Twelve left groups met last Saturday (July 5) to explore ways of working together more collectively, including the Socialist Party, Respect, the Labour Representation Committee, the Alliance for Green Socialism, the Green Left and the Socialist Alliance, which had organised the meeting.
This meeting was almost certainly historic in that never before had 12 different left groups/unity projects met together to discuss ways of working together more effectively. That was an achievement in itself. There was general agreement about the need for working class political representation now that Labour was finished, and that a new left/green-left party therefore needed to be built.
A number of actions were agreed:
Production of a joint statement in support of the public sector strikes.
Each organisation to discuss internally and report back, in the light of this meeting, its position on cooperation and unity with other groups, including what barriers there might be.
To meet again to discuss becoming a sort of left liaison committee to have dialogue on the process of left unity as it unfolds - as well as seeing where we all stand on the issue of left unity as agreed above.
Dave Craig argues for a republican socialist party (‘Not a penny for New Labour’, July 10). All socialists are republicans, but not all republicans are socialists. This basic truth is ignored by Dave Craig and his Revolutionary Democratic Group comrades.
RDG politics is Stalinoid petty bourgeois radicalism. The RDG seems to have forgotten the battle cry, ‘Workers of all lands, unite!’ and demand that the proletariat act a supporting, secondary role in founding a republic. But what is needed is class dictatorship of the proletariat and the building of global communism.
RDG politics implicitly seem to point towards some kind of national socialism, albeit with workerist characteristics.
But only a Marxist Party shaped by a radicalised industrial democracy poses a viable alternative to Labourism, and ultimately, global capitalism.
The ‘Rotten Elements’ website has changed its address to rottenelements.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk.
This is the preamble to some new material appearing on the website proper now that we have new writers and collaborators to hand:
“Recently, we have been rather taken over by the immediacy (and popularity - sometimes 400 readers a day) of our blog. While this is instantly preferable to those who see damp newsprint as a future salvation, we will be doing some more of our earlier magazine-type output.
“So, stay tuned for insults aplenty and the continuation of our unfinished war on socialist realism. We know who you are. Names will be named.”
Dig for Britain?
Dave Douglass writes that he is organising a counter-demonstration to the climate camp assembling at Kingsnorth Power station (Letters, July 10). His main demands are support for clean coal technology, workers’ control of the mining industry and defence of the National Union of Mineworkers and energy unions.
These are all demands that any reader of The Socialist, Socialist Worker or the Morning Starwould expect to find were these papers to address the issue. However, these papers would cloud matters in a confection of economism, while at the same time stridently avoiding to commit themselves in what they construe as an ‘either-or’ argument at the risk of losing potential paper sales or other advantages that they perceive.
Leaving aside the often cited argument that Thatcher’s closure of 200 coal mines reduced carbon emissions during the period, the idea that clean coal technology provides a glimmer of hope is a false one. Dave contrasts those areas on the scrapheap in Britain with miners working in Victorian conditions in the third world and South America. Presumably he would favour Britain producing all the coal it needs to overcome the energy crisis and support those deprived communities.
Whether or not the climate camp is democratic is beside the point - Dave’s letter reveals a chauvinistic attitude towards the climate crisis and our energy needs. As for defending the NUM, there are some who still support and fetishise Stalinism beyond common sense. Perhaps the typical coal dictator should add a further demand for the counter-demonstration to think about, such as ‘Dig for Britain’.
Dig for Britain?
Dig for Britain?
I appreciate Dan Read pointing out the unpleasant truth that “we are not currently in a situation to seriously oppose the US war drive, let alone challenge them on a military basis” (Letters, July 10).
Those who believe in an evolution from feudalism to capitalism to imperialism (being a ‘higher stage of capitalism’) may be even less consistent fighters against imperialism than the islamists. The workers sympathetic to political islam who perceive oppression against a nation’s people may fight more than those who simply perceive an attack against a reactionary nation-state.
Let us imagine a real situation of military blocs in Palestine. If the so-called progressive, secular forces and Hamas fought each other, this could develop into a military bloc between the so-called ‘left’ and Israel against islamist forces who have appeared more consistent in resisting Israeli supremacy.
Those who study Marxism seem more likely to develop economistic thinking than those who don’t. Those ‘Marxists’ who are more concerned with who America sponsored in the past appear less concerned with who America sponsors in the here and now.
While religion puts a brake on some progress on gender equality, etc, Marxism has had to evolve to take more account of inequality on the basis of gender, race, sexuality and (still neglected) nationality.
Mike Macnair has identified the Achilles’ heel of the left: since Bush and Blair-Brown have adopted militarism as their foreign policy and presented themselves as fighting to defend our freedom, many representatives of the left, the Weekly Worker excepted, are seen to defend murderous theocratic regimes, islamism and Mugabe’s repression (‘David Davis and democratic rights’, July 10).
Many years ago, in his efforts to de-Stalinise the Italian Communist Party, its leader, Palmiro Togliatti, wrote prophetically: “In the world of culture too (literature, art, scientific research, etc) the doors are now open to communist initiative. In the capitalist world, conditions are in fact being created which tend to destroy the liberty of intellectual life. It is we who must become the champions of the freedom of intellectual life, of free artistic creation and of scientific progress” (‘Yalta memorandum’, 1964).
Thus, if communists want to see a mass party emerge soon, they must “become the champions of the freedom of intellectual life” - including ‘fundamental human rights’ - which New Labour ring-fenced out of the Lisbon treaty.
I have recently found out that the legendary, inspirational teacher that was Cameron Richards will now be replaced with nothing less than a TV. Video conferencing is now supposed to be the way forward and the Welsh assembly are now trying to push it into all schools.
The course, in King Henry XIII school, Abergavenny, is based on independence, as you only have a video conference once a week and between that time you are on your own. Anyway, this system has resulted in a change to the course: we will no longer be studying the intriguing topic of ideologies, but actually the same course as AS level, in a bit more detail. Anyone who has previously taken it will realise that the AS course is not that great, whereas I have heard the A level course is brilliant and is the main reason people want to carry on politics into further education. It is also a course Mr Richards loved to teach.
How will this system work for a subject which is based and built on debate and discussion? I think the easy answer is that it won’t. The video sessions are just there to talk about the questions you have done in the last week to a tutor in Norfolk, not to embrace the lively discussions Mr Richards’s classes were known for. Therefore I believe it will just be a linear course to exams, like most are now.
Video conference teaching will now be used in a mixture of AS subjects, including law and German, as well as politics, and I believe they are trying to incorporate it further into the lower years. When I asked what was wrong with just having a flesh and blood human teacher in front of me, the response was that politics teachers are hard to find. However, I worry that this computerised system isn’t just a stop-gap while a new teacher is found, but that the school actually considers it a suitable permanentreplacement for a real teacher.
As fantastic as the technology is, I really don’t think it will work with these important debating subjects. Following the brilliant and sorely missed teacher, Mr Richards, with this method is utterly disgusting.
What a world.