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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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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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Lansley’s NHS Demolition Bill – political strikes are both necessary and possible to defeat it!

The Tories are in deep trouble over Lansley’s health ‘reforms’. Their Lib Dem coalition partners are deeply split over it, in the Lords Shirley Williams appears to be among those fighting hardest to defeat it. The Labour Party meanwhile, though it has capitulated on the public sector pay freeze and on the wider issue of cuts, is making defeating it in parliament a cause celebre. And rightly so, as the proposals are a deadly threat to the NHS, aimed at fragmenting it and allowing private health companies to virtually tear off profitable chunks of it for themselves. It also aims at integrating the NHS into economic sectors governed by EU competition laws that ostensibly oppose ‘monopoly’, thus imposing marketisation and a slide to outright privatisation through extra-territorial legal fiat.

No doubt the Bullingdon Club boys are quietly chortling to themselves at this spiffing wheeze. The Eurosceptic-dominated Tories setting a trap for the Euro-friendly Labourites using EU law to stymie attempts by a future reformist government to reverse this attack on the NHS. In this they calculate, probably correctly, that the cretinous subservience of Labour to capitalism and bourgeois legality will mean they will maintain whatever ‘gains’ the Tories are able to acheive in demolishing or partially demolishing the NHS.

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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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Has Cameron Cocked It Up In Europe?

David Cameron

“We are disappear backwards into a flag-waving, nationalistic hell. One of the reasons I’m now looking at getting out while I can.”

So says a very pessimistic commenter on the Socialist Unity website, discussing the aftermath of David Cameron’s veto of the Merkel-Sarkozy proposed changes to the Lisbon Treaty in the early hours of Friday morning.

That’s a pretty dire, pessimistic perspective to put forward on the basis of a couple of opinion polls after Cameron’s priceless piece of political ineptitude. Opinion polls, in a situation of what is likely to be considerable volatility, say that Cameron has struck a chord with large sections of the public, possibly through being seen to ‘stick it to’ the French and Germans, show a bit of the ‘Bulldog spirit’ and similar nonsense. Though if anything, it is just as likely to involve a degree of disquiet at the unelected, technocrat governments now emerging from this crisis in parts of Europe. Given that the mission of this government is to impose similar extreme austerity on this country, and given that the parties, especially the Lib Dems, stood for election promising something rather different, even this could be a two-edged sword.

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Osborne Lights the Fuse to a Perfect Storm

Public Sector Strike, 30 November

Osborne’s mini-budget, spewed forth in the House of Commons the day before the two million-strong one-day public sector strike over pensions, is a big ‘fuck you’ to the majority of the population of the UK. In response to an imminent double-dip recession, and the potential collapse of the Euro, with its cuts in tax credits and its multi-year 1% public sector pay limit brazenly redistributing wealth away from the poor to the very wealthy, he has lit the fuse to a social explosion that will undoubtedly be very different from the lumpen nihilism of the August riots. This is a provocation to the organised working class, an incitement to strike, and also an incitement to those outside of the trade unions to get organised!

The Cameron myth of ‘we’re all in it together’ looks pretty sick now. This is an even more brazen assault on the vast majority than the Poll Tax, or the Social Contract wage cuts under the 1974-79 Labour government which turned on the working class at the very dawning of neo-liberalism. The latter, however, was not initially presented as an attack on the majority, but as a trade-off for social reform that never materialised. There is nothing of the trade-off in Osborne’s latest package, not even the ‘cuts for growth’ trade-off that the coalition was promising earlier. Going beyond pension cuts to years long-pay freezes and benefit cuts in the face of unpredictable and high inflation, is a brazen incitement to workers to combine together and smash the pay limits.

It may not come immediately, but an explosion surely must come in the medium term. The two main  countervailing factors are the anti-union laws, and the electoral cycle. But in a real explosion of anger from below, if it were wide enough, these laws would be worth very little. Years of planned austerity, going on beyond this parliament, put the coalition in an extremely difficult position as they now plan still to be cutting when they go to the polls in 2015. The Labour Party under Milliband promises very little, but may shift rhetorical gears if and when something kicks off simply in order to protect its left-flank from any possible challenge.

Millliband’s barely social-democratic profile could perhaps be expanded a little under pressure from the  base of the unions. It is also likely that the closer we get to the end of this parliament, the more restive the Lib Dems will become, fearing being finally dragged down to electoral oblivion by Cameron and Osborne. Such signs of weakness while trying to impose years-long austerity could be the signal for real resistance from below, most likely in the form of a strike wave.

The Occupy London movement, part of the whole international phenomenon of soclial protest flowing, at least at the start, outside of the framework of seemingly moribund trade unions, is another sign of an explosion to come. But it comes under conditions which threaten to make trade union action of burning relevance again to millions who have hardly looked to them since the defeat of the miners in 1984-5, or in some ways even earlier.

But on its own, trade unionism also has its dangers, and cannot solve the overall problem. Indeed, a successful trade union rebellion that swept away this government would then again confront the same problem that happened in 1974. The Labour Party. After the greatest working class upsurge and victories in the 20th Century, Labour under Wilson and Callaghan bailed out capitalism politically and sought by stealth, with the help of the pro-capitalist trade union bureaucracy, to restore capitalist profitability by means of a steady erosion of working class living standards.

This led by massive demoralisation in the working class, a wave of racist sentiment that led to a frightening growth of fascism, and then Thatcher was able to take advantage of this to inflict major defeats on the working class and the whole idea of socialism.

But in those days, market fundamentalism was a rising trend in bourgeois terms. Now it is deeply discredited. Labour’s prolonged crisis, never resolved, is fundamentally a product of the failure of those days, the failure of reformism to deliver real reforms.  Blair tried to resolve that by doing away with the reformism, but that adoption of market fundamentalism with a (barely) human face, even writing it into the Labour Party constitution, just led to Labour overseeing a major, world-historic capitalist failure in 2008-10.

The political vacuum to the left of Labour is thus as wide as ever. We need a real party, not a sect like any of the existing far left groups, that can politically organise and represent our class, develop a genuinely socialist economic and political programme in collaboration with others around the world, and fight to bury capitalism, not save it. How we do that has to be a matter of sustained debate and activity,  looking to a new left party initiative that can take things in that direction.

At the moment, the only formation that even hints at the need for a new party is TUSC. But this is not a party: it may be a bridge to one but that is not clear and in any case any evolution towards that is likely to be complex. Among the main political aims of this blog is promoting the kind of discussions that will help in solving this problem, which is the main problem facing socialists today.

 

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