Posts Tagged ‘Marxism’
Worth Reading Again.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that when socialist ideas appear to have a real possibility of gaining political influence in the United Kingdom the anti-left and anti-socialist liberal media is never in want of a response.”
Tales about Trotksyist, Green, Tory and Communist entryists joining or becoming sympathisers of the Labour Party have run, and run and run.
Most people will wonder what reaction those who, in their tens of thousands, have become members of the Labour Party, or signed up , will have.
No doubt they will not all welcome being the object of suspicion.
Or, those, who, like myself, have helped Labour out in a small way for several years during local elections, enjoy thinking that they may be the subject of an intensive investigation into our political affiliations.
But this is nothing to what is about to come with the latest news about Corbyn’s support for a new look at Clause Four.
We had a flavour of what’s in store yesterday.
* charging people to enter public museums) in the Guardian (Labour centrists like me aren’t cynics: we’re the truly ethical wing of the left) evoked his personal memories of actually existing socialism.(who believes in
He mentioned, “soup swimming with sausage fat in the decaying hostel of the Komsomol..”.gruel ladelled out from huge tubs at Moscow airport and bought a drink at a shop where there were separate tills for each of the small range of commodities.”
The arts editor of the liberal paper observes, “I was seeing pure socialism – and everyone I met was exploding with joy to escape from it.”
A “serious and committed Marxist” in his student years, who tried to find “kulaks” in the English Civil War (why, one might possibly ask?) sums up his critique of Corbyn, “I can’t help thinking today’s bold neo-Marxist concepts like “the 1%” and “austerity” are equally unmoored from real lives. Indeed Greece has already found out what anti-austerity means in practice.”
So that’s been told. Austerity is a “neo-Marxist concept”.
No prizes for guessing how Jones and his friends will react to today’s news.
Jeremy Corbyn to ‘bring back Clause IV’: Contender pledges to bury New Labour with commitment to public ownership of industry
“Corbyn reveals that he wants to reinstate Clause Four, the hugely symbolic commitment to socialism scrapped under Tony Blair 20 years ago, in its original wording or a similar phrase that weds the Labour Party to public ownership of industry.
“I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that’s restoring the Clause Four as it was originally written or it’s a different one, but I think we shouldn’t shy away from public participation, public investment in industry and public control of the railways.
“I’m interested in the idea that we have a more inclusive, clearer set of objectives. I would want us to have a set of objectives which does include public ownership of some necessary things such as rail.”
To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.
In 1920 Sidney Webb , Beatrice Potter Webb published the Constitution for the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain which outlined a society in which two chambers, of producers, consumers democracy, in an overarching political elected system.
Since that time, and since 1945, there have been a variety of socialist proposals for public ownership.
The last with any serious impact were elaborated in the 1970s: Britain: The 1970s and the movement for workers’ control. Andrew Coates (Links Magazine).
The failures of the free market make these ideas relevant again.
As you can read about in left journals, like Labour Briefing, a magazine Jeremy Corbyn has been associated with for several decades and the Labour Representation Committee.
Eastern Daily Press. Outside Corbyn Meeting Norwich.
Jeremy Corbyn is right: we need to look at these ideas and not fall back on the market, or rather the organised profiting from state subsidies for privately contracted out ‘public services’ and the profiteering of the utilities and railway companies.
This, in effect, what is being proposed, not a reinstatement of the old Clause.
As the Corbyn Campaign says (Mirror),
“He says we need some forms of discussion about public ownership objectives for the 21st century and in some cases, such as rail, on which matter Labour needs to reflect more closely the views of the majority of the public.”
That this will be a fight is obvious from another headline in the paper’s this morning,
Labour’s biggest individual donors have pledged to stop giving money if Jeremy Corbyn becomes leader in a move that could leave the party almost entirely dependent on trade union funding.
Five senior donors have told The Telegraph that Mr Corbyn’s victory would be “disastrous” and could lead to Labour being locked out of power for decades.
Millions of pounds of funding from businessmen may be withheld if the Mr Corbyn, the hard-Left candidate and apparent front-runner, wins the contest on September 12.
It is the first time the party’s biggest financial backers have spoken out about Mr Corbyn, with only John Mills, the party’s top individual donor, having voiced concerns until now.
The revelation has triggered fears that Labour’s attempts to rebuild links with industry would be undermined and its dependence on union funding heightened under Mr Corbyn.
I also think that a new Clause Four backing public ownership will have the effect of getting rid of the clinging faith that the SNP is left-wing. not to mention putting the cat amongst the pigeons of the Green Party.
* Jonathan Jones is a hot contender with Giles Fraser nominated by Shiraz for the “most annoying” semi-literate commentator in the mainstream UK media.
Sebastian Budgen: Family Grocers Does Excellent Tuck!
This story on Charnel House is the talk of the Left,
Stumbled across an amazing database of free Marxist PDFs, the posts of which seems to be password protected but whose files are nevertheless accessible.
See the site for details.
The post cites Budgen’s response to people who download for free:
I make a distinction between the honest downloaders who do it discreetly and will spend money when they have it and the loud-mouthed freeloading scum who have no interest in or understanding of how to build a counterhegemonic apparatus.
I’m not just interested in people being customers but in recognising, to the extent that they are leftists, that they should be involved in building a counterhegemonic apparatus. The anarchoids and lazy leftists of today don’t get that so they act like the lowest petty bourgeois individualist swine.”
Sebastian Budgen, of Verso books and Historical Materialism, on download culture and downloaders, Oct 2012.
There are many reasons to dislike Bugden’s politics as well:
We strongly suspect he has something to do with propagating the “anti-race mixing” Indigènes de la République in the oddly named Jacobin and the promotion of the sympathiser of this group – the militant wing of anti-colonial studies – Christine Delphy, by Verso.
Budgen has the “chic” for getting himself loathed.
We express our solidarity with comrade Ross Wolfe who has been the object of this attack by the Owl of the Verso Remove:
Maybe I’d feel a bit worse about linking to all these texts if Budgen weren’t such a whiny crybaby. Hard to sympathize with him, however, after he put out this ridiculous burn notice against me a couple months back, urging other leftists to erect a cordon sanitaire around me. Leftists should “shun” and “no platform” me, defriending anyone who posts or shares links to this blog. Kind of reminds me of a recent Clickhole article, “Uncompromising: This Tyrant Unfriends All Dissidents as an Example to the Rest,” which describes “[a] despotic maniac rules with an iron fist of callous indifference, unfriending anyone who dares go against something he posts.”
Childishness and grandiosity aside, though, this is a great list of books. Grab them while you can, but don’t despair if they’re removed before you get the chance. Someone will repost them eventually, probably sooner than later. Enjoy.
Update (LOL): Seems he’s now asking ppl to report anyone who so much as links to this post. *impotent buttrage intensifies*.
The poor puffer seems to have forgotten the gentlemanly etiquette of the Eton Wall Game.
As he would no doubt love to call for similar action against Coatesism and all of its works we can only say: arise ye starvlings from your slumbers and feast on Budgen’s hampers!
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!
Ipswich Workers’ Militia in Training.
Europe’s Left: No Retreat to Nationalist anti-European Politics.
Alexis Tsipras’s grip on power suffers a blow with 32 of his own MPs rebelling as the Greek parliament votes in favour of new austerity measure against a backdrop of violence on the streets of Athens reports the Telegraph.
There are many things to say about the developing Greek crisis but I am still struck by the information given in Le Monde on Tuesday about the “Explosive Propositions of Wolfgang Schäuble“.
The German Fiannce Minister, Schäuble, wanted Greece out of the Euro (no doubt to the satisfaction of the ‘left’ critics of Syriza’s leadership ), for a “provisional” period (not enough, would say the ‘left’, the True Finns and Golden Dawn). He also demanded a through-going “depolitisation” of the country;s administration, under close EU supervision (not something the ‘left’ would welcome one suspects).
The details behind this are a lot worse – as presented by Jack Rasmus,
It is a known fact that Schaubel and the ‘right wing’ of Euro bankers and ministers have wanted to eject Greece from the Euro since 2012. In that prior debt restructuring deal, private bankers and investors were ‘paid off’ and exited the Greek debt by means of loans made by the Troika, which were then imposed on Greece to pay. 2012 was a banker-investor bailout, not a Greece bailout. What was left was debt mostly owed by Greece to the Troika, more than $300 billion. Greece’s small economy of barely $180 billion GDP annually can never pay off that debt. Even if Greece grew at 4% GDP a year, an impossibility given that Europe and even Germany have been growing at barely 1% in recent years, and even if Greece dedicated all its surplus GDP to paying the debt, it would take close to a half century for Greece to pay off all its current debt.
Schaubel and the northern Europe bankers know this. In 2012, in the midst of a second Eurozone recession and financial instability, it was far more risky to the Euro banker system to cut Greece loose. Today they believe, however, that the Eurozone is stronger economically and more stable financially. They believe, given the European Central Bank’s $1.2 trillion QE slush fund, that contagion effects from a Greek exit can be limited. Supporters of this view argue that Greece’s economy is only 1.2% of the larger Eurozone’s.
What they don’t understand, apparently, is that size of GDP is irrelevant to contagion. They forget that the Lehman Brothers bank in 2008 in the US represented a miniscule percent of US GDP, and we know what happened. Quantitative references are meaningless when the crux of financial instability always has to do with unpredictable psychological preferences of investors, who have a strong proclivity to take their money and run after they have made a pile of it—which has been the case since 2009. Investors globally will likely run for cover like lemmings if they believe as a group that the global financial system has turned south financially—given the problems growing in China, with oil prices now falling again, with commodity prices in decline once more, with Japan’s QE a complete failure, and with the US economy clearly slowing and the US central bank moves closer to raising interest rates. Greece may contribute to that psychological ‘tipping point’ as events converge.
But there’s another, perhaps even more profitable reason for hardliners and Euro bankers wanting to push Greece out. And that’s the now apparent failure of Eurozone QE (quantitative easing) policies of the European Central Bank to generate Eurozone stock and asset price appreciation investors have been demanding.
Unlike in the US and UK 2009-2014 QE policies that more than doubled stock prices and investors’ capital gains, the ECB’s QE has not led to a stock boom. Like Japan recently, the Eurozone’s stock boom has quickly dissipated. The perception is that stock stimulus from the Eurozone’s QE, introduced six months ago, is perhaps being held back by the Greek negotiations. Euro bankers and investors increasingly believe that by cutting Greece loose (and limiting the contagion effects with QE and more statements of ‘whatever it takes’ by central banker, Mario Draghi) that Grexit might actually lead to a real surge in Euro stock markets. Thus, throwing Greece away might lead to investors making bigger financial profits. In other words, there’s big money to be made on the private side by pushing Greece out.
So, when we are talking about Syriza’s ‘betrayal’ bear this in mind.
Read it carefully.
Most will rightly, dismiss as stale air, calls for a “true” revolutionary party which will abolish these difficulties, and no doubt make the bankers and Schäuble disappear from the Earth’s surface.
But there are serious people inside Syriza, the Left Platform, who offered an alternative strategy to Tsparis and who have not accepted the present deal.
One of their leading spokespeople, Stahis Kouvelalkis has declared of the pro-EU Syriza leadership (this could apply more widely to others on the left – to Tendance Coatesy amongst many others) (Greece: The Struggle Continues Sebastian Budgen & Stathis Kouvelakis):
So for these people the choice is between two things: either being “European” and accepting the existing framework, which somehow objectively represents a step forward compared the old reality of nation-states, or being “anti-European” which is equated with a falling back into nationalism, a reactionary, regressive move.
This is a weak way in which the European Union is legitimated — it might not be ideal but it’s better than anything else on the table.
I think that in this case we can clearly see what the ideology at work here is. Although you don’t positively sign up to the project and you have serious doubts about the neoliberal orientation and top-down structure of European institutions, nevertheless you move within its coordinates and can’t imagine anything better outside of its framework.
This is the meaning of the kind of denunciations of Grexit as a kind of return to the 1930s or Grexit as a kind of apocalypse. This is the symptom of the leadership’s own entrapment in the ideology of left-Europeanism.
Kouvelakis cites the Greek Marxist political writer Nicos Poulantzas, who wrote and lived in France for most of his career, to back his anti-EU ideology.
He says that Poulantzas said the following.
Yes, Poulantzas talked about European integration in the first part of his book on social classes in contemporary capitalism, in which he analyzes the processes of internationalization of capital and he clearly considered the European Economic Community an example of an imperialist form of internationalization of European capital within the framework of what he considered the new postwar structural hegemony of the United States.
Poulantzas indeed made this analysis in Les Classes sociales dans le capitalisme aujourd’hui, (1974)
But in L’État, le pouvoir, le socialisme (1978) Poulantzas offered an alternative to the domination of capital: a fusion of direct and representative democracy based ont eh workers’ movement and civil society. He famously stated that the state, is a ” « condensation matérielle d’un rapport de force entre les classes et fractions de classe » (a material condensation of relations between classes and fractions of classes).
The European Union is a judicial and economic framework which is, self-evidently, linked to these relations of changeable power.
It is not only a cabal of finance ministers, EU Commissioners, and neo-liberals who can do as they will – if there is a large enough power to stop them.
To change the EU, to fight neo-liberalism, requires a different relation of force: based on Europe-wide unity between the popular classes and lefts.
It means a political movement, across borders, with institutional weight.
The European Parliament, without any effective influence on EU decision-making, which is essentially inter-Ministerial and Commission based, is nevertheless a point where these bonds can, and are, made, through groups like the European Left Party – however weak they may be at present.
To leave the EU is to leave these potential ties of unity.
It is to give up the game at the first sign of difficulty – to follow those, misguided or simply opportunist ‘friends’ of Syriza who now turn on them when they have run into trouble.
It is to set the course for naked domination by the forces of international capital.
Or to put is more simply, no country, nor left, is in a position to break free of the IMF’s clutches, not to mention world financial markets.
Those on the Syriza left who proposed a Grexit, the centrepice of their economic plans, have yet to answer the point: would they have either offered a viable package, and how would they have warded off the financial locusts described by Rasmus?
They have yet to give a serious response.
A ‘New Britain’.
The Greek crisis has been a perceived as proof that the ‘pro-European’ left has failed, largely by those who were already convinced that this is so.
Briefly basking in Syriza’s reflected glory they have now returned to their own political projects.
In France, apart from the anti-Euro and ‘Sovereigntist’ Front National, a minority of the Parti de Gauche (45%) voted at their recent conference for this as part of a general “Eurosceptic” line (Libération). Their leader, Jean–Luc Mélenchon, has made frequent nationalist and anti-German remarks during the Greek crisis.
He said a few days ago,
For the third time in the History of Europe, the obstination of the German government is destroying Europe.
There is little doubt the same mood exists across Europe.
In Britain some see the Greek crisis as a sign to join in the campaign for the UK to leave the European Union.
This, Owen Jones dreams, would ” focus on building a new Britain, one of workers’ rights, a genuine living wage, public ownership, industrial activism and tax justice. Such a populist campaign could help the left reconnect with working-class communities it lost touch with long ago.”
Unfortunately this option will appear on no Referendum Ballot paper, when, one assumes the believers in a New Britain will mark their slips in the same way as the ‘populists’ of the far-right, and hard-line anti-socialist economic liberals.
As Jim Denham rightly says, “The left should fight, not to go backwards from the current bureaucratic, neoliberal European Union, but forward, to a democratic United States of Europe, and a socialist United States of Europe.”
In the meantime here are some serious articles by people the Tendance respects (though disagrees with) on Syriza and the present crisis:
Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin: Treating SYRIZA responsibly (Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal)
Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, Athens
Update: A reminder from UNITE,
02 April 2015 By Tony Burke, Unite assistant general secretary
Two-thirds of manufacturing jobs in the UK are sustained by trade with the rest of the EU.
Between 2009 and 2011 the number of manufacturing jobs in the UK dependent on trade with the EU grew by 15 per cent.
But it is not just the economics that make membership crucial it is also the protection that workers have because of the EU.
Talk of employment directives may seem dry but protecting our members rights at work have come about because we belong to the EU, and because Unite and other trade unions have fought long and hard to achieve them.
Parental leave has been extended to at least four months for each parent no matter what type of employment contract a worker may be on.
Thousands of workers in part time jobs can no longer be treated less favourably than their counterparts who work full time.
Bosses don’t want anything that might interfere with their right to hire and fire at will so anything that provides protection for temporary agency workers from gross exploitation are hard fought. But we have been able to do it.
One of the major protections for workers is the transfers of undertakings directive a vital piece of legislation that guarantees workers’ rights and obligations in company takeovers and mergers – there was a time when companies could dismiss and automatically sack their entire workforces upon the transfer or sale of a business.
The working time directive protects workers from being forced to more than 48 hours on average and guarantees breaks during and between shits.
And lest we forget – guaranteed paid annual leave, of at least four weeks (28 days a year) – which now thanks to Unite has to be paid at average pay.
There have been massive improvements on equal pay; the right to be consulted on redundancies; to have information about your company and for workers in multinational companies the right to be heard and consulted at European level and improvements on health and safety.
Tory Eurosceptics and Ukip echo the right wing and defeated Tea Party in the United States offering Britain a prospectus of becoming an offshore financial centre – like Hong Kong. Left to them we will become Europe’s economic and political renegade.
If the Tories and Ukip get their way they will set us on this calamitous course to exit the EU. That’s why manufacturing workers need to vote Labour on 7 May.