The latest twist in the political crisis has seen the ‘magnificent seven’ Labour MPs forming their breakaway grouping. Comparison has been made with 1981 and the ‘Gang of Four’, who left Labour to form the Social Democratic Party. History seems to be repeating itself, but this time something is different.
The tectonic plates of the ‘Brexit revolution’ are in motion. The English, or Anglo-British, two-party system is being overlaid by three shadow ‘parties’. Of course, Scotland and Northern Ireland and to a lesser extent Wales are in the same Westminster system and yet work with a different party dynamic.
The three shadow Brexit ‘parties’ in Westminster are Leave, Democratic Remain and Remain. The seeds of the Remain ‘party’ are now in the open as an independent group. Their policies are for another referendum with a ‘remain’ question, the condemnation of Labour as an anti-Semitic party (ie, support for a Zionist Israel) and total opposition to Corbyn as Labour leader and future PM. Of course, Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. I condemn slanders against him. I condemn the anti-Semitic campaign against the Labour Party, whose main motive is to undermine and overthrow Corbyn by splitting the Labour Party.
The Democratic Remain ‘party’ consists of those in favour of remaining in the European Union, but who accept the result of the 2016 referendum. Acceptance does not mean ignoring the gerrymandering by Cameron and the Tories to exclude most EU residents paying taxes and living in the UK. Labour under Corbyn is leading the Democratic Remain ‘party’. I would urge all members of Corbyn’s Labour to oppose any ‘repeat and remain’ referendum or any ‘remain’ question on the ballot - at least until it is included in a general election manifesto or there is a significant change in public opinion.
Despite not being a member of the Labour Party, I have nailed my republican colours to the Democratic Remain ‘party’ mast. Republicans should go further and support a policy of a democratic exit, which leads towards a republican road. A democratic exit accepts it was right to trigger article 50, whilst recognising that Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain, while England and Wales voted to leave the EU. There was no mandate to leave the single market or the customs union.
Supporters of a democratic exit must take up cudgels for the right of Northern Ireland and Scotland to remain. They should demand a ratification referendum on any negotiated settlement with an extended franchise. This should include all resident EU citizens and 16-17-year-olds. But, far from defending the right of the Scottish people to remain in the EU, the Scottish National Party capitulated. They settled for a British unionist compromise, whereby all parts of the UK remain in the single market and the customs union.
This was a consequence of paying too much attention to Westminster. The SNP ‘sold out’ the majority vote in Scotland. They failed to promise the Scottish people a ratification referendum on any deal coming from the crown, regardless of whether the UK parliament grants a UK-wide ‘yes’-‘no’ referendum. The SNP failed to use their majority in the Scottish parliament to implement the right to ratify. Instead they played the Westminster game by supporting a repeat-remain referendum and lining up with the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, left Tories and the Magnificent Seven party. They have acted like British liberals, not Scottish democrats.
As a regular reader of the Weekly Worker, I can’t work out the current tactics advocated by the CPGB. I still see the CPGB as Pontius Pilate - mixing his metaphors and casting a plague on all houses. I don’t know if you are backing a democratic ‘remain’ line, or the ‘remain’ line now being advocated by the liberals. So far the Weekly Worker seemsincapable of recognising the distinction between a ratification ‘yes’-‘no’ referendum and a repeat in-out referendum. Finally there is no recognition by the CPGB of the rights of the Irish and Scottish people to remain in the EU.
Now there is another ‘latest twist’, as Labour announces it is going to support a second referendum. What question will be on the ballot paper? Apparently the choice will be May’s deal or remain in the EU. This is a mad question, which I oppose. So watch out for another crisis in the making!
What can a socialist see post-Brexit? I can see hope coming from a struggle that will plummet many into a more unfavourable situation. Why, you ask, is this a good thing? Well, as a nation we have great disparity in wealth and a growing number of people battling below the poverty line, with workers’ rights dismantled by a government, underpinned by big business.
And the EU has looked on, as many countries fall into financial difficulty. Spain, Italy Portugal - all have record numbers of youth unemployment. In fact the EU even inflicted hardship onto people if they did not comply with its etiquette. Greece’s attempt at a true left government left them bankrupt and once more in the hands of Germany and the EU influences behind them. To think the EU would prioritise your needs over those of business is ludicrous.
So where does that leave us? Those of us who can afford an iPhone contract, a 50-inch TV, a £5 pint and whatever else we seem to class as a ‘necessity’ - well, it leaves us looking rather nervous, and ultimately we are the ones most fearful of Brexit. We are the ones that will ultimately lose out. There will be casualties from those above us, but big business will just charge more if necessary and ultimately leave us to pay.
But ultimately we are truly deserving of this fate. We live with these over-the-top creature-comforts, while others struggle to feed themselves. We worship those who have the opportunity to consume more than us. We will step over friends or colleagues to secure any small pay increment dangled in front of us. The cut-throat nature of the current job market is not designed for the overwhelming majority of people, so is it no wonder that many end up spiralling down the mental-health rabbit hole - the workplace is awash with anxiety and depression.
There is no doubt in my mind that the ensuing economic downfall will be passed on to those below. It is feasible to suggest we will see swathes of new faces turning up at food banks. At this point we will have a full understanding of how sick as a society we have become. We will have direct experience of struggle. We will then have a reason to come together, a reason not to judge and time to look for a different outcome. Those voices which are currently ignored and go unnoticed will be listened to. Those below the breadline will have more power in numbers.
We will look for a new kind of politics - one in which those at the bottom are listened to once more. Let those who evade taxation do it elsewhere. Let those who do not contribute to the people leave on a one-way ticket. Let the country come together and small business flourish where big business used to bully those around them. Let the Labour Party return to its roots and oust those who do not believe in a society where all are included and where all basic needs are met.
The only way a socialist left will get in is if the public feel hardship in a society where their backs are against the wall. The youth have already felt these pressures after growing up through a never-ending austerity and have helped boost the left’s stance in modern politics. Hopefully Brexit will speed up the process and end in a quick resolution, in which the left once more has the opportunity to rebuild the country.
The Stand Up To Racism campaign, and its supporters in the Socialist Workers Party and trade unions, are for a third year allowing racist organisations, such as the Confederation of Friends of Israel and Glasgow Friends of Israel, to participate in their annual march through Glasgow.
Last year grassroots organisations and campaigners united successfully to stop the Zionists taking part in the march despite the hostility of SUTR and the passiveness of the ‘official’ Palestine solidarity movement. We call on all anti-racists to join us again this year to stand in active opposition to SUTR’s march with racists, on Saturday March 16, at 10.30am, in George Square. We urge people to bring their friends and families along too.
Individuals can sign the declaration at tinyurl.com/zirsign to show their opposition. Join us on the day if you can. To add your group’s name to the list of organisations and campaigns supporting the protest please message the ‘Zionism is Racism - Scotland Stand Up!’ event page on Facebook at tinyurl.com/zirevent.
Zionism is Racism
As someone who has been involved, on and off, in the Labour Party for the last 41 years, I have never observed any anti-Semitism. This includes being active in Labour in Fenland, Middlesbrough, Darlington, London and Cardiff.
Those Blairite MPs who complain about so-called ‘anti-Semitism’ in the party are deliberately equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Anti-Zionists point to the treatment by the Israeli government of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. In the lead-up to the foundation of the state of Israel in 1948 nearly one million Palestinians were evicted from what is now Israel. The Israeli government continues to refuse their descendants the right to return, to live as full citizens of the state of Israel.
The plight of the Palestinians today is of concern to all socialists. What is needed is a socialist Palestinian state alongside a socialist Israel, as part of a socialist federation of the Middle East.
Targeted by GMB
I write about a civil liberties matter that affects many people. At risk is anybody who is in a trade union or political party, is at school or university, works in local government or the police - in fact, anybody involved in any way with any of the many bodies that adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.
If they criticise Israel as racist, they may well be expelled or sacked. Now, fair enough, anti-Semitism is bad, but I urge you to consider if anti-Zionism is the same thing. Someone who thinks it is not is rabbi Ahron Cohen. He is one of the 50% of Jews around the world that do not support Israel. And people are being suspended, expelled and threatened with dismissal for criticising that country.
I am a shop steward in the GMB, and I am being expelled from the union for criticising Israel (rabbi Cohen has spoken up on my behalf). I am also being investigated by Labour as an anti-Semite for doing the same thing. This came about because I have a ‘death-wish’ petition (tinyurl.com/israelihra), where I declare to the Labour national executive that “Israel is a racist endeavour” and challenge them to expel me if they think I am anti-Semitic for saying as much - and I ask other members to sign if they agree. So far over 1,350 party members have signed. My theory being that if we are not anti-Semites, even though we’ve breached the IHRA definition, then the party should abandon the IHRA and let us get back to the Oxford English Dictionary definition, which served us perfectly well, until the Israelis and the IHRA started stirring things up a few years ago.
It is becoming known that the IHRA definition was developed with Israel in order to scupper the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. As you may have noticed, the Zionists have been remarkably successful in getting UK bodies to adopt it. Twenty-four Palestinian trade unions and civic groups wrote to the Labour Party on August 28, stating that the IHRA definition was “fraudulent and politicised”. Ignoring their letter, Labour and the trade unions went ahead and adopted it. It was immediately used by Zionists to launch a witch-hunt against Corbynistas and those who criticise Israel, such as myself.
Indeed, Israel pulls every UK politician’s strings, as Al Jazeera’s undercover investigation The lobby shows. This film exposes how the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel were funded through the Israeli embassy to bring down Labour politicians critical of Israel and to undermine us at elections. In September I complained to Labour’s NEC that it was time to sever the JLM’s 100-year-old affiliation to the party.
Little did I know that one of those 39 NEC members I’d emailed was a senior member of the JLM and a GMB organiser. Rhea Wolfson, an avowed Zionist and prospective parliamentary candidate, was unhappy that I had complained to the NEC about how the JLM was affiliated to Labour, yet working against it. My complaint was dismissed by Zionists at HQ, but Ms Wolfson used the GMB to get her revenge upon me.
Please consider supporting me at my appeal hearing at GMB Euston in London on March 5. You can get more info if you view my website at tinyurl.com/labourihra, where you can email me through the contact tab.
Peter Gregson states: “Our planes actually flew over Auschwitz in 1944; we could have dropped food, leaflets - anything” (Letters, February 14). I surmise that the reason the British did not do this is that the camp inmates would have been shot for picking up a leaflet and the food would have gone straight to the SS guards. Also, when one remembers that the losses for bomber command were huge, such an obscene idea would have been a massive demoraliser. The RAF had dropped millions of leaflets during the ‘phoney war’ - with no notable signs of any success except the inevitable demoralisation of scarce aircrew.
Gregson asks why the Allies did not broadcast the existence of the camps. One feasible reason is that it would not have fitted in with Allied propaganda strategy, in that they would not have been believed. This was a ‘blowback’ from World War I, when the horror stories of babies being butchered on the points of Hun bayonets was seen to be entirely fictional after the war.
Gregson’s concerns are due to his belief, based on a single source, that the German people knew nothing of the concentration camp apparatus. There is some academic research on this, one example being Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s willing executioners, but for the purposes of this letter it is pertinent to ask in terms of the long period the camps were established, the public round-ups that took place, the use of the train system to transport the inmates and the vast extent of the system, whether it is conceivable that people did not know of their existence.
In a brilliant non-sequitur Gregson decides that the ‘guilt’ which ‘politicians’ feel over the holocaust leads them to accept the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism! Back in the real world, I went to a funeral of a Polish neighbour last year and it was the first I have attended where prayers were offered for bomber command. During the chaos they created in Warsaw in 1943, my neighbour had managed to escape, eventually reaching Britain. The children of those who were in Poland during the war told me that their mums and dads always liked to hear the roar of bombers, even though it might very well mean their own demise. What they wanted was the dropping of bombs, not leaflets.
I don’t know whether Gregson is anti-Semitic, as is alleged - the parameters seem to be extraordinarily wide nowadays - but his constant references to the holocaust as a primary explanatory factor for almost everything seem at least to run the risk of trivialising an event which is of major historical significance.
Maren Clarke claims in her letter of February 21: “Moshé Machover is wrong to assume that for Marx exchange value is particular to capitalism, while value is something that transcends all economic systems and all forms of labour.”
But this is not what I actually said. What I did say in my letter of February 14 was that Marx and Engels applied the term, ‘exchange-value’, exclusively to products that are also commodities, while their use of the bare term, ‘value’, was perhaps inconsistent or ambiguous. I did not mention ‘capitalism’ in this context (nor did Marx use this term!). Commodities existed under non-capitalist modes of production, and Marx certainly attributed exchange-value to those commodities.
Maren further alleges: “Machover thinks only of production in his vision of communism and the application of value: he forgets about distribution and consumption.” What I said, quoting Engels, was that, for the purpose of planning, communist society will have to calculate the total amount of labour required to produce a given product. I should have thought this is a truism. I differ from Engels in using the term, ‘value’, for this quantity, whereas he declines to do so. I also remarked that Engels underestimated the complexity of the calculation needed to work out this quantity for each type of product. I said nothing more about communism.
Maren’s supposition about what else I think and what I forget in my vision of communism is a piece of utterly spurious mind-reading.
Dialectics starts with the whole; ‘science’ starts with the part. So if you ignore 98% of ‘reality’ then Newtonian mechanics is coherent and you can repeatedly and safely land on the moon. Newtonian mechanics assumes space is a neutral container, within which separate, identifiable objects (planets, stars, spaceships) move.
Einstein conceived space differently - there are no ‘separate’ objects, but space itself moves - think of an expanding balloon; two dots next to each other ‘seem’ to independently move apart ... Dialectics anyone? So Newtonian mechanics can work in isolated regions, but cannot explain an expanding universe. Science cannot distinguish the truth of these demonstrable contradictions.
The difference between Newton and Einstein is in their starting assumptions (which are not scientifically testable) - we start with ‘substance’ and through ‘contradictions’ we are forced (via the materialism of Democritus) to concepts of first ‘force’ and then ‘energy’- word concepts which are mistaken for ‘things in themselves’.
The progress of science is dialectical, though its contents rarely are. The confusion comes in when we assume that (bourgeois) metaphysics is reality - that we are the timeless and undeceived observer of an external universe. From the viewpoint of history (time), science is a dialogue (dialectical) - from the viewpoint of the bourgeois, ‘everlasting now’ is the one and only truth (dogma). Dialectics then understands change and self-amending process; science understands the opposite stasis and external unchanging law - the local, not the whole.
So the truth of dialectics is not universal (in the sense that the world has an underlying structure or substance available to the transparent ego of the neutral observer: ie, metaphysics) - it is perspectival, including as its antithesis the moment in time of the non-transparent, history-constructed/implicated ‘observer’. The concept of ‘energy’ is not timeless, but rooted in the socio-economic-cultural construction of the present.
So is value a law or an historically contingent process?
Hillel Ticktin in his ‘A convenient enemy’ (February 21) writes: “As an empire, the US needed an enemy who was out to destroy it, to frighten its own citizens into giving their support.” As I’m sure Hillel is aware, the enemy also provides an almost bottomless pit of money for the arms manufacturers. One of the greatest blows to these people in the 20th century was the end of World War II. How the money was rolling in, as tanks, ships, planes, bombs, boots … were rolling out. And then it stopped.
But then there was the cold war. The arms companies were keen to point out that, as a global power, the United States could not afford to be caught by surprise again. America needed to be ready for the next enemy, whoever it was and wherever it came from. The USSR, of course, was big enough to fill the bill, especially when China came onto the scene too. In fact ‘the commies’ provided the motivation for taxpayers to pour their cash into the Pentagon to be disbursed to Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon and all the rest of the parasites feeding off the misery of the world.
The USA had its enemy and the companies had a steady stream of wars - and the politicians supplied the frighteners when they seemed to be needed. It’s hardly a secret that virtually all the members of Congress and the Senate are bought and paid for, along with other elected ‘representatives’, both local and national
But there must be few industries and lobby groups with the history and persistence of the arms dealers. They carefully place their factories and supply providers in every congressional district, so that few will speak out or vote against them for fear of the loss of jobs to their constituents. This is despite assorted researchers showing that almost any public expenditure - even tax cuts - will provide more jobs than the arms industry.
Trump has spoken about withdrawals, but one of his first acts was to order a missile strike on Syria - 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles not surprisingly caused casualties, but also cost around $93 million. He followed this up with the ‘mother of all bombs’ dropped on Afghanistan, with unknown and disputed results. The price too is disputed, with the US airforce claiming $170,000 and others suggesting 10 times more. One might assume that all of these munitions will need replacement.
Upgrading, replenishment of stocks and in general pouring good money after bad are all good for the industry - but you can’t beat a war. They have been raging pretty much continuously for centuries now and Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya are gifts that keep giving and giving. Trump is now looking eagerly at Iran and Venezuela, and Netanyahu, Bolsonaro and Jeremy Hunt are all onside. So what can possibly go wrong?
Capitalism and the empire threaten all life on earth - we need to get rid of them both.
The USA plans to invade and then systematically dismantle Venezuela, with the full and open support of many other capitalist states. This is disgustingly akin to (or in fact way beyond) anything the Zionist machinations and associated antics of Israel could ever contrive. Consequently, it requires a differently styled response in harness with wholly revamped levels of activity.
This horrific scenario is now shouting out for an entirely upgraded comprehension from all of us, surely? The time is long overdue for the abandonment of any and all ‘compartmentalisation’ of things, for the jettisoning of segmented difference, when it comes to facing down our filthy and barbaric global elites!
If they fail to live up to these new requirements, Marxists around the world will remain in their role as mere commentators upon the atrociousness of capitalism. We are destined simply to be wafted along in the slipstream of its imperialist control and oppression. In the face of 21st-century capitalism’s rampant deconstruction of its own ‘democratic’ methodology, anybody who lays even the slightest claim to being a socialist must engage in a wholesale revamping of our ideas and attitudes.
Some might suggest the time has arrived for the constitution of a 1930s-style International Brigade for Venezuela, risky as that may be, given ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation, for any supporters of an ‘illegitimated’ Maduro government. Such laws would have to be either cautiously outmanoeuvred or courageously faced down.
The phrase, ‘Good riddance to bad rubbish’, was used at the end of last week by a very rightwing lady on the Breitbart website - about the Independent Group defectors. When I pointed out it had just appeared as a headline in the Weekly Worker (February 21), she was most upset. She wished she had used a different phrase, as she ‘has no time’ for Marxists, communists or ‘liberal socialists’.
Doesn’t she know that good fascists, communists and racists meet each other under the ‘rainbow coalition’ (mostly red and ‘black’) of Brexit?