The Wicked Witch finally died of old age in a luxury hotel. She got away with her crimes. Not a good day for the working class

8101086349_438b3aed06_zThe famous tune from the “Wizard of Oz” has started appearing on socialist and left-wing website and blogs, after the death of Thatcher.

At one level this is understandable. I immediately thought of this little ditty as soon as I heard the news.

But on a political level, which is what matters, how is this good news?

Its pretty banal. She died of old age, in her sleep, in the lap of luxury in the Ritz Hotel.

Celebrating the fact that this terrible woman has died is foolish; no-one has yet cracked the secret of immortality.

If she had died a violent death at the hands of some avenger from the working class, that would have been something to celebrate. If she had died the sort of death that Ceaucescu, or Mussolini did, then likewise.

But why celebrate that one of the bitterest enemies of the working class finally died of old age in comfort and luxury?

That smacks of desperation.

Its actually a very human response, notwithstanding the pathetic accusations of ‘inhumanity’ that will be flung at those celebrating her death. Desperation and despair manifesting itself in an attempt to console for defeat by celebrating a banal event.

If Hitler had died of old age, that would not be anything to celebrate, because the bastard would have gotten away with his crimes.

Ditto – all proportions guarded – for her. She got away with the whole damned lot. And that’s why this is not a happy occasion, if we are to look the objective situation in the face.

We do not want our bitterest enemies to die in bed at the age of 87.

For that to happen is not a victory for us, but for those enemies. Since everyone, without exception, dies, this is from her point of view the ideal way to die.

And for the ruling class in general, it is pretty much ideal also. More than ever, she becomes an icon for the entire ruling class project of rolling back the gains working people have achieved over the last century or more..

Is this not obvious, if you stop and think about it for a few minutes?

Rather than facile and pointless celebrations of a biologically inevitable non-event, it would be worth more to reflect on the real situation that the British working class is in as a result of Thatcher’s taming of the trade union and labour movement through the medium of its treacherous, pro-capitalist bureaucracy.

We could do worse than engage in some serious examination of this history using the method advocated by a real class warrior from our side of the class divide, Leon Trotsky, writing about the principles of socialist politics around three-quarters of a century ago:

“To face reality squarely; not to seek the line of least resistance; to call things by their right names; to speak the truth to the masses, no matter how bitter it may be; not to fear obstacles; to be true in little things as in big ones; to base one’s program on the logic of the class struggle; to be bold when the hour for action arrives — these are the rules of the Fourth International”

The Transitional Programme, 1938.


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Hugo Chavez


Sad to see him die like this even though I don’t believe he was really the socialist force many believed.

He was still an outspoken left-nationalist and by that token, within those limitations, a spokesman for the oppressed of Latin America against imperialism, mainly of the US. He also had his enemies in Britain, including in the Labour Party – recall the role of the corrupt Blairite neocon Denis McShane in supporting the attempted coup against him in 2002. The mendacity should be infamous of those supporting an extra-legal coup d’etat against an elected leader while accusing him of being a dictator.

Imperialist hands off Venezuela! For a federation of workers states in Central and South America!


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Julian Assange and the Monstrous Hypocrisy of the SWP

Note: for a number of reasons this blog has fallen into disuse for much of the past year. I wont go into those now except to say that they are a mixture of other personal commitments and a change in political perspectives. However, I do intend to use it from time to time to explore issues on which I feel I have something distinctive to say, and the crisis in the SWP is one such issue.

The item below is in response to a letter published on the blog of the SWP’s most famous blogger, and now probably one of their most famous dissidents, Richard Seymour. The letter concerned is by Linda Rodgers, a member of the SWP’s Edinburgh branch. The full letter is here.

Comment on Lenin’s Tomb

Linda wrote:

“I am writing to express my condemnation of the process used by the leadership of the SWP to deal with an allegation of rape. As the shop steward at Scottish Women’s Aid I am horrified that the leadership of the SWP – of which I have been a member for 18 years – thought that it was in a position to investigate a serious crime such as rape. Would the DC have investigated a murder? I would guess not, but then what does that say about the level of seriousness with which the CC and DC treat rape?”

This is a very appropriate point, and for another very serious reason.

There is a monstrous piece of hypocrisy by the leadership of the SWP over the Julian Assange case in particular.

I would point out, as someone who has commented extensively in defence of Assange on a number of forums, including this one, that those who defend Assange and believe he is being framed up on phoney rape charges have been vilified by the same SWP leadership that has carried out this bizarre attempt to keep a rape accusation under wraps and and deal with it ‘in house’.

Rape is indeed a serious crime, arguably second only to murder (or perhaps third to permanent physical maiming) in the manner of crimes against the person. In many cases these things go together. Those who defend Assange against these allegations are quite aware of the seriousness of a rape allegation. I am also prepared to defend those who are accused and even convicted of murder if I believe they are being framed. For instance Mumia Abu- Jamal, who I have campaigned for extensively in the past (as have SWP members).

What is monstrous is the virulent denunciation of those who have campaigned for Assange’s defence by leading figures in the SWP who it turns out were hiding in their own ranks someone who was themselves subject to an unresolved rape allegation. There is the vilification of George Galloway. And even more bizarrely, there is the vilification of Naomi Wolf, the American women’s rights activist and rape campaigner, for her points in defence of Assange. Judith Orr, the partner of Martin Smith, wrote a review of Naomi Wolf’s book ‘The Vagina: A New Biography’ that is filled with the most incredible misrepresentation and which claims that Wolf ‘reduces women to vaginas’.

This is a laughable allegation. I have read Wolf’s book, and it is an exploration of some of the mechanisms of female sexuality and the role of trauma to the part of the body and nervous system centred around the vagina in female confidence and self-esteem, and the consequences of injury to that in damaging such things. It also contains some very harrowing explorations of the purposes and consequence of mass rape in places like Congo and Sierra Leone. Obviously this is a specialised book on a particular aspect of the human condition, and may well be validly criticised in terms of focus and possibly some may be inclined to argue with the science she uses. Not being an expert, I am probably not qualified to judge all these things.

But the allegation that Wolf ‘reduces women to vaginas’ is simply laughable. As I pointed out elsewhere, that allegation would fit someone with the mindset of the Viz cartoon character ‘Sid the Sexist’. It is a farcical piece of invective. The barbed reference to Wolf’s views on the Assange case gives the game away as to the real motive of the vilification.

What is worse is that it was written by someone who is the partner of someone who is accused of rape, who is a leading member of a committee that decided to keep that allegation under wraps and not involve the state. For such a person to vilify people openly fighting against what they believe are phoney rape allegations that are in the hands of the state is monstrous hypocrisy and indeed staggeringly criminal in its implications.

It is also driven by political opportunism, and an attempt to dishonestly con women who are currently being radicalised (to an extent) by the current attacks on women into joining the SWP. Many such women at the moment, who are angry at attacks on women, do not at this point identify with issues beyond the immediate questions of oppression that confront them and are not prepared, for instance, to take seriously the idea that someone like Assange might be being framed for reasons unrelated to this issue.

The argument that those who defend Assange are ‘rape apologists’ has appeared regularly in Socialist Worker over the last period. It is similar to material that used to appear in the reactionary media in the 1980s when the left was campaigning for Irish victims of frame ups for ‘terrorism’. Headlines like ‘Loony MP supports bombers’ appeared in the Sun, implying that those who believed that the Birmingham 6 were framed supported putting bombs in pubs. Similar arguments about Assange have appeared in SW under Judith Orr’s editorship.

It is scandalous opportunism and dishonesty. Instead of trying to unite the struggle against women’s oppression with the struggle against imperialism, the SWP with Orr as part of its leadership has been trying to play off one sector against another, trying deceitfully to co-opt what is so far only a semi-radicalised layer. This is not what Marxists should be doing, we should be acting as tribunes of the oppressed, reacting to all manifestations of tyranny and oppression, and broadening and generalising the outlook of radicalised and semi-radicalised layers.

We need a new regroupment into an all-inclusive socialist movement where the numerous tactical and strategic problems that have been accumulating for a long time, and the failure to resolve which have crippled the left, can be argued out and resolved. Some of these will be complex and hard to take. But not as hard to take, I think, as this affair. If it blows the lid off the bureaucratic centralist (not democratic centralist) ethos of the SWP, then even this grotesque affair may have a positive outcome.


Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Assange, male chauvinism, SWP, woman question


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Sheridan’s snare snaps on Coulson – comment superfluous!

Andy Coulson

Tommy Sheridan

“Officers acting for Strathclyde police Operation Rubicon detained a 44-year-old man in London this morning under section 14 of the Criminal Procedure Scotland Act on suspicion of committing perjury at the high court in Glasgow. It would be inappropriate to comment further in this case.”


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Euro-crisis – is this the anti-1989?

Greek masses on the move

1989 was the year that so-called ‘Communism’ in Eastern Europe reached the point of collapse. A collapse that subsequently, as everyone knows, spread to the USSR itself, as this whole bloc of anti-working class tyrannical dictatorships over the working class was swept into the historical dustbin. Unfortunately, it also seemed to have swept the socialist and communist project away with it.

1989 was also the year that Francis Fukuyama, a Japanese-American Professor of political science and ideologue of American imperialism, proclaimed that the ‘The End Of History‘ had arrived, in an audacious attempt to re-appropriate Hegel for the bourgeoisie and turn elements of Marx’s historical vision against Marxism. Fukuyama probably more than anyone else tried to give intellectual coherence to the totalitarian neo-liberal trend that in the past three decades or so has become known as ‘neo-conservatism’. His famous essay declared that all possibility of a systemic political alternative to capitalism and ‘liberal ‘bourgeois democracy had disappeared, and was effectively impossible in the future.

This was an exercise in what many have aptly called ‘bourgeois triumphalism’. It was not the abstract counterposition of political systems that was rendered impossible in Fukuyama’s pseudo-Hegelian scheme, but rather that capitalist class rule was deemed to have decisively won out. This was in fact an example of the bourgeoisie’s false-conciousness, its belief that communism is simply the conspiracy of a handful of malevolent and criminal fanatics, and that therefore the collapse and discredit of the Stalinist regimes, which claimed to speak in Communism’s name, necessarily meant the permanent eclipse and discredit of the very notion of replacing capitalism with socialism.

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Labour’s Electoral Rise – A Tepid Reformism Reconsolidates

Ed Miliband

The victory of the Labour Party in the local elections has consolidated Ed Miliband’s leadership of Labour and set the political direction of Labour for the next period. For the first time since the death of John Smith in 1994, Labour has a leadership whose politics can be broadly characterised as social democratic, albeit very tepidly and timidly so.

The first hesitant blow against the Blair/Brown legacy of aggressive privatisation at home and imperialist wars abroad was struck by trade union members in the autumn of 2010, when they overruled the purged, cowed and largely middle class ‘aspirational’ Labour Party membership and installed the Green-tinged soft-left former Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband, as Labour leader, defeating his brother David whose entire political profile was as a clone of Tony Blair. David Miliband, as foreign secretary in the later New Labour years, is personally culpable in such crimes as ‘extraordinary rendition’ – i.e. illegal kidnapping (with torture) of Muslims suspected of Al Qaeda activities or even just sympathy, for transport to the United States or its then client regimes like Libya or Syria, in contradiction to even formal legal norms.

Ed Miliband, though not in parliament at the time, claims to have been opposed to the Iraq war as waged by Blair, Brown, his elder brother and the entire Labour leadership. It is typical of Ed Miliband’s vacuity that there seems to be no credible evidence that he ever said or did anything in opposition to that criminal invasion. Not a single speech or article can his supporters produce to substantiate this claim of opposition. His claims on this are not really credible at all – probably the most that can be said for Ed Miliband is that he wishes that he had had the courage of his claimed convictions and spoken out against the war waged by his own party leadership. But he didn’t. Read the rest of this entry »


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The Vindication of Gilad Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon_DSC0108b

Gilad Atzmon

I publish below the introduction by Gilad Atzmon to a review of his book The Wandering Who by Norton Mezvinsky, the highly respected Jewish anti-Zionist professor and co-author (with the late Israel Shahak, the celebrated Israeli fighter for Arab rights) of Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. The review is critical, and attempts to address various perceived problems with Atzmon’s work, all of which helps advance the cause of rational political debate on the questions Atzmon raises about world politics and the Middle East. Indeed it could be regarded in some ways, not as a demolition of Atzmon’s work by any means, but as a much more challenging criticism from a generally politically fraternal perspective than virtually any other progressive critique, including my own modest effort. Mezvinsky is not a Marxist, but on questions connected with Jews and Judaism he really knows of what he speaks. He is undoubtedly one of the most prominent authorities on this particular subject alive today

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