Tendance Coatesy

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Posts Tagged ‘Marxism

Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Clause Four Moment”.

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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.

* (who believes in 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.

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.”

Independent on Sunday. 

The original Clause Four was drafted by the Fabian Sidney Webb. It was adopted by the Labour Party in 1918.

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.

The idea that public ownership should follow one pattern of government appointed boards with only indirect  Parliamentary control  – what is known as Morrisonian nationalisation – was far from anybody’s minds at the time.

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.

There were other ideas, including G.H.Cole’s workers’ control plans in  Self-Government in Industry (1917, revised 1920).

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.

Telegraph.

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.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 9, 2015 at 11:08 am

Sebastian Budgen – Risée du Monde – Out to ‘Get’ the Charnel House.

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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:

“…before the internet people had to actually go to the photocopying shop. Now they don’t even have to do that and they are outraged when they can’t download the stuff for free. Fuckers – I hate them so much…

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.

Sebastian Budgen Memorial Page.

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 studiesChristine 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.

report-to-me-anyone-who-shares-that-charnel-house-post

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!

Open source Marxism: Free PDFs from Historical Materialism, Verso, and Jacobin.

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Andrew Coates:

Sebastian Budgen does do excellent Christmas Hampers. ” Sebastian Budgen — until recently a member of the Socialist Workers’ Party in Britain (prior to its 2013 rape scandal), commissioning editor of Historical Materialism, Verso Books, New Left Review, and now also Jacobin — take exception when similar demands are placed on books released by their own companies. Budgen of course claims that the printing presses he works for are not ordinary companies, but rather integral parts of a “counterhegemonic apparatus” that will someday challenge hegemonic capitalism.

The Association of Musical Marxists captured this hilarious sense of exceptionalism on their “Sebastian Budgen Memorial Download Page,” featuring one of his trademark outbursts against those who illegally download books……”

Originally posted on The Charnel-House:

.
Stumbled across an amazing database of free Marxist PDFs, the posts of which seems to be password protected but whose files are nevertheless accessible. (You can click any of the hundreds of links below to download them directly, since the post itself is locked). Even if these get taken down, as seemed to happen with the Fuck V£R$0 blog a few years ago, the cat is already out of the bag. As Novara Media pointed out following the Lawrence & Wishart copyright controversy in 2014, once published these things tend to obey the logic of the so-called “Streisand effect.” They explained that “[the] attempt to ban or censor something will tend to increase its prominence and breadth of dissemination. The instantly and near-infinitely replicable quality of digital information makes this easy.”

In their view, this is just one of “Seven Reasons ‘Radical’ Publishers are Getting OWNED by the Internet.”

View original 2,962 more words

Written by Andrew Coates

August 5, 2015 at 11:20 am

Orthodox Trotskyism on the “Psuedo-Left” and Jeremy Corbyn

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Trotskyism vs. Revisionism Volume 7: The Fourth International and the Renegade Wohlforth

Standing Firm Against Pseudo-Left. 

While some of the left of Labour groups welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign, and indeed attempt to bathe in its glory, including even the so-called ‘hard’ Workers Power now practicing entryism in Channel Four’s Economic Department (Paul Mason), of there remain Trotskyists who have not forgotten the ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUCVWXYZ of the Transitional Programme.

 

Much of the pseudo-left have indeed rallied to Corbyn’s side. Far from being a “hard left” plot to destroy the party, however, their concern is to preserve Labour’s role as the main political opposition to socialism and revolution. The Communist Party of Great Britain has long maintained the fiction that Labour is a “workers’ party” to this end, while the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition was formed as an electoral bloc between sections of the trade union bureaucracy and the pseudo-left as a means of preventing a political rebellion against Labour.

This also accounts for the backing that Corbyn has won from Unite, Britain’s largest union, along with several other unions. The greatest fear of the trade union bureaucracy is that Labour’s too obvious adoption of Tory policies will open the way for the emergence of a new, socialist, workers’ party.

But rather than proving Labour’s continued relevance to workers and youth, Corbyn’s candidacy has instead laid bare just how sclerotic, moribund and right-wing the party is. Faced with the possibility that it may be required to adopt an oppositional pose, it has gone into meltdown.

Writes Julie Hyland  on the esteemed organ of the International Committee of the Fourth International, The World Socialist Web Site.

The British section of the ICFI, the Socialist Equality Party, stood 2 candidates in the 2015 General election:  Katie Rhodes in Glasgow Central and David O’Sullivan in Holborn and St. Pancras.

They resolutely criticised the left wing alliance that also presented candidates in the election, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, and the left group, Socialist Unity.

……Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Left Unity. Representing better-off layers of the upper-middle class, these pseudo-left tendencies see the crisis only as an opportunity to further their own careers and gain lucrative posts in the trade union bureaucracy and the state apparatus.

More here.

Katie Rhodes scored  58 votes (0.1%) and David O’Sullivan obtained 100 (0,2%).

Their rivals, TUSC, stood 135 General Election candidates and won 36,327 votes, or 0.1% of the popular vote.

Meanwhile…is this what the Times has become these days?

Oh our aching sides!

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.

Greece and the Left, the fight against Austerity continues through the EU, not for a ‘new Britain’.

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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,

Why Hardliners Prefer Grexit

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 ):

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, JeanLuc Mélenchon, has made frequent nationalist and anti-German remarks during the Greek crisis.

He said a few days ago,

“Pour la troisième fois dans l’histoire de l’Europe, l’obstination d’un gouvernement allemand est en train de détruire l’Europe”

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,

Remaining in the EU is essential for manufacturing workers

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.

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.