CPGB wild talk
The CPGB brought a motion to last weekend?s Socialist Alliance executive which was left on the table, like ours from the Alliance for Workers? Liberty. I agreed with much of it: for example, its clear statement that ?we stand completely against the reactionary anti-capitalism of ... islamic fundamentalism?.
I want to comment on one point, though. The motion said: ?The forces of imperialism, led by the USA, are cynically exploiting the situation. There has been a ?declaration of war?. The target will not only be Osama bin Laden and his organisation, but every ?rogue? state and perhaps all those forces opposing capitalism.?
The crimes of the US state are real and horrible enough without us having to resort to wild extrapolation. Whether the phrase ?all those forces opposing capitalism? is intended to cover only the conscious socialists, or the broader labour movements, as yet there is no sign of a new ?war? in the sense of an all-out, brute-force drive by the US to suppress us.
Again, all the evidence is not that the US wanted to launch a war against Afghanistan anyway, and is just ?cynically? seizing on the massacre as an opportunity. For over 20 years, US policy on Afghanistan has been one of opportunistically aiding whomever seems most convenient to them, up to and including the Taliban. Even now, it is unlikely that the US will try to install any sort of colonial rule in Afghanistan.
I don?t know what the US government will do. I don?t want to give them any credit or endorsement. Restraint will be imposed on them, if it is imposed, by their awareness that they cannot in fact ?impose the new world order?, let alone do as Paul Wolfowitz spoke of doing and ?end states? wholesale across the world.
But shouting Armageddon now does not strengthen our struggle against the US state and its allies. It is more likely to have the sort of effect for that struggle that wild talk about the police being fascist, etc, had for the left in the 1970s. And it may lead to the necessary argument against ?reactionary anti-capitalism? being drowned out by the Armageddon-shouting.
CPGB wild talk
CPGB wild talk
Details of the forthcoming Unison United Left conference are slowly trickling through to activists. Discussion items include privatisation, the political fund and racism. These are important issues over which the United Left must take a view.
However, no time appears to have been allocated to the US-led war drive. Hopefully, this is an oversight on the part of the organisers and will be remedied in time for the conference. The war will seriously affect Unison members, especially those working for local authorities - whose departments have to deal with security issues and the aftermath of the conflict.
The attack on civil liberties will be acutely felt. During the Gulf War, Lambeth Labour councillors and other members found themselves at the sharp end of a witch hunt and were expelled or suspended for exposing these issues and speaking out against the war.
The repercussions of a clampdown for Unison activists is obvious. Unison must adopt policies that serve the interests of its membership and the wider working class first - not fall behind the flag-waving jingoism to come. The role of the United Left is pivotal
Perhaps your masthead should now read ?Urgently towards a Socialist Alliance party?, so that a credible socialist/communist alternative to fight for our diminishing rights can be built.
The atrocities carried out in the USA were a gift to the right. They will now tell us that such things as ID cards and perhaps DNA profiling will be necessary to help defend our liberty. How would either of these proposals stop suicide bombers? And who is going to fight for us in the workplace? Don?t look for guidance from the TUC. They were only too glad to shut up shop early to stop a display of dissatisfaction - not only with their New Labour buddies in government, but with the non-leadership of the TUC itself.
It wouldn?t surprise me if Blair and co gladly cancel the Labour conference. They feel they can govern without the support of the unions or their own rank and file, as they have many capitalist backers now on board. They display contempt for the leftwing Labour MPs and Morning Star supporters, who believe that Labour and the unions will be ?won back? to socialism (they never were socialist). If Labour had been a real socialist party there would surely have been a revolution in 1926, and consequently no House of Windsor, House of Lords, etc.
So please, all concerned, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, proceed urgently towards a Socialist Alliance party!
The Socialist Alliance claims to support the Harry Stanley Justice Campaign. The campaign organiser is Beccy Palmer, SWP Hackney district organiser, and its secretary is Terry Stewart, SWP member, both of whom are in the SA.
On June 5 this year, the campaign held a public meeting at the Ocean Centre in Hackney. The only reason for this meeting was to give Cecilia Prosper, local SA candidate, a public platform. On September 19 the campaign held a picket of the Crown Prosecution Service. It was abysmal! Out of the SWP?s claimed 400 members in Hackney, only Stewart and a photographer turned up. In a mail-out of upcoming events from Hackney SA, the picket wasn?t even mentioned.
As a friend of Harry Stanley, a founding member of the campaign and previously chair, even I wasn?t informed about the picket. I found out about it just a few days before and was able to mobilise a few people.
The SWP can mobilise to defend its point d?honneur in SA internal meetings, but not against the class enemy. Classic sectarianism! Those of you not in the SWP, be careful: if you lay down with dogs you will get fleas. What I?d like to know is, the SA supporting the fight for justice or just using Harry?s murder like a bunch of grave-robbers?
I have an apology to make to comrades in the form of an additional note to Mary Godwin?s characteristically diligent and comprehensive report of the September 16 members? aggregate of the Communist Party (Weekly Worker September 20).
Mary writes that ?at the instigation of the Party leadership, CPGB members elected a new Provisional Central Committee? at the meeting. Two comrades stepped down, Tina Becker was elected as a candidate member and John Bridge, Marcus Larsen and Mark Fischer were re-elected as full members of our leadership. The election should not have taken this form, however.
It is a question of procedure on one level, of the democratic culture of the organisation on another. In the internal bulletin that notified comrades of the PCC election and the leadership?s proposals, it was not suggested that the PCC as a whole be put up for re-election. Nominations and contributions to debate were called for on a limited basis of accepting the resignations of two members and elevating comrade Becker.
Of course, it is important to emphasise that all PCC members and national officials are recallable at any time by the membership. Leaders have no fixed tenure of office, but can actually be replaced today by a vote of the majority.
After a brief aggregate discussion on the original proposals from the PCC (see Mary?s report), it was suggested to me in a whispered aside from another leading comrade that we take votes on all PCC members, not simply the candidate, Tina Becker. This suggestion was prompted by the best of motives: a sort of spontaneous democratism that stands in such vivid relief to so much of the rest of the left.
Its spontaneity was its problem, however. As aggregate chair, I was wrong to accept the proposal. It was thoughtless of me precisely because the leadership had proposed only a limited discussion on PCC composition. My position, for example, had not been suggested for review. Therefore it should not have been sprung on comrades to confirm or otherwise.
After all, if we had proposed a full consideration of the individuals on the PCC, then comrades would have been prompted to discuss in their cells the merits and demerits of our leadership team. Those with half-formed criticisms, qualms about certain individual?s performances and the viability of ?team PCC? could have shared them with others. Either these worries would then have been smoothed away or they perhaps could have hardened in a steely resolve to expose the lot of us as the proto-Menshevik hyena pack that some of our chums on the left will assure you we are.
Thus, I and other full members have been re-elected onto the leadership in quite a passive way by the membership.
Of course, we should not get anal about this sort of stuff and this mea culpa is not too agonised, as I hope comrades can tell. I reiterate: comrades can recall me or any other members of the PCC tomorrow if they so wish. However, procedure is important and we clearly have made a mistake. My apologies once again, comrades.
In reply to Ron Allen (Letters, September 20) and my supposed appalling ignorance of anarchism, I did not mean to imply that Bakunin wrote (except perhaps in his private correspondence) about the desirability of top-down organisation - but that he did it in practice (September 13).
The ?clever scholars? referred to here are not the general intellectual and scientific elites, but a particular upper class intellectual elite in the form of comrade Bakunin and his cohorts organising secretly through a network of personal contacts to achieve their aims. This is not the open clash of ideas, but the backroom sectarian manoeuvring that has proved so harmful to the left. Do we have a disagreement over matters of fact here or is it a question of interpretation?
I had expected a reply along the lines that the comrades were not Bakuninites, but believed in organising from the bottom up and through open debate. Their replies imply that is the case. However, they say nothing as to their actual practice. Andrew Flood, in his letter (September 13), remarked that secret and open organisation usually went hand in hand in politics. True, but most politics are about the triumph of minorities, and are essentially Machiavellian. Lying is the core of their project.
I accept that there are limits to political openness because of the nature of the state. We may be in complete agreement here, but in the light of this apparent blindness to Bakunin?s behaviour I would like to know how the comrades distinguish between secret and open faces and common or garden sectarianism.
It?s been pointed out to me by a friend that the opening part of my letter in the Weekly Worker (September 6) could be read as an attack on Red Action. In fact, from what I have seen of RA?s critique of multiculturalism - eg, G O?Halloran, ?Race attack? (Red Action February-March 1999); and J Reilly, ?Time to dump multiculturalism? (July-August 2001) - it looks pretty good.