Comrade (yes, comrade) Allen, your argument is wrong, so very wrong (Weekly Worker November 2). Despite the often personal nature of your 'critique', I shall refrain from plumbing such depths and simply proceed to deconstruct your letter, or, at least, its 'historical section', point by point.
Comrade Allen, you quote Lenin - 'A letter to comrades' - in an attempt to prop up your argument. But you abuse him and tear his words out of their context. Let us, then, repair the damage done by your none-too-convincing attempt at historical cosmetic surgery.
Lenin, in September 1917, was an exile. He was again observing from 'afar' - this time less accurately. He feared opportunism and inertia, so he goaded and cajoled, warned of letting the opportunity slip and an increasing anarchist influence. Lenin, despite the strike-breakers, was wrong. The insurrection conquered and state power was handed to the Second Congress of Soviets - of the 562 voting delegates present in the Smolny, five were anarchists. These, the anarchists elected by the revolutionary workers and soldiers, were not the force on which the revolutionary sword was to fall in the summer of 1918.
I wrote that the Black Guard had been infiltrated "by bandits ... engaging in action of extortion and robbery" (Weekly Worker October 19). This, apparently, was a "patent lie". Moreover, it was a blatant "misrepresentation of anarchism"! We shall see ...
"Regrettable abuses are going on. Unknown persons are conducting arrests and extorting funds in the name of the federation" - despatch of the Russian Anarchist Federation, reprinted in Anarkhiya, April 1 1918. I think the situation is clear to all - both Anarkhiya and the Anarchist Federation were indulging in "lies and misrepresentation against anarchism".
In the same letter, I also asserted that infiltration of the Black Guard by the White counterrevolution was widespread. I further linked this to the unregulatory 'anarchist method' - also, it would seem, a "patent lie". Again, we shall see ...
"The anarchist clubs gave us the opportunity to organise ourselves properly. They were tolerated by the Bolsheviks ... At the beginning of April, 60 or 70 of our members were installed in these clubs. We no longer had to rack our brains to find somewhere to put up our members arriving from the provinces. All I had to do was provide them with a pass" - general Karlis Goppers Four defeats 1920. Goppers was a leading light in the 'Fatherland and Freedom Defence League'.
Are you ignorant of these facts, comrade Allen? If not, then I'm afraid I must ask: "In what way do your words differ from those of Gusev, Martinov and Raskolnikov?"
Silence, comrade, can only serve to render your guilt a certainty.
With reference to Will Pragnell's letter (Weekly Worker November 2), Open Polemic recently published a "considered response" to the concluding section of Jack Conrad's 'No more dead ends', with a 50-column-centimetres argument in its article 'Conrad's "dead end"'. Will has been led into responding to an 11-column-centimetres 'argument' in a 'letter' that was actually concocted by the editor of the Weekly Worker.
Even so, Pragnell needs to read Conrad again, for Jack actually does "explicitly express" his own view on the question of the form of ownership. In fact, Pragnell should put down his own "tick sheet" and read again the one complete paragraph of OP's argument that he does have. He might also familiarise himself with Open Polemic's position on the question of proletarian democracy and human freedom before he again makes the unsubstantiated assertion that OP has "no concept of movement from one to the other".
The UK is not OK.
Comrade Peter Manson (Weekly Worker November 2) writes, referring to the Republican Communist Network: "That is why the CPGB was keen to ensure a better balance through an expanded editorial board, reflecting the anti-nationalist views of the majority (overwhelming in England)".
Peter may not have noticed it, but there are four and a half times as many people in England as in Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Northern Ireland put together. Unless Scotland, Wales, Cornwall and Northern Ireland are much more communist than England, this means that there are likely to be over four times as many republican communists in England as in the other four places. Seeing a lot of English emmets flood off the train in Edinburgh to boost the anti-nationalist vote will only accentuate any feelings of Scottish nationalism north of the border. The English voting fodder are a demonstration in miniature of what life is going to be like in the brave new world of the famous 'Federal Republic of England, Scotland and Wales'.
Again, Peter may not have noticed it, but we live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The aim of republican communists can only be to dissolve the United Kingdom.
The UK needs electoral reform now. First-past-the-post (FPP) is a poor system under any circumstance, but as the non-two party vote goes up, it becomes ever more of a lottery. The percentage vote needed to win a landslide victory has gone down progressively so that Labour won a massive Commons majority on 43% of the vote in 1997 which would have left them in opposition in the 1950s-60s.
Electoral reform has become an immediate issue and one about which the present government undertook to do something in their manifesto promising a referendum on a proportional alternative to the first-past-the-post system. It seems Tony Blair is about to renege on this promise and offer the electorate a restricted choice between FPP and the 'alternative vote' (single transferable vote - STV - in single-member constituencies), a system which is no more proportional than FPP, can produce even more distorted results and favours centre parties.
The case is for change, not just to PR - a vague term used to cover a plethora of choices, some of which do not even give party proportionality and are as bad as FPP. It is for change to a system which will give results reflecting the wishes of the electorate in all matters of major public concern: ethnic issues and ethnic MPs, women MPs, environmental issues, etc, etc - as a natural feature of the system rather than by manipulative devices such as women-only shortlists.
Why the establishment and the media want to reinvent the wheel every time the subject comes to prominence baffles me. Such a system was defined by the Electoral Reform Society many years ago after a century of impartial study - STV, or preferential voting in multi-member constituencies. The use of multi-member constituencies is essential, both to give choice between candidates of the same party at the poll, and to ensure that most voters will have an MP for whom they voted, and who is likely to sympathise with any problem they may have after the poll. The much vaunted personal relationship between MP and voter under FPP is one-sided: all the benefit is to the MP and all the drawbacks are for the voter.
It is no mystery why the two major parties resist change: pure, unadulterated self-interest. FFP preserves the two-party structure of British politics. It ensures turn and turn-about in power for two parties, neither of which can win a majority vote. It gives party leaders power over MPs who are at risk of losing their seats if they fail to toe the party line. It gives MPs monopoly tenure for life in safe seats as long as they follow the party line. It lets MPs ignore constituents with problems for which they have no sympathy, as they know that no other MP will take up a case for one of their constituents. FPP spawns 'sleaze' - i.e., corruption; 'control freakery' - i.e., Stalinism; and arrogance and makes a mockery of democracy, but so would many of the alternatives mooted by the major parties. Hence the need is for STV, the only system which allows voters to follow their concerns, within, and across, party lines.
Incredibly the media let Tony Blair get away with it. During the fuel crisis and the debate it sparked on the power of government and democracy, no one in the media questioned the mandate of his government against whom 57% voted. They remember the seats and forget the votes! They cannot see the emperor has no clothes!
You bastardsStalinist losers, are you mental? I think so. So the Socialist Party in England and Wales has lost 95% of its membership (Weekly Worker November 2). Considering the SPEW was the biggest group at the Socialist Alliance conference in Coventry, you should quite frankly shut up. Considering you have two or three members who hand out a free paper, this is funny.
There are dozens of Committee for a Workers International sections that are larger than your puny little Stalinist, show-trialing, scab rump, let alone the British section, which has 50 full-timers and six councillors. Face reality: you are a Stalinist rump - shameless, without integrity - and you have to cover your past errors which are far too long to list.
Hitler came to power because of you bastards and you probably would have denounced us for fighting him.
There are a number of errors in the article 'Heart of darkness' (Weekly Worker September 21). Perhaps the most misleading is "Latifari" (paragraphs 6 and 7). This should read velayate faghih, which denotes the key article in the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This article gives god-like powers to the religious ruler - the post currently occupied by Ali Khamenei - over the entire society, civil and political.
My article referred to the term 'Brit left' (Weekly Worker November 2). I wrote, "The 'Brit left' is a nationalist term which expresses their hostility to the working class in Britain." The word "their" was a reference to the nationalists. This was unintentionally ambiguous, and the editor changed it to "the CT's hostility" I did not say "CT" and it was not my intention to say this. I apologise for any unintended embarrassment caused to the Communist Tendency. I also accept that it was a genuine error by the editor trying to clarify my meaning and not intended to distort what I had written.