No 1470 9th June 2015
Fake- “left” wallows even further in defeatist gloom, failing – and not wanting – to see the revolutionary implications of the great Labour collapse. The stay-away working class has seen through corrupt and opportunist parliament and is crying out for better leadership. But they will not get it from the philistine “anti-austerity” protest leaders hostile to all revolutionary theory and understanding and leading the working class up the garden path – just as Syriza has done in Greece, achieving nothing with its lies about “Voting to end austerity”. Such populist shallowness is not only useless, failing to explain the incurable nature of the capitalist crisis but dangerously misleading the working class, leaving it open to the fascist repression and war hysteria that the ruling class is turning to for class survival. Fake-“left” parties of “theory” are no better, still tailending reformism and refusing to raise now the urgent questions of revolutionary struggle to overturn capitalism - the only solution to crisis catastrophe.
The fake-“left” continues to avoid or deny the major lesson of the General Election – the continuing breakdown of working class illusions in class collaborating Labourism and, beyond that, the historic collapse in illusions in parliamentary democracy altogether (see last issue EPSR).
The fall in working class votes, and the political vacuum it expresses, opens up the greatest prospects yet for building urgently needed revolutionary understanding among a British working class long corrupted by class-collaborating Labourism and official TUC trade unionism, the reformist philosophy trading on “winning a share” of the imperialist super-profits brutally sweated out of the Third World.
That requires conscious battling to develop revolutionary theory and fight for it, in and with the working class, using the open polemical methods developed by Lenin’s Bolshevik party.
Yet across the board, the Trotskyist and revisionists still refuse to fight openly and directly for the revolutionary perspectives that alone can lead the struggle to end the capitalist system and halt its crisis descent into the greatest world war chaos, destruction and horrors yet seen in all history (with nuclear war already being spoken of by the likes of Nazi-Zionism and the latest Chatham House anti-Russian sabre-rattling).
The truth is that despite all their boasting and self-identification as “revolutionaries” none of the “lefts” wants to go anywhere near the real thing, even as the world dominating capitalist system hits the buffers of its epochal crisis failure, dragging the world to war, throughout the Middle East, Africa, and eastern Europe and as rebellious turmoil and chaos breaks out everywhere in the Third World (and the former Soviet “Second World”).
Either they do not see, or they deny, the importance of the working class break with parliamentary illusions, revealed more than ever in this election.
And that is because they do not understand for one second the giant philosophical changes needed throughout the working class everywhere if it is to deal with the unstoppable crisis – and of the vital role of scientific Marxist theory in giving leadership to that enormous historical transformation.
Already many workers who could once “get by”, and the petty bourgeois influenced layers bought off with boom-time consumerism and pop culture, and saturated with anti-communist propaganda, are being confronted with the unavoidable necessity for this change through the irresistible Slump deprivations and war savagery to which the capitalist system will always return, because of the inbuilt contradictions of production for the private profit and gain of a tiny minority (as first explained by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto and Capital).
The non-stop unravelling crisis of the capitalist system and especially of the moribund British economy (relative to other more successful powers like Germany, Japan, the US and even newer contenders like Brazil, China and India) has forced the hand of the ruling class to impose speed-up and wage cuts, both direct and to the “welfare” supplements that alone keep uncompetitive British industry remotely able to pay the barest minimum living wages at all (or even not-quite-living wage levels being forced through use of cheap migrant labour and “outsourcing”).
Such workhouse savagery and anti-union “discipline” – using what Marx called the “reserve army of the unemployed” to intimidate and quell dissent – has massively increased with the open onset of the catastrophic failure of world capitalism in the 2008 credit meltdown, (as predicted and warned of by the “old-hat Marxist catastrophism” long denied and mocked by the fake-“lefts”) further shattering illusions in the promise of “steady progress towards a better world” and in the “parliamentary way” sold to the working class for 150 years.
It can only get far worse as the incurable failure of the capitalist economic order continues to unravel, not only forcing every government to impose further massive cuts – already signalled by the new Tory government’s initial (!!) £4bn just announced with another £20bn later – but with major new international finance shocks to come once the desperate post-2008 smoke-and-mirrors credit trickery of Quantitative Easing valueless money “creation” works through the system.
And the constant drumbeat of warmongering and aggressive threats against Russia, China and others, stoked up by openly fascist stooge regimes like Kiev, and which has already torn whole countries apart into smouldering hell for tens of millions in the Middle East – most lately in the barbaric blitzkrieg of Yemen by US-backed Saudi Arabia – underlines the even greater shocks to come as capitalism deliberately instigates the war atmosphere, “grooming” public opinion for world war, its “way out” of its own collapse and failure.
Whichever party is “in power” (i.e. running capitalism for the ruling class) in Britain it will do the same, because the capitalist system cannot continue any other way.
But the “lefts” remain tied to the narrow notions of abstract “democracy” that have misled workers throughout the world for decades and decades (many times fatally and disastrously as in Salvador Allende’s “parliamentary socialist” Chile in 1970-3 infamously, and in countless other examples from 1930s civil war Spain to modern Sisi-massacring Egypt).
For all the 57 varieties of pretend “socialist revolutionaries” it is business as usual, getting on with their comfortable armchair advice for “left pressure” tactics to “contain the excesses” of the system, “resist austerity” or even “win reforms”, and to supposedly halt the crisis-driven imperialist plunge into fascist devastation simply by shouting “Stop War”, all the while filling reams of paper with empty academic posturing about being “Marxist”.
But they always steer well clear of any revolutionary talk in concrete struggle, the urgent requirement to transform the confused ferment of international revolt into to the coordinated class war that will finally topple the tyranny and exploitation of ever more corrupt and degenerate monopoly capitalism.
Not “at this stage” they say, because the “working class is not ready yet”.
It is “not ready” largely because of the complete abrogation of leadership offered by the fake-”left” over decades, propping up the reformist racket from the left, just as they did throughout the latest election once more, with the predictably dire results – their lukewarm “Vote to end austerity” reformist platitudes getting nowhere at all.
As said many times by the EPSR (issue 1147 06-08-02):
They refuse to see that a consciousness of worldwide REVOLUTIONARY struggle, - total-war hostility, - against US imperialist domination, is not just the fulfilment of the whole purpose of 150 years of Marxist theory, but it is also now the most extremely pressing PRACTICAL need of an international proletariat approaching total ferment.
Workers everywhere need to hear it said as loudly and frequently as possible that REVOLUTION to overthrow this US-UN-IMF-EU imperialist warmongering tyranny is not merely the ONLY way forward but will represent the greatest triumph ever of all civilisation’s achievements, by an enormous distance, - the triumph of the human spirit, the triumph of skills and organisation and ingenuity, and the triumph of the materialist philosophical understanding of the world and of what is in its best interests.
The crudest expression of this comes from the Labour Party Mark Two populists, like those of the Peoples Assembly “anti-austerity” movement, not only philistinely denying the importance of correct understanding but actively hostile to it, playing on one of the greatest weaknesses of the British working class, its “pragmatic” rejection of theory.
Approvingly-quoted philistinism from writer Owen Jones from the “left” Guardian stable of Trotskyist feminist and other single-issue anti-communism, says exactly the opposite:
‘Politics has nothing to do with being right,” says the pony-tailed Spanish political phenomenon Pablo Iglesias. “Politics is about succeeding.” And succeed is what the Spanish left does.
The fortresses of Madrid and Barcelona fell in regional elections this weekend, now set to be ruled by two feminist radicals who are implacably opposed to austerity and the free market order. Movements linked to Podemos – the party led by Iglesias which was formed only last year – has mounted the biggest challenge to Spain’s two-party system since the restoration of democracy four decades ago. Spain has one of the fastest growing economies in the EU, but economic growth has not rescued the defenders of a grotesquely unequal order.
So if you’re part of Britain’s battered, bruised and demoralised left, you should listen when Iglesias speaks. Last year, he delivered a speech berating the traditional left’s failure to communicate. Leftwing students never spoke to “normal people”, he said, and treated working-class people as though “they were from another planet”, bewildered that they did not respond in the way Marxist textbooks said they should. The enemy, says Iglesias, “wants us small, speaking in a language no one understands, in a minority, hiding behind our traditional symbols”.
But this is nothing but the shallowest fraudulent parody, a hostile demagoguery shooting down straw men of an alleged “left” that is actually anything but.
They are all posturing fakes and Iglesias with them.
His careerist philistinism is nothing new, but the same anti-Marxism which has been constantly promulgated by petty bourgeois ever since the First International.
That the Trotskyist and revisionists’ endless academic articles and bitchy infighting are incomprehensible to the working class is not because they are too “theoretical” but because they are wrong and because they do not take up or develop the lessons and understanding of Lenin, Marx and Engels in the 100 or so volumes of brilliant, still valid, analysis they produced, or pay attention to the real world movements to develop Marxist theory.
It is sheer lies to pretend that the genuine struggle to build a revolutionary leadership is based on rote learning woodenness from “textbooks”; this is just to philistinely decry the crucial fight for theory and its constant development. Let the fake-“left” speak for the fake-”left” where turgid academicism and posturing is the order of the day, but the struggle for Leninism is precisely to open up the living development of theory in unity and conflict with the working class, exactly what Lenin’s Bolsheviks did.
The Bolsheviks built a party of philosophically trained cadres not by didactically imposing their views but battling out every question in the open in front of the working class and winning leadership by getting sharply to point of the class conflict.
It is what the EPSR has fought for over 30 years, itself producing major steps forwards in understanding (see books and articles on Ireland’s national liberation victory, China, Grenada, Trotskyite anti-communism, Stalin’s flaws and Gorbachevite liquidationism, anti-semitism, crisis, the world war drive and many others to come).
This is utterly unlike the sectarian narrowness of the “left” which has always prevented and continues to block discussion and polemic (in the entire structure of its fixed-up “rallies”, selected speaker “conferences” and “public meetings” that never find time or space to really hear from the public at all).
The point is precisely “to get it right”, tackling the whole spectrum of lies and distortions fed to the working class by the ruling class, about hoodwinking “democracy” which is nothing but a cover for the dictatorship rule of the bourgeoise and above all challenging the non-stop anti-communist brainwashing and lies about the workers states and anti-imperialist movements which have gone on for over a century.
Secondly it is the distortions and petty bourgeois avoidance of the great works of Marxism which is a problem when it comes to book learning, completely failing to use the huge achievements made by Marxism so far as the foundation for building a far deeper understanding.
And what has Podemos achieved yet anyway??
Nothing. Nor will it.
Populist elections to Madrid and some other city authorities might be an interesting sign of ruling class failure but it does not educate the working class in the revolutionary necessities at all.
Such semi-anarchism has neither stopped the capitalist crisis ripping through the lives of workers in Spain nor the war destruction and turmoil being imposed everywhere by the world capitalist system as it heads for the only way out this greed-ridden rotten private profit system has even known for escaping its “over-production” crisis – massive world war destruction, already destroying tens of millions of lives in the Middle East and now spreading its hatred and fascist destruction to the Ukraine, Yemen, Africa and shortly Latin America too.
What it does do is feed illusions in “democracy” disarming workers and heading them away from the need to build the dictatorship of the proletariat.
But Owen says the working class movement should “learn Spanish”, meaning emulate such transiently popular street movements like Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece and even the Arab spring movement in Egypt which brought down the new Morsi presidency.
Well those all worked out so well didn’t they????
The “flat leadership” Occupy-style anti-theory eruptions in Egypt failed completely, the staggering and world shattering great mass revolt of 2011, which toppled the imperialist/Zionist backed Mubarak dictatorship, turned into its opposite by petty bourgeois abstract “democracy” shallowness as recommended by Owen and gushingly approved by the entire fake-“left” spectrum.
The refusal to build, and open hostility to, any kind of scientific theoretical leadership, with shallow anarchic notions rejecting any disciplined approach to struggle as “authoritarianism”, played right into the hands of the CIA and Zionist manipulation.
Instead of a struggle for leadership able to set the entire spontaneous revolution in a world context of imperialist crisis collapse and war skulduggery, concentrating on the real enemy – imperialist capitalist fascism, seeing its defeat (even by the Muslim Brotherhood) as the key question – their soft-headed abstract “democracy” notions disarmed the working class.
But a lead certainly was taken in Egypt, the one from the Western intelligence agencies themselves, their subversive input filling the vacuum and becoming the main voice in Cairo via capitalist media deluges, western infiltrations, the military and sinister influences like Tony Blair’s Middle East envoy mediation.
All of that was able to turn events around with a stunted-up “secular” counter-revolution, once a stunned world ruling class had got its breath back after the shock eruption of the Arab Spring in early 2011.
The resulting military government installed by the 2013 manufactured street coup, along populist lines seen also installing the Nazis in Kiev at the same time (like all the “colour revolutions” carefully mobilising petty bourgeois forces and using press onslaughts, and even secret sniper killings, to inflame the atmosphere, vastly exaggerating the resulting street numbers) has become one of the vilest expression of capitalist repression anywhere.
General Sisi’s coup forces against the newly elected President Morsi immediately began shooting down thousands of civilian demonstrators on the streets in cold blood, escalating to new levels the imprisonment and torture of the Mubarak years, and establishing a regime of repression, press censorship and judicial crackdown with mass death sentencing that almost defies belief, as well as cutting off all support and interaction with the hard pressed Gaza Palestinians, helping isolate them before the latest Zionist massacre onslaught which followed last summer.
But instead of seeing this obvious (to simple Marxist class analysis – see the EPSR at the time issue 1429) counter-revolution against the stopgap Morsi regime, and calling for its defeat (a different matter to supporting the Muslim Brotherhood) the entire fake- “left” went along with it – and still does with its constant “condemning” of “jihadist” revolt.
Greece’s Syriza, a ragtag collection of reformist opportunists and assorted fake-“left” careerists with only their anti-revolutionism to “unite” them (the “inspiration” for Spain’s Podemos) is an equally disastrous model even if not yet seeing the outright military or right-wing coup that is increasingly on the cards as the government becomes ever more trapped in bankruptcy, forced on it by the financial and political hard-nosedness of dominant German imperialism and the IMF.
Promises to “end austerity” were torn up before the ink had dried on the ballot papers – the lying fraud that things could be changed because of the “democratic will of the people” within capitalism, instantly discredited.
How this further unrolls is a daily issue as a major credit default approaches – but whether or not the collective European ruling class makes any concessions to Greece temporarily, for fear of the destabilisation that could topple banks throughout Europe if Athens cannot pay back its debts, or whether it insists on further forcing the crisis down on the 10 million population immediately, it changes nothing about the overall catastrophe still unrolling everywhere.
The crisis of the capitalist system is incurable, unstoppable and heading inexorably for far worse “austerity” (meaning slump disaster) than anything seen so far.
Failing to make this clear to the working class is to criminally mislead them, disarming their understanding and leaving them wide open to the counter-revolutionary preparations that the ruling class already has well advanced.
It is the task of leadership to fight for the greatest clarity and to warn the working class of lies and hoodwinking nature of democracy, and above all to develop the correct grasp of the need for revolution.
The sanctimonious and hoary old chestnut about “we should listen to the workers” is the most philistine comment of all.
So, should every piece of backwardness and shallowness inculcated into the working class by capitalist education and propaganda be the guiding principle? Is the huge vote for UKIP to guide understanding?
Shallow workerism is the total abandonment of leadership.
And the last thing the “lefts” are doing is listening to the working class anyway.
Either by not voting at all or voting not for anyone but only against betrayal (by the Liberals for example – and soon enough the SNP when it inevitably fails their expectations) they are expressing ever deepening contempt for the parliamentary racket, shouting out that they want and need a completely new perspective which can only be the overthrow of degenerate capitalism.
It is the job of revolutionaries to grasp and make conscious that inarticulate anger.
But they are not going to get this from such “left” Labour-movement opportunism.
But neither is it coming from pretenders to revolutionism, such as the group giving itself airs as the most “sophisticated”, the CPGB, strange revisionist hangovers from the old communist party who are now barely distinguishable from Trotskyism in their bilious hostility to the workers states and particularly the historic and gigantic achievements of the Soviet Union.
A post-election piece from their guru Jack Conrad begins by declaiming the group to be upholders of “classical Marxism” and the “rich lessons of Bolshevism” against the “corrupted, brittle theory” of the assorted Trotskyist groups like the Socialist Workers Party, Workers Revolutionary Party, and Socialist Party of England and Wales, which have “done a tremendous disservice to the cause of socialism”.
And this emerges partly from their sectarian methods he declares where -
What they call ‘democratic centralism’ is, in fact, bureaucratic centralism. Their internal regimes are obnoxious.
But rejecting this politics should not mean abandoning Marxism he goes on, as many do in the latest “Left Unity” version of the failed “Socialist Alliance” lash-up, would like to do, declaring Owen-style that –
The ‘old’ politics of the left are outdated, no longer relevant, off-putting, should be forgotten, etc. We heard it in the Socialist Labour Party, Socialist Alliance and Respect. We hear it in Left Unity too.
There is much talk about original thinking, pushing the boundaries and new kinds of organisation. But on closer examination most of it turns out to be an eclectic rehash of Bernstein revisionism, Stalinist popular frontism, soft Maoist feminism and Eurocommunist identity politics.”
No argument there. So does the Weekly Worker pursue the serious fight to make conscious the working class’s clear rejection of parliament, pursuing the battle to expose and denounce the entire bourgeois “democracy” racket and build a revolutionary movement?
No - it declares that Left Unity is the way forwards.
That is, the stifling single-issue riddled censorious LU lashup of all the above disastrous anti-theory or Trotskyist sectarian elements that Conrad pretends to reject and where all serious debate that might tell against it, is shut down and censored using its over-riding and central “safe spaces” policy, the ultimate reactionary expression of single-issue reformist PC politics from feminism to anti-racism.
So petty bourgeois notions of policing language and discussion on “politically correct” grounds (thereby precluding all dissent) allows anyone who “feels” “offended” to shut down polemic and discussion and even to have protagonists expelled if members are “upset” by the arguments, their individual and highly subjective state of mind deemed primary (whatever its politics) and overriding all struggle for understanding about the objective world.
For a revolutionary class war overthrow of capitalism to be run on such grounds, where anyone who has the vapours can shut down the fight, is beyond humour.
It is recipe for total disunity and collapse as is being witnessed at present as branch after branch of the LU implodes, unable to tackle issue after issue for fear of upsetting feminists, homosexuals, disabled people, assorted minorities, and so forth, who however reactionary or mistaken their views might be, can declare themselves “upset” and end all efforts to work through issues to reach an agreed understanding of objective truth, the only real basis for unity.
This LU nonsense is nothing to do with the obvious need to maintain comradely relations as far as possible and avoid gratuitous abuse or insults, while recognising that the theoretical conflict inevitable will become sharp and even heated at times, since it encapsulates and gives voice to life-and-death issues of class war.
The philistine anti-theory notions of the petty bourgeoisie cannot even see that such a dialectical process of making the class struggle conscious has any importance, let alone is the central element vital for transforming the world.
But the “revolutionary” Weekly Worker, is no better; despite its own personnel being a victim of this censorship and narrowness it continues to insist that this LU circus is the way forwards for the working class.
It is pure opportunism based on as un-revolutionary a perspective as any of the rest of the anti-theory philistinism, jostling and jockeying for position with all the other reformists, around transient populist advantage. So Podemos is not assessed for its bankrupt anti-Leninism but numbers by the WW:
Podemos is left-populist. Its name is borrowed from Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. Translated into English it means ‘We can’. Politically the party is deliberately vague and deliberately narrow: opposition to austerity, self-determination for Catalonia, a basic income for everyone, green energy, etc. Podemos is widely known for its plebiscitary democracy, but, as a result, it is effectively run by a Bonaparte in the charismatic shape of Pablo Iglesias.
Nonetheless, there can be no doubting the successes of Podemos. Membership has ballooned. Within 20 days of its launch 100,000 had signed up. Currently the figure is well over 350,000. There appear to be no membership dues. In its first electoral contest, the May 2014 EU elections, Podemos won 8% of the vote. A stunning result - greeted by Iglesias as a “defeat”.! He said the established social democratic and conservative parties deserved to be crushed. Nonetheless, in November 2014, El País reported that Podemos was topping opinion polls.
Yet despite its spectacular advances there are signs of discontent. Some, for example, are questioning Iglesias’s leadership methods. Co-founder Juan Carlos Monedero stormed out last month. Recently Podemos also appears to have stalled in the polls. The strategy of riding to power in one rush has therefore failed.
What “power” is going to be “ridden to” anyway? What an outrageous lie to sell the working class. What an outrageous inversion of basic Marxism.
If Podemos were to succeed it would simply be leading the working class up the same deadly garden path that Salvador Allende’s populist “socialism by democratic votes” took the Chileans, away from the crucial understanding that imperialism and its profit-hungry ruling class will never allow the working class to make any significant advances that interfere with the needs of capital, and will resort to as crude and brutal a suppression of such changes as it needs to, and can find resources for, from sabotage and manipulation to outright bloody coups and torture, General Pinochet style.
Spain has already had one bloody fascist suppression of “democracy” seen in its 1936-9 civil war and decades of Franco-ist Catholic fascism, just as its supposed inspiration, Greece, has three times seen violent terrorising overthrow of any democracy under the 1930s Metaxa fascism, the horrors of the 1945-49 civil war (imposed by Britain under the “democratic” “left” Labour Government of Attlee, using deliberately released wartime Nazi collaborators to slaughter the heroic partisan movement – tens of thousands of communist and “left” workers and peasants) and the 1960s colonels’ junta, bloody and repressive.
Both of them have only had “democracy” as long as it was possible to keep in place the reactionaries or tamest of class-collaboration and while there was enough of the post-war inflationary boom around for the ruling class to relax slightly and deliver token “advances” to head off revolutionary ferment (the temporary and rescissible basis of all reformist “success” based on handed-out crumbs from ruthless Third World neo-colonialist near slavery super-profit only ever delivered because of revolutionary upheaval anyway, as in the post-WW2 ferment which swept Europe and the great anti-colonialist struggles worldwide).
The post-war history of American top-dog imperialism and its sidekicks is one of non-stop coups, interventions, subversion, manipulation, invasion and outright blitzkrieg war to keep its relentless exploitation underway by suppressing all resistance, installing fascist dictators by the dozen, either dressed up as “democratic” governments (as the South Koreans, the south Vietnamese, etc) or outright – the real “totalitarianism” – and utterly overriding any genuine “wishes of the people” from Pap Doc in Haiti to Marcos in the Philippines and Suharto in Indonesia.
Just the Latin American world alone, deemed the US’ exploitable “back yard” is a litany of barbarity, massacres and grotesque death-squad terrorising including Guatemala and El Salvador slaughter of tens of thousands, Grenada’s revolution invaded by Ronald Reagan, Panama too, Nicaragua forced into liquidating its revolutionary Sandinista achievements after ten years of bitter struggle against fascist Contras, Honduras driven back into drug-war gang chaos after the Western approved coup five years back and the forty years war of suppression in Colombia using US trained paramilitary terror against the much of the population, with every dirty Nazi savagery going including widespread chemical warfare (under the guise of “herbicide” eradication of cocaine) as deadly as the Agent Orange with killed thousands in Vietnam and leaves a legacy of crippled and birth-defect stunted children to this day, and horrific beheadings and dismemberment of trade unionists, “uppity villagers” and the communist fighters of FARC.
Such horrors have been routinely used by capitalism long before the “evil ISIS” and similar insurgency came on the scene.
Africa is an equally horrifying story as in the Congo where multi-millions have died, and so too the rest of the world from the bloody one million dead massacre violence which toppled Indonesia’s Sukarno anti-imperialist nationalism in 1965, to the endless coups and dictatorships used to keep the Middle East under the jackboot, from the Savak nazism of the Shah of Iran to the most central repression of all, the Zionist colonial land-theft and ethnic cleansing occupation of Palestine, genocidally persecuting the indigenous people for seventy years and “smiting” in all directions on behalf of itself and world imperialism.
The Venezuelan pro-workers nationalist reformist government is faced with the same lessons right now, with economic and social sabotage coordinated by the still intact capitalist class, hostile media onslaughts (from capitalist owned TV and press) and non-stop subversion, advised and coordinated by the US intelligence agencies along exactly the pattern as the CIA disruption which toppled Allende.
So what “democracy” is this nonsense from the CPGB talking about????
Weekly Worker despite its one-time pretentious “The Leninist” antecedents, is not really taking any kind of Leninist/Bolshevik position at all in other words, continuing to replace the central Bolshevik understanding of the need for revolutionary class overthrow of the bourgeoisie’s rule, – the hidden dictatorship of capital, – to establish the dictatorship of the proletariat (a central tenet of Marxist philosophy since the Paris Commune of 1871), with its abstract nonsense about “extreme democracy” devoid of class analysis.
Lenin made clear there could only ever be one purpose in the working class participating in elections – to use the opportunity provided by its platform (which the ruling class is obliged to give in order for the illusions have some credibility) to make clear to the working class what a gigantic fraud the whole “democracy” racket is (within capitalism).
But this WW alleged “Bolshevism”, does the opposite calling this time on the working class to go back into the polling booths, with a list of “lefter” Labourite candidates to vote for, or supposed “lefts” from the TUSC electoral grouping, or the very censorious single-issue LU reformism, repressing all genuinely revolutionary debate.
Half its membership is still selling the idea that the Labour Party can be “won” by “left entryism” – an obscene idea as past EPSR’s have spelled out eg in issue 1079 (EPSR 06-03-01):
The Labour Party needs only ever to be seen collectively as a very very serious component in the bourgeoisie’s subtle long-term class war against the proletariat. It was, and always has been, a deliberately-constructed vehicle for eliminating or overcoming all communist inspiration and Marxist understanding in the workers movement, and it will remain so, permanently. Any notion that ‘Marxist entryists’ were ever close to capturing the Labour Party is just the most obscene deception imaginable. A) none have ever come remotely close; and B) far worse and far more sinister, none of them were remotely ‘Marxist’ anyway.
Worst of all the WW fails to see when the working class really is dramatically breaking with the old illusions and in fact denies that there is any shift at all:
Certainly when it comes to Britain, we need to soberly recognise what is immediately possible and what is not. Without that, disillusionment will rapidly set in. Left Unity is not on the cusp of becoming a mass party. There will be no Podemos in Britain. The poor showing of our candidates in the May 7 general election - whether they were standing as Left Unity or under the umbrella of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition - confirms that assessment. Typically we got around 1% or less.
There has been some silly talk of Labour undergoing a process of Pasokification. But Britain is not Greece and the Labour Party is not Pasok. Despite George Osborne’s hard-edged rhetoric, here in Britain austerity has been austerity-lite. There have been significant cuts in local government budgets, a reduction in military spending and a small drop in the GDP. But the bedroom tax and other such horrible measures were designed to please the readership of the Daily Mail.
There has been no mass protest movement. Apart from a few Grand old Duke of York days of action back in 2011, somewhat to my surprise things have stayed relatively quiet.
The People’s Assembly demonstration on June 20 will, in all probability, be yet another Grand old Duke of York exercise. An opportunity for left MPs, trade union general secretaries and media personalities. But little or nothing will come from it.
It goes on:
Despite Scotland, the Labour Party is not about to implode. On May 7 its vote in England and Wales actually increased. Crudely, while it lost 40 seats north of the border it gained 20 seats south of the border. And, interestingly, for reasons I do not quite understand, in the aftermath of May 7, some 30,000 have signed up.
Maybe they think they can vote for John McDonnell. Maybe they think they can shift Labour to the left. After all, from what I can gather, many of those who are joining come from a student-protest or Occupy background.
Silly talk!!! Despite Scotland!!!
So the most dramatic meltdown collapse of Labourism in the most militant part of its support takes place and the story is just “nothing to see here – move along please”!!!
This is sleight of hand sophistry, deliberately refusing or simply unable to see the movement in history, and wanting to pour cold water all over any signs of change, is a petty bourgeois blinkered outlook informed by relentless wet-blanket defeatism and fear of revolutionary implications.
The key aspect of the election result lies not in the continuing positive vote for Labour, which is just the inertial lag in the changing of class consciousness, still tied to 100 years of working class voting, but in those who did not vote – by now a larger section of the electorate than those who do vote with 35% of registered voters staying away from the polling booths, and another (minimum) six million and possibly more unregistered at all despite an unprecedented media and advertising campaign for voting and a new easier on-line registration system.
It is this rejection of the old illusions that is of the greatest significance not only continuing a long trend underway for decades but reaching the point of quantity into qualitative difference clearly shown in Scotland and in the surge to the Liberal-Democrats in 2010 and back again now (to punish their Tory supporting betrayal) not out of a “return to Labour” so much as a “nowhere else to go”.
In as much as the positive vote “held up” there are further factors to consider.
Firstly a vote in England roughly the same as last time (if that), is a disaster relative to what should be expected after five years of ruling class cuts savagery, when the instinct to “get the Tories out” should be significant (and was certainly pushed for by most of the “left”).
The sentiment “anything to stop the Tories” as voiced for example by Russell Brand, is not wholly invalid and a call to “Bring down the Tories” both in the election and now, remains as sound as it was under Thatcherism, but if and only if, it is understood solely in terms of defeating the ruling class, and is combined with a very clear grasp that there can be no illusions in Labourism or any other parliamentary “leftism” and reformism, be it “militant left trade unionism” such as TUSC or new “left” parliamentary parties like Left Unity.
Brand’s weakness lay in asserting (only transiently to his credit) that Labour might “do better” in power for the working class when it would be no different, since it is a capitalist party as locked in by capitalist crisis as the ruling class it serves.
But defeat for the Tories is a useful first step, especially as it is notable sign of such ruling class fearfulness about the crisis that it is reluctant at this stage to trust to even the tame stoogery of Labourism, using every manipulative electoral trick in the book to get its Tory result, from the outrageous electoral voting distortions and boundary fixing, to contentless political campaigning (and outright lies about the crisis), slick PR, massively expensive advertising, media manipulation (including threatening the already right-wing biased BBC) and US devised campaign micro-management techniques.
But Brand got no revolutionary perspectives to help him from the fake-“lefts” he had turned to for advice and neither has the working class, which equally saw no point in giving this fake-“left” alternative reformism, and revolutionism that never mentions revolution, any more than a derisory response.
Secondly, those still voting at all, are the sections of the working class and petty bourgeoisie still with some lingering belief in elections, almost certainly layers such as the municipal and welfare state workers, dependent on the diffusion of state revenues and most directly desperate to keep alive the reformist “gains” of the post-war period.
Thirdly many votes are only settling back on Labour because the “punish Labourism” Liberal vote from 2010 now wants to punish the Liberal-Democrat betrayal.
But as the Scottish votes demonstrate, given half a chance they would have flown off to something, anything, presenting itself as more “left”.
So while there is historic momentum for Labour it is increasingly that of a super-tanker with broken down engines.
What is missing now is positive and clear revolutionary leadership.
But this fakery finds excuses to put that off, with its whole tone of relentless defeatism typical of fake-“left” confusion mongering, conflating the failures to fight the crisis and overall opportunist cowardice of the existing Labour Movement (Labour Party/TUC) leadership, with the working class itself.
But while the TUC has been totally supine, it is not remotely true that the working class has been silent.
Firstly there has been very dramatic “protest” in the 2012 riots which fired a class-war warning shot which shocked the ruling class, and a series of local but significant protests and occupations against rent increases and evictions etc.
It is these stirrings, for all their anarchic and limited or even sometimes apparently apolitical form, (alongside international events like the Egyptian revolt) which partly account for the Tory pre-election retreat from full-on economic cuts, desperately increasing the credit spending to bribe the middle class (on housing etc) which the ruling class knows it should really be bringing down, in order to survive the coming trade war hurricanes (or stand a chance anyway against the rival capitalists).
Only the smug complacency of such petty bourgeois elements – who once declared that the revolution could only begin when the Brie and wine had run out in the supermarkets – could be so cavalier about the soup kitchen, bedroom tax, dole sanction, wage-cut workhouse realities of the crisis already imposed on many.
And while there is a glimmer of objective truth in the notion that the working class has not yet faced the full-on force of the catastrophic world crisis, this simply underlines the significance of the changes taking place, already well advanced even before the crisis really hits home.
Any real Marxism sees these changes in the context of the dialectically unfolding contradictions of the crisis and therefore inevitably rapidly deepening.
It takes a “Marxism” which does not grasp the intractable collapse of world capitalism inexorably unrolling into much worse disaster and chaos, to miss the point.
But in the WW analysis the complete catastrophe reached for world capitalism and its inter-imperialist conflict barely register, passed over in a single phrase, late on, about capitalism remaining “mired in crisis”.
This petty bourgeois sensibility really does not believe in the historic bankruptcy of the entire profit system; there may be a bit of “tough going” for the moment but it could also be cleaned up and got underway again, after this “difficult patch”, it is implied.
What garbage. The onrushing catastrophe is incurable, fended off only by Quantitative Easing money printing insanity that must break down again shortly as all the bourgeois commentators constantly niggle away at, if not fully grasping the profound implications themselves:
If history is any guide, we are probably closer to the next US recession than the last one. Back in 2008-09, there were lifeboats even if there weren’t enough of them. Next time, if there is a next time, the losses would be worse.
For 75 months it has been the same story. Interest rates are at rock-bottom levels pretty much everywhere in the developed world and the moment for raising them continues to be pushed back. But central banks have not just relied on interest rates. They have also been active in the financial markets, exchanging bonds and other assets for cash. This process, known as quantitative easing, has increased the supply of money and driven down long-term interest rates.
For a while, finance ministries also did their part. During the worst of the crisis in 2008-09, they cut taxes and increased spending in order to boost economic activity. In Britain, the result of running much bigger annual budget deficits led to a doubling of the national debt as a share of economic output from 40% to 80%.
The stimulus worked, but only up to a point. The US, for example, has a history of bouncing back from recessions but growth has averaged only 2% a year in the six years since the economy bottomed out. Put another way, America’s most severe post-war recession has been followed by the weakest recovery. The eurozone is on course to post growth of around 1.5% this year - and that’s considered good. By recent standards, it is.
After all this time and all that effort, central banks would also not have expected inflation to be so low. Yet in the UK, the cost of living as measured by the consumer prices index has gone negative for the first time in half a century. Earnings are increasing at half their pre-crisis rate. So, seen from the perspective of both growth and inflation, there is good reason for central banks to be wary of tightening policy.
There are, though, other reasons why central banks might want to raise interest rates or to start unwinding QE. One is that too much stimulus for too long, particularly if it is of the unconventional sort, can have unintended consequences. Interest rates at close to zero plus oodles of cheap credit have encouraged a search for yield, the hunt for investments that provide a decent return. This, inevitably, means riskier bets, as it did in the years leading up to the financial crisis. One key lesson of that period is that crises can erupt even when inflation is low.
The second reason central banks would have liked by now to have returned policy to a more normal setting is that they have little wriggle room if things turn nasty again. Official forecasts always assume that economies will enjoy reasonable levels of growth with modest levels of inflation. But, regular as clockwork, stuff happens. Recessions occur, often suddenly, and for all sorts of reasons. In those circumstances, central bankers and finance ministers need firepower. Ideally, they want to be in a position to slash interest rates, run bigger budget deficits and, if necessary, resort to the more unconventional instruments such as QE.
This firepower is currently lacking. On average, the US Federal Reserve has cut its main interest rate by five percentage points in each of the recessions since the 1970s. That’s impossible with interest rates so close to zero. Increasing QE runs the risk of further inflating share prices, which are already high. Governments can always spend and borrow more in times of trouble, but ideally would like to have built up a war chest first. In most countries, this has proved impossible.
Given time, central banks and finance ministries will replenish their ammunition. Interest rates will gradually be raised. Growth will lead to higher tax returns and lower spending on welfare. It would be greatly beneficial were the global economy to be set fair for a repeat of what Lord Mervyn King described as the Nice decade (non-inflationary, continual expansion).
But this can’t be guaranteed. Imagine that Greece defaults on its debts and returns to the drachma, with knock-on effects on the eurozone and the wider global economy. Or that the recent plunge in shares on the Shanghai stock exchange are the portent of a hard landing in China. Or that the recent rise in bond yields (the interest rate paid) is a sign of a bubble about to burst.
Stephen King, chief economist at HSBC, calls this the world’s “Titanic problem”, by which he means there are plenty of icebergs but no lifeboats. So what are the options for policy makers? King lists six. Firstly, they could try to avoid hitting one of the icebergs. They tighten supervision and regulation of the financial sector, force banks to hold more capital, keep a wary eye on asset prices. But the next crisis might not originate from the banks. It might stem from the insurance industry, struggling to cope with ultra-low interest rates or from over-leveraged hedge funds.
Secondly, they could do more QE. Given the limited success of QE so far, coupled with the risk of dangerous side-effects, this looks unlikely to be all that effective. Thirdly, they could decide to ignore the fact that inflation is well below the targets set for central banks and decide that the threat of asset-price bubbles warrants higher interest rates. This might trigger the recession policy makers are seeking to avoid.
Fourthly, they could decide to turn to fiscal policy – tax cuts and higher public spending – on the grounds that there was little scope to boost the economy through interest rates and QE. But as King notes, this is only possible if governments are “willing and able to tolerate deficits and debt levels far higher than seen in the peacetime past”.
Fifthly, they could resort to “helicopter drops” of money, which is where a central bank creates money and the finance ministry hands it out in the form of tax cuts or higher public spending. There are two downsides with this option. One is that in some countries, including the UK, the increased spending would result in higher imports and a balance of payments crisis. The second is the risk of hyper-inflation.
King says his sixth and final option would be to raise retirement ages. There is a global glut of savings, he says, caused by people salting money away for their old age. Working longer would mean people spending more, raising growth rates. This would boost tax revenues and allow interest rates to rise. Governments would once again have some ammo, but at the expense of political unpopularity.
So work till you die is the only “realistic” option from capitalism. That will not save it.
This vacillation nervously avoids going any further to explain the catastrophic depths of crisis unfolding into the deepest, most historic Slump collapse in all history, imposing the World War degeneration which is capitalist imperialism’s “solution”, already destroying millions of lives and whole countries in the Middle East and Ukraine and building up for far worse – ultimately erupting in the inter-imperialist conflicts which have already twice torn the entire world apart in the twentieth century.
This is the nature of the capitalist competition in the era of mega-corporations and monopoly dominance, forcing cutthroat economic war as markets collapse, which can only end in the all-out fight for survival between the great capitalist blocs, aiming to wipe out the rival powers and with them the “surplus” production capacity and investment reserves which are clogging the pores of the private profit system.
It needs revolution to end it and the working class of the world is increasingly ready to build for it – the missing part holding it back is the scientific leadership to make the struggle conscious, challenging all the anti-communism of the past and the lies and Goebbels propaganda nonsense about the “failure” of communism.
There was no failure, just the retreat and decline of understanding by Moscow, and then the world “communist movement”, into revisionism and eventual Gorbachevite liquidation of the enormous advances built by the working class in the Soviet Union which for all its mistakes and errors was already light-years ahead of capitalism.
Rebuilding revolutionary perspectives will not come from anti-theory philistinism of the anarchist and “occupiers” hostile to theory nor the gibberish and posturing of the Trotskyist and revisionist fake-“left”, whose “theory” is nothing but a “lefter” version of the same class collaborating treachery as Labourism when boiled down, laced either with hostility to the former workers states (Trots) or refusal to learn anything from the mistakes and errors they did make (Stalin worshipers like Proletarian) and all lining up with capitalism against the growing Third World ferment denounced as “evil jihadism”.
A revolutionary party is needed - building Leninism.
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