The point of Cameron’s attack on Downing/Socialist Fight is to encourage a Labour Party witch-hunt against the revolutionary left. We can debate the correctness of Socialist Fight positions in the pages of the Weekly Worker, but, whatever our views, we should not support this witch-hunt.
The LP right wing will jump on Cameron’s bandwagon, inflating the compliance unit’s ongoing witch-hunt and exclusion of socialists from the LP. We must defend the democracy of the labour movement and the right of groups and individuals to debate important questions. In particular we call on all socialists and communists to join the LP and fight for socialism.
Stop the witch-hunt!
The CPGB has produced a series of positions opportunistically divorcing electoral support from promoting the formation of a government. First, it advised Greek workers to oppose a Syriza-led government only after these workers had been advised to vote Syriza - this despite Syriza’s public intent to form a government. Second, the CPGB applied the same logic to Jeremy Corbyn, for whom it advocated electoral support without any commitment to a Corbyn government. Now, supporting Sanders, the CPGB clears the smokescreen, since support for a presidential candidate is by definition a vote for that candidate to form a government.
A principled Marxist appraisal of a presidential candidate is based on the consequences of the candidate’s victory. A Sanders government would be a disaster for workers, like the governments of other left-liberals, such as Allende, Chávez and Tsipras. Comrades advocate supporting Sanders using opportunist reasoning: Sanders is thought to lay the subjective basis for a socialist movement with some useful propaganda. It is not scientific socialism to calculate the immediate subjective value of a vote, while recognising that the candidate’s victory would lead to class defeat. It is demagoguery.
Paul Demarty’s letter last week (March 10) explains that Sanders’ refusal of corporate financing draws a “class line”; but a class line is not a mere convenient focal point for propaganda. (If it were, Donald Trump would be supportable, because he has done more than Sanders to expose the nexus between policy and campaign contributions.) A class line is a commitment to a principled position, rendered sufficiently concrete that the candidate can be held accountable: a commitment to the organised masses who do the accounting. This contrasts with Sanders’ individualistic stance on campaign finance, which could be invoked against a labour party.
To the extent that Sanders expresses the working class, the government on offer with Sanders is a popular front, for he has operated for years in a permanent bloc with Democrat politicians. These politicians are completely dependent on corporate financing, riving his campaign with a transparent contradiction.
The lesson opportunists never learn is: popular fronts spell disaster.
I was going to send a quick note about how odd it was that the Weekly Worker, despite having a cover story on anti-Semitism, hadn’t managed to mention even en passant the problem that the Marxist left is less spotless that one might wish on the issue, and that it wasn’t that long ago that, for example, Tony Greenstein was ferociously attacked for documenting Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitism for what it is, even as the Socialist Workers Party kept inviting Atzmon to event after event.
Then Gerry Dowling, Ian Donovan’s comrade at Socialist Fight, went on the Daily politics show and made my point far better than I could.
On the CPGB call to boycott the June 23 referendum on Britain’s continued membership of the European Union, comrade Moshé Machover argues: “Had the CPGB been able to tip the balance, it would be highly irresponsible not to do so, and thereby allow exit to occur by default. The present call for boycotting the referendum is a pose, assumed in the secure knowledge that it is virtually certain to have nil effect on the outcome. This is a luxury of irrelevance” (Letters, March 3).
This is a defensible position, but mistaken. Suppose CPGB was supported by, say, 10% of the popular vote - enough potentially to tip the balance by our call. It would still be true that our most likely course of action would be to try win broader support to delegitimise the referendum, minimise the total number of voters and where possible actually disrupt its conduct. With that sort of support we would have the potential of actually calling the legitimacy of the referendum into question.
In contrast, look at what happened in the Scots referendum: far from defeating the nationalist project, the narrow victory of ‘no’ led immediately to Cameron’s ‘English votes for English laws’ scheme, and this, in turn, prepared the ground for the Labour wipe-out in Scotland, the loss of class-consciousness this represents, and in turn to Tory victory in the 2015 general election: ‘left unionism’ was still unionism. Similar if not identical results will result if the labour movement falls in behind Cameron on the EU - which is also to fall in behind the US administration’s geopolitics, and behind the ‘merits’ of Cameron’s ‘deal’ to squeeze UK wages further by making European migrants more dependent on their employers.
The stagnation in living standards experienced by trade unionists will continue, as long as the bankers’ EU controls us. Non-European goods cost more because of the external border tariff/import tax, costing trade unionists £400 extra on their food bill.
The VAT contribution paid to the EU by trade unionists is £380. This is £780 taken by the EU from the pockets of hard-working people. The architects of austerity, David Cameron and George Gideon Osborne, have been instructed by their paymasters in the City of London club of bankers and financiers to keep the UK in the European Union. The reason is that the City benefits to the sum of multi-billions of pounds in earnings from the EU and they would be impoverished by the UK leaving the European Union.
The European Union is the bankers’ club - it always has been and always will be, because that is how it was constructed to be. Forlorn campaigners have said we will reform it to be more akin to the interests of the workers, but, apart from a few topical scraps, that reform agenda has not come to fruition. I question the logic of trade unionists being compelled to finance this pet political project of the top 1% any longer.
Look at the facts: higher living costs reduce and decimate the purchasing power of the working classes, both here in the UK and in Europe. We need look no further than the scandalous poverty experienced by millions of workers in Greece. It is shameful the suffering Greece has had imposed on it by the EU. Consider the fact that families using food banks in the UK would automatically benefit from a £400 cut in the cost of food - a basic necessity for life.
The EU will never be reformed and it is time it was dismantled. This economic cartel has eroded the collective wealth of the proletariat. We workers are not slaves of financiers, bankers and tax-avoiders. We are proud people and will not be cowed into submission by their economic threats. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement will wreck public services and strangle the democratic life out of the nation, because it empowers the corporations to take legal action against the policy direction of democratically elected governments through the judiciary. This is not democracy: this is economic dictatorship.
The neoliberalism of the EU is written into its DNA. The single European market gold-plates these philosophical principles into law. The international hegemony of the transnational capitalist class over the economic security of the worker is administered through the EU. The European Central Bank now controls Europe without democratic supervision and control. The EU is a Ponzi scheme that hollows out permanent job security and economic borders that restrict predatory corporations and predatory bankers. The democratic principles of nation-states are stripped away and the prosperity of the workers is diluted, chipped away and thrown to the dogs. Greece is a perfect example of this. It is reckless futility to think otherwise.
The austerity that we see in the European single currency zone is the fault of the EU. A vote for the continuance of this superstate project is a vote for the bankers, corporations and the doomsters of neoliberal philosophy. The workers’ state will never exist in Europe because it was created not to be one. The degenerated capitalist state of Europe punishes those who oppose it.
The EU is protectionist because it enforces global poverty through its paraphernalia of import regulations, import controls and import taxes for the benefit of those who created it: European speculators, spivs, bankers and plutocratic moneymen. The unMarxist alliance of conservatives, big business, the big trade unions, the Labour Party and the bankers is corrupting the prosperity of the working people for their self-interest: profit.
The bankers in Goldman Sachs say, stay in the EU. They pillage and ravage the workers all over Europe. The UK should leave the EU and teach these reactionary predators a lesson they will never forget. Enough of bogus, hallucinating promises of reforming the EU. The only course of action is its complete elimination.
In a welcome move, the Liberal Democrats have called for an end to the ‘war on drugs’. At its spring conference, the party endorsed a motion calling on them to extend their support for the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes to include recreational use.
This comes after a report from an expert panel was presented to conference. The report showed that legalisation of cannabis could save the exchequer £1 billion a year, with £200-£300 million saved in the criminal justice system, together with tax income of £400-£900 million.
The experience of Colorado, Oregon, Alaska and Washington State, where cannabis is legal, is instructive. In these four states cannabis is available from licensed outlets. Some of the tax revenue generated has been used in the anti-cannabis education of minors.
Legalisation of cannabis brings quality control, labelling and a public health education campaign similar to alcohol and tobacco. The labelling of cannabis, like alcohol and tobacco, would allow users to choose between milder and stronger versions and different flavours.
A closely regulated market in cannabis would displace both the new synthetic ‘legal highs’, with their unknown effects, and the high potency ‘skunk’ and other forms that have increasingly dominated the illicit market and have been linked to a higher risk of dependency and psychosis.
Cannabis has many good medicinal properties, including in the treatment of MS, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, glaucoma treatment, epileptic control, ADHD, rheumatism, arthritis and asthma. Cannabis - it’s time to legalise.
Pretty damned disgusting, isn’t it, what capitalism does to any inborn or intrinsic decency; what it does to fundamental integrity; what it does to the very soul of those who, either with enthusiasm or for objectively uncontrollable reasons, are obliged to live under its system.
Take this as a prime pressing example. Here we all are, nowadays both stranded and struggling together as normal working citizens - aka non-stakeholders under the terms of that capitalism. And how do those fortunate enough to find themselves as relatively comfortable occupants of the middle class react or behave in our shared circumstances?
Well, in the face of what might best be described as an extensive and pretty damned eye-catching menu of multiple atrocity, horror and distilled ghastliness to spew out from the kitchen doors of our surrounding world, surely the pseudo-irate and furrow-browed hand-wringing that members of our middle class choose to adopt;surelythe delicately scandalised, but otherwise entirely hollow, running commentary they think it right to broadcast and thereby what, in effect, is that root complacency bordering upon pure-form apathy of theirs, quite simply is not only disgusting and appalling. It is not only that tragic ‘sacrifice of their very souls’ to the devil of self-interest and the demons of greed. Oh no, in even deeper terms, it provides a searing exposé of the fraud surrounding their own concept of sophisticatedly ‘balanced’ and cultured views; it reveals the sheer pretence of any true democracy to stem from our so-called civilised society.
Of course, included in that abhorrently monstrous stuff there’s the small matter of chubby-cheeked babies and their older siblings washing up along the shoreline of our holiday resorts, in the company of their similarly drowned refugee or migrant parents. So, if looked at in the round, clearly the conclusion should be drawn that we are only partially developed and inadequately evolved as a species. We are still largely primitive in our abilities and competence to function in harmony with each other in a mutually supportive and respectful manner - let alone align with that system for sensible survival, as designed and generously provided by mother nature.
But, getting back to the precise consideration of our middle class, both foolish short-sightedness and self-inflicted impotence (leading to an eventual self-imposed ‘co-victimhood’, by the way) in relation to the ongoing onslaught that our mutual and various power-elites have been planning over the past several years; and moreover whose schemes for ‘austerity’ - aka the dismantling of working people’s past victories in the class struggle - have only just begun.
Oh yes, there’s a whole truckload more of that so-called ‘austerity’ stuff parked up their nasty and dark little back alleys, folks! Deeper and denser economic cutbacks, of course; but all of that accompanied by even greater disruption from the socio-cultural chaos being created by their grossly negligent, indeed their outright criminal, response to the so-called ‘migrant crisis’ - (moreover a catastrophe wholly of their own making, despite aggressively scorn-filled denials).
None of that even to mention the fact that, as anyone with the right kind of eyes or correct ‘tilt’ of head will know for themselves, this current situation and scenario of capitalist crisis bonded to internal contradictions - this morphing from structural chaos into potential outright disintegration - can only end up in an international socioeconomic quagmire: a festering farrago of dog-eat-dog new isolationism. Or, maybe even worse, in heightened levels alongside unimaginable new permutations of dog-kill-dog military conflict/full-scale war between our ever more desperate and ever more dangerously defunct nation-states.
Where’s the sense in that middle class of ours burying their heads in the sand? Where’s the sane thinking behind the myopic self-interest or even determined ignorance in the face of such enormous and demonstrably ruthless forces? This head-in-the-sand, 100% selfish thing they’ve got buzzing around as a plan for life is merely project dumb daft and dead-in-the-making.
As a matter of fact, any proper and genuine Marxism-Leninism-based left wing of our modern-day societies had better take full and urgent note of this general scenario if they don’t want to go down the same plughole of self-generated impotence/self-imposed victimhood as part of overall humiliation and defeat. So square up to the task in hand. Together let’s learn the lessons about precisely what this fermenting battle of immutably hostile class enemies will encompass and inevitably lead to.
If we do so and that turns out to be the case, not all is lost - quite the opposite. However, whether the wider ‘marketplace’ of those on the ostensibly sensible and dedicated Marxist-Leninist/Trotskyist left wing will find it within themselves to join with us in this spirit of much needed/long-overdue, full-blooded, clear, firm and durable action via identically motivated unity, we’ll all have to wait and see.
But don’t leave it too long. The capitalist/imperialist clock of subjugation, exploitation and oppression keeps ticking on - indeed, ticking away like a rusty time-bomb beneath the feet of us all.
The funeral for comrade Peter E Newell, who passed away recently, is on Tuesday March 22. He was member of East Anglia Socialist Party of Great Britain, a prolific writer and author of The impossibilists: a brief profile of the Socialist Party of Canada.
Jon D White