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Weekly Worker Sets Record Straight on Communist Infiltration of Labour Party.

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Weekly Worker Congress, 2015 (Photo Courtesy, Sunday Times) 

“As we hit the rough midpoint of the Labour leadership contest, it is safe to say that the right – both within Labour, and meddling from without – is in total, blind panic.”

As the Labour leadership contest gets ugly, William Kane begins to worry about the sanity of the bourgeois press (Weekly Worker).

At the most delusional end, we find – unsurprisingly – The Mail on Sunday, whose foam-flecked red-baiting focuses on a truly astonishing claim from the MP, John Cryer: “I am reliably informed that members of the Militant Tendency are using Tusc [the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition] to pay £3 to vote for Corbyn.”2

Where are we to begin? Perhaps by suggesting Cryer looks up the word ‘reliable’ in a nearby dictionary, and considers whether it can really be applied to any source who claims that:

  • The Labour Party is being infiltrated by an organisation that no longer exists, and whose direct descendant, the Socialist Party in England and Wales, refuses to touch Labour – Corbyn’s campaign included – with a barge pole.
  • This infiltration is being conducted through the same organisation’s electoral front, set up as a competitor to Labour.
  • This peculiar course of action is being taken in spite of there being no need for it, since anyone can sign up for £3 if they so choose.

Indeed.

TUSC stood against Labour in the General Election.

It was made up of the Socialist Party, the SWP, and smaller forces, such as the Independent Socialist Network.

How long union support, officially from the RMT, will continue is unclear after the election of a new General Secretary.

The Socialist Party – committed to the building of a new workers’ party – is well-known for the view that Labour is a “bourgeois party” which cannot be reformed.

TUSC was prepared to stand against Labour in marginal seats.

On this basis it aroused opposition on the left:

Criticism from the Unite union

In February 2015, senior figures from Unite the Union condemned the Socialist Party and by implication TUSC, for standing candidates against Labour in marginal constituencies for the 2015 general election. The open letter addressed to the Socialist Party, which does not mention TUSC, accuses the Socialist Party of having a “derisory” electoral record.[ In response, the Socialist Party claimed that a Labour government “would be at best austerity-lite and a continuation of the crisis that faces working-class people.”

The Socialist Party may have wavered on this point (after the wave of support for Corbyn).

[Note: what the SWP thinks varies from week to week according to the rhythm of its own fads and recruitment drives,  so we shall pass over this for the moment.]

The Independent reports,

A victory for Jeremy Corbyn in Labour’s leadership contest will  effectively be “the formation of a new party” with radical socialist ideals at its core, according to the organisation that evolved from Militant, the Trotskyist faction expelled by Labour in the 1990s.

Right-leaning Labour MPs have accused Militant – which rebranded itself the ‘Socialist Party’ in 1997 following Tony Blair’s first election victory –  of  “infiltrating” the leadership contest.

The group’s deputy general secretary officially announced its formal support for Mr Corbyn claiming the unexpected surge in support for the Islington MP would “be a real step forward, and in effect the formation of a new party.”

Hannah Sell told The Independent that statements by leading Labour figures that they would not serve in a shadow cabinet headed by Mr Corbyn, pointed  to a schism, and the need for a new Labour constitution.

She forecast : “In the same way that Blair created New Labour and abandoned the values of his party, so a Corbyn victory would create the basis for a new 100 per cent anti-austerity party of the working class.”

We at the Tendance doubt this news, which would mean ditching a stand taken for well over two decades.

This is the TUSC general election result: “the party performed badly at the election, winning a mere 36,327 votes, or 0.1% of the popular vote. No parliamentary seats were gained and no deposits were saved.”

Cde Kane continues on the story that cheered us all up:

Hard left plot to infiltrate Labour race. Sunday Times 26th July.

HARRIET HARMAN has been urged to suspend the Labour leadership race after evidence emerged that hard left infiltration is fuelling a huge surge in party membership.

More than 140,000 new activists are projected to have joined by the deadline for registration to vote, a rise of more than two thirds since the election, with many signing up to back the hard left candidate Jeremy Corbyn.

The Communist party of Great Britain has called on supporters to join and back Corbyn as part of its revolutionary “strategy” while Green party activists have also been discussing how to vote for him.

He comments,

 

…we expect better things from The Sunday Times. After all, Rupert Murdoch’s papers are not indifferent to the internal goings-on of the Labour Party, but highly interventionist. We might consider them a sort of evil twin: both our organisation and their corporation think about Labour strategically, albeit from diametrically opposed political viewpoints.

How amused we were, then, to make the front page! A story about “hard-left infiltrators” voting for Corbyn seized upon our humble organisation as a significant agent in all this stuff. They quoted us – more faithfully than many comrades on the left, we might add – on transforming the Labour Party, on fighting for a left victory in the leadership election, urging people to register and vote for Corbyn.3

There was, naturally, some hair-raising revolutionary rhetoric, and a little photomontage of Provisional Central Committee chair Jack Conrad and the last issue of the paper (clearly in view, ironically enough, is the front page promo: “As Jeremy Corbyn surges ahead, right plots anti-democratic coup”). There you have it – it’s the Weekly Worker wot won it.

Seriously now – we find ourselves, above all, concerned with the precipitate decline in journalistic standards. When a mail-out writer for Labour List declared on July 27 that we “could organise an infiltration of a nine-year-old’s birthday party and I doubt anyone would notice”, he was being a touch unfair; but we do not claim to be a large organisation, and frankly even if everyone who had read this paper since Corbyn’s nomination had signed up (almost certainly not true, given our international reach), it would still not amount to a significant minority of the numbers who have done so.

It must be said that on Sunday when these stories in the Mail and Sunday Times broke, social media, that is, Facebook and Twitter, were buzzing with the happy voices of leftists chortling over their croissants and Co-op 99 tea.

Our instructions from the CPGB Central Committee (Provisional) were not slow in coming: well grubbed old mole!

More, please, please, more peals of laughter….

Cde Kane rightly observes,

we are not a large organisation, and target our propaganda more or less exclusively at other “hard leftists”, who in turn seldom take our advice.

Many on the left do read the Weekly Worker.

Some of (including the Tendance) have written for it.

It is well worth a read.

Now…must ask Cde Kane on next line (with approval from the SPA. GS?).

 

Corbyn 20% Lead as UNISON Backs Jez.

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Jeremy Corbyn opens up MASSIVE 20-point lead in the Labour leadership election race

Daily Mirror.

Jeremy Corbyn has opened up an astonishing 20-point lead over his rivals in the race for the Labour leadership.

Private polling seen by the Daily Mirror shows Mr Corbyn set to top the ballot with 42%, way ahead of Yvette Cooper on 22.6%, Andy Burnham on 20% and Liz Kendall on 14%.

But once second preferences have been taken into account the veteran leftwinger is ahead by just two points on 51% to Ms Cooper’s 49%.

Some Labour MPs are now urging supporters of Mr Burnham and Ms Kendall to either back Ms Cooper or at least ensure she gets their second preference votes as the only way of stopping the Corbyn bandwagon.

Ballot papers for the contest are sent out on August 14, with the result announced on September 12.

Unison Backs Corbyn For Labour Leadership

Unison has announced it will be backing the anti-austerity candidate Jeremy Corbyn for the Labour leadership.

And in a blow for Andy Burnham, who emerged early on in the leadership race as a union favourite and frontrunner, the trade union has tipped Yvette Cooper as its second choice.

It comes after a second poll suggested a significant lead for the veteran Islington North MP, putting him 20 points ahead of Ms Cooper.

Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s message has resonated with public sector workers who have suffered years of pay freezes, redundancies with too many having to work more for less.

“They have been penalised for too long by a Government that keeps on taking more and more from them. Their choice shows a clear need for change towards a fairer society where work is fairly rewarded, and where those living and working in poverty supported.”

Well done!

I was not going to Blog on this, after receiving threats from some very odd quarters.

But is too important to confine to the world of Twitter and Facebook.

As ‘Coup’ Against Jeremy Corbyn Threatens the Hard Left Moblises its Troops.

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Weekly Worker Editorial Board Deciding Corbyn’s Strategy.

Senior Labour MPs are plotting to oust Jeremy Corbyn if he is elected party leader, amid growing fears that the leadership contest has been hijacked by far-Left infiltrators.

Shadow cabinet sources have told The Telegraph that Mr Corbyn would never be allowed to remain in the job long enough to fight the 2020 general election, if he is elected on September 12.

A coup could be launched within days of the result, which would plunge the party into even deeper crisis and division, but would be necessary to prevent an electoral “disaster” under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, senior figures said.

However, a growing number of Labour MPs believe Mr Corbyn’s campaign is being boosted by tens of thousands of radical Left-wing socialists who have paid £3 to sign up as an “affiliated supporter” in order to vote in the election.

There are reports that Unite, the country’s biggest trade union, which is backing Mr Corbyn, has been telephoning 1,000 people a day urging them to register with Labour and back their preferred candidate.

One shadow cabinet minister told The Telegraph a coup would be inevitable if Mr Corbyn is successful.

Reports the Telegraph.

On the 6th of May Seamus Milne announced:

The Tories are plotting a coup in the name of legitimacy.

Fleet-footed the People’s Assembly acted (7th of May):

Stop the ‘Tory Coup’.

Ipswich followed the lead.

Cde Milne swiftly replied:

We beat off that coup!

Our troops, after recruiting thousands of new Labour Party supporters,  are ready again!

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Ipswich Workers’ Militia in Training.

Istanbul Peace Rally Against against Islamic State of Iraq and ISIS on 26th of July.

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A photo showing two young women, Ezgi Sadet and Büşra Çetin, lying side by side with Çetin holding Sadet’s hand tightly after the bombing in Suruç has become one of the symbols of the tragedy. Both women were thought to be dead, but Çetin survived. She was first treated in Şanlıurfa, from where she was sent to İstanbul for further treatment ( Story from Zaman)

CALL TO INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY FOR ISTANBUL RALLY ON 26 JULY 2015

The Islamic State brutally attacked the internationalist youth group who met in Suruç on July 20. They had gone there to support the struggle for great humanity being waged in Kobani, and help rebuild the city.

As a result of this attack, 32 people were killed and over 100 people were injured. Although Islamic State has been held responsible for this attack, Turkey’s AKP Government, by resisting the taking of effective measures to prevent Islamic State and other reactionary forces, bears the real responsibility for these massacres of civilians.

Being part of the progressive international community, we hold it to be a historical duty for us to develop further cooperation against Islamic State (ISIL) and similar organizations. The Peace Bloc, in which HDP takes place as well, will organize a big march in Istanbul on July 26 in order to act in solidarity with peoples who are yearning for freedom and peace everywhere in the world, and particularly in the Middle East, in order to give a powerful response to Islamic State barbarism.

In this context, we invite everyone who believes in democracy and freedom to support our struggle for humane values against barbarity and Islamic State by participating in this march on July 26 in Istanbul.

Selahattin DEMİRTAŞ & Figen YÜKSEKDAĞ
Co-Presidents of HDP

Date: 26.07.2015, 4:00 pm
Place: Şişhane, Beyoğlu/İstanbul

Co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas calls for a mass rally in Istanbul against the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Sham(ISIS) after Suruc incident

Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chair of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has called people for a mass rally in Istanbul on Saturday against the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) over the Suruc incident in which 32 people were killed.

“We shall organise an international ‘peace rally’ against ISIS in Istanbul” Demirtas said at his party’s board meeting on Tuesday.

The ‘peace rally’ is organised by Peace Blog, consisting of different civil society organisations, women organisations, political parties, labor and profession groups.

The rally is planned to begin on July 26 from the front of Turkish National Television (TRT) building in Sishane to Aksaray district of Istanbul at 16:00 (GTM)

32 people were killed on Monday when the massive explosion hit the garden of the Amara Culture Centre where members of the far-left pro-Kurdish Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) gathered for a press meeting in Suruc district of Turkey’s southeastern province of Sanliurfa.

The suicide bombing suspect is confirmed to have links to ISIS on Wednesday, after he was identified with DNA test.

Chaos and violence hit Turkish streets in aftermath of Suruç

Protesters took to the streets and clashed with riot police throughout Turkey on Tuesday due to widespread public anger over the massacre of over 30 activists in a suicide bomb attack in the town of Suruç in the southeastern province Şanlıurfa on Monday.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 23, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Populism, Popular-Democratic Fronts and Tim Farron.

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Tim Farron: New Populist Front – but don’t invite Gays!

Older left-wingers will remember the group, the Democratic Left.

It was the official heir of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and grew out of the magazine Marxism Today.

We have written on some of the theories and politics behind this group, Stuart Hall, Thatcherism, and Marxism Today (also published in North Star. June 2013).

One of the principal criticisms of the current that became the Democratic Left, was its its willingness to dissolve any form of class politics into a very nebulous form of “democratic alliance”. In the case of Stuart Hall this took the shape of looking for “new constituencies for change” to win over a hegemonic majority opposed to the ‘National Popular” configuration that cemented the electoral  the base of Margaret Thatcher’s ‘authoritarian populism”.

The idea that there is an alternative, progressive, type of populism, is not new. The present rise in the intellectual  popularity of “populism” on the British left, articulated in a “democratic” left-inflected way, woes something to another influence on the Democratic Left, the “post Marxism” of Ernesto Laclau, and, to a lesser extent Chantal Mouffe (she has since adopted a form of left republicanism or “agonistic pluralism” *).

Laclau developed the idea out of his studies of Latin America, including Peronism, and a critique of the Althussarian  and Poulantzian position on the class grounds of ideology. Ideology is something which only take a class alignment in specific configurations of discourse. This leaves open the possibility of “democratic” as well as reactionary forms of populism. That is ” the basis of populism in the creation of “empty signifiers”: words and ideas that constitute and express an “equivalential chain”. This “equivalential chain” is made possible only when a list of unfulfilled political demands create a ‘logic of equivalence” between them. ” To translate: populism can become ‘popular’ when the frustrated masses fuse their demands (through what mechanism?) together.

Like Castoriadis’ concept of the “social imaginary” this appears to encourage a great deal of political creativity. Unfortunately it also allows politicians to ‘creatively ‘ make alliances and launch campaigns around demand with whoever seems to advance their cause. It is also suggested that it lets political parties and activists lose sight of the need to give a voice to clear interests – like class – and to make “socialism” such a flexible ‘democratic’ signifier that it loses all specific meaning.

We hear that Laclau has had an impact of Podemos and (we are surprised at this) the more seriously left-wing Syriza (Why Ernesto Laclau is the intellectual figurehead for Syriza and Podemos In the Spanish case it appears to mean appealing to the “masses” against the “elites”, the “political caste” (la casta), and claims to have gone “beyond” the “old” divisions between left and right.

In a British left-wing  version, advanced by, amongst others,  Owen Jones, left populism appears to mean pandering to anti-European fears. It can, in fact, mean just about anything that is “popular”

This is the end result of the (soon to dissolve) Democratic Left:

The Democratic Left stated a belief in a pluralist and socialist society “incompatible with the structures and values of capitalism.” Beginning as a political party, it decided not to stand candidates but instead to support tactical against the Conservatives at the 1992 General election and soon become a non-party campaigning organisation. DL campaigned on modernising unions, including Unions21; anti-racism and cultural diversity; democratising Britain, including Make Votes Count; social exclusion and poverty, including the Social Exclusion Network; focussing on coalition building, and operating in effect as a ‘socialist anti-Conservative front’.

Wikipedia.

Hard-line critics of this approach dismissed it as an end to class politics, without any solid basis in society, and (for Trotksyists) a renewed “popular frontism”, without specific socialist politics.

The Democratic  Left withered away during the early Blair years, though we hear that some of them are still around in the New Politics Network (always something ‘new’…) and the journal Soundings.

We were reminded of these ideas when we read Red Pepper in June.

Many of the SNP candidates in the last election were chosen from or influenced by this movement, even though the movement is autonomous from the SNP. They have come to Westminster not with a nationalist but an anti‑austerity and pro-democracy agenda. As George Kerevan, now MP for East Lothian, said in the last issue of Red Pepper: ‘Watch out for SNP campaigners south of the border. If there are anti-austerity demonstrations in London, I will be there.’

He’s not alone. And although with Cameron in office there is probably little that he and his fellow SNP activists can achieve through sitting in Westminster and sticking to conventional procedure, there is much that a progressive anti-austerity alliance of MPs, including from Plaid Cymru, the Labour left and the victorious Green Caroline Lucas, can contribute to amplify the voices and demands of the movement across the country.

Hilary was once a critic of the Democratic Left and Marxism Today…..

It will be interesting to see this ‘populist’ left reacts to this generous offer:

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, began his first day in office by calling for progressive groups on the left to come together to forge a joint agenda on key constitutional issues such as electoral and Lords reform. He also revealed that defence of civil liberties, more social housing, climate change and continued UK membership of the European Union will be the primary issues on which he first intends to define his leadership.

This seems one of the – many – stumbling blocks to this new alliance (Guardian).

The new Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, on Friday night repeatedly avoided answering whether he regarded gay sex as a sin during a live television interview.

Just one day into his role as party leader, in an interview with Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News, Farron was asked whether he personally believed, as a Christian, that homosexual sex was a sin.

After replying that as liberals it was not “our views on personal morality that matter”, Farron said that to “understand Christianity is to understand that we are all sinners”.

* See the readable On the Political. Chantal Mouffe.  2005 and the, less readable, Agonistics: Thinking The World Politically. Chantal Mouffe. 2013.

 

Socialist Party of Great Britain worth £1,3 million. And?

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Always Readable. 

Long ago, in my North London youth, I learnt a lot of basic Marxism from the Socialist Party of Great Britain’s monthly, The Socialist Standard.

As John Sullivan wrote (see below) the SPGB’s use of the “vernacular” – that is plain English – made these ideas accessible to an ‘orrible well under 15 year old North Londoner in a way that no other leftist publication did.

Like many on the left I have come across SPGB members over the years.

Frankly I am not surprised at this story – which in today’s terms reveals a ‘fortune’ that the average Tory MP would use up putting a deposit down on a one-room holiday flat and beach-hut  in Southwold.

But it shows the SPGB – immortally dubbed the Small Party of Good Boys –  is still there.

Perhaps they will soon have a well-mannered debate with Michael Ezra on how best to spoil your ballot paper (we hear that drawing a picture of “my naughty little mansion” on the slip was his 2015 response).

Socialist Party of Great Britain worth £1.3m, accounts show reports the BBC.

A tiny socialist party which believes in the abolition of money is sitting on a £1.3m cash and property pile, it has emerged.

The Socialist Party of Great Britain, which has 300 members, has cash reserves of £452,250 and property worth £900,000, its latest accounts say.

The party, which was founded in 1904 – making it one of the oldest in the UK – is based in Clapham High Street.

It bought the South London shop premises in 1951 for about £3,000.

But it has benefited from the boom in the capital’s property prices, with the value of its assets increasing by £400,000 in a single year, according to its accounts.

‘Not a charity’

Media spokesman Adam Buick, who joined the Socialist Party of Great Britain in 1962, said he saw no contradiction between its socialist beliefs and its capitalist windfall.

“We live in a capitalist society and you need money to survive in a capitalist society,” he told BBC News.

“We are not a charity, we are not giving it away to the poor, we are using it to propagate the case for socialism.”

The party, which does not have leaders, aims to use the ballot box to build a mass socialist movement and is well-known in left-wing circles for rejecting the Soviet Union as a failed example of “state capitalism”.

It fielded 10 candidates at this year’s general election, all of whom lost their deposits, gaining a total of 899 votes. It also contested 2014’s European elections in the Wales and South East regions, gaining a total of 6,838 votes.

Explaining the party’s stance on money, Mr Buick said: “We don’t want just to ‘abolish money’.

“What we want is to see established a society of common ownership and democratic control in which money, banks, finance etc will be redundant and so disappear, being replaced by ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’. What socialism in its proper sense has always involved.”

Generous bequests

Mr Buick said the party was regularly approached by estate agents and property developers urging them to sell their headquarters, which is flanked by fashionable restaurants and shops.

He said some members were in favour of selling up and moving to a cheaper, less high-profile location and others had argued in favour of putting the party’s money in an investment account, although they drew the line at investing in the stock exchange.

“That would be going too far, although there would be some members who wouldn’t necessarily be against that,” said Mr Buick.

He said the party had only recently begun to have its accounts fully audited, including an estimate of its property wealth, to comply with Electoral Commission rules.

The party had also benefitted in recent years from generous bequests from members who had died, he added.

An even smaller left wing party, the Socialist Alliance, was recently left £101,254 in a will, which it spent on deposits and campaign funds for Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates at May’s general election.

Background: from  John Sullivan  As Soon As This Pub Closes.

THE oldest socialist party, the SPGB was founded in 1904, when the left wing of the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) rejected the opportunist politics of Hyndman, Marx’s bête noir, the leader of their parent group, which culminated in congratulating King Edward on his accession to the throne. The original left faction was a confused amalgam which included some people in London and a number of Scots comrades influenced by the American Marxist–Syndicalist Daniel de Leon. Unfortunately De Leon’s ideas came to them through the agency of the Edinburgh adventurer James Connolly, who ended his career as an Irish nationalist and Catholic martyr. Instead of fighting to win the SDF to a Marxist policy, the Scots broke away in 1903 to form the Socialist Labour Party (SLP), leaving the London SDF members compromised and isolated. The following year they themselves split from the SDF and formed the SPGB.

The double-dealing of the faction which formed the SLP made the SPGB an angry and suspicious group from the beginning. That was demonstrated by the Declaration of Principles (D of P), carried in the first issue of its journal, the Socialist Standard. The key part of the document is Clause 7, the famous ‘hostility clause’ which states: ‘That as all political parties are but the expression of class interests, and as the interest of the working class is diametrically opposed to the interests of all sections of the master class, the party which seeks working-class emancipation must be hostile to every other party.’

The ‘hostility clause’ was a stroke of genius which expresses the essence of the SPGB, and achieved a simple formula for achieving isolation and non-cooperation which the party’s rivals try to obtain through confused and inconsistent dialectical contortions. Religious sects achieve the same effect by shaving their heads or wearing distinctive clothes. The hostility to other groups was reciprocated from the beginning as the SPGB’s insistence on writing in plain English caused great offence: most left groups consider that a church must have its own language and liturgy, and have laboriously constructed a jargon comprehensible only to the initiated. The SPGB’s insistence on using the vernacular has provoked much the same response as that of the Papacy towards those who translated the Bible into the common tongue. The D of P has never been seriously challenged, and the party has never looked back. It has been fortunate in finding a biographer in Robert Baltrop, whose book The Monument is a truthful and warmly affectionate account of a group whose aggression and cantankerousness have placed a strain on the tolerance of most people who encounter them. People have the impression that a group bound to a doctrine first enunciated in 1904 must be composed of dogmatic robots. Nothing could be further from the truth! The SPGB was, until recently, full of the most delightful and varied eccentrics one could hope to meet. The reason for this is that although the D of P is sacrosanct, it covers only the question of how the socialist society will be brought about. The party, in contrast to many other sects, does not try to regulate its members’ domestic lives, eating habits or personal relationships.

The party’s formula for achieving socialism is beautifully simple: the workers are to become individually convinced of the socialist case, and when that has been done they will vote in a government which will decree socialism at a stroke. No attention is given to boring questions of tactics or strategy. The SPGB thus achieves the unique distinction of being both constitutional and revolutionary. Through this formula the SPGB avoids the strains which drive other socialists to drink or revisionism. The very simplicity of the formula might seem to rule out the possibility of discussion. However, the D of P, inflexible as it is in the area which it covers, does not specify what the society of the future will be like; consequently, SPGB meetings, whatever the ostensible topic, quickly tend to gravitate towards discussion on precisely this theme. Under socialism will we be vegetarian, monogamous or not? Will we still live in cities? Will we use more or less water, and will goods still be mass produced? Visitors to SPGB meetings, expecting to hear solemn Marxists discussing how to overthrow the bourgeoisie, are usually surprised and charmed. No speculation is forbidden by the D of P, so imaginations can soar, unfettered by the tedious discussions on tactics and strategy which form the content of most socialist theory. Even the least imaginative of the speculations are more appealing than descriptions of the Christians’ dreary, male chauvinist heaven.

It is accepted sociological wisdom that any organisation which has existed for three generations should have achieved a measure of family continuity, and so be relieved of the constant necessity to win converts from the outside world. As the SPGB is the only political sect which has been around long enough to test the theory on, it has attracted more attention from sociologists than from students of politics. In fact, the SPGB’s achievement there has not yet equalled that of any established religious sect. What does happen, according to Barltrop, is that new members join because of social relationships rather than formal propaganda, which serves as a diversion for the members rather than as a source of recruitment. The party is, apart from the Discussion Group, the only socialist organisation which is at all difficult to join. Members have to satisfy a committee that they understand the SPGB’s case; in contrast, the vanguard groups will accept anyone who does as she is told.

In the 1950s, the SPGB seemed like a survivor of the Edwardian era, rather like the Secular Society, with whose cultural milieu it overlaps. However, just as that scene was rejuvenated by a revival of interest in the universities, so to a lesser extent was the SPGB. This has changed the internal atmosphere in ways which are sometimes worrying. Discipline, once draconian, has become very lax: some of the younger members’ interpretation of the ‘hostility clause’ is frankly alarming. They argue that the while the D of P enjoins hostility to rival organisations, this need not be extended to the members of such organisations. On a strictly legalistic reading of the D of P, this is perhaps allowable, but it would severely weaken the social effect of the hostility clause. It would never have been accepted by the stalwarts who built the party, and it goes against its whole tradition. Some of the new wave wish to substitute a plan to transform society gradually through the growth of cooperatives for the party’s traditional programme of an immediate transition to socialism once it has a firm parliamentary majority. It would be sad indeed if a party which fought so long against the Social Democratic theory of gradualism were to succumb to the life-stylism which has destroyed so many of its rivals.

I have omitted the concluding paragraph because it was written before this split in the SPGB.

Socialist Studies

In 1991, the Camden and northwest London branches of the Party were expelled after a party-wide referendum found them to be engaged in persistent undemocratic behaviour. Some of these ex-members, comprising sixteen individuals, refused to recognise the expulsions and attempted to continue operating as the Socialist Party of Great Britain, which they claimed to have “reconstituted”. The group’s activity consists primarily of holding occasional propaganda meetings and publishing their journal Socialist Studies, which serves just as much as a forum for socialist philosophy and agitation as it does for polemics against the original SPGB. The Socialist Studies group claims that original SPGB has deviated from the strict anti-reformism principles it established in 1904, to the point of engaging in Trotskyist, Stalinist, and even fascistpolitics.

I am not sure about the last claim.

Socialist Studies comes, sometimes, to the Burston Rally, and he is a polite enough chap who does not look capable of making such wild claims.

In Defence of Syriza against “Syriza delenda est”.

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We Backed Syriza then, and We Stand by our Friends.

Syriza delenda est   Syriza Must be Destroyed:

There is little doubt that this is the aim of the neo-liberals, from the hard right to the ‘moderate’ left  in the European Union.

But there is worse to come.

A commentator in the Financial Times has been moved to state,

Greece’s brutal creditors have demolished the eurozone project.

few things that many of us took for granted, and that some of us believed in, ended in a single weekend. By forcing Alexis Tsipras into a humiliating defeat, Greece’s creditors have done a lot more than bring about regime change in Greece or endanger its relations with the eurozone. They have destroyed the eurozone as we know it and demolished the idea of a monetary union as a step towards a democratic political union.

In doing so they reverted to the nationalist European power struggles of the 19th and early 20th century. They demoted the eurozone into a toxic fixed exchange-rate system, with a shared single currency, run in the interests of Germany, held together by the threat of absolute destitution for those who challenge the prevailing order. The best thing that can be said of the weekend is the brutal honesty of those perpetrating this regime change.

More via link above.

We learn that at Marxism 2015 this happened,

Alex Callinicos argued that Syriza might have a more radical programme than PASOK’s then, but was being not only nonetheless reformist; going against the OXI vox populi was clearly being treacherous. The hall erupted in cheers when Panos Garganas broke the news that he had to leave for Greece to attend a meeting of public sector unions for Monday towards calling a General Strike and the deepening of revolutionary pressures from below…”

And so it goes…..lectures from the SWP who backed a gaggle of groupuscules (Antarsya) that stood against Syriza in the Greek General election.

The Socialist Party, which at least had the merit of calling for a vote for a Syriaz, got its screams of treason in early.

Last week the published a statement from their own – not very numerous –  Greek allies,  a classic in Trotskyist ‘betrayal’ rhetoric.

Time for a new, mass revolutionary Left to oppose all austerity!

Editorial statement by Xekinima (CWI Greece), 10/07/2015

The leading group in SYRIZA and Alexis Tsipras have been proven tragically incapable of responding to the tasks of the moment and unworthy of the confidence of the working class. They are unworthy of the earth-shaking ‘No’ vote on 5 July which reverberated throughout Europe and the whole world.

They betrayed the confidence of workers, pensioners, the unemployed and the poor, who voted by 70%-80% in favour of No in the working class neighbourhoods and cities. They betrayed the great struggle launched by the Left and the working class, all across Europe, in support of the struggling Greek workers.

And yet, even at this time, the SYIRZA leaders around Tsipras have the gall to ask people to rally today in favor of ‘No’ because, supposedly, this ‘government of the Left’ needs the support of people in the streets! But why should the working class rally and demonstrate to defend those who have stabbed it in the back!

Like the Communist Party of Britain and other fragments of the British far-left who have wasted no time in denouncing Tsiparis  these are objective allies of  German Finance Minister Schäubleand, Europe’s neo-liberals, and the nationalists who want to see a return to “nationalist European power struggles.”

That is, they lay  the responsibility for the present impasse on those who did not create it.

If you want to know where the real blame lies it is important to read: Yanis Varoufakis full transcript: our battle to save Greece.  The full transcript of the former Greek Finance Minister’s first interview since resigning. (New Statesman).

This summarises the problem,

Varoufakis said that Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister and the architect of the deals Greece signed in 2010 and 2012, was “consistent throughout”. “His view was ‘I’m not discussing the programme – this was accepted by the previous [Greek] government and we can’t possibly allow an election to change anything.

“So at that point I said ‘Well perhaps we should simply not hold elections anymore for indebted countries’, and there was no answer. The only interpretation I can give [of their view] is, ‘Yes, that would be a good idea, but it would be difficult. So you either sign on the dotted line or you are out.’”

It is well known that Varoufakis was taken off Greece’s negotiating team shortly after Syriza took office; he was still in charge of the country’s finances but no longer in the room. It’s long been unclear why. In April, he said vaguely that it was because “I try and talk economics in the Eurogroup” – the club of 19 finance ministers whose countries use the Euro – “which nobody does.” I asked him what happened when he did.

“It’s not that it didn’t go down well – there was point blank refusal to engage in economic arguments. Point blank. You put forward an argument that you’ve really worked on, to make sure it’s logically coherent, and you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken. What you say is independent of what they say. You might as well have sung the Swedish national anthem – you’d have got the same reply.”

We are not accustomed to abandoning our friends when they are in trouble, for all the complex comments and judgements that need to be made about this “coup” against democracy.

We will back Syriza – we feel this dans nos tripes.

Is there any hope?

This is one view:

Requiem at an Empty Grave?  Syriza’s Momentous Day Leo Panitch July 12, 2015

Did those who are already raising Lenin from his tomb to render quick judgement on Syriza’s abject “world-historic defeat” (without saying much about what victory would look like or require) actually bother to read the rather similar plans that Syriza put forward before the referendum and that were consistently rejected by the EU and IMF “Institutions”? This rejection is what the referendum was about. The resounding OXI was then used by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to secure the resignation of the leading political representative of the domestic ruling class (and former Prime Minister), Antonis Samaras, and to get all the party leaders with any such claim or ambitions to speak for that class to adopt Syriza’s position on the need for debt restructuring and investment funds. One might even say that if there was a class crossover involved here it was the other way around, one that looks more like what Gramsci meant by a hegemonic strategy rather than the way it is presented from the perspective of those standing on Lenin’s Tomb.

The virtually same formulations in Syriza’s plans that were just yesterday called intransigence by mainstream media in Greece and aped by the media abroad are now presented as capitulation in order to disguise the significance of this. This is not surprising but what is surprising is the immediate acceptance of this capitulation interpretation by so much of the Western radical left from whom one might have expected a rather more sophisticated reading and less quick rush to negative judgement. Of course, the latter view is shared by many on the radical left here in Greece, including those Syriza MPs who opposed or abstained on the vote in the Greek parliament. But in doing this, they only raise the question of whether the Antarsya strategy of Grexit (which obtained less than 1 per cent of the vote in January) is any more viable today than it was then.

Deal or No Deal?

The real situation is this, as we await the outcome of what will in fact be a momentous day. If there is in fact some significant debt restructuring and investment funds in a deal today and this is not effectively tied to further conditionality, this would offset many times over the four year $12-billion plan for fiscal surpluses in the plan just passed by the Greek parliament. Of course, even if this is the effective outcome of this weekend’s final maneouvres, this will require some political sophistication to discern, since it will be concealed somewhat so that other European leaders can disguise this from their electorates, whose attitudes the Northern and Central European labour movements have done little or nothing to change. Tsipras would need to explain this well to get people to understand the significance of the victory he – and they with their support in the referendum – would have pulled off.

It will not be a “world historic” victory, for those who like such language, since it will still involve tying the revival of the Greek economy to the fate of what remains a very much capitalist Europe, but this would not mean that the Syriza government would exclude itself from the continuing struggle to challenge and change that. On the other hand, if Tsipras walks away today accepting the same conditionalities as before to debt restructuring, and without any guaranteed investment funds on top of this, then it will indeed be interesting to see where Lenin will take us once he is let out of his tomb, and sees that he faces yet again the sad fact that a break in the weakest link could not break the stronger links of the labour movements in Central and Northern Europe to both domestic and global capitalism.

Update:

It looks as if we have accept that Panitch was wrong and that this is a defeat.

Or rather dressed up as this:

  • The Greek parliament must immediately adopt laws to reform key parts of its economy – by Wednesday. The reforms include: streamlining the pension system and boosting tax revenue – especially from VAT
  • A commitment to liberalise the labour market, privatise the electricity network and extend shop opening hours
  • The eurozone agrees in principle to start negotiations on a loan package for Greece worth €82bn-86bn (£59bn-£62bn; $91bn-$96bn)
  • The loan will come mainly from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – the eurozone bailout fund. But the International Monetary Fund will also be asked to make a contribution from March 2016

The debt restructuring and the rest have come at the price of slashing public spending and a host of ‘free-market’ measures.

Above all privatisations: the railways and ports.

The problem was not the Syriza put ‘Europe’ above Greece, or the Greek popular masses.

The hard money and the hard women and men,  counted, and they were bullied, with – we have to admit, some protection (how limited, we have yet to weigh this up) by François Hollande.  According to Le Monde, he played a key part in keeping Greece in the Euro.

But frankly, was an ‘alternative’ based on a Grexit – a small country holding out with its own currency, bravely pursuing full-blown anti-austerity, a viable option?

Anybody we thinks this should read this (if they grasp some French): Que se passerait-il si un pays quittait la zone euro ?

It mentions interest rates at 12%, inflation running wild, and that’s just in the hypothetical case of France – a strong economy!

Now this may be fiction but it’s not too far off reality.

The supporters- like poor old Lenny of the Tomb – of this counterfactual are ‘aving a laugh.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 13, 2015 at 1:23 pm