No 1622 13th January 2023
Deepening of the winter strike wave is an excellent sign of determination and working class disgust at the arrogance and contempt of the ruling class as it tries to further impose its Slump Catastrophe on them. But workers’ fights remain vulnerable to setbacks and demoralisation until a revolutionary understanding is built, seeing all these battles as part of the giant struggle to overturn monopoly capitalism’s world war three and establish workers states, the crucial discipline for building socialism. That is impossible until the entire fake-“left” leadership’s kowtowing to bourgeois “democracy” is challenged and exposed along with its chauvinism and anti-communism. Most of all workers needs a clear international perspective, without which the degenerate siding of Labour, TUC and most fake-“leftism” with NATO’s warmongering against Russia and against world “terrorist” revolt will mislead and undermine the struggle. Leninism vital
Brazil’s near-coup riots by the Bolsonarites (echoing Chile’s turmoil, pre-1973’s Allende overthrow); rightwing state murder against the masses supporting a left president in Peru; violence against the left “gang” rebellion in Haïti’s slum poverty: deliberate paralysis of the US Senate by Trumpian vote intransigence; outright racist-fascist Jewish settler colonialism now ascendant in already genocidally reactionary Zionland (falsely called “Israel”); massive re-arming plans for Japan and overturn of its hollow “peace constitution”; further non-stop imperialist aggression on China by South Korea’s fake-fear “Covid” travel ban; Germany’s bizarre coup attempt; Polish reactionary nationalist aggression against its “ally” Berlin for revived WW2 “reparation” claims: and the astonishingly vicious infighting in and over the British monarchy – all signal the total breakdown of the world capitalist order and its turn to outright Nazism.
So too does the suppression of strike and trade union struggle “rights” being put through by the British ruling class, now tearing up all once taken-for-granted living standards and services in a return to the 19th (even 18th) century.
And so too does the petty bourgeois hate frenzy whipped up in the “advanced” countries behind the NATO provoked war on Russia in Ukraine, a desperate diversion to fool the working class by scapegoating others and whipping up chauvinism, and saturated with lying topsy-turvy “freedom” propaganda pumped out by the bourgeois media, even as blanket censorship of all dissenting opinion, media or information is imposed, including physical threats and intimidation of meetings and discussion.
Disintegration, collapse and open repression in the imperialist world is now so constant that it is almost impossible to keep track of, let alone grasp, expose and explain every aspect.
Yet even without all the concrete details, the crisis reality that capitalism is descending into the foulest fascist degeneracy and barbarity becomes more obvious by the day as its great Catastrophe unfolds.
Still the fake-“left” remains unable, or mostly unwilling (out of anti-communism) to give the working class the revolutionary lead it requires as humanity’s only possible way out.
Their ignorance, class collaborating opportunism, and outright treachery is now the major prop for this disgusting and degenerate system.
Far from a New World Order of prosperity and freedom promised in 1990-1 “now that the great threat of communism is out of the way and no longer holding things back”, history since has been a stream of economic instability and decline, with crises breaking out repeatedly, patched over or held back only by ever more unsustainable and unrepayable credit creation.
Alongside, imperialism’s constant warmongering (for colonial and neo-colonial exploitation) has become universal, – and more and more bitterly inter-imperialist – particularly since the blitzing of Serbia in 1999 under cover of an outright lie (the set-up bogus “massacre” in Racek) and the subsequent stream of invasions, provoked civil wars, proxy wars, and coups in the Middle East.
All have been under cover of further monstrous lies, like the non-existent WMD excuse invented by the West (and particularly by the disgusting Blairite British government) for its Iraq invasion, the nonsensical “Viagra rape brigades” propaganda against Gaddafi in Libya (murdered by a bayonet in his anus), the nonsense that Afghanistan had to be pulverised by B52s “to catch Osama”, and so on).
The crisis impasse reached by capitalism’s ripening contradictions puts worldwide human development into reverse and is dragging the planet to disaster.
Its desperate ruling class has run out of historical road, unable to control anything at all, paralysed by its own greed and incompetence and split wide open as a class, devastated by its economic collapse, and by failures and defeats, even as its monstrous Nazi war “solution” destroys country after country in the Middle East and most of all now Ukraine and aiming at Russia (and the simultaneous castration of Europe’s economic rivalry to the US).
Wastefulness and environmental damage compounds the arrogant belligerence of a ruling class that cares only for its own privileged existence and is willing ruthlessly to destroy everything rather than give up its degenerate power and leave the historical stage.
But the “left” still clings to pretence of “freedom and democracy” across the board; helping fool minds with this lying fraud which has kept capitalism in place for the last 150 years – their opportunism a crutch for the ruling class even as the bourgeoisie is forced (by the crisis) to show its complete contempt for all such parliamentary pretences by increasingly open imposition of its bourgeois dictatorship (always the reality of capitalist rule, but usually and mostly hidden behind a veil of heavily manipulated “freedom and rule of law” pretence in “good times” when the capitalist boom period allows space and resource to buy off the petty bourgeoisie and part of the working class – at least in the rich imperialist countries).
Saturated in a century of non-stop anti-communism, lyingly referring to workers state rule as “totalitarianism”, the entire brain-fuddled or opportunist “left” still refuses to call for the class war (civil war) necessary to overturn capitalism and establish the only possible class response to bourgeois dictatorship, namely firm proletarian dictatorship.
Such disciplined workers state authority, in a dialectical contradiction, is the only path to real democracy, truly imposing the genuine will of the majority, and as society develops, ultimately leading to the end of all class and state domination (including the need for even the most benign of democracy – see Lenin’s State and Revolution) as it ends all private property and abolishes classes and therefore class division altogether.
Nothing else can provide a way forwards for humanity.
During its historic rise in the Middle Ages and violent overturn of stultifying feudalism the new capitalism once stimulated world development, albeit brutally and piratically.
But its contradictions increasingly turn it into its opposite, dragging everything down, as Marx demonstrated (see in Capital Vol 3 for example) heading for devastating world war and ecological disaster.
It has to go, replaced by a rational socialist society, in which the full free development of every single individual is the precondition for the free development of all, removing for ever the alienation, unfairness, exploitation and antagonism of class ridden capitalism.
None of this is seriously explained by the “lefts” who at best make token feints about Marxism and the “theoretical” notion of crises.
It is all posturing garbage suggesting no more than periodic “downturns” to be battled through with strikes, “left pressure” and perhaps with the aggression contained by “peace struggles” (Stalinism).
It is all reformism.
They come nowhere near explaining what Marxist science has always understood and constantly warned, that what actually lies ahead is a death spiral of economic collapse and disintegration as the huge contradictions built into the private ownership “free market” system degenerate into ever intensifying currency and trade war conflict and bankruptcy, culminating in the eruption of world war (see economics box).
This is not just “a” crisis – it is the great Catastrophe of an entire centuries old class domination system from which there is no recovery for capitalism except through devastating world destruction but on a scale far beyond the last great breakdown, the Second World War (itself three times worse than the 1914-18 war “to end all wars”).
Imperialist created World War Three is already underway, beginning with the blitzing of tiny Serbia in 1999 (and even before that in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Angola the Iraq siege etc) ripping country after country apart and killing, maiming or refugee-ing millions ever since, from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Libya, Syria, Yemen and more, including Ukraine for the last 8 years, whipping up outright Nazism and creating a world war now deliberately extended into all-out NATO barbarity against Russia (hiding behind the sacrificial swastika-symbol stoogery in Kiev).
Without a sound theoretical framework, constantly developed and polemically fought for by a purpose built party of revolutionary science, workers are left blind, fooled and hoodwinked by the insane tide of disinformation and brainwashing lies which drowns everyone within the capitalist system.
So they are led up the garden path by the ruling class and the opportunist class collaborators who stooge for them, from bureaucratic trade union leaders and the Labourites to every shade of the fake-“left”.
All the “lefts” block off polemical struggle for such grasp in the working class with their anti-theory philistinism, or sectarian narrowness.
The all refuse and suppress discussion and the polemical battles that alone can develop the vital leadership to end this system when the need is to encourage such theoretical conflict, the only means to establish a correct view of the world (or the best that can be achieved until ever unfolding developments provide more information or practice can test the understanding).
In fact most “lefts” now show their true colours by siding with imperialism, capitulating completely to the monstrous warmongering “solution” now tearing Europe to pieces, just as almost the entire “socialist” Second International did at the outbreak of WW1 save the tiny Leninist Bolsheviks and even smaller groups in Serbia and Hungary.
Their treachery is the culmination of the capitulation to the “war on terror” turn to outright international warmongering by imperialism over the last 25 years, from the NATO blitzkrieg on Yugoslavia in 1999 through the destruction of half a dozen countries in the Middle East to its manipulated onslaught on Russia (deliberately provoked by a 20-year long fascist conspiracy run by the West, with a half-successful “colour revolution” in Kiev in 2004 (EPSR No1259), followed by the violent Maidan coup repeat in 2014, organised by the CIA to install the outright Stepan Bandera (Nazi-icon) worshipping fascists, and their subsequent suppression of the Russian-speaking minority in the East and war against them, killing 14,000 over the eight years).
Either by outright social-chauvinism, lining up with the Boris Johnsons and Joe Bidens, (let the gushing sanctimonious “liberal luvvies” note) the “lefts” now directly support the NATO nazi onslaught, (assorted Trots, and middle class favourite “intellectuals” like Paul Mason or Slavoj Žižek) regurgitating all the gross pysops lies pumped out by the Western intelligence agencies and a willing capitalist media, or they do the same indirectly with a social-pacifist fudge, “even handedly” blaming the war on NATO and “Russian aggression” and effectively letting the imperialist system off the hook, the sole and fundamental cause of world aggression and barbarity.
The pacifists’ slippery “justifications” use a variety of cod-“Marxism” or even “Leninism” to dissemble that because both sides are “capitalist” or “imperialist” the working class should remain neutral and concentrate on “fighting the enemy at home” (the Weekly Worker crypto-Trots for example).
But this is just a sly and cowardly abandoning of the field.
Lenin’s profound understanding of defeat for all the imperialist protagonists in the First World War, was never a passive “none of our business” policy but a call for active transformation of the war into civil war against the ruling class (i.e. revolution).
In the Ukraine’s case that means calling for defeat and humiliation for “our” ruling class, involved in the war up to its degenerate neck via the Western Nato conspiracy (now openly admitted by the Ukrainians who declare they are “de facto members of Nato” trampling across all the pretence of alliance councils and admissions procedures and other “democratic” paraphernalia).
Nato is the real aggressor, sneakily and cravenly using the Kiev Nazis to throw the Ukrainian masses into horrifying “meat grinder” slaughter on a WW1 scale (see EPSRs for 2022 such as No 1608, 1609, and subsequent).
Identification of Putin’s Russia as a restorationist state might be formally correct but is merely the junior arithmetic of Marxist dialects when higher calculus is required, seeing all sides.
So a) it does not excuse withdrawal from an active call for Nato defeat and b) is also a fraud in itself through paying no attention to modern concrete conditions in which the overwhelming reactionary force on the planet is the US empire, the dominant financial, intelligence, propaganda and military power, reinforced by the lesser imperialists, competitors but so fearful of the crisis and its potential to unleash world revolutionary upheaval (happening anyway) that they will at least half-heartedly back it up.
Their defeat is the crucial question in all the upheavals underway, from “jihadism” and “terrorism” to whatever other elements are currently driven into conflict against it from Putinist Bonapartist oligarch-balancing backwardness, to jihadism, “terrorism”, Ethiopian nationalism, Palestinian intifada insurgency, Haitian slum “gangs” or Egyptian or Colombian street revolt etc etc).
Judging and grasping which of the world’s upheavals have a militant anti-imperialist content on balance, against which are pseudo-revolts, colour revolutions and/or petty bourgeois reaction (such as the middle-class feminist “rebellion” in Iran – despite the backwardness of the mullahs’ primitivism; the Western coordinated armed “democracy” revolt in Myanmar – despite the reactionary Buddhist nationalism mixed in with the anti-Western military regime; the atrocity filled Tigrayan breakaway war against Addis Ababa’s Ethiopian national unification – despite prime minister Abiy’s bourgeois nationalist limits etc etc etc) is highly complex.
But it is precisely why the world needs the deepest study and development of Marxism so that the working class can avoid being hoodwinked and stampeded, in behind the imperialism’s twisted agenda and staggering lies (far more complex and subtle than anything ever achieved by Joseph Goebbels – though built on the same foundations).
And this need for a return to theory has been the insistence of the EPSR since its formation 40 years ago, to rebuild the Marxist-Leninist science, forgotten or avoided,virtually since Lenin’s death in 1924.
It has spelt this out from the beginning early on in EPSR’s forerunner, the ILWP Bulletin (whose predictions prove the point about the power of (correct) theory):
[...]it is revolutionary political consciousness that precisely is lacking, and is the great historical need. The working class requires no instruction at all, – from the SWP or anyone else, – in organising spontaneous revolutionary actions, – as they recently demonstrated amply in the mining communities, – and as in countless other great struggles for a century or more, – taking on police, troops, scabs, and state interference without any doubt or fear, and often with great success.
What workers have always lacked is the revolutionary political perspective, – to see for instance that the entire postwar world they were led into by ‘their’ Labour Party and by ‘their’ trade union movement, the Cold War world of pro-NATO imperialism plus some shallow and temporary welfare state concessions to the Western working class, – was one giant deception of workers through anti-communism, to keep them safely devoted to the ‘free’ West’s ‘democratic’ system, – i.e. stupidly duped by closed-shop perks to troop along docilely behind the unreformed (and impossible of being reformed) capitalist system, – all the way to the 20th century’s next great slump and warmongering Depression & trade war, now on.
Totally politically castrated by anti-communism through the bird-brained illusions of trade-union and ‘left’ swamp reformism, the working class would then be in no position to resist being hurled back to the conditions of the 1930s – mere cannon-fodder for forthcoming poverty, fascism, and war, – because they will no longer know whose side they are on in the international class struggle which inevitably must dictate the framework for every individual class conflict within each country. [No327 29-01-86 and see also No328 reproduced on the archive pages].
Even those “lefts” that pin the Ukrainian aggression correctly onto Western imperialism and its Nato belligerence cause further confusion, by supporting the idiot Putin’s oligarch-serving Greater Russian nationalism rather than calling only for defeat of the West, forgetting (or never understanding) the Leninist dialectical tactics and strategy demonstrated in 1917 against the Tsarist General Lvar Kornilov (as explained in recent EPSRs).
In August just before the October proletarian revolution the Bolsheviks temporarily suspended the fight to topple the slippery bourgeois opportunist government of Alexander Kerensky in order to fight off the more deadly and severe reaction of an outright monarchist black-hundred (fascist) military coup, even standing alongside the “parliamentarians” until he was seen off but offering no “support”.
The Bolshevik understanding was all hands to defeat the bigger enemy but keep one eye on the bourgeois traitors alongside, ready to stab the workers in the back as soon as they could get away with it (and ready to do deals with the monarchists too).
The Putin supporters’ line now, originating in Moscow’s dire retreat from international revolutionism into revisionist retreat begun in the 1920s and 30s, now gives away its own inadequacy by ending up only as a more “robust” form of the pacifism espoused by the Trotskyists and “Eurocommunist” compromisers.
Such “No to War” demonstrations can certainly reflect spontaneous disquiet with Western belligerence, but can go no further forwards (as the nearly 2 million strong anti-Iraq war march proved) without the battle for revolutionary politics.
But the peace protest organisers, both Trot and their Stalinist critics, not only will never raise such questions but make sure to block off those who do.
The great stirring of spontaneous revolt and determined strike action this winter needs this grasp even more as the “hurling back” to Depression days cited in the 1986 quote becomes ever more tangible and obvious – no more is it a “would be” question, and nowhere more than in Britain, one of the weakest of the major imperialist powers, outcompeted at every level, (as its pathetic failure to launch a “space industry” has just demonstrated again) and as the French Stock Exchange is crowing as its trade volumes overtake the vaunted “City”.
Collapse and chaotic breakdown of all basic service provision now goes far beyond mere “austerity” or “belt tightening” or “ideological choice”, or “cutbacks”.
Railways are an overpriced under-invested mess collapsing into both organisational and economic disarray; road systems, capacities and safety likewise are a disaster; the water and sewage system has been reduced to a (literally) stinking mess of leakages and poisonous, ecology-killing discharges by decades of calculated siphoning away of capital, government subsidies and loan funds to pay shareholders; the power network is held hostage by similar profiteering by the energy monopolies and distributors alike; schools are near to collapse, literally so for the buildings, for books and materials and overworked and under-recruited staff; housing is a disaster of under provision, private Rachmanite, even near-gangster, landlordism and gross profiteering with millions left to struggle in rotten conditions (again frequently literally), often with fatal damp and mould like that which killed the 2-year-old Awaab Ishak in Rochdale, or in permanent fear for their lives from sudden infernos like the horrifying Grenfell torching, because of corner-cutting and money saving inflammable-cladding construction, (caused by yet more sick and cynical money-grubbing across the board from councils and consultants to construction contractors and materials suppliers); and all the while food and family basics relentlessly increase in price so that food banks and charity “handouts” are all that keep hunger from the door and that only at the expense of shivering and freezing without heating.
Worst of all is the deliberate and cynical starving of the NHS (with such lyingly boasted-about provision as it does get mostly diverted into massively overpriced “free market” pharmaceuticals, overpriced private medicine consultants and private hospitals, plundering by suppliers of overpriced materials and equipment (often through corrupt wheeler-dealing and influence peddling as exposed during the pandemic but much more widespread – see Private Eye eg almost every issue) and, not least, the “private-public partnership” mortgaging of hospitals (set up by Labour!) which cost four or more times what they should in debt payouts to banks and hedge-funds, half-strangling the finances of numerous health authorities.
So sharply is this revealed that here and there the dismayed petty bourgeoisie is voicing its nervousness in the bourgeois press:
It’s official. A two-tier health system, that long feared prospect that rings the death knell of the NHS, has arrived. Trusts with long waiting lists are offering and promoting “quick and easy” private services in their hospitals. It’s not a choice anyone would relish, but increasingly those who can are giving up and paying up. If you’re after a hip replacement, £1,200 can make the difference between a two-year and a two-week wait. You can get an MRI for £379 in 48 hours, and with it a diagnosis that could save a limb or a life.
The story is the same across England’s public infrastructure. Those who can, after standing on a packed train platform, the clock ticking down to an important appointment, will decamp above ground and take a taxi. Those who can will work several jobs to pay exorbitant and rising rent because they have no access to social housing. Those who can will take the hit, and those who can’t will be stranded, on the streets and in the wards.
Every time you have taken that hit, and no one can blame you for trying to move or heal, you have paid a ransom in a transaction where the government had held you hostage to your needs. By failing to provide public services, by privatising them, or by refusing to engage with striking workers, the government effectively withholds your rights, for which you have already paid through taxes and national insurance, and dares you to blink first. Whether you can afford to blink has little to do with your real wealth, because loans, credit cards and, if you are lucky, family are there to help you cope.
The result is a poorly regulated monopoly of exploitative private interests that mops up unmet demand or “helps” satisfy it: private health practices that charge an eye-watering amount just for a remote consultation, and ride-hailing companies whose prices surge when public transport is down or the weather is severe and yet still cannot keep up with demand. There are the instalment payment finance bolt-ons that appear when you check out online with items that you cannot afford. This network, emerging and dystopian as it feels in England’s specific economic climate at the moment and Britain’s in general, is not unique. It is part of a global pattern that exists in every country where the state has withdrawn, or was never present in the first place.
It rises from the dust of disintegrating public amenities. As a child, I remember my father driving me, curled up in the back of the car in the middle of the night, through the streets of Khartoum to find an emergency room that would treat sudden crippling back pain. We returned at dawn, still unseen. All public hospitals were either deserted or overrun with patients. Today, in the same city, things are different. You have the option of treatment in a number of shiny private clinics and hospitals, but only if you have the money for a down payment that is required before you are even allowed to take a seat.
You also, as you do in many similar African economies, have options for almost everything that the state does not, or cannot provide. In Lagos, Nairobi, even more relatively affluent cities such as Cairo and Johannesburg, you have the choice to rent a private vehicle, from a motorcycle to beat traffic to an air-conditioned Uber, that can take you to your destination as you drive past rickety and unsafe public transport minibuses. There are electric generator providers who will sell you a wide range of devices to keep your lights on when the power goes out. There are sellers of water pumps to tease out the water from the mains, and another set of contractors to build you giant water containers to store that water when even the pumps don’t work any more.
Policing is patchy and unreliable, so you can pay someone to guard your home in the night. If you need to deal with state bureaucracy, which is slow, unpredictable and extractive, there is a private army of fixers that will help you, for a fee of course. Think of them as that expensive “fast track” you take to renew your British passport for urgent travel.
You still pay tax. Whenever the state can get its hands on your cash, it will take a chunk and you will pay it knowing that it is not going anywhere from which you will benefit.
This is the endgame – fast approaching here, in localised form – when the state stops performing its primary function, which is to provide basic human rights to health, shelter, energy, water and transport. Beyond the very wealthy who float above everyone else, the world becomes bifurcated into two classes, the same two that we are also beginning to see emerge in the UK. On the one hand, a class that may perish or starve, and another with disposable income diverted from self-improvement, leisure and savings to fund the creation and maintenance of a makeshift system of self-funded utilities.
The danger in this is less about the deliberate defunding of the public realm by the government – serious though that is. It lies more in the divestment from the public realm by the people. The withdrawal of the state creates not a physical place, but a mental place, where you give up on the government altogether. This is a place where you perceive what were rights before as luxuries: where each self-providing home or community becomes a mini-state.
Politicians feed this psychological reshaping. The most chilling aspect of Rishi Sunak’s premiership so far is a studied remoteness that seems to ask: “What does this have to do with me?” We told you there would be challenges, he says, in the face of a crisis of historic proportions. How about more maths in schools and fewer migrant boats in the Channel? Keir Starmer finally finds some fire in his belly to tell us there will be devolution of decision-making (a good thing, local politicians may be more minded to protect and invest in public infrastructure), but no extra spending under Labour. So that’s the future for communities: penniless autonomy.
At some point, poor countries and very rich capitalist countries end up in the same place [...]
But poverty hasn’t brought us to a place where our transport, housing market and healthcare system are buckling; we are here thanks to conscious political choices disguised as a fact of nature.
The limp “choices” conclusion to this Nesrine Malik Guardian piece is pure idealism however, suggesting that “things could be different” with enough “pressure” or the right people in charge (and which anyway ignores the Third World exploitation that has always sustained the “higher standard of living” anyway).
It is nonsense. Barring possible minor cosmetic changes (which themselves only add to overall debt) the drive into Slump collapse is very much a “fact of nature” – or to be accurate, a fact of capitalism’s nature driven by its incurable contradictions.
There is a “choice” of course, but only on the broadest historical scale, that of continuing with the “free market” system or overturning it for good by class war and taking a revolutionary jump to a new level of society with the working class firmly in control, and all property (save individual personal possessions obviously) taken into common ownership.
Under such a society the rational planning of resources can finally begin, in harmony with nature and released from the ever worsening cycle of anarchic “free market” boom and bust and the pointless waste and destruction of resources it entails – and the pointless waste of human capacities, ambitions and talent, with the great mass left in hunger and ignorance or at best frittering their lives on philistine celeb shallowness and consumerist emptiness.
Even this very basic Marxism immediately makes clear the barefaced cynicism of the “New Year speeches” from both the Rishi Sunak’s Tory ruling class and their treacherous doppelgängers in the laughably named “Labour” Party (long since nothing but the Tweedledee variant of the Tories) – each advancing the ludicrous notion that the economy can be made to “grow again” and that it will be “for the benefit of all”.
These are not just routine unfulfillable jam-tomorrow nonsenses which will be dismissed by anyone with two brain cells to rub together.
They are total and conscious lies, from a ruling class desperate to find anything at all to say as its entire hyper-inflationary credit-propped “free market” system disintegrates and the lying racket of “freedom and democracy” implodes into a morass of fascist collapse and international barbarity.
The purpose is just to buy time while the ruling class prepares its dictatorship moves, but desperate to cover it up, lulling the masses like the infamous (if apocryphal) frog being gradually brought to the boil without noticing.
So the ruling class, the servile “reformist” Labourites and the class collaborating TUC leaders (who actually have no intention of really reforming anything and could not do so anyway, outside a few transient and token gestures) all pretend that despite “problems” to be solved the world goes on “as usual” with just some different opinions about the “best way forwards” and some “achievable compromises” to “share the burdens”, perhaps with a bit of “left” pressure and some play-acting “militancy”.
It is utter garbage.
There is no solution to the Great Catastrophe monopoly capitalism has brought and they all know it and conspire to hide it from workers.
Anyone who points out that the Emperor is naked, or resists or fights back in any way at all is to be hounded, banned, censored and persecuted, it is threatened.
At the very least they will be fined, or imprisoned for striking, or for street demonstrations and certainly for “riots” or disruptive protest.
Potentially they face far worse as the Slump deepens, just as the masses do across the exploited Third World, starved, slaughtered, murdered and tortured to keep them in line and working full throttle in the corporate run sweatshops and plantations.
Already the attempted draconian measures have see various individuals persecuted just for “thinking about terrorism” with even curious teenagers hounded.
Others have been threatened with arrest for their hostility to the monarchy, (one deemed “thought crime” on the recent Queen's funeral coming close to arrest because of waving a blank sheet of paper on which the demonstrator “might have written” something republican (a doubly sick fascist hypocrisy in the light of the imperialist propaganda support given to pro-Western anti-communist “democracy” demonstrators in China subsequently for doing exactly the same – almost undoubtedly fed the idea by Western agents).
But it is going disastrously badly for the West, its indiscriminate blitzes, torture regimes, civilian massacres, and gung-ho butchery like Afghanistan (degenerately celebrated by the British Royals in the latest diversionary scandal spat) not only failing to “restore stability” for the non-stop exploitation of the Third World (which alone props up the boom time life in the smug and privileged metropolitan countries) but massively magnifying and intensifying the hatred and rebelliousness of the world’s billions into the great waves of riots, street upheaval, jihadism and “terrorism” which have beaten against the imperialist powers for decades and most especially this century, from the 9/11 World Trade Centre attack onwards (a pinprick in itself but stunning and galvanising the world’s exploited billions with its symbolism and shattering of American hubris).
Such gigantic turmoil reflects the relentless intensification of the underlying economic contradictions in capitalism heading always towards Catastrophic overproduction implosion (as Marx spells out - see box).
But while the whole international order of capitalism is disintegrating, and most of all the dominant Anglo-Saxon wing with Britain’s decline the sharpest of all among the major powers as the EPSR has long analysed (see multiple past issues) it has been able to lurch onwards, propping up the richest countries at the centre with the endless creation of inflationary credit.
The world bank networks set up after WW2 to consolidate the now dominant position of the US with the dollar at the core of international trade (and exploitation) have held off the inevitable great crash for decades, always forcing the Third World to bear the burden of repeated crises (Mexican bank collapses, other Latin American shocks, collapse of the new Russian carpet bagging economy, Argentine national bankruptcy, south-east Asian currency meltdown etc etc).
But propping up the world’s monopoly capitalist finance system on an ocean of valueless paper dollars could only ever magnify the great breakdown when it came, as it did in 2009, this time on a world scale into the heart of imperialism.
Incredibly even more paper has been printed (or electronic credit generated to be accurate) to head off the “financial nuclear winter” (as Labourite Chancellor Alistair Darling called it) but only makes the situation a thousand times worse, simply buying imperialism time to keep on fooling the world, whipping up the confusion and jingoist hatred it needs to impose the warmongering “solution” which it hopes will rescue it.
But the relentless downward spiral is unstoppable as the international institutions reveal and bourgeois press reflects, (though still not grasping anything like the apocalyptic reality):
this was to be the time when the global economy powered up and got going again. There would be a flowering of new technologies and a colossal boom. It would be the roaring 20s all over again.
It hasn’t worked out like that. Instead, the world faces the grim prospect of a second recession in three years. The three biggest economies – the United States, China and the European Union, which between them account for roughly half of all global output – are slowing at the same time. That’s unusual and troubling.
Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, says a third of the world economy will be in recession in 2023, and even for countries that manage to keep growing it will feel like a recession.
The IMF has got it wrong – sometimes seriously wrong – in the past but even so, Georgieva’s pessimism is warranted. Just about every indicator of looming recession is flashing red. Prices are rising faster than wages, reducing consumer spending power. Corporate profitability is being squeezed by rising costs and weakening demand. Developing countries that borrowed heavily when interest rates were low are now finding their debt burdens unmanageable. The two big asset bubbles of the post-pandemic era – crypto-currencies and tech stocks – both collapsed in 2022.
Central banks are raising interest rates, exposing the vulnerability of “zombie” companies that have survived only thanks to a prolonged period of low interest rates. It is a lot cheaper in the US to borrow money for 10 years than it is to borrow money for one year. In the past this unusual phenomenon, known as an inverted yield curve, has been a telltale sign of a recession in the offing.
China hauled the global economy out of its last serious downturn but is in no shape to do so this time. House prices have been rising at double-digit rates for the past three decades but are now falling in many cities because the boom has led to more and more homes being built. Politically, President Xi Jinping cannot afford a house price crash so he can bring demand and supply back into balance only by curbing property construction. That, coupled with the increase in coronavirus cases since the end of the zero tolerance approach to Covid-19, means China is the country to watch in 2023. The IMF says that for the first time since the early 1990s, China will grow less quickly than the global economy as a whole. It could be worse than the IMF envisages.
So, the big question is not whether the global economy is in for a rough year in the 12 months ahead, because that is clearly the case. There may be one or two countries that buck the trend, but the UK is not going to be one of them. Another year of under-performance will keep the debate about Brexit alive, even though adjustment to life outside the EU is not the only – let alone the principal reason – for the UK’s current predicament. This is a global rather than a UK-specific problem, and it predates Brexit.
Nor is the question why the bounce-back from the Covid-19 pandemic has been cut short, because that too is obvious. The post-lockdown recovery was built on the shakiest of foundations. Shortages led to a burst of inflation, amplified by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Central banks in the west found themselves powerless to combat a cost of living crisis other than by jacking up interest rates. The recessions or near recessions that will be seen in the US, the EU and the UK this year are no accident. They are a deliberate act of policy, which central bankers justify by saying it is a choice between pain now or more pain later.
No, the real issue is whether the roaring 20s have been delayed or will never arrive. Put another way: is the global economy facing a temporary, if nasty, period of stagflation (a combination of weak growth and high inflation) or something deeper: a crisis of capitalism?
But as explained, this is not “a” crisis, it is the Catastrophe. And the wishful thinking nostrums that follow are useless to solve it:
History may well repeat itself. The 1920s began with a pandemic, an inflationary boom and a deep recession. It took a while for better times to arrive, and when they did the driving force was a wave of new inventions, first developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but which took time to reveal their full potential.
Techno-optimists say artificial intelligence and biotechnology will be to the 2020s what radio and the motorcar were to the 1920s: the catalyst for a period of markedly faster growth. They believe a period of abnormally lower interest rates has held back a fourth industrial revolution by allowing no-hoper companies to stagger on. A period of creative destruction will see this misallocation of capital end, leading to higher investment in the industries of the future.
The glaring omission in this “explanation” of course is the gigantic World War Two which “overcame” the Great Depression only by “stimulating production” for the arms to wage an orgy of capital and life destroying devastation, which then was the basis for a temporary revival of boomtime in the 1940s and 1950s. But the system quickly became clogged again with “overproduction” and a relentless fall in the rate of profit (see Marx Capital Vol 3) which is the driving motivator for capitalist investment. Without it the system stagnates:
But the global economy has now been in the doldrums for 15 years. Money has been cheap and plentiful ever since the banks nearly went bust during the global financial crisis. There is not much evidence to suggest that the fourth industrial revolution is being held back by a shortage of capital.
Rather, there has been a reluctance by both governments and the private sector to invest. Governments could have taken advantage of historically low borrowing costs to rebuild clapped-out infrastructure, but failed to do so. The private sector preferred to use profits to buy back shares rather than taking a punt on new products. Financial engineering proved lucrative for elites, who assumed – quite wrongly – that because the system was working for them it was working for everybody. In one respect, the roaring 20s have already returned. While living standards are being squeezed for the many, for the super-rich it is a new gilded age.
The philistine swallowing of “Russian invasion” excuses here or equating of China’s planned economy with Western capitalism simply plays into the hands of imperialism scapegoating and avoids the central issue, that imperialism itself is finished.
But it will not leave the stage until it is forced to.
Until then intransigent foulness of imperialism will poison everything as expressed by the degenerate breakdown in the “topdog” US power itself, its billionaire ruling class in virtual civil war over the defeats and disasters it is suffering world wide.
That is reflected by the extraordinary bullying of the US Senate over the election of its Speaker, held to ransom by the intransigence of a tiny minority of the extreme right within their own Republican party, blocking the vote fifteen times over two weeks to force reactionary concessions.
Such turmoil does not suddenly erupt out-of-the-blue, after one and a half centuries of business as usual formality, for no reason at all – the dramatic upheaval reflects all the recrimination and poisonous conflict unfolding with the ruling class because capitalism has hit a brick wall of utterly unsolvable contradictions.
Not by chance is the last occasion on which this happened back in the 1860s (so long ago it has almost been forgotten) in the prelude to the explosive and bitter conflicts of the American Civil war, which overturned the formal slave-owning version of capitalism in the South, with its remnants of feudal landed estate social relations, in favour of the rapidly developing industrial bourgeois capitalism of the north and unanswerable requirements for “free labour” in its factories.
The bourgeois national democracy that went with it, was a progressive advance at the time, a second revolutionary wave carrying forwards the only partially completed American Revolution of the previous century, which itself had overturned British semi-monarchist colonial domination but needed to go further.
Not surprisingly it was almost synchronous with the first great explosion of purely proletarian revolution in the Paris Commune of 1870 also driven by the great shifts in world capitalism.
To this day US democracy still retains far more depth to it than the historic compromises with the aristocracy made by the Cromwellian 1640s English Revolution and its establishment of parliamentary (bourgeois) rule.
Of course, it remains a giant fraud, ever more manipulated and controlled by the billionaire “owners” of the system, and its bogus pretence of “changing things through the ballot box” is never ever going to challenge the hire-and-fire exploitation that is imposed by the colossal power of capital confronting the helplessness of each hungry and isolated worker with only his or her labour power to sell (for a pittance).
And much historical backwardness remains, not least in still continuing dispossession of the Native American population, whose land was stolen by European colonialism, and many of whom still battle with persecution, racism, hatred and alienation to this day, corralled into “reservations” like the black population was into the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa, or the Palestinian nation into the Gaza strip and West Bank enclaves while 80% of their land was stolen by the Zionist Jews (themselves largely part of the American population settled on the “Indian” lands). As the EPSR said before (No1144 16-07-02):
The fraudulent “electoral government” game is easily the smartest self-preservation racket that the capitalist system ever came up with, but the hoax of “parliamentary democracy rule” will also be one of the things that will help trip up the bourgeois imperialist establishment completely in some countries in the end. Either the voting itself, or preventing people from voting, or attempting an armed coup to overturn the results of voting, could all serve occasionally as the catalyst for fullscale proletarian revolution.
Capitalism survives via the lies and outright deceptions of the “democracy” game for a long time, but can eventually get tripped up by trying to avoid the consequences of its own racket.
That is exactly what is happening now on Capital Hill with the sulking dog-in-the-manger refusal of the ultra-right all, by no coincidence at all, from the “old South”, to accept the majority votes, trampling all across the supposed “proper workings” of the “system” and proving what a fraud the whole racket is as they try to put history into reverse. Exactly the same is happening in Brazil where the violent sabotage of the right aims to make the country ungovernable, just as it did in Chile after the election of a socialist alliance in 1970 under Salvador Allende, with non-stop lorry strikes, and economic disruption culminating in 1973 military coup by General Augusto Pinochet.
Still the lessons have not been learned.
Newly elected Lula’s compromises with the “moderate centre” to buy their support for calling on the army to “restore order” after the two day reactionary destruction of Brasilia’s congress has deadly echoes of Allende’s stupid recruitment of Pinochet into the cabinet for the same deluded and fatal purpose.
Britain sees the same skulking sulking refusals of the extreme right to accept any rational reforms at all, wanting (impossibly) to turn the clock back to its Empire heyday with the Brexit disaster), most notably in Ireland where the colonist diehard reactionaries continue to insist on their “right” to blockade all progress and reunification, trying to overturn the 1998 Good Friday agreement despite losing the national liberation war, steadily losing electoral support and now increasingly being in a dwindling minority.
The war on Russia is the ultimate expression of this poisonous pointless foetid imperialism - and will continue downwards all the way to World War Three until the world finally wakes up to the need for revolution and the scientific Leninist leadership it requires. Don Hoskins
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Rout reformist trade-unionism
The current wave of strikes raises crucial issues of revolutionary theory without which the working class is at risk of demoralisation and confusion as expectations run into the brutal realities of the imperialist Slump. Whatever partial successes might be achieved by the militancy and determination of strikers, they are up against the devastating breakdown of a collapsing imperialist system that no longer has room to give away significant reforms, as were once winnable from a dominant ruling class controlling half the planet and living on super-profits sweated from Third World exploitation.
The TUC leaders say none of this, and do not even call for the obviously necessary general strike to fight back against the draconian anti-strike laws which are coming, nor even give a lead for workers to see the coming fights as part of an overall struggle by the working class, continuing to organise and operate on craft union principles and class collaboration which can only undermine the necessary revolutionary consciousness.
The battle for Leninist understanding needs to be taken up as was already clear in the 1980s following the heroic miners strike. And while many conditions have changed since the 1980s and not least the existence of the Soviet Union, itself liquidated by revisionist stupidity and class-collaborating delusions, having abandoned the fight for Leninism, the following article from 1986 still stands:
Building a historically new revolutionary movement among workers is the only priority, – not salvaging what can be saved from the wreckage of the now-dead reformist epoch (the 120 years of inseparable TUC involvement with British imperialism).
The old notions and traditions of trade-union solidarity cannot have revolutionary new life breathed into them just like that.
It was solidarity, but it was solidarity with a particular material and political base. It was solidarity of a very specialised historical animal, – the corrupted workers of the metropolitan imperialist countries in the hayday of their worldwide colonial dominance and warmongering exploitation against the yellow, brown, and black billions.
The imperialist armies and the industrialised economies of the West which staffed and made possible that colonial domination for the 150 years of its hayday (1830 to 1980) formed the consciousness of the vast majority of the working class and intelligentsia in that period. The tiny occasional sparks and movements of revolutionary consciousness were the exceptions which proved the general rule.
The fight for the coming revolutionary consciousness (of the epoch of the collapse of the imperialist system) must certainly be fought for inside trade union struggles as well as everywhere else that large numbers of people are organised together.
But not at all necessarily through the old forms of struggle, old attitudes, and old structures.
The Labour Party is the best example of the incurable unadulterated rottenness of class-collaborating politics of the reformist era. It is not just anti-Leninist stupidity to stifle the development of the independent revolutionary party in order to keep propping up the degenerate and hated Labour Party (just because it has been ‘the party of the working class’, - i.e. the workers party during their most shameful direct collaboration with British imperialist fascism in its 150 years of colonial viciousness). It is also a deliberately counter-revolutionary fraud by anti-communist fake-‘lefts’ whose only consciousness is the sick one of undermining the Soviet socialist camp at all costs, – merely pretending (to gullible workers) that the Labour Party ‘can achieve socialism’ in order to prevent the building of a genuine Leninist revolutionary party.
Trade unions are not historically identical to the Labour Party, – but in exactly the same way as the Labour Party the TUC does represent and is totally dominated by a particular historical class force, – the very conservative, backward, & reactionary force of the reformist labour aristocracy (craft unions, the entire TUC bureaucracy down to shop steward level, privileged groups of general workers when organised into aggressive partizan unions, etc, etc,) whose entire philosophy and practice is rooted in class collaboration with imperialist rottenness.
Such is the stench of exploitation, corruption, and decay now emanating from British capitalist ‘democracy’ that millions of workers could indeed be ready tomorrow for a revolutionary struggle. But not if they are only channelled back into their old rotten organisations the moment that the collapse of imperialism spontaneously pushes them towards revolt.
It may happen that some (or even many) of the old reformist union structures will survive roughly intact but with a new revolutionary content.
But it is the fundamental ABC of Leninism that this could not possibly be true on the political plane, and that an independent revolutionary party must be built to sweep away the old corrupt Labour Party.
And it may equally happen that completely new revolutionary factory organisations will sweep aside much of the reactionary corruption of the old reformist union structures.
On the trade union front, workers must be given leadership, above all, to fight in a revolutionary way and develop revolutionary consciousness, – however they need to do it organisationally.
Under their suffocating reformist traditions, workers are tyrannised and mesmerised into sheeplike staying within the old corrupt union organisations, always being denied a fair hearing, and often being victimised by their own ‘brothers’ precisely because of being communist (and alone able to represent the real future interests of the working class).
It is utterly fatuous for workers to be led into certain slaughter and defeat by the hopeless political bankruptcy of the present reformist trade union bureaucracy in circumstances where imperialism, in collapse, is forced to change all the rules and go for the kill against their workers rather than for continued easy-going class collaboration of the boom period.
As was discussed in the last two Bulletins, mere exhortations for more ‘traditional trade union solidarity’ (as the Trots fake-’left’ anti-Leninist swamp does) are worse than useless because they conceal (deliberately) the real issue,– the historic need to break the working class once and for all from its bourgeois-reformist mentality by smashing anti-communism and anti-Sovietism and hounding it out of the workers movement.
Reformism’s class-collaborating illusions have never been able to protect the working class when capitalism-in-crisis has been forced to make serious attacks on the working class, - imposing slump burdens, taking back concessions, reducing democratic rights, or driving workers into uniform to die for imperialism on the front line.
But apart from reformism’s abysmal record (in World War I; in the 1930s; in the current slump; etc), - the logic of its illusions is clearly insane. In fact it would be far easier for the working class to overthrow the capitalist state altogether, and take full planned socialist power, rather than to force Murdoch or any employer to staff up their companies beyond the ‘economic’ levels dictated by the international trade war between monopoly capitalism.
Where trade unions might have such a grip to be able to force employers into ‘uneconomic’ staffing levels, – and before long into bankruptcy, - it would make more sense to use such power to force the employers to hand over total control of the company to the unions and have done with it. But such cooperatives, of course, would just as quickly be forced into similar ‘economies’ (as the employers feel obliged to impose) by the all-dominant power of the ‘market’ in the absence of a nationwide revolutionary take-over and introduction of a planned socialist economy.
All workers who are not cowards, idiots, fascists, or suffering from a slave mentality would have no choice about taking a stand against the employers class in a genuine mass struggle in the name of socialist revolution. Workers do have a choice, however, about following the ‘leadership’ of corrupt reformist TUC bureaucracy which naïvely falls into every provocative trap set by now-ruthless trade-war capitalism, and who would in any case sell out those workers, – and each other, – at the drop of a peerage, – as they have been systematically doing for 150 years of imperialist degeneracy.
The lethal backwardness of reformist trade unionism was summed up by the cretinous illusions of the one Murdoch journalist who resigned on principle against the Dirty Digger’s bullying deceptions and crude exploitation, saying that the Wapping skulduggery “made us feel we had been betrayed and humiliated by our own editor; that instead of leading us and fighting for our interests, he had become a mouthpiece for a ruthless and bullying management which regards all its employees as cattle.”
Another journalist said: “I have never seen so many grown ups crying in public. Murdoch has broken good people”.
Murdoch has broken a bunch of reformist trade-union idiocy which will continue to throw up more scabs than a smallpox epidemic, and is just as deserving of being wiped out.
These newspaper industry trade unions, – and not just the cretinous journalists, – have been cutting each others’ throats for nearly 100 years. Their anti-communist cynical political outlooks thrive on such rottenness, which flows directly out of the corrupt capitalist system which they serve.
Not only have the journalists been writing fascist-imperialist lies and filth for a century, (and still do in 2023!!!- ed) but the printers have also been printing it, and growing very, very fat on the proceeds.
For communists to stay in the newspaper industry just because it is a job (like millions of others which also serve the imperialist system directly or indirectly), - is one thing. But for reformist Labourism and trade unionism to offer this latest rash of bogus ‘principled’ stands against ‘ruthless bullying’ on the pretence that the ‘free’ press and capitalist ‘democracy’ has ever been anything else but ruthless bullying (and always ideologically leaning towards fascist imperialism (like the Sun),) - is a monstrous deception on all workers and not just on those dupes being misled into Murdoch’s shotgun-party provocations.)
Equally ludicrous is the latest self-righteous gimmick of the TUC (and the anti-Leninist ‘left’ swamp which gives reformist trade unionism ‘critical’ support) to put the mark of Cain on the ETU (electricians) alone. But these anti-communist monsters have only taken Labourite and TUC anti-communism to its logical conclusion by seeking to make money for themselves out of class-collaboration with the employers (in a slump period of anti-union bashing) in the same way that all the unions do in a boom period.
The ETU’s particularly odious opportunism in ghoulishly signing new closed-shop deals in a slump, when millions of others are losing their jobs, is no different at all from the essence of the rotten closed-shop imperialist British working class traditions.
The entire remainder of the TUC has never stopped signing closed-shop deals in order to protect the backs of their imperialist bosses (through class-collaboration) throughout the whole 150 years of British colonialist savagery. Widespread racist attitudes are not endemic among such as the Fleet Street printing workers just by chance but because these labour aristocrats kept churning out imperialist propaganda throughout 68 years of Cold War anti-communist lies; throughout nearly 2,000 wars of colonial butchery by the West this century on literally millions of wretched yellow, brown, and black victims, not to mention the Irish; – throughout the disgraceful build-up and appeasement of fascism throughout the 1930s; throughout the rotten butchery of two inter-imperialist world wars; and throughout repeated major slumps which have inflicted permanent mass unemployment and poverty on the millions of least privileged working class families in Britain itself.
Western imperialism in the 20th century has produced some of the most putrid degeneracy in the whole history of civilisation; – and reformism (e.g. the Labour Party and the TUC) have been at the heart of it.
Communist workers should join trade unions (and all mass organisations of workers) not to prop them up but solely to destroy the standing and credibility of the reformist bureaucracy and its permanent policy of class collaboration.
The worker who says he has a ‘stake in the company’ because he has worked there for 20 years, or so, is as duped by cretinous illusions as the journalists who shed tears at their editors taking up the proprietor's line of bullying exploitation.
Only the revolutionary fight for socialism offers all workers a real stake in the future. The whole of capitalism is doomed to incurable slump henceforth, followed by war and fascist degeneracy.
On the other hand, the worker who becomes a martyr just for the reformist line of the TUC bureaucracy which will capitulate hopelessly to the slump (and already has, – ask the 4 million unemployed), – and which would sell anyone out if the price was right, is an even bigger fool.
The only solidarity workers can hope to rely on is that created by a revolutionary leadership trusted throughout wide sections of the working class, – such as the Bolsheviks achieved earlier this century, and as the communists eventually achieved too in China, Vietnam, Cuba, etc, in the revolutionary struggles against imperialism there.
Reformist trade unions are the labour lieutenants of capital, as Lenin described them. They are the agents of bourgeois ideology in the workers movement. Communists should only work in them to discredit the entire political traditions of reformism and have them hounded out of the workers movement for good.
Murdoch’s workers have walked into a trap, committing suicide.
Mass fights are still possible, – as the miners, and now the teachers, have proved. But given the appalling rotten leadership of the Fleet Street unions, their treacherous rivalry between one group and another inside every company, and their cutthroat competition between rival newspaper groups, – then a serious mass working-class struggle of the mining communities’ kind seems an unlikely event.
Agitation for such a struggle would remain an obvious line of general communist propaganda in the industry, – but much more immediately and specifically relevant would be a relentless exposure of the utter inability of the existing reformist unions (in newspapers as in many other industries) to even be able to see the real interests of the working class at large, – let alone fight for them.
Supporting such spontaneous mass trade union struggles will obviously also entail the attempts to spread mass-picketing and blacking-solidarity, – as the SWP Trots, for example, so breathlessly urge on everyone (in their philistine belief that posturing middle-class frenzy can replace the abysmal ignorance of, and hostility to, Leninism in the workers movement.)
But the first thing workers will say, and do say, is that they totally distrust (and correctly so) the philosophy and perspectives of the labour movement establishment. The NUM strike was no exception despite the enormous sympathy for the miners and their communities.
The perspective of a reimposed boomtime ‘Plan for Coal’ and a reimposed boomtime Labour government simply made no sense at this late stage of incurable capitalist crisis.
And it makes no difference that many of the surface reasons (for millions of workers not being willing to go all the way behind the miners strike against Thatcher) were rightwing ones that ‘Scargill is too extreme’ or ‘I don’t like the violence’, etc. Even more so in these cases, the only perspective that can possibly eventually cut through working class ideological confusion and backwardness is a blindingly clear unanswerable scientific one, – the revolutionary Leninist perspective.
The one thing that will have little appeal to the broader working class in the Murdoch confrontation is the self-seeking opportunist record of the print union closed shops, and their known political backwardness.
It simply is not true, as all the philistine Trots are now whingeing, that the ETU bureaucracy are now launching some ‘new’ kind of ‘business trade unionism’. That is all that the high-priced Fleet Street closed shops have always been about, – helping protect the press monopolies by making entry into the national newspaper industry prohibitively expensive; – and keeping too many revolutionaries out of the industry by union-operated black lists, backed by management.
Screwing house concessions out of boomtime managements is a normal-enough pastime, – but wholly corrupting if conducted, – as it has been, – at the total expense of a revolutionary socialist political outlook, – the only possible philosophy for the working class.
The entire reformist trade union movement, – printing no exception, – has a notorious record of hypocritically banning ‘purely political’ matters from its agendas. This humbug has been enthroned solely to bar communist politics, of course. Far from banning ‘pure politics’ however, this has been the ruse for entrenching the politics of pure reformist class-collaboration, – pure bourgeois politics, - and always spliced more full with anti-communist venom than the razor-wire spikes around Murdoch’s Wapping fortress.
These reformist union-branch and trades-council cess pits have lived for one anti-communist ‘purely political’ racket after another, – voting funds to support the CIA/Vatican counter-revolution in Poland, (Solidarnosc - ed) – adopting spokesmen for fascist reaction like Scharansky and Sakharov as their ‘prisoners of conscience’, – condemning the Soviet Union for helping resist the Western ‘special forces’ subversion against the Afghan revolution, – etc, etc.
Now reformist trade unionism’s addle-brained reactionariness is getting its just desserts from the imperialist hand which feeds it, – an object-lesson in what ‘freedom’ is really all about, - the freedom for capitalism to smash and exploit the working class whenever the vicious system’s iron laws of lunatic boom and slump dictate the need for mass unemployment and warmongering fascism.
Mass struggles will, and must, continue, of course. And communist workers should continue to be the most conscious and determined fighters. But the political aim of building revolutionary consciousness is the crucial one. Even as the struggles progress, - even titanic ones like the miners strike, – it is crucial for Leninism to ruthlessly expose the crippling reformist political limitations of the strike leadership and perspectives, – as with the NUM’s futile hopes in the return of the boomtime ‘Plan for Coal’ under a boomtime Labour Government.
Leninism is the only perspective. Spread the Bulletin. Expose reformist trade-unionism from the inside.
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