In his article Driven by neglect, Huw Bynon describes the Searchlight group as respectable and anti-fascist (April 20 2006).
In my experience, Searchlight employs biased, inaccurate and dated reporting; thus failing to portray the realities of our multicultural society: ie, the xenophobia displayed by minority groups.
Thus one can only speculate on the Searchlight groups true agenda.
With regard to Peter Mansons article, How to fight for party, the first sentence says it all: Around 20 comrades came together for the first London meeting of the Campaign for a Marxist Party on January 21.
Twenty?! While it is nice to see this unusual honesty in the Weekly Worker, surely this pathetic turnout should come as bitter reality check for your own delusional influence in the world. As a sectarian scandal sheet, the Weekly Worker is worth reading for a good laugh, but please stop the CMP nonsense. You represent nothing.
I think key in a new programme is to get away from slogans - transitional or not. They end up on the bottom of leaflets with no implementation. I advocate the necessity for transitional organisations. Not just soviets, but the need to democratise and thus revolutionise every structure, whether labour union or neighbourhood committee. (For example, in Chile there is a huge organisation of those who cannot pay their mortgages. They are proposing linking with the unemployed movement.)
Most structures in capitalism are run by cliques: capitalist cliques and labour bureaucrat cliques, but the left is no different. Democracy does not negate democratic centralism. We do not need cliques. We do not propose coups. We need socialist practice and socialist morality within the revolutionary party and without. We cannot overthrow capitalism with the same bloody amoralism that capitalism uses and then promise that after the revolution we will be different.
Dave Isaacson still doesnt get it. I would encourage everyone to take a look at the Communist Students website (www.communiststudents.org.uk) and decide for themselves. How much autonomy does CS really have from the CPGB? My judgement is that its in no meaningful sense autonomous of the CPGB, but people should judge for themselves.
Dave Isaacson, executive member of Communist Students and member of the CPGB, says that there is no unanimity within the CPGB, let alone a line on the Marxist position on the state and theories of imperialism. This may or may not be true, but what clearly unifies them is their rejection of Marx and Engelss understanding of the nature of the state and of the dictatorship of the proletariat, following the Paris Commune of 1871.
Of course, the Marxists of the CPGB do not attack Marx and Engels directly, but use the time-honoured methods of their Stalinist predecessors in attacking or distorting Lenin (or they say that Lenin has been distorted and consequently misunderstood - that Lenin was really a Kautskyite!).
The CPGB cannot propagate their nonsense about democratising the bourgeois state without throwing out Lenins key understanding of the nature of the state and the central requirement of the dictatorship of the proletariat; and one cannot do this without rejecting absolutely fundamental aspects of the Marxism of Marx and Engels on these matters (just read what they wrote!).
The best remedy for the anti-Marxist, Menshevik trash that Conrad, Macnair et al spew out in the pages of Weekly Worker and elsewhere is for comrades to read for themselves Lenins State and revolution from August-September 1917. It is based throughout on the writings of Marx and Engels, combined with the actuality of the unfolding revolution in Russia. I am sure I have a spare copy.
There seems to be a certain amount of confusion as to Marxs views on the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In his Critique of the Gotha programme, Marx has the following to say: Between the capitalist society and the communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of one into the other. To this there corresponds a political transition period whose state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.
With their recent decision to endorse and support the colonial police in the occupied Six Counties of Ireland, Sinn Féin have announced their de facto surrender to the British state in return for a piece of the same neoliberal pie which has already condemned workers in the Irish Republic to deepening social and economic injustice.
The Blair government, surely the most corrupt, venal and immoral in a long line of British governments, has succeeded in defeating the Provisional IRA through a steady and sustained process of detaching the head, which is the leadership, from the body comprising the hundreds of volunteers who sacrificed life and liberty for the legitimate cause of a united Ireland. Seduced by the elevated status accorded them by the oppressors of their people, by the proximity to power and influence, they have by turns beguiled, bullied and intimidated their community into either supporting the abandonment of the struggle or remaining quiescent as that abandonment took place.
At a time when the world is on fire, when resistance to that juggernaut of death and destruction otherwise known as US-led imperialism and neoliberalism in the Middle East has never been fiercer, when a second front against that same juggernaut continues to grow in Latin America, Sinn Féins removal from the stage as a European outpost of the global anti-imperialist struggle takes on added and even more bitter significance.
Malcolm X once said: Revolutions are never based on begging a corrupt society or a corrupt system to accept us into it. Yet this is precisely what Sinn Féin began doing when they signed up to the Good Friday agreement, entering a political cul de sac which, in their latest decision to support the Police Service of Northern Ireland, has brought an end to the rising in this current generation against the colonial occupation of six counties of Ireland by a foreign power.
There is a school of thought, prevalent among sections of the UK left, which continues to maintain that the British government is eager to withdraw from Ireland at the earliest conceivable opportunity, due, they maintain, to it being an economic and military drain. It is a dangerous school of thought, one which has led to a lack of engagement in the Irish struggle on the part of the left, testament to an astounding lack of understanding of the role of any ruling class.
Britains role as a junior partner to US imperialism means that the break-up of the British state would have consequences on a global scale, delivering both a material and psychological blow to Washington in its ongoing project to secure US global economic hegemony, whether through US control of international institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation and World Bank or through overt military operations such as that currently taking place in the Middle East. By retaining possession of the Six Counties, the British ruling class maintain their place at the table as a junior partner, thus gaining the crumbs from that table in the form of access to raw materials, markets and status (and status should never be underestimated in its importance to a class consumed with being lauded and respected on an individual and collective basis).
Britain is nothing more than a US policeman on the beat in the north Atlantic, a bastion of free market fundamentalism and a Hessian state charged with looking after US strategic and military interests in this part of the globe. It is the same role played by Israel in the Middle East, South Korea in south-east Asia and Colombia in Latin America. It is much too important a role in the eyes of both the British and US imperialist class to be risked or compromised in any way, which explains the efforts of both the Clinton and Bush administrations to push the peace process through to its logical conclusion - namely the complete defeat of mainstream republicanism both militarily and politically.
Without recourse to military action, Sinn Féin will never be more than another tepid, social democratic formation occupying the centre-left of the political landscape, formations the like of which have spread throughout western Europe in line with the prerogatives of the so-called Washington consensus. New Labour has set the standard for those formations and the existing leaders of Sinn Féin are set on reaching it, allowing the rise of a catholic middle class without effecting any qualitative change in social relations - in so doing following the template of South Africa under the African National Congress, another ex-revolutionary organisation which has embraced neoliberalism at the expense of its people.
Go into Belfast city centre today and you will see a city seemingly reborn. The abundance of cafes, restaurants, bars and upmarket shops speak of a burgeoning economy in which everybody wins. But scratch the surface and you come to the reality in the shape of spiralling debt on the back of easily available consumer credit, rising crime, drug abuse and the individuation of working class communities on both sides of the sectarian divide. For in any society predicated on the separation of winners and losers, it is the working class that loses, if not in the short term then most assuredly in the long term.
Bobby Sands famously once wrote that our revenge will be the laughter of our children. Sadly, that laughter will have to be put on hold for another generation. For the present generation of Irish children, theirs will be a future of exploitation, inequality, indignity and alienation at the hands of an occupying power, aided and abetted by former revolutionaries whove willingly offered their people up for sale to multinational corporations in return for status, power and individual gain.
Ultimately, the existing SF leaderships short-term reward for sending their organisation into the night as a national liberation movement has guaranteed in the long term their calumny in the court of history, a court in which the intellectual gymnastics employed by Adams, McGuinness et al in order to justify such an egregious act are inadmissible.
The Morning Star last week was delighted to report that Cuban leader Fidel Castro had recovered sufficiently from serious illness to be shown on TV meeting Hugo Chávez.
While wishing the comrade well, we have to ask why his health is apparently so important to the success of Cuba as a state. Why are socialist societies so fragile, and so undemocratic, that their stability relies on the continued public appearances of elderly leaders? Surely, at 80, Castro should be allowed to retire and a new government should be elected by the population. It creates a poor impression of the quality of democracy under socialism that its enemies eagerly await, and its friends dread, the consequences of the death of a single sick old man.
The surprise Conservative motion recognising that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada has shown (yet again) just how important Quebec is to Canadian political life. And for at least the fifth time in the last quarter century, the left has been caught flat-footed by developments shaped by Quebecs weight in the federation and its enduring national aspirations.
Still, the present context is fluid enough that the left can win a hearing for a very different approach to the constitutional file. We cannot and need not allow ourselves to be outflanked by the cynical manoeuvring of the Conservatives or bamboozled by the Liberals into a patriotic alliance against virtually the entire spectrum of left-progressive opinion in Quebec.
If nothing else, the Conservative motion and the cliff-hanger Liberal leadership race confirm that we are living through a period of tremendous volatility in elite-level politics - particularly electoral volatility. The present volatility is striking in several respects, not least that, save for the honourable exception of the new leftwing Québec Solidaire party in Quebec, social-movement and activist-left politics in the country are at a very low ebb indeed. It is safe to say that the turbulence above has not been caused by upheaval from below - not in the immediate, massive countrywide marches-in-the-street sense at any rate.
Though difficult, it is necessary to chart a way forward out of the current mess from a left-progressive perspective: against the neoliberal, technocratic, authoritarian drift of mainstream political and institutional life, and toward a radical solution genuinely reflective of Canadas complex multinational, multi-ethnic and regional realities.
The social and political left should see the current fluid context as a window of opportunity for advancing a radically different, multinational vision of the federation, as a central component of an anti-neoliberal project - in line with the Bolivarian project for the Americas taking root across Latin America.
The Canadian left cannot avoid dealing with constitutional questions - or afford to squander this opportunity to tackle them in the present relatively fluid context. We have a supportive ally in Quebec ready to respond to any and all overtures from sincere and principled forces in English-speaking Canada.
To be sure, this will be difficult to put into practice in the current defensive period. But, unlike what we have tended to see since the famous free trade debates in the late 1980s, there is an undercurrent of goodwill towards Quebec among many left forces in the rest of the country. This can be found among younger people brought into politics by the anti-globalisation protests at Seattle and the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in 2001 and the anti-war protests of 2003 to the present day; and among older leftists and progressives unimpressed by the stale patriotic rallying cries of a corrupt Liberal Party so totally committed to the corporate agenda.
Adopting a new approach on Quebec and the constitution is not only a matter of principle, but also a strategic precondition for building a durable pan-Canadian alliance of the left, achieving true democratic reform and breaking out of the maddening jurisdictional dead-end around socio-economic questions at the municipal and provincial levels (healthcare, labour laws, childcare, housing, public transit, and so forth). Such an alliance represents a far more viable and winning strategic orientation in the medium term than continuing down the path of the parliamentary horse-trading and zigzags on Quebec.
This means pushing for a reopening of the constitution and preparing now for the day when it is reopened, as it necessarily will be one day. Better to begin cobbling together a solution on our own terms now than to play catch-up in a context of crisis. We do not want to find ourselves outflanked yet again by Liberal and Conservative elites.
Though still fragile and tentative, Québec Solidaire provides the first opportunity in a generation to carry a different approach forward outside the marginal confines of the far left, with an ally in Quebec that is open to such cooperation and has real weight and prospects for growth. With the Liberals now rebounding from their previous lows and the Greens threatening it in the polls, the New Democratic Party is entering a new period of crisis and introspection. It may be possible to push the party back towards the more Quebec-friendly positions taken in the early days of the Jack Layton leadership.
In Quebec, Québec Solidaire has advanced the idea of a constituent assembly as a way to engage and mobilise broad sectors of the population in fashioning the constitution of a sovereign Quebec, which would then be submitted for approval in a referendum. This is a radically democratic approach which the rest of Canada would do well to emulate - taking the whole matter of how we want to run the country out of the hands of the constitutional experts, media blowhards, bureaucrats and corporate lobbyists that monopolise debate and entrench division and deadlock.
We can promote such an approach in a way that places socio-economic questions front and centre. The current constitutional arrangement ties the hands of those looking to beat back privatisation and raise standards across the country. Far from representing a line of last defence against capitalist globalisation, the federal state and its provincial, territorial and municipal tributaries are active agents of the neoliberalisation and commodification of every aspect of life and politics. No alternative to neoliberalism is possible without a radical break from the current pan-Canadian institutional order.
This can be the contribution of Canada, Quebec and Aboriginal peoples to the Bolivarian project sweeping across Nuestra América - uniting the peoples of the hemisphere against neoliberalism and US imperialism.
It appears that Bethnal Green and Bow Respect has the moralistic hump. In December they did not get their way at a Tower Hamlets council meeting over strip and lap dancing clubs. This revolved around who could outdo the other, Labour or Respect, on who had the more moralistic stance on so-called sexploitation.
So outraged were Respect that they decided to name and shame Labour councillors after they aborted any further discussion. The demand for another council meeting to debate the issue was refused by the council leader. Respect has now set up the progressive-sounding Campaign Against People Exploitation to disguise the Socialist Workers Partys accommodation to the rightwing, puritanical agenda of the mosque.
Not satisfied with campaigning against strip and lap-dancing clubs and pubs, George Galloway has now turned his attention to another of those dens of iniquity. Responding to the governments announcement of Manchester as the location for the countrys first super-casino, a parliamentary assistant to Galloway is quoted in the East London Advertiser as saying: We must fight the opening up of gambling, just as we are fighting to stop the growth of the sex industry to service the city.
Given that gambling takes place on every high street through betting shops and slot machines in pubs and takeaways, this seems like a challenging task. What is their tactic going to be - name and shame the punters? And what other vices are in their sights? Pubs and off licences?
Regarding Gerry Downings article, the history is one thing re a better understanding of the lies spread in the name of establishment religions (The sigh of the oppressed, February 1). But the most important need is for a replacement of these powerful relics with a new, international, real peoples religious movement, based on democratically evolved, universal morality.
The philosophy of life and human social development in the modern world are the true religion and do not need to be impugned with a deity, or deities, of any description or image. If the masses need a god in image form, it is best construed as life or nature or earth spirit in the abstract, and maybe a magnificent large local tree, mountain or river in the concrete.
Eddie Fords article, Voting for Britain, predictably added little to our understanding of prejudice. That it was a matter of fact that the Indian actress is not a UK citizen or resident was used to justify prejudice. Obviously the colour of Shilpa Shettys skin was not the basis of racism. Consider all the other past Asian contestants in Big brother. Lovable cockney Frank Bruno and Lancashires Amir Khan are good examples of the CPGBs wish for integration and assimilation into being British.
New Labour came to power when they cant even speak English properly with their ridiculously extreme overuse of the word British. Their TV propaganda ended with the British bulldog wrapped in the union jack. The left cheered whilst New Labour waved their British flags.
The key reason for the young womens hatred was that they wrongly imagined the Indian actress was fucking false. Jade Goody later said she learnt a lesson which the Weekly Worker didnt notice. Foreign ways of treating others does not mean they are false and unnatural. Their ignorance of culture is mainly a blinkered view of the British playground culture of bullying, backbiting and pecking orders that often carry on to the workplace.
Now I have always identified Channel 4 as the liberal establishment and note the drive to change came from below in the streets of India and the Indian community in Britain. The CPGB attitude reminds me of Militant in the 1980s when any concern about racism, sexism and homophobia was petty bourgeois automatically by definition.
We should be interested in how our class really conducts itself. The CPGB seems blinkered about British nationalism whilst for many of the British working class it is their main political value and their bottom line in politics.
It is ironic that Phil Kent accuses Jim Moody of missing the point in his Some more equal than others article. Jim quite rightly stated that Ruth Kelly was completely unsuited for the post of minister for equality because of her agreement with the demand of some religious groups that they should be able to continue discriminating against gays. It is Phil himself who spectacularly misunderstands the whole issue.
First of all, Phil says that Kelly was completely on message in her desire to grant, for example, catholic adoption agencies special exemption from provisions in the Equality Act which prohibit such discrimination (Letters, February 1). Where has Phil been? Everyone knows that the cabinet was split on the issue, with Kelly and Blair in the minority that favoured religious exemption. Kelly was off message on this one (and Blairs intervention is no longer enough to sway the cabinet, but that is another story).
However, comrade Kent then contradicts himself, agreeing after all that she is critical of the policies she has to implement. But this should not disqualify her from carrying out her job, says Phil. In my opinion it is crazy to put someone who is fundamentally opposed to a policy in charge of implementing it. Kelly is not only against equality for gays, but has actively tried to put that opposition into practice when it comes to their right to adopt. Making her minister for equality is like appointing Nick Griffin head of the Commission for Racial Equality - opposing such absurdities has nothing whatsoever to do with an unwillingness to accept democratic centralism.
Comrade Kents biggest confusion, though, is over his apparent belief that the running of adoption agencies by religious groupings is all part of their wanting to minister to their own communities. Similarly, Dennis Wellbeck states: Either we believe that people have the right to hold and to practise their religion or we dont - as though, for example, placing orphaned children with suitable adoptive parents is somehow a religious act (Letters, January 25). Perhaps the churches should be allowed to distribute state social security to their own communities (and, of course, withhold it as they see fit, according to their deeply held convictions - after all, you could always go to another job centre if you got turned away)?
No, the arrangement of adoption should be under the control of the state and subject to democratic accountability, not left in the hands of private bodies allowed to make up their own rules according to whatever prejudices they hold.
This is totally different from the way the bigoted individuals Phil refers to should be handled. He is right to say that people have all sorts of prejudices and ought not to be judged according to their views alone.
There is no reason why under normal circumstances anyone would want to enquire of either adoption agency workers or prospective adoptive parents about their religious or political beliefs - there should be no discrimination on such grounds (which is why the Weekly Worker opposes the sacking of dancer Simone Clarke from the English National Ballet because of her membership of the British National Party).
It is only when people abuse their position and attempt to put their reactionary views into practice that action should be taken against them - Ruth Kelly being a case in point. And, of course, religious people who apply for adoption should be judged just like anyone else - their faith would only be relevant if it led them to harm the adopted child: if they insisted on circumcising a baby girl on religious grounds, for instance.
All this is a pretty basic outline of secularism in practice within this particular field and ought not to pose a problem for any democrat, irrespective of their religious beliefs. But Phil seems to actually welcome the continuation of religious interference in the running of adoption on the grounds that some people only feel at home with someone from their own cultural, religious background. In that case why stop at adoption? Maybe we should advocate separate shops, separate leisure facilities, separate public services