lenin’s model was the barely over a couple of months long Paris Commune (8 Mar 1871 – 28 May 1871), a pluralist assembly, a heroic stand,  but which ended in a deep split between the patriotic majority of Blanquists who wished to fight by any means to the end, and an opposition of Proudhonists  and supporters of the First International (Prosper-Olivier Lissagaray, Histoire de la Commune de 1871,  Published, 1876 and a standard source for Marxists for many years). Its own administrative achievements – contested – aside, this perhaps illustrates the difficulties of revolutionary democracy in war.

As Isaac Deutscher memorably commented, the Bolsheviks refused to allow the “famished and emotionally unhinged country to vote their party out of power and itself into a bloody chaos” are not hard to grasp. (3)

They had always tacitly assumed that the majority of the working class having backed them in the revolution, would go on to support them unswervingly until they had carried out the full programme of socialism. Naïve as the assumption was, it sprang from the notion that socialism was the proletarian idea par excellence that the proletariat, having once adhered to it would not abandon it. (Ibid)

The Russian Dictatorship of the Proletariat had immense ambitions. Soviet power was a lever to the transition towards socialism. But disagreements arose over the methods used to that aim. Those opposed to the militarisation of labour in War Communism, to the One Man Management that emerged, Taylorism, and what is called ‘bureaucracy’ indicated that the content, the social institutions, of ‘socialism’ were not something that was already there in the “programme”. No number of warnings about external threats can retrospectively annul the fact that the dissident voices within the left, the critics of Bolshevism whose views were far from the ‘formalism’ of Kautsky and the social democrats who rejected the revolution en bloc,

In a more open-minded fashion than many who wish to defend Lenin and the Bolsheviks’ state of grace,  Miéville says, Those who count themselves on the side of the revolution must engage with these failures and crimes. To do otherwise is to fall into apologia, special pleading, hagiography – and to run the risk of repeating such mistakes.”(Page 317) But without human rights, how can we judge such abuses? Without such standards – not trumped by the necessities of the moment – what do we have left? This is more fundamental than the ban on Bolshevik “factions” that took place at the  10th Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) 1921, that is –initially limited – clamp down on the freedom of inner-party debate. But even if the Party had reached agreements to tolerate loyal extra-party opposition, say with left Mensheviks and ‘non-party’ representatives in the Soviets – that is accepting disagreements in terms that they set, there was no prospect of accepting pluralism as such, that is the right of an opposition to say what they wish. As the twenties wore on this was no longer a matter of the external constraints of civil war, ‘temporary measures’, but became a matter of doctrine.

The Russian Revolution, it is customary to say, contained many potentials. Miéville points to the sense of popular power that it unleashed. Government decrees, on women’s rights, decriminalising homosexuality, and the recognition of national rights as the USSR was formed from different ‘republics’, and – within the limits of the censorship – artistic creatively briefly flourished. But the strategy of a ‘transitional dictatorship’ was the worm in the fruit.

******

(1) Page 293. Tome l. Port-Royal. Sainte-Beuve, Charles-Augustin. 3rd Edition. 1867.

(2) The Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Karl Kautsky. Ann Arbor. 1964 (1919)

(3) Page 505, The Prophet Armed. Trotsky 1879 – 1921. Isaac Deutscher. Oxford University press. 1979.