In other words

Assuming your organisation has any fundamental intention of ‘reaching out’to and attracting - and thus at root any real political desire to generate full-scale support from - people such as myself (namely principled, class-conscious, as such ‘dedicated’, but in any event lifelong and unswerving leftwing members of the socially progressive bourgeoisie/intelligentsia), well, I would suggest that you give proper consideration to the points I make in this communication.

In essence, it represents my, albeit distinctly ‘untrained’ or quasi-Marxist, attempts to analyse the current situation in Greece, and most particularly my wish to understand your internal position within the CPGB/Weekly Worker. In other words, your position on what in a glaringly obvious manner is this latest and specific development within the ongoing/inevitable general crises of modern world capitalism.

So, anyway, based upon Eddie Ford’s article, ‘Austerity in a modified form’ (July 9), and in general elsewhere, it seems to me that the following is true of your organisation.

You neither supported participation in the actual referendum itself nor consequently were you able to offer any position whatsoever on which way Greek people should vote - ie, ‘yes’, ‘no’ or the ‘official’ Greek communist party (KKE) position of spoiling the ballot paper.

You neither practically support nor ideologically underwrite the KKE in their ‘plan B’ stance to “get out of the euro and the EU. Go it alone. National autarky. Permanently maintain capital controls, nationalise everything you can see and hope for the best. A vision of grim, barrack-room socialism …” (as specifically it is all described and defined in this article from Eddie Ford).

You don’t propose or indeed condone any ‘support’ whatsoever for the Syriza/Anel coalition, even if strictly on the basis of being ‘insiders’ who could be both actively and openly critical and thereby purposefully expose Syriza’s systemic or core deficiencies/their eventual betrayals, plus inevitable treacheries.

But, on the other hand, neither do you offer any alternative avenues or methods by which the awareness, understanding and class-consciousness of the Greek people can be raised (indeed, whether they be ‘workers’ or even progressive and open-minded bourgeoisie/intelligentsia).

So my simple, but paradoxically also elemental, question is this. At WW/CPGB, how the hell do you suggest that the working class plus socially aware/progressively inclined bourgeoisie can make progress with their class-conscious ideas or revolutionary development, if even Marxist-Leninist organisations (such as yourselves) don’t provide any immediate, relevant or proper guidance? In other words, if you don’t provide any practical as well as principled and clear-sighted direct engagement with their current and as such their ‘real life’ endeavours and indeed urgent attempt at achieving what they (spontaneously and for themselves) regard as both their personal and national ‘dignity’; what they perceive as their proper and full ‘democracy’, etc?

Putting all of that another way: what precisely are you suggesting the people of Greece should do in the ‘here and now’, and, in detail, how should they do it? For instance, for whom should they vote in their existing electoral set-up and their current socio-political system - in other words, as things stand?

Moreover, when does intellectually ‘correct’ - aka purist and high-minded - Marxist principle and analysis begin to translate into real involvement with the activities of, and direct participation, in the realities of actual working class life (most notably under these conditions of hi-tech weaponised, globally super-organised, metadata-monitoring, plus ultra-media-controlled capitalism). Oh, yes, indeed, that being in distinction merely to your organisation alongside any such others lecturing or virtually just ‘preaching’ from the social or political sidelines about ideological, potential and/or merely future possibilities.

And, of course, those ‘sidelines’ are precisely where all of genuinely leftwing politics, as well as revolutionary Marxism-Leninism, finds itself right now, here within the first decades of the 21st century.

So, hey, maybe you at WW and CPGB, alongside any and all of those similar others, might like to think things through with a bit more flare; a bit more freshness; a bit more updated flexibility, plus ‘rock and roll-style’ energy and enlightenment (in other words, you at WW/CPGB simply ‘go figure’, as proverbially they say in that nonetheless self-delusional/overall and in general American dreaming USA).

None of anything covered above is even to mention the endlessly introspective and intransigent ‘sectarianism’ that exists on the Marxist/Leninist/Trotskyist left wing of politics; that being an obviously deep-running, but also effectively dark mystery that no outsider is able to fathom. (Huh - in fact leaving us utterly and completely unable to decipher the necessity for your visceral and vitriolically held divisions; your lack of any productive cooperation/sensible practical collaboration and/or effective unity of operation amongst and amidst those variously paraded outfits - namely for the purposes of defeating the current elites/overthrowing our mutual ruling class enemy).

Bruno Kretzschmar


For me to be singled out for a mention in the CPGB’s Notes for Action bulletin last week (July 10) was quite a surprise: not necessarily an unpleasant one (fame at last!), but strange, it seemed to me.

There were, after all, three letters on Greece in the Weekly Worker, and mine was certainly not the most critical one (July 9). David Ellis was positively scathing of Eddie Ford’s proposition that Syriza’s current problems stem from the party’s decision to take office, while Earl Gilman’s reminder of Chile’s Pinochet coup resulting from Allende’s failure to tackle the military machine is surely a key issue worthy of (positive) comment.

In the circumstances, with Syriza in office, I am interested to hear how the ‘stay out of office’ position is a guide to preventing another “car crash” (Notes for Action).

More important, in my opinion, is the question of how to build a principled solidarity movement on Greece, which was a substantive part of my letter. Perhaps, given the article correctly criticising the dangerous manoeuvres of the Syriza government, the CPGB is also distancing itself away from the necessity to provide solidarity without becoming submerged in a ‘broad front’ of apologists for Syriza. The pressure will be strong. We can confront it from the start or duck out of the fight and point accusing fingers from the sidelines.

Alan Theasby


And so a new game show - or should that be gain show?

We may have thought of the concept before, but hurriedly dismissed it as degradation and paucity of humanity. However, someone has submitted the concept to the BBC as a feasible entertainment. There’s going to be a programme, called Britain’s hardest grafter, that has proletarian members of the lower strata battling it out to win a year’s wage (tax-free, I suppose?). Regardless of the fact that the amount quoted is slightly more than a good number of proletarians earn gross, Machiavelli would have laughed at such a low price of persons.

You may think I am being oversensitive or unrealistic in saying that this display will be buying a person, but I cannot think of a better way to describe the concept of pitting proletarians against one another, so that one of them can triumph and get a modest sum for the denuding of dignity and their willingness as contestants to lower the level of respect they may have had before this plotted exhibition of shameless desperation. It also hides an underpinning identity of the pecuniary low-pay and poverty project the Tories are constructing to reduce freedoms of the working class of Britain.

The people behind the idea have justified the spectacle by saying that it is a project to uncover the low-paid world of proletarians. However, we used to have erudite and measured documentaries for discussion of issues such as the low-wage economy. In fact, certain independent channels still have infrequent investigations into social and economic issues like this. What makes the concept of the BBC programme less than valid and of authentic value is that they are presenting it as an entertainment, thereby trivialising the serious bases of the issue, whilst pandering to the ‘real life’, so-called reality TV mentality that is plot-led, character-personality based, in the same way that fiction is presented on TV.

The treatment of low-paid economic conditions as if they are merely an entertaining story that has to have a premium quiz show prize at the end as an affirmative reward for grafting merely denudes the issue of real-world referent that informs rather than crassly entertains and becomes propagandist in blurring the distinctions between fact and fiction. It also buys into the presentation of the productivity mentality that is being used in more abstract applications, where no material graft takes place, to gain greater surplus value from the workforce, both willing and forced.

The corporation says that the series will “tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time”, including why British productivity is so low, whether the benefits system provides many with a reason not to work, whether immigrants work harder and whether the young really haven’t got the work ethic of their parents. This approach clearly shows that a significant part of the conception of the show is based on ‘accepted opinion’ that productivity is low and requires improving, despite the last 10 years of office workers being subjected to all sorts of abstract measurement that claims cost unit prices of labour and its so-called output has improved radically.

Such easy inclusion of subjectivity as if it is objective fact fails and becomes propagandist in presenting a contrived, competitive exhibition as denotative rather than merely a connotative referent that requires further investigation and discussion. This statement of intent also couches some severe preconceptions that will be seen and not heard in the kerfuffle of activity in trying to win a prize. Surely a more measured, documentary approach would deal with such preconceptions better, rather than reducing the seriousness and the necessary sober consideration of the elements of the purported ‘social experiment’. Could you see the same happening at the other end of the social and political scale?

“The five-part BBC2 series will pit contestants against each other in a series of jobs and tasks with the ‘least effective workers’ asked to leave until one is crowned champion.” Sadly, the analogy with The hunger games franchise of films talks of this degrading entertainment as for the wealthy citizens, but, like the existing Benefits Street genre propaganda programmes, the audience will mainly be the proletarians - there but for the grace of corporatism go they.

Also, who exactly are going to be arbiters of the “champion”? What criteria will they use to identify the golden boy or golden girl of the proletariat? We’ve already seen too many self-appointed judges of others’ abilities and talents gaining celebrity status without necessarily having any qualities comparable to those they are valuing.

We need the BBC to continue to ask serious questions, not play with the lives of vulnerable people in our society.

The Inconsequential


Tony Roberts really is talking a lot of narrow drivel, almost to the point of parody (Letters, July 9). The very idea that the Rolling Stones, of all bands, have no political significance is so silly it doesn’t really need any further comment. Indeed, Roberts himself disproves this in his second paragraph with talk of Mick Jagger and “super-large capitalist music corporations”, which presumably do have some kind of political significance.

If Roberts really is a “lefty”, then he doesn’t know much about the subject, given that Marx, Engels, Trotsky and even Lenin found the time to discuss art and artists, without any hint that this might be a specialist enterprise in terms of their other activity. No doubt their time could have been much better spent in leafleting, making tokenistic appearances at picket lines, creating ‘networks’, talking about how ‘ordinary’ they are, or any of the other self-deluding crap that the contemporary left involves itself in.

And where, in the name of all that’s holy, did I suggest that I wanted to encourage anybody to join hands with the Rolling Stones in their current state? Actually, I suggested precisely the opposite.

Howard Phillips

Free Steve

Let me first of all state my agreement with Gerry Downing of Socialist Fight and the Committee for Steve Kaczynski’s Freedom in demanding that comrade Steve must be released by the Turkish authorities immediately.

I knew comrade Kaczynski during his brief membership of the CPGB during the 1990s, when he wrote the occasional article for the Weekly Worker. I remember him as a sincere and committed communist, and the idea that he is a “British agent” (or alternatively a “German agent”), as Turkish sources state, is absurd.

Steve took a particular interest in Turkey and felt strong solidarity with the struggles of the Turkish working class and the oppressed people of Kurdistan. I understand that he learnt to speak Turkish fluently - not surprising, since I knew him as a talented linguist with a good command of French and German. But the idea that he was putting those talents at the disposal of the British state is ludicrous beyond words.

Istanbul must either charge comrade Kaczynski with a specific offence or - better still - release him forthwith.

Peter Manson
editor, Weekly Worker