Thatcher in trousers
I was a member of the Labour Party for 16 years. I resigned in 1994 when Tony Blair was elected leader.
Mr Blair is just Mrs Thatcher in trousers. I cannot support New Labour for three reasons. First, the war and occupation of Iraq, as I predicted, has turned out to be a disaster.
Second, Gordon Browns decision to make the Bank of England independent of government has led to a debt-fuelled credit bubble. This has resulted in the City of London becoming an international financial aircraft carrier parked in the middle of a banana republic. The £8.8 billion in bonuses recently given to 4,000 City speculators has led to a dramatic rise in property prices across the south of England.
Third is the refusal of the government to allow local councils to build much-needed council housing. This has led to a bubble in house prices. Linked to this has been the bubble in the buy-to-let market, which has led to the re-emergence of the blood-sucking Rachman-like private landlords not seen in Britain since the 1960s.
The Tories are waiting for the housing market to do to New Labour what it did to the Conservative Party in the early 1990s. They cannot openly admit this because, like the doctor blamed for the patients ailment, they would be held responsible for the rapid rise in home repossessions.
When the private housing market collapses, as is now happening in the United States, New Labour will deserve all that is coming to it.
Thatcher in trousers
Thatcher in trousers
Like John Smithee, my mind boggles at socialists like Michael Meacher and their property empires.
But is home ownership the best way to judge someone and their claims to be socialist? A better way is surely to examine their policies and beliefs. Meacher may not be revolutionary, but is hardly rightwing. Hes on the left, isnt he? Mind you, if hes actually a social democrat, then thats progressive enough for me!
Im not sure how much a genuine socialist should own. Any suggestions?
Thank you for publishing our letter under the witty title, Cultural gurus (February 22).
Following your welcome move to revise the CPGBs Draft programme, wed like to make another comment. It concerns the Criticism and self-criticism section, the second paragraph of which reads:
Criticism in no way implies the undermining of the individual or collective concerned, but improving their contribution to the party and party discipline. It shows the individual or collective being criticised why their attitude accords neither with the interests of the class nor the party.
No progressive 21st century communists should have any time for the tough-nut remnants of British Stalinoid bureaucratic failure, shamelessly encapsulated here in undeviatingly instrumental language and stuffed into our brain boxes with such obvious relish.
Its rubbish. Of course criticism can in lots of terrible or stupid ways undermine the individual or the collective; anyone who has been part of the left/CPGB knows this full well. Only the most grizzled survive, because criticism here is devoid of any lived intellectual or philosophical creative expression. Whats left of praxis is survival code, old left porno-uncle euphemisms for mythologised sado-Leninist coercion.
And what exactly does their attitude accords neither with mean? The subject me and the object party enter into unity, do they? Bollocks! The particular and the general are never in accord and they never, ever will be. This is a false-harmony, socialist-realist pop ditty, where the party becomes a stand-in ham actor for the big, bad, butch totality - capitalism.
The Rotten Elements go along with Mike Macnairs recent suggestion and recommend a regular democratic change of leadership in the CPGB.
This is in response to Barry Biddulphs letter (February 22). In Trotskys definition, the permanent revolution is the growing over of the democratic revolution into the international socialist revolution. From this there is an obvious logic of having a democratic programme and an international socialist programme.
Barry, however, doesnt accept this. He makes a distinction between the young Trotsky (1906) and the mature Trotsky (1928). He explains the idea of growing over as a mature Trotsky having to compromise his ideas to fight off Stalinism.
Barry thinks the young Trotsky abolished the distinction between democratic revolution and socialist revolution. He simply blew it away. There could be no growing over, for there was nothing to grow over from.
If the democratic revolution is liquidated, the vital question of which class would lead the democratic revolution is also abolished. For Lenin, which class would lead the democratic revolution was the central question and crucial to his fight with the Mensheviks and the liberal bourgeoisie.
Barrys theory about the young Trotsky doesnt hold water. So no sooner has Barry dispensed with the democratic revolution than he reintroduces democracy into his theory. He explains that at the outset democracy would begin the struggle for socialism. The meaning of this is not clear to me. Perhaps it was a throwaway line? But possibly it means at the outset, or in the beginning, the achievement of democracy would begin the struggle for socialism?
This would mean replacing the democratic revolution with a democratic stage or phase of the socialist revolution. We should therefore stick with the mature Trotsky who had direct revolutionary experience in the leadership of 1917. Here the growing over of the democratic revolution into the socialist revolution, uninterruptedly, seemed feasible.
It is mistake to dismiss the reflection of an experienced revolutionary as if he were merely an opportunist trying to save his own skin. No doubt he did have to clarify in 1928 exactly what he meant by permanent revolution. Especially if some of his youthful exuberance had left him open to misrepresentation by the Stalinists. But I have sufficient respect for Trotsky to believe that in 1928 he tried to clarify his ideas honestly and not opportunistically. Growing over are words Trotsky carefully considered.
As for Mike Belbins comments, I see them as generally supportive. The plug and socket analogy can be complemented by the analogy of two steps for walking. When we are moving forward, one step grows over into another.
Dont trust workers
Gerry Downings comment that the CPGB is severing democracy from its class base is absurd (Letters, March 1). There is a class society in Cuba, but it is not the workers who rule. Castro and the elite do. Democracy would, however, force class interests and divisions out into the open.
I didnt know that there was such a concept within Trotskyism as good Stalinism, which acts in the genuine class interest of the workers, but obviously, for Gerry, Castro and Tito fall into this camp. Gerry seems to believe that class interest is a technical matter based on the socialisation of production. In which case, it can better be carried out by a trained technocrat than by the untrained, ignorant and emotional masses. This is the argument that has raged between democrats and autocrats from the time of the ancient Greeks, and Gerry, just like the Stalinists, has come down on the side of Aristotles men of gold.
Gerry has an incredibly narrow elitist view of democracy, as demonstrated when he postulates that Castro, on his death bed, might allow free elections. This is essentially a bourgeois model of democracy for the workers: a concession from above and limited to voting now and again. For him real workers democracy can only be based on the economic foundation of nationalised industry rather than democracy being the only possible basis for the planned economy.
No concept here of democracy as a struggle from below. No idea of democracy as the mode of discourse of science, without which they can be no such thing as scientific socialism. No thought of socialism being the self-liberation of the majority class in society in the interest of humanity as a whole and hence unavoidably a democratic act.
I was amused by Gerrys assertion that Castro continues to be so popular, but if his regime had to face an election it would inevitably be swept aside - and this before a single evil American dollar has been spent on bamboozling the simple, ignorant minds of the Cuban masses. So much for his faith in the Cuban education system that he praised as a real gain of the revolution. But, joking aside, he is on strong grounds here because it is what has happened everywhere else. To make a relatively uncomplicated point, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Stalinism prepares the workers in any way whatsoever for the political revolution that Trotskyism anticipates. Quite the contrary.
I readily admit that the fall of the Soviet bloc has cost the left a lot in terms of credibility (not least because Trotskyism alibied Stalinism with the theory of the deformed workers state), but to regain our credibility we need a consistent strategy for working class power. Castro does not have that, or anything like it.
Dont trust workers
Dont trust workers
Friends like these
In my letter of February 8 I did not mean to make any judgements about whether Cuba is or is not socialist. My point was that writers in the Morning Star assert that it is socialist, and probably thousands of people beyond their readership would agree that, if socialism exists anywhere in the world any more, it is in Cuba. If this is what people think, then the way the Cuban government behaves will play a part in shaping how people perceive socialism and its merits.
I now see that socialism has even worse friends than Castro and his government, in the form of your correspondents, Michael Little (Letters, February 15) and Gerry Downing (March 1). I expect they have less influence on public awareness of socialism than Fidel Castro does. They assert that if they were in Castros place they would not allow elections in case voters were influenced by US propaganda.
Surely to admit that is to give the US the greatest propaganda victory against socialism it could want? Come on, comrades, have more faith in the value of the ideas of socialism. The imperialists have been allowed for too long to pose as the defenders of freedom and democracy. Lets tell the world the ideas of Marxism are powerful because they are true.
Friends like these
Friends like these
HOPI conditioningp>I am concerned about your recent support for the group which calls itself Hands Off the People of Iran (Confident beginning, March 1). My concern is that this group is actually using the same anti-Iranian propaganda that the neo-cons and war hawks are using to try and condition the British and American people to the idea of war against Iran. They even repeat the same quotes used by the Israelis.
By setting up this group in Britain and touring universities, they are actually trying to condition young activists of Britain to the idea of regime change. The vital question to ask is: if the bombs drop on Tehran, will this group still be calling for regime change?
It seems that the students and working class forces of Iran have declared solemnly to fight against US imperialism, imperialist war and Mahmoud Ahmadinejads pro-capitalist righteous policy. So, to quote your headline on the launch of HOPI, it really is a confident beginning - no doubt about it.
But it should always be remembered that only strong unity among Iranian left parties can beat Iranian capitalism. Iranian workers should remember that Iran is an islamic state. Religion can sometimes break the unity of workers movements very easily, so they always should be conscious of it.
I appreciate that comrade Torabs speech is very realistic and its true that the Iranian working class should oppose both imperialism and the reactionary anti-imperialism of Ahmadinejad. However, fighting for socialism means fighting against capitalism and feudalism, as well as fighting against unscientific religious belief.
Whether or not Dave Craigs ideas are eccentric is for his supporters and opponents to argue, including in the Weekly Worker. But I agree with him (Letters, March 1) that the editors should not have added the word to the opening paragraph of the report on the February 18 meeting of the Campaign for a Marxist Party (What kind of programme?, February 22).
When Weekly Worker writers report on meetings of groups such as Respect, it is valuable to weave political argument into the account of the event. However, when reporting on the CPGBs own aggregates, I try to remain neutral as to the correctness or validity of comrades points. Subsequent debate, in the form of letters and articles, is the place to thrash out anything that was not decided at the aggregate itself. In reporting the February 18 meeting I decided to treat people who spoke at it as comrades in the same way.
The form of bias I do allow myself in such reports is to give more space to issues which turn out to lead to the most argument. The CPGB plans to redraft its Draft programme and, as it is to be a draft for a Marxist party, it is hoped that the CMP will be able to accept it. When studying my notes of February 18, I discovered that, while different trends in the CMP might disagree on whether a demand should be described as minimum or transitional, they should actually be able to reach a consensus on what demands should go into the programme on most issues.
It was clear that the biggest area of disagreement between CPGB comrades and Trotskyists in the CMP will be on the question of democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is why I concentrated on that thread of debate in my report.