There are fundamental problems with Jack Conrad’s tirade against Paul Cockshott in his recent article (‘Goldilocks and the communist programme’, September 9). My opinion of the tirade was expressed in - how shall we say? - more colourful and less generous language elsewhere but, for the sake of this letter, will be expressed more diplomatically.
Firstly, Jack forgot all about the remarks in Paul’s articles and letters about the need for working class organisation at the European Union level. He went so far as to criticise the Communist Party of Greece for its nationalism, which is hardly an advocacy of ‘socialism in one country’, in today’s terms.
Secondly, Jack exaggerates Paul’s affiliation with the British and Irish Communist Organisation. In the latter’s own words, he “joined with the explicit purpose of fomenting a split of those against the adoption of the ‘British road’ document put forward by Nina Stead. As [Jacob] said, COBI was heavily De Leonist rather than [Maoist], and also was influenced by Bordiga. The proposal for labour vouchers broadly fits in with a De Leonist or councillist background.”
Thirdly, Jack’s article actually reveals further that neither he or the CPGB as a whole do not subscribe to a long-term labour theory of price, any labour theory of value generally or even at least Nobuo Okishio’s fundamental Marxian theorem. I have noted this before in past articles.
Our website (www.elnuevotopo.com) is hoping to translate some Weekly Worker articles into Spanish. Our comrades are based in El Salvador, but at this point they are a grouping of schools and classes in Marxism rather than a party. They are experimenting with machine translation, which has improved lately.
We are also going to begin publishing an interesting debate taking place in Venezuela on workers’ control. There have been several attempts at workers’ control in Venezuela but in some cases the businesses have turned themselves into capitalist-type cooperatives. No-one is suggesting that workers’ control is the solution, but the debate seems to be around whether it can be a diversion from or a necessary stage in the struggle for socialism. Of course, underneath is the debate as to whether Chávez is leading ‘a socialist process’ or diverting it.
A similar debate took place in Bolivia in the 1950s, when the tin mines were ‘under workers’ control’.
Long live Joe
An army expert once argued that the Red Army officer corps, whose origins came with Lenin’s benediction and Lev Trotsky’s methodological manner of thinking and management, was, for the most part, unprofessional throughout its existence and that this deficit of professional ability left it unable to defend itself during Stalin’s terror purge, caused the failure to conquer Finland, had disastrous consequences in the first year of the German invasion of the USSR in 1941-42, and contributed to the large number of casualties throughout the war. Its unprofessional nature compounded the debacle of Afghanistan and was the most significant cause of the public’s loss of faith when the military came under scrutiny during Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform era in the mid-1980s.
The question that concerns me is, would Lev Trotsky have made it a professional army if he had been in power? When the military situation deteriorated, Stalin effectively took control of the army. This was the sort of power of leadership the revolution required to survive, but it was a challenge to Trotsky, who had created the Red Army with the help of so-called ‘military experts’ - ex-tsarist officers. Stalin distrusted these ‘useful’ renegades and shot them whenever possible.
Always take note that Lev Trotsky had all the chances to stand up for Stalin, but instead turned him into a foe. Given the foreboding of a counterrevolutionary coup d’etat approaching and carried out by former tsarist officers, one cannot blame Joseph Stalin for arranging a massive purge that overwrought the whole chain of command, from top to bottom.
He opposed Stalin impertinently on all issues. The former tsarist officers were a real menace, but still Lev mollycoddled them under the expedient that an army is in need of military specialists in order to make it professional. Brushing off Stalin’s argument of political or ideological purity in the army, he insisted on contradicting him in all matters.
It might also be surmised that Trotsky had not anticipated a power struggle once Lenin died, despite Stalin’s malicious moves to shuffle or remove his appointed generals and commissars. Lev did not take the necessary precautions. He was good in political posturing and manoeuvres. But he did not expect a bloodbath, with Stalin as the executor.
Stalin, then, knew better. Trotsky was turned into a political mediocrity who should have known what to do, given his Machiavellian instincts in the realm of Soviet politics and totalitarianism. He was not in touch with reality.
Despite heavy losses during the war against Finland and the German invasion, the Soviet army was indeed a professional army. It was able to defy all the odds and it came to equal the United States of America in the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles, etc. The Soviet army was the most feared among democratic-capitalist states. The invasion of Yemen, the arming of North Vietnam, etc, proved not only its military stamina, but also its capability to subvert any country it chose.
Today we have Trotskyites and Stalinists in our midst. They come from all walks of life. The only difference between the two contending factions is that the latter always succeed in dominating the leadership of all recognised communist parties of the world and their central organs. The Trotskyites are justifiably condemned and persecuted because they denied Joseph Stalin the chance to explain himself or rebut their allegations. Without Koba, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics would not have been a superpower. Long live Joseph Stalin!
Long live Joe
Long live Joe
Yet another sexualised image graces the pages of the Weekly Worker. We have degenerated from sexually explicit eye make-up and nail varnish full of eastern promise to female children.
Jack Conrad’s use of a curly-haired, big-eyed little girl on the front page and inside article shows you have learned nothing. She is clearly in a sexual pose, obviously pouting and inviting. You might have pixellated the image or blanked out her face, so as not to invite drooling paedophiles to build disgusting fantasies around this exploitative picture. Had you also included the three bears with this Goldilocks image, no doubt they’d have been presented naked!
The article ‘Vote preference one for Abbott ... and fuck warmongering ex-ministers’ (September 9) points out that “she calls herself a socialist”, before noting the largely ceremonial title the MP holds as secretary of the Socialist Campaign Group. It is a curious point, given that every single one of the Labour Party leadership candidates is a self-described ‘socialist’. What we are to infer from this seems unclear.
What is clear is that Diane Abbott has consistently identified publicly as a pro-war candidate, raising questions about the kind of socialism that she could be said to advocate. Alex John presumes abstentionism from the leadership race results from “imagined political purity” rather than a disagreement with Abbott’s support for the continued role of imperialism in the Middle East and the broader supportive role of ‘legal’ imperialist wars of which Abbott is a continued advocate. That Abbott has joined the ranks of president Obama in her support of phased withdrawal from Afghanistan seems a less than credible basis to support the candidate.
On the article’s main point, the notion that support for Abbott’s candidature implies a strengthening of the Labour and trade union left will come as some surprise to most of the actual left itself inside the Labour Party, who supported, and continue to support, alternative candidates and whom Abbott did not consult. The article rightly notes the importance of the strategic defeat of Labourism, but fails to make the point as to how strategic support for a candidate closely implicated in the party apparatus brings us any closer to this stated aim.
Just when we thought writers in the Weekly Worker couldn’t be any more out of touch with normal working people in Britain (what with Heather Down’s scolding for the portrayal of those pleasure-crazy, sex-mad Muslim women in their full niqabs with their eyes made up and wearing nail varnish, the wanton hussies), now we have David Bates telling us there is no white working class.
Of course there isn’t, David, we’re all multicultural and multiracial and don’t have skin colour differences. We’re the workers of the world and we don’t live anywhere, or belong anywhere; we don’t have any particular link to any part of the world or part of a country and we all have exactly the same origins, have no roots, no culture and no ethnicity and no particular history. To try and suggest otherwise is racialist or xenophobic.
Multiculturalism, non-fixed labour mobility, non-national or non-regional or non-cultural, rootless, aimless, amorphous labour - that’s us. Rather that’s the way the ruling class wants it to be, and for some bizarre reason, which figures that somehow this is a progressive project, the far left (so-called) now join them in this rationale, and become the left face for its all-pervasive, non debatable ‘logic’. You now share the same vision as our rulers and sing from the same hymn sheet. You remind me of the communists who during the war sided with the Emergency Powers Act and the war government to jail striking workers.
White isn’t really white; in fact calling yourself white is quite reactionary, it seems. This notwithstanding the fact that every official document we have to fill in asks us to choose a skin-type designation and ‘white’, or ‘white European’ is the one most people on this island choose. Not that’s it’s a ‘choice’ - it’s a simple matter of deciding if actually, and not by inclination, your skin is black, brown or ‘white’. Of course, ‘white’ skin isn’t actually white: it means non-black, non-dark, Caucasian. But David and everyone else knows exactly who we’re talking about. Perhaps by denying that ‘white’ is white - the skin colour that is predominantly, and in some regions of the country overwhelmingly, the colour of the population - that colour will disappear. We will think of ourselves as no particular colour at all.
Of course ‘the working class’ has no colour, because it’s a designation that applies to all colours. Correct, but do we say there is no black working class in Africa? If we looked at the Ulster situation, for years we argued with Militant over their obsession with the ‘trade union solution’ to the ‘Ulster problem’, because the working class, in the abstract, was the solution. But, although the working class per se is non-sectarian, it wasn’t actually true in concrete terms, and the Protestant section was able to grab the bulk of the jobs and dominate all the unions with loyalist politics in support of that sectarian, pro-imperialist statelet. The class was split along cultural, political and linked religious traditions. So we really could talk about the Protestant working class - or more correctly the loyalist working class, even though technically the working class had no such division. But you’d have to be a nit-picking fool avoiding the problem to argue that position and not recognise the composition of the class on the ground. Don’t, for god’s sake, try and tell us what we see before us doesn’t in fact exist - we can see it, man.
The white working class is the majority component of the largely traditional areas of heavy industrial production and manufacture (or former production and manufacture, since part of the problem is they no longer exist and millions of workers stand on the scrapheap in burned-out communities). No, it was not exclusively white - it never has been exclusively anything and was always, since the industrial revolution and before, a mix of races and cultural sub-groups. But predominantly it was white Caucasian. It remains so. When workers talk about ‘the white working class’ they are simply describing the majority make-up across mines, mills, docks, steel, engineering, shipbuilding, and manufacture in general. It’s not a prescriptive designation; it’s not a sectarian designation: it’s a factual one.
Now David Bates can pretend it doesn’t exist, and many middle class multiculturalists who hated the traditional proletarian working class may wish they didn’t exist and are happy to now eclipse us from memory and politics, but we’re still here. If you don’t know that, the British National Party, English Defence League and others sure as hell do, It is they who are making headway into traditional ‘white working class’ heartlands which were the bedrock of progressive working class politics and class struggle in Britain. No wonder you won’t recognise us - you’ve been ignoring us for years and chasing from one politically correct bean feast to another, picking up any damn cause from across the globe but running a mile from the nearest working class bloke in a bar or family on a working class housing estate.
You will never in a million years win back confidence or authority from the British working class by such refracted and ill-considered nonsense and you certainly don’t deserve to. The fact is the traditional British working class knows exactly who we are, but who the fuck are you? Do you know any more?