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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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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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London TUSC Election Broadcast

 

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Weekly Worker editor on Galloway election victory

The following worthwhile and thought-provoking article is from this week’s Weekly Worker, paper of the CPGB. While I would not endorse everything in it, particularly its somewhat jaundiced view of George Galloway’s previous election victory for Respect in Bethnal Green and Bow, it does make a number of very useful points and could be the basis for some worthwhile discussion on the left.

Galloway shows what can be done

How can the left make the most of the Bradford West result? Peter Manson joins the debate

Image: George Galloway: viable
George Galloway: viable

George Galloway’s tremendous win for Respect in Bradford West has given the left a real boost. Standing on an anti-cuts, anti-war, anti-establishment platform, he swept to victory with a huge 55.9% share of the vote.

It is fair to say that this result took everyone by surprise – apart from the Respect campaigners on the ground, who began to realise within the last week or so that they had an excellent chance of winning. I have to admit that I was among those who thought Galloway would do well to save his deposit – especially after his failure to get elected to the Scottish parliament last year, where the Coalition Against Cuts list he headed in Glasgow picked up only 3.3%

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TUSC conference – a modestly encouraging day

The TUSC election conference met yesterday in Central London. It was a meeting of leading local and national activists in the main, necessarily quite small as TUSC does not have the membership structure in place to make for anything liable to draw more people to a conference. I would estimate the attendance as around 40, maybe a few more.

There were two sessions, the earlier one being on the broad political situation and the politics of the election campaign, and a later afternoon session discussing some of the practicalities. There has actually been something of a positive shift in the atmosphere around TUSC, previously the project has seemed becalmed in the post-general election environment and the vaguely soft-left aura generated around the election of Ed Miliband as leader of the Labour Party.

Miliband and Balls’ statements supporting the government’s public sector wage freeze, in fact a brutal pay-cut for millions of workers, and pledge to keep all the coalition’s cuts, has changed all that. It appears that the SWP, who previously were formally in the TUSC project but barely engaged in it, in verbal terms at least, have  shifted to a more positive position. It remains to be seen whether this translates into real mobilisation of SWP activists on the ground to build TUSC around the country, but the negativity that surrounded the SWP’s involvement previously was not present at this conference.

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New left-wing coalition to challenge for a seat on London Assembly

The following press release was issued by TUSC today:

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
MEDIA RELEASE

27 January 2012
For immediate release:
New left-wing coalition to challenge for a seat on London Assembly

A new alliance, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), made up of trade union members and socialists, is to stand candidates in the Greater London Election on 3 May to challenge the all-party support for the government’s austerity cuts and pay freeze.

The coalition expects to win support from trade unionists and other voters who are angered by the recent statements of Labour leader Ed Miliband and the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, in which they stated that they will not reverse the Government’s cuts and that they support its pay freeze.

A list of candidates will challenge in the ‘top up’ section of the election and if it wins at least 5% of the vote across the whole of London it could win at least one place on the 25-seat Greater London Assembly.

The coalition has already selected prominent London trade union leaders such as Alex Gordon, the national president of the RMT rail and maritime union and Steve Hedley the RMT’s London Transport regional organiser, Ian Leahair, the Fire Brigades Union executive committee member for the capital, Joe Simpson, assistant secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association and Martin Powell-Davies, who is the London representative on the national committee of the NUT teachers union.

The Labour Party will be concerned that many public sector workers who participated in the 30 November pensions’ strike may be moved to vote for this coalition because of the failure of Labour leaders to support the walk-out.

Labour leaders will also be worried that rank and file union members of Labour affiliated unions could press for their funds to go to a party like TUSC instead of to Labour.

Steve Hedley, whose RMT union was expelled from the Labour Party in 2004 for backing the Scottish Socialist Party, said, “We need candidates who support the ordinary man and woman. TUSC is the only organisation that opposes all cuts, defends pensions and benefits for all working people. Labour just wants a compliant, silent union movement to hand over its money. TUSC will be a voice for all workers and will support trade unions in struggle.”

TUSC national committee member Nick Wrack, who is also a candidate, said, “London is a city of stark contrasts. There is a huge amount of poverty amidst the plenty. Corporate bosses and bankers still get their million pound pay and pension packages while one in six London workers is paid less than the Mayor’s £8.30 per hour living wage. Millions are suffering from the cuts to services and benefits yet last year the city paid out over £4 billion in bonuses. It’s extremely hard even for those on better wages to make ends meet. We believe that there is an opportunity for a party that will speak up for working-class London to make a real break-through and that would begin to change the nature of political debate in Britain today.”

TUSC believes it can get a candidate elected if it wins at least 150,000 votes across London.

– Ends –
For more information contact: Nick Wrack (m) 07812 063 409; (w) 020 7842 7562; nick.wrack@tooks.co.uk
Will McMahon (m) 07968 950 223; wsmcmahon@yahoo.co.uk
 

Candidates selected for the TUSC GLA list so far include (in alphabetical order):

April Ashley, UNISON National Executive Committee
Alex Gordon, RMT President
Steve Hedley, RMT London regional organiser
Ian Leahair, FBU National Executive Committee
Martin Powell-Davies, NUT national executive
Joe Simpson, POA assistant secretary
Jenny Sutton, UCU Chair, London Regional Committee (FE)
Nick Wrack, TUSC national committee member (former chair of Socialist Alliance and Respect)
There will also be candidates from the CWU postal union and the PCS public service workers union.

(All standing in a personal capacity)

The final list is not yet decided. Other candidates are still being considered.

The FBU has 5,500 members in London.
The RMT has over 12,000 members in London Underground alone.
 

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Capitalist Crisis or Crisis of Neo-Liberalism?

Karl Marx

John Maynard Keynes

At a recent meeting of the Independent Socialist Network, which is a new grouping of independent socialists affiliated to TUSC (the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), there was the beginning of an important discussion on the nature of the economic crisis that we are now living through.

Specifically, in the context of a discussion on how we can hope to achieve unity on the socialist left and the creation of a new socialist movement, there was some discussion on what kind of economic analysis socialists should be putting forward, and why the left currently appears so ideologically on the defensive despite the major blows that have been inflicted by events on the previously dominant free-market ideology by the credit crunch and the serious capitalist crisis we are currently still embroiled in.

This article will sketch out some ideas based on my view of this discussion and the issues it raised. It does not claim to be a summary of this debate, which in any case is an ongoing process, but rather I hope it will play some role in furthering discussion about economics both in the ISN and on the wider left. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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