I thought the four articles - ‘Preparing for revolution’, ‘Limits of guerrillaism’, ‘Principle, confusion and hope’ - by Yassamine Mather (February 4 and 11) and ‘Three waves of protest’ by Ardeshir Mehrdad (February 4) were absolutely superb. I don’t, obviously, agree with every single thing written in them, but they were really powerful and indeed inspirational.
Yassamine always writes extremely well and, as someone who has actually participated in the armed struggle against a powerful, brutal, semi-imperialist, fascistic regime, and who has reflected deeply on those experiences, she commands an enormous amount of respect and credibility. The online seminar, ‘Half century after Siahkal’, over the following weekend, in which Yassamine was one of the speakers, was also excellent.
Mehrdad’s article, especially after considering the three waves of protest in Iran, was a wonderful piece of prose (extending into more vivid poetry towards the end), discussing in careful detail the objective and subjective factors and conditions which will determine the progress of any revolutionary democratic movement in Iran - but also, I think, highly relevant to many other countries, including the UK. I think anyone seriously interested and committed to developing a genuine socialist revolution should study these articles and think about them carefully.
The Iranian revolution of 1979 made an enormous impact on me as a young teenager in the UK, watching the dramatic events unfold on TV and in newspapers. I have heard it described as the last of the great revolutions - certainly the most recent. We worked and hoped for something similar in apartheid South Africa, but unfortunately that was not to be. Maybe the ruling class and the state in 1980s South Africa learned the lessons of 1979 Iran.
My recollections from that time - confirmed, I think, by more recent evidence and writings - were of a number of important factors. The impression was that the Iranian regime and state apparatus was even stronger, more brutal, more all pervasive and even more impervious to change than even appeared the case in South Africa. Iran’s Savak seemed even more terrifying than apartheid’s Bureau of State Security. Torture and disappearances were widespread. Iran seemed to see itself as part of the west and hence some of the factors in play have lessons for those of us in the advanced capitalist countries.
We saw literally millions of (initially) unarmed demonstrators on the streets facing the full potential force and actual violence of the Iranian security forces. There were massive strike actions throughout the country and economy, Yassamine refers specifically to the role of the oil workers in finally breaking the back of the regime. One of the speakers in the seminar referred to the other millions on strike at any one time, or in other ways, refusing to engage in “normal” activities, a sort of almost anarchistic, intuitive, instinctive groundswell of mass defiance and refusal against the regime.
Of course towards the end, the combination of these mass pressures and protests, the sheer bravery and courage of the masses in the face of state violence, produced dramatic fissures within the state apparatus, with both individual members of the armed state forces and increasingly groups, contingents and units, becoming to varying degrees either supportive of the democratic demands of the people or at the very least opposed to the continuing violence of the state forces in defence of a corrupt parasitical regime. Yassamine refers specifically to members of the airforce who took up arms against their commanders.
Probably the key turning points following months of waves of strike actions and protests was when increasing defections from the armed forces enabled guns and other weapons to be distributed in working class areas, enabling a full blown insurrection to take place, finally removing the shah and overthrowing and destroying the regime.
I think the Iranian Revolution was an incredibly positive and inspirational process, with many lessons for the present day. Of course, few of us would have wished to see the Islamists and the clerics hijack and take over what was essentially a mass democratic movement for progressive democratic, economic and social rights. The articles referred to above discuss some of the reasons why the secular and left forces were comparatively weak in Iran at that time. The current struggles in Iran for a genuinely secular and consistently democratic political system that includes not only free speech and human rights but the workers’ right to organise independently are absolutely right and should be supported. Their success would represent the democratic consummation of the original aims of the 1979 Revolution.
We in the UK should have absolutely no doubt that should protests and struggles against this or that government, or the capitalist system itself, develop in anything like the mass scale and levels of intensity we saw in Iran, the response of the government of the day and the British state will not be dissimilar to those of the shah in Iran or the National Party in South Africa. Democratic and social rights will be reduced and restricted. Mass democratic organisations let alone overtly radical or revolutionary organisations will be circumscribed or banned. Opportunities for mass, peaceful, democratic expressions of will and of determination increasingly closed off.
We will have to learn again how to combine legal and legitimate forms of struggle and organisations with those the state chooses to class as illegal. This is not new to this country, the Chartists and the early trade unions had to engage in ‘unlawful’ actions in order to win some initial democratic, economic and social rights in the 18th and 19th centuries. If we are genuine and serious about a great socialist revolution in Britain in the 21st century, we would do well to study and absorb the lessons from such as Iran in the 20th.
Tunnel to unity?
Why does the idea of a tunnel between the west coast of Scotland and the north-east coast of Ireland induce such merriment and ridicule from so many in the media and in society at large? No-one is suggesting that all flights between Britain and the north of Ireland should be cancelled; that the ferries which operate between Belfast and Stranraer, Larne and Cairnryan, Belfast and Liverpool should stop. Then why is there such hostility to a further transport link between the island of Ireland and the island of Britain?
The Channel Tunnel links Britain to mainland Europe. It has improved commerce, freight and passenger travel, access to and from Britain’s producers and European markets. It has been a significant boost to the economy, as a gateway for British exports and a conduit for people to travel freely between Britain and the European mainland. No-one suggests that this tunnel is not of benefit to both Europe and Britain, and no-one suggests that the idea of building it was a mistake.
Therefore a 25-mile tunnel between Ireland and Scotland, costing an estimated £10 billion, would be an obvious boost to tourism, the economy, business and commerce. Any projects that improve the road and rail infrastructure in any single country or between countries has a proven record of being a financial and commercial success. People’s connections benefit too. While the cost may seem prohibitive, it has been proven that toll roads, toll bridges and toll tunnels are an investment that with time will be repaid to the public or private purse.
Couple that to the idea of a tunnel that operates 365 days a year, regardless of the weather, regardless of storms in the Irish Sea, regardless of conditions that stop ferries from travelling or flights from flying, and it could also be a lifeline between the United Kingdom and Europe.
As part of the Brexit negotiations between Brussels and London, it was agreed that, while Northern Ireland remains a part of the UK, it would be given special status as an entry point to the European market - part of an all-Ireland policy within Europe. This would prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, protecting the gains achieved through the Good Friday agreement, which ended (for some) the historic republican war of national liberation. It allows politics to replace the gun and the choice of all the people in the nation of Ireland to decide its future without British interference.
The north of Ireland has a special status within the European market. Because of its position within the UK it still has unfettered access to its internal commercial markets. And the tunnel under the Irish Sea would allow empty trucks to travel from England, Scotland and Wales to the north of Ireland, from where they can access ports in the Republic of Ireland in order to pick up goods and services from the European Union. They would leave Ireland empty and return filled with goods. As they are entering Ireland from Europe, these goods should be not subject to any border checks. This freight and these vehicles can travel unimpeded and unhindered to Belfast and onto the tunnel to access the British mainland.
If goods in transit can travel from the Republic of Ireland to the north of Ireland and are not subject to customs checks other than for smuggling or illegal transactions, and the north of Ireland is part of the UK’s internal market, then an opportunity exists for the north of Ireland to be used as a conduit for those in Great Britain who want to access the European single market without the delays for customs checks at the English ports on the English Channel - farm produce, meat and fish are subject to inspection, when going from the UK into Europe via Northern Ireland.
The negotiated Brexit agreement has put Northern Ireland in a very strong position with regards to its unique relationship with the European Union. From company headquarters to financial institutions, the north of Ireland is now an ideal base for UK companies to transact their business with Europe.
The tunnel will undoubtedly improve commerce and tourism between Europe, Ireland and the UK, and it will encourage further reintegration of the north of Ireland with the Republic of Ireland in a new, prosperous relationship, leading to future reunification.
Emil Jacobs’ ‘Luddite delusions’ was a commendable article because it debunks the hysteria around nuclear power and drew readers’ attention to the use of thorium rather than uranium as the fissile fuel in reactors (February 25).
But it was not so good on the transmission of electricity, in that he ignores high-voltage DC transmission, which China is now using extensively in its north-south corridors; not so good on gravity-fed storage of electricity - just as well our planet is not wrinkle-free.
But the biggest omission was, of course, the impending rollout of solid state batteries, which because of their energy density marks the death knell of the internal combustion engine. In Germany Mercedes Benz is already providing bus companies with solid state electric buses. The biggest failure of governments has been their failure to legislate around universal batteries, which can be swopped between cars. Such batteries would turn filling stations from currently pumping petrol to providing recharged batteries and avoid the nonsense of street charging, which mean digging up every road in every town and city.
David Broder has given us another of his academic, inconclusive and ambiguous takes on the history of communism in Italy. His two heroes are Antonio Gramsci and Palmiro Togliatti - although “Togliatti was not, except perhaps for a few years at the beginning of his career under the influence of Gramsci and Bordiga, a genuine revolutionary” (‘The misuses of Gramsci’, February 25).
We are left wondering what a “genuine revolutionary” might be, because Togliatti’s lack of a revolutionary orientation was no bar to his progressivism, according to Broder: “the PCI should nonetheless be credited with a real achievement after 1945: imposing its right to organise, despite often deadly reprisals from (ex-)fascists (no longer any real ones left?) and their CIA, church and mafia allies … For 30 years Italy was not Greece - and that had a great deal of positive impact on Italian democracy and working class life.”
In 1925 Gramsci supported the Stalin-Bukharin bloc. This was his ‘war of position’, by endorsing the nationalist-Stalinist theory of ‘socialism in one country’ - a popular-frontist concession to the peasantry. Gramsci slated Trotsky’s position as an ultra-left rejection of the united front, deliberately confusing the united front with the class-collaborationist popular front. We must understand Gramsci’s opposition to the ultra-leftist ‘third period’ (1928-34) as an attack from the right: he was fine with the Bukharin-Stalin alliance and did not change his mind after the disaster of the Shanghai Soviet massacre in 1927 and the later debacle in Wuhan, in pursuit of the same popular front policy.
Gramsci opposed the blood purges in 1936 - in contrast to Togliatti, who actually participated in them - but he was in a jail, where the Stalinists could not get at him. Togliatti signed the death warrants of leaders of the Polish Workers Party - eliminated because they had supported Pilsudski’s 1926 May coup, which the Polish Socialist Party also supported. Polish independence was brushed aside in the Locarno pact and the ‘disloyal’ Poles thought this was very wrong - as against Stalin, who regarded Poland as merely a bargaining pawn with western imperialism and certainly never to be allowed any independent revolutionary aspirations.
Togliatti was one of Stalin’s counterrevolutionaries in Spain, not least in the suppression and assassination of revolutionary socialists, anarchists and supporters of the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) by the Soviet NKVD death squads in Catalonia - Barcelona in particular. In March 1944, on the orders of Stalin, Togliatti made the svolta di Salerno - the infamous ‘Salerno turn’ to national unity against revolution with the fascist-led Badoglio government, immediately recognised by Stalin.
Gramsci’s ‘war of position’, or ‘war of manoeuvre’, whilst open to any kind of interpretation, was in reality a capitulation to Stalinism. The Italian Communist Party (PCI) was the last major party to ‘benefit’ from Zinoviev’s Bolshevisation of the Comintern, which began in 1924. In the Lyons conference of 1926 Gramsci collaborated with Togliatti in removing Bordiga and the left, and gutting the party of its internal democracy, on Stalin’s instructions - the Socialist Workers Party’s Chris Harman thought this was when the party began its real life, like Broder (but then he would, given that his current did just that to its own internal democracy in 1974).
Broder thinks that “the Italian party’s democratic mores were particularly shaped by the fact that it had been crushed so early in its development”, instead of acknowledging that the party ranks were still subjective revolutionaries - albeit with some ultra-left tendencies and illusions in Stalin, because Zinoviev-Stalin could not influence and corrupt it. And it was that subjectively revolutionary base that emerged in northern Italy from 1944 on, and against which Stalin instructed Togliatti to enter into an alliance with the fascist, Badoglio.
This was the reason for the great revolutionary upsurge in northern Italy at the end of the war. The Allies bombed these cities after the fascists were driven out, because they were liberated by the wrong, revolutionary, people and Stalin approved, of course. Stalin was a cynical centrist by 1926, when he organised that Gramsci/Togliatti ousting of Bordiga, but a die-hard counterrevolutionary by 1934, not to mention 1944.
Togliatti, having won control of the party tops, with strong opposition, then set about the grisly work of assassinating the revolutionaries, as he had done in Spain and in the Great Purges. This is the “real achievement after 1945”, with which we should credit him. When he had broken the back of the revolution, the PCI was ousted from the government - as they were in the rest of Europe with the advent of Marshall Aid.
But let us give the last word on Gramsci to an Italian Trotskyist, Paolo Casciola, in his article, ‘Alfonso Leonetti: a turncoat Trotskyist’:
“As a matter of fact, whereas Trotsky emphasised that the ‘democratic transition’ was only one possible variant of the post-fascist development - linked to and dependent upon the revolutionary awakening of the working class - Gramsci saw such an event as ‘the most likely one’, and, on this basis put forward the slogan of a constituent assembly within the framework of a gradualist, Menshevik, popular front perspective. It is not by chance that, a few days before his death, Gramsci let the PCd’I know that ‘the popular front in Italy is the constituent assembly’.
“The Stalinist continuity between Gramsci and Togliatti was thus re-established, after the interlude of the ‘third period’.”
Gerry Downing made his feelings clear in the last Weekly Worker (Letters, February 25). He was extremely unimpressed by “four pages of dense text from James Harvey and Jack Conrad”, discussing the Labour Campaign for Free Speech conference the previous week. I thought they were quite informative myself - perhaps Gerry needs to read them again. However, his real complaint wasn’t the “dense text”, but “the essential failure to understand fascism”.
He writes: “It cannot be defeated simply by political persuasion. Fascism’s central aim is to eliminate by force the organisations of the working class …” Okay, fair enough, but we’re not talking about actual fascist power: we’re talking about fascists.
Gerry further decries “Trump’s defence in encouraging and directing the coup attempt was his right to free speech”. What then is to be done? Ban Fox News (along with the fascists, that is)? Removing free speech from fascists will, to them at least, confirm that the establishment elite are just a bunch of corrupt manipulators supported by a bunch of woke snowflakes, liberals and commies. That’ll help, won’t it?
So, says Gerry, “The demand is to organise to physically confront the fascists, to deny them the streets and public platforms”. There were a few cries of ‘No pasarán’ at the free speech meeting and no doubt Gerry and his comrades are ready to confront the fascists and their colonial mercenaries, as they march on Madrid (sorry, London!).
The comrades will be there too, with their halberds at the ready, to stop Tommy Robinson and his football hooligans from entering Cable Street. By all means picket a meeting or block a march, but this is not the 1930s (although we cannot rule out fascist violence now).
The fascists in Italy and the Nazis in Germany were very much strengthened by those who had fought in World War I: this was much the same in Britain. Some people were extremely pissed off by the conduct of the war, the incompetence of the government, the incompetence of the generals, the deaths of their comrades and the injuries to themselves and their comrades. Many thought that they - well disciplined, proven patriots - could do a lot better than the above, and especially better than those who made a lot of money in the war.
But who are the fascists now? They’ve had some ups and downs (mostly downs. I believe), but I think we can view a great deal of confusion and ignorance there, along with cynics, nutters, self-important idiots and a fair sprinkling of very nasty people. But who’s doing the biggest harm to us now? I’d put Priti Patel and Gavin Williamson ahead of the English Defence League - and even they haven’t killed as many innocent people as Tony Blair is responsible for.
There was a Guardian piece many years ago about a young member of the National Front, who was befriended, despite his attempts to hold on to his racism, by a black co-worker - the lad ended up working undercover for Searchlight. Louis Theroux, some years ago, had a TV piece on the Ku Klux Klan and followed a sad little cell for a while. He discussed a middle-aged woman who professed that when she was in the KKK it was the first time in her life that she had been treated as an equal and given respect. Should they all be silenced?
But Gerry also says: “The other confusion is that the Marxist principle of no-platforming is a demand on the state to ban fascist parties. It is not: of course we do not demand the state ban fascist marches and parties, because we know that such legislation is used overwhelmingly against the left and organised working class. The demand is to organise to physically confront the fascists, to deny them the streets and public platforms, because fascists are qualitatively different from all other forms of reaction, as we have explained above.”
But why on earth add it to a list of demands, including freedom of speech and a free press; opening up corporations and the secret state to scrutiny; rejecting the IHRA; defending freedom of speech in academic institutions and in the labour movement; and so on? These are demands against repressive forces to open up freedoms for the rest of us. If we campaign against repressive forces, but want to keep - or rather add - a single check, who is to enforce this check? I suppose that if we can achieve the freedoms then we can enforce a new limitation ourselves, but to what end?
Already the talk among US ‘progressives’ after the attack on the Capitol is not about controlling fascists or other rightwing nutters, but about the control of ‘extremism’. I don’t think that we can have any doubt that the main ‘extremists’ to be controlled will be on the left, not on the right. As we already know, the worst so-called ‘extremists’ are anti-Zionists, not anti-Semites. I think Gerry would be ‘deplatformed’ before Tommy Robinson ever was.
I’m also sure that there are many who would disagree with the above, and the contradictory nature of the motions passed at the conference shows that we need, at the very least, further discussion on the subject. I was not impressed, however, by some of the abuse levelled at those opposed to closing down free speech to fascists.
There were taunts of ‘liberal’, which in my view was just an insult rather than any sensible political judgment. There were those who liked Trotsky’s idea of connecting fascist faces to the pavement. In fact, from one or two contributors one might think that the pavements of Brighton were flowing with fascist blood; I’m surprised not to have heard about this from the media.
So there was an element of ‘Me, I’m well ’ard’ in some of the contributions. It’s all very well physically fighting fascists if they’re heading off to kill or even intimidate - yes, Cable Street, for instance. But beating up a fascist or two in the present circumstances would just put you in prison - perhaps that explains the lack of blood on Brighton’s streets?
Norman Finkelstein made an excellent contribution in the conference and referred, amongst other things, to Birth of a nation - a classic in film history and an extremely racist one at that. Should it be banned? John Bridge referred to Hitler’s Mein Kampf - which he had on his bookshelf. Should that be banned? Personally I’ve seen the film and have read the book - where would all our criticisms of both be, if they were not available? And who would stop the secret distribution of both anyway?
There is no point in banning these things; they will slip through (unnoticed?) anyway and how will we confront them then? The real problem is that we have no strong, organised left to confront them - and, yes, they need to be confronted. How to do it is a tactical question. If we can overwhelm their numbers, then they may keep their heads down anyway. We might even win some to working class politics - it has been done. If heads need to be crashed into pavements, then, I suggest, that this will be clear - and it isn’t clear yet!
Finally, there was a pro-Zionist who spoke at the conference near the end of the afternoon. No doubt just a provocation and what little we heard wasn’t about to impress the audience. But Tony Greenstein wasn’t satisfied with that; he kept interrupting - why? Was this banning fascists? If it was, then he merely demonstrated what a poor political tactic this is at the present time: she could quite easily have exposed herself further as an idiot if allowed her two minutes, but Tony’s interruptions stopped that. And I speak as one who regularly reads and respects Tony’s blog (he’s had some excellent pieces recently against no-platforming).
A comrade recently told me that the left should be better known as the ‘left behind’, since they expect history to repeat itself. This is because they mostly live in the past, and don’t understand the nature of present-day corporate capitalism. The debate in the Weekly Worker around the question of fascism shows this to be true.
Both sides of the debate assume that modern corporate capitalism in crisis today will turn to old-style fascism as a defence against revolution. The problem with this view is that it fails to understand the contradiction between old-style fascism - which is based on nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism - and the present-day agenda of the global banking and corporate system, which has a global strategy to bring about world government through regional unions like the EU. The agenda of the banking and corporate elite and old-style fascism are completely opposed.
This is essentially the meaning of the recent struggles in the United States, which showed clearly the contradiction between old-style fascism, represented by Trump and supporters, and the corporate elite, represented in this case by Biden. What is coming to the fore is the contradiction within the elite between would-be old-style fascists and their opponents.
In short, present-day corporate capitalism is opposed to old-style fascism based on nationalism, racism and anti-Semitism. It seeks to undermine these old-style reactionaries, as Trump found out to his own cost. These old-style fascists have outlived their historical usefulness, as far as the new corporate capitalism is concerned. The old-style fascists are opposed to the modern corporate agenda, which requires not nationalism and racism or anti-Semitism, but global integration under the control of the corporate elite.
If the leaders of the new corporate elite are opposed to old-style fascism, who will they turn to for defence against revolution and socialism? A simple answer to this question is that they will turn to fake socialism. Even in the 1920s the German fascists had to pretend to be socialist and used the name, ‘National German Socialist Workers Party’, to win working class and petty-bourgeois support.
Today the leaders of the corporate elite are not planning to mobilise or give support to old-style fascist movements; rather they will seek new methods to diffuse revolutionary opposition: pandemic lockdowns; the transhumanist plan to connect humans to technology, aiming at complete mind control.
This is the agenda of the negative elements within the corporate elite. Another word for this is totalitarianism, with the unconscious elements on the left becoming the vehicle for this. In other words, the corporate elite will turn to the unconscious left to impose new-style fascism. George Orwell’s 1984 was more prophecy than fiction. This is why the conscious left must support the Labour Campaign for Free Speech.
The conscious left must also base itself on the need to support democratic socialism, in the struggle against bureaucratic rule and the technologically based totalitarian agenda of the negative elements within the corporate elite. Opposition to old-style fascists will still be necessary, and the corporate elite will even support such opposition, but the conscious left must not close its eyes to the totalitarian agenda of the negative elements within the elite - they pose as anti-fascist, while having a totalitarian agenda of their own.
Campaign For Democratic Socialism
By the time that you read this, there is a good chance that I will be expelled from the GMB union.
My crime? To stand up against injustice, cronyism and the failure of union officials to abide by their own rulebook. The only reason that I have been forced to confront my own union online and in the media is because two ex-general secretaries and the present acting general secretary have refused to investigate my official complaint of gross misconduct against two union officials, one being a regional secretary.
There is now a situation, where one of the officials who I complained about two years ago has made an official complaint against me, and the second official that I complained about, the regional secretary, is actually hearing this complaint at the regional office! But the general secretary is sitting back and allowing this travesty of justice to proceed, which is an affront to the founding principles of trade unionism, amounting to little more than a kangaroo court.
I was unable to work, initially through injury, from 2014, and then I had major limb reconstruction surgery in 2018. But the GMB took my money, yet betrayed me, and effectively stabbed me in the back. Not only have I had to fight my employer, but my own union and its law firm as well.
I have followed the complaints procedure to the letter, and been subjected to lie after lie, and cover-up after cover-up. They ruled against me without even interviewing me or viewing all the evidence. They closed down my complaint, stating that I had exhausted the union’s complaints procedure (lie), only to be forced to reopen it two weeks later, when I initiated a rule 6 appeal (which they had neglected to inform me of). This appeal was then handled at branch level, and a ruling was made against me behind my back, against union rules, ensuring that I was denied any chance of a fair hearing. I then continued with my complaint and was invited to a meeting miles away from my home, in the full knowledge that I was recovering from surgery, had severe mobility issues and had no viable transport.
After I had been unable to work for one year, my employer attempted to intimidate me into attending an appointment with the firm’s occupational health provider to facilitate my dismissal. This may sound reasonable enough, until you realise that I was still in the care of my health authority and had not been signed off as fit to work. The union certainly rose to the occasion, pulling out all the stops - to help my employer! They instructed me to attend, stating that I should accept my dismissal with “good grace”, and the union lawyer also advised me to attend (by letter).
I refused, which led to my success with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) two years later. Had I accepted the union’s instruction, I would neither have received any compensation nor a letter of apology. This begs the question - just who were they working for? My employer then cancelled my union membership (I rejoined on my own initiative) and the union branch office looked the other way!
The following, facts are beyond refute:
1. The legal ombudsman has upheld my complaint of poor service against the union’s law firm (ref 175405).
2. Following my complaint and an investigation, the Three Best Rated website removed the union’s law firm from all of their sites.
3. Because the GMB refused to support me, I myself initiated a claim for constructive dismissal against my employer through Acas, gaining compensation and a letter of apology.
The definition of a bully is “a person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable” - this is the accusation that is being made against me. Because the GMB failed in their duty to me as a union member, I have had to take on four senior managers from my ex-employer (including the personnel director), 12 union officials (including two ex-general secretaries and the present holder of that position) and three members of the union law firm (all directors) - I do not think the accusations of bullying and harassment are appropriate in my case.
I will not submit myself to any ruling or hearing at the Birmingham regional office, for the simple reason that I have made an official complaint against the regional secretary, and have no respect for him - plus several of his fellow officials were also involved with my case. There is no possibility of a fair hearing, and I sincerely believe that they will have me judged and sentenced before I even enter the room.
But I am fully prepared to face all of the above officials, at GMB HQ in London, overseen by the general secretary and senior officials. As a union member, I expect a fair, unbiased investigation.
Membership number 206886G
Weekly Worker readers may, if they like puzzles, wish to purchase and piece together the 1,000-piece jigsaw of the Communist manifesto produced by Penguin Classics - a hilarious and richly symbolic work.
Its panoramic sweep suggests a number of influences on the highly talented artist, Patrice Killoffer, whose creation echoes Picasso’s Guernica, modern graphic novels and ancient South African rock art. The picture is dominated by the lower half of a figure, obviously representing a capitalist: all we see of him are his black trousers, the lower part of his jacket and black shoes. Each of the shoes is being attacked by a ‘husky boy’.
The expression, ‘husky boy’, was one used by the Italian humorist, Giovanni Guareschi, author of The little world of Don Camillo and Don Camillo’s dilemma. In one of these books ‘husky boys’ are stationed - on the instructions from Peppone, an Italian village communist mayor - on the stairs down which an anti-communist speaker must descend, so that they can intercept him. In Killoffer’s picture it is the capitalist who is having his shoes bitten.
In another corner of the picture there is a sort of ‘pig pen’, enclosing pigs wearing top hats and smoking cigars - shades of George Orwell’s Animal farm. In the diagonally opposite corner a forest of trees sprouts fists - there are some 26 in all in the piece. Ecological rebellion? Shades of the Chinese ‘Boxer Rising’?
I could go on, but I don’t want to spoil it for would-be puzzlers. In view of its dimensions, you may find a sizeable table surface useful. Or you may just want to read the Penguin classic edition of the Manifesto.