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Tag Archives: economy

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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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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Miliband’s monumental Balls-up means a new left party is more essential than ever.

Ed Miliband

Len McCluskey

Ed Balls’ announcement at the end of last week that Labour now supports the coalition’s public sector wage-freeze (in fact pay cut, in the face of wages being whittled away by high inflation), and its intention to maintain it, and all the Tory/Lib Dem cuts, in the next parliament, has thrown the labour movement into a major crisis. Ed Miliband promptly went on Sunday morning televsion to back up Balls. These announcements totally rip apart the carefully maintained soft-left political profile that Miliband has maintained since he was elected leader last year promising to do something to address the ‘crisis of representation’ of Labour’s traditional working class ‘core’ vote.

Faced with a major, full frontal attack on working class living standards and vicious cuts consciously aimed at making the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society – the sick, the disabled, even those suffering from terminal cancer (!!) pay for the defecit resulting from a capitalist crisis caused by finance capital that has benefited for decades from low taxation (which as often as not they manage to avoid by ‘creative accounting’), and was bailed out with public funds when it faced ruin three years ago, Labour backs up the Tories on the fundamentals.

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