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Ukraine Fraudsters Again – A Message from the LRP

League for the Revolutionary party
April 2014


Reports on the events in Ukraine in recent months have mentioned three activists whose names some readers may recall: Oleg (Oleh) Vernik and Zakhar Popovych in Ukraine and Ilya Budraitskis in Russia. In the early 2000s, while members of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), they conspired to assume multiple fake personal identities as representatives of several fictitious socialist groups in Ukraine. Under these disguises they posed as supporters of a number of far-left groups in North America and Europe, from whom they stole funds, time and other resources. Their crimes further corrupted the reputation of a socialist movement already burdened by mistaken association with the heinous crimes of Stalinism.

We reported on this political and financial scam in CWI Group Guilty of Ukraine Fraud (Proletarian Revolution No. 69, Winter 2004), and we posted personal identifying information at Photos of the Perpetrators on this website. A list of many other articles on the affair at the time is at Statements from various sources on the Ukrainian fraud (wwww.bolshevik.org). A summary of the fraud, the CWI’s response and the current activities of these perpetrators was recently posted on the website of the Greek organization Communist Revolutionary Action. See Maidan and Ukranian Story of a Lasting Fraud.

The perpetrators of the fraud have not to our knowledge ever issued any explanation of, or apology for, their political, personal and financial dishonesty. Today Vernyk is chairman of the All-Ukrainian independent trade union “Zakhyst Pratsi” (Labor Defence). See tradeunion.org.ua. Budraitskis belongs to the Socialist Movement of Russia, which is affiliated with the organization long known as the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USec). See for example his article Ukrainians fighting for a better society.

Popovych belongs to “Left Opposition” in Ukraine whose views are also disseminated by the Usec’s magazine International Viewpoint. See A mass revolt for democracy. He also made a widely reported visit to London where he spoke about the Ukrainian events. See for example Russian and Ukrainian socialists speak out. A video of Popovych speaking at a public meeting at the House of Commons is at Crisis in the Ukraine (House of Commons Meeting) – Videos. By comparing this video with the photos of Popovych in the original articles about the fraud, one can see that today’s activist is the same person as yesterday’s fraudster.

We warn the left in Ukraine and around the world: these people are not to be trusted in their political, organizational and financial adventures.

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Hands Off Our NHS

The NHS – Rationing And The Two-Tier Health Service

NHS hospitals performing record numbers of private operations in ‘two-tier’ health service. Hard-up hospitals can now earn up to 50% of income from private work. Shock figures show their income from private patients rose 12% last year – with a further 10% rise forecast for the next 12 months. The Tories are creating a two-tier NHS – with those who pay gobbling up scarce resources.

A Freedom of Information request by Labour MP Gareth Thomas revealed English NHS hospitals earned £434million from private patients in 2012/13, up £47million in a year. And hospitals are forecasting they will earn even more this year (2013/14), raking in some £480million from private work.

Ealing Hospital in London, where the A&E department is under threat, increased the amount it got from their private patients by 250% in the last two years; while Great Ormond Street hospital saw a 58% rise, and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has budgeted for a 30% increase next year.

The MP who unearthed the figures, said: “Our hospitals are seeing a huge rise in the amount of money they receive from private patients. With yet more increases to come this year, it’s clear that under David Cameron a two-tier health service is emerging; pay privately and you’ll be seen quickly – don’t pay privately and join an increasingly long waiting list.”

He said there was growing evidence that patients are being forced to go private because they are being turned away from the NHS or spending so long on waiting lists. “Last year more than 52,000 patients in England were denied routine operations because of the financial pressures on the NHS. This included people waiting for common procedures such as cataract operations and varicose veins treatment”.

Meanwhile, one in five GPs who sits on a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) board has a financial stake in a provider which currently provides services to their own CCG, a Pulse investigation has found, potentially having a conflict of interest because they hold a financial stake in a private healthcare provider.

Figures released by NHS England for July revealed more than half a million patients are on hospital waiting lists in London alone. Dr Clive Peedell, co-leader of the National Health Action Party said: “lifting the cap on private treatments would see a further rise in waiting NHS lists”. “It is a reflection of the huge financial strain on hospitals. The only way to survive and stop from going bankrupt is to increase the number of private patients. We are heading to a two-tier system with consultants having to decide who takes priority: do they see private or NHS patients first”. “The knock on effect will be increased waiting lists as the NHS only has a limited capacity, and if they treat private patients that pushes other patients out of the system. David Cameron is privatising our NHS”.

Rationing
According to the NHS Support Federation: 70% of GP’s are unable to refer patients to the NHS for treatment at least once a month, while 66% of GP’s reported an increase of patients enquiring about private health care because their treatment was no longer available on the NHS. Meanwhile, increased health care rationing is being felt accross the country. 56% of CCGs have further reduced access to care this year according to the Telegraph.

The NHS Support Federation reports that: 39% of people with diabetes have been left unable to monitor their blood glucose levels because the test strips required are being rationed to save money. Self-monitoring of blood glucose levels is essential for many people with the condition. Failure to do so can lead to serious complications such as hypoglycaemia and ketoacidosis.

The Evening Standard reported last month that the number of operations cancelled at the last minute by London hospitals is at a new high, with more patients having to wait at least four weeks for their rescheduled surgery. Other treatments being increasingly rationed include cataract surgery and hip and knee replacements. GP’s are to be given thresholds to ration 28 common surgical procedures including knee replacements, cataract surgery and bariatric surgery under new guidance currently being developed by the Department of Health.

A recent report from the National Audit Office stated: Hospitals in certain areas have stopped offering elective treatments for smokers or people above a certain level of obesity, while in others cataract patients are being forced to wait until their eyesight deteriorates further before being allowed surgery. Rationing elective operations “essentially defers, rather than avoids, spending,” the report said.

A survey of NHS professionals has found that ‘efficiency savings’ are not working, staff morale is low and services are being cut. Almost half of those surveyed believe patient safety is being affected by the need to save £20 billion by 2015, while nine out of 10 say staff morale is being badly hit.The VOAG

capitalist crises mike brooksThe debate on the causes of the Great Recession

Mick Brooks, Author of Capitalist Crisis: Theory and Practice, comments here on the debate within the Committee For a Workers’ International on The Causes of the Great Recession and Capitalist Crisis.

Mick Brooks, September 2013
Since the outbreak of the Great Recession Marxists have debated its cause. This is a vital theoretical issue for understanding the world around us.

The debate centres around the issue as to whether the present crisis is caused by falling profits as explained by Marx’s law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit (LTFRP), dealt with in chapters 13-15 of ‘Capital Volume III’. Others argue that the crisis can be explained as one of underconsumption.

This debate is bubbling under within the ranks of the CWI. The leadership of the CWI (as of the IMT) take what I would characterise as an underconsumptionist position. Already two blogs are circulating inside the ranks of the CWI that advocate the LTFRP explanation, in addition to an excellent short film, and debates are beginning to take place in the localities. Signs of intelligent life? It looks like it. Check out:
Marx returns from the Grave, http://69.195.124.91/~brucieba/
Socialism is Crucial, http://socialismiscrucial.wordpress.com/

It should be explained at the outset that all parties agree that a crisis of capitalism takes theform of overproduction, of unsold goods, as it says in the ‘Communist Manifesto’. Overproduction and crisis, however, are not permanent features of capitalist production. It remains to be explained why capitalism dips into crisis when it does.

The leadership, reacting to criticism, has resorted to an ‘underconsumptionist’ explanation of the cause of crisis. The crisis is caused, according to a quote from Chapter 30 of ‘Capital Volume III’ by “the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses.” (As one of the bloggers, CrucialSteve, points out this was actually a bracketed note added by Engels into the original text.)

The problem with the underconsumptionist explanation is that there is a permanent tendency for capitalism to restrict the purchasing power of the working class, because it is a system based on profit. Underconsumptionism therefore has no explanatory power as an explanation of crisis.

In any case not all commodities are produced for workers – pallet trucks and computer numerically controlled machine tools are capital goods bought by capitalists. There are also luxury goods consumed only by capitalists such as yachts and private jets. Why should there be a specific outbreak of overproduction of consumer goods intended for workers’ consumption such as jumpers rather than pallet trucks or yachts? Empirically crises of overproduction usually break out in the capital goods industries. Investment is the most volatile element in national income.

The opposition bloggers within the CWI have a powerful argument in their favour – the rate and mass of profit in the major capitalist countries fell sharply prior to the onset of crisis in 2007. Marx’s theory is confirmed! To take the case of the USA: “The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) shows that in the 3rd quarter of 2006 the mass of profits peaked at $1,865bn. By the 4th quarter of 2008 it bottomed out at $861bn.” (Brooks – Capitalist crisis; theory and practice, p.32)

The facts confirm Marx’s analysis of the LTFRP as the fundamental cause of crisis. Why should this cause surprise, since we all agree that capitalism is a system of production of profit? The school of Marxian economists who support this analysis view the falling rate and also mass of profit only as an underlying cause of crisis. Essentially the argument is about levels of causation in the crisis. What about the financial aspect of the crisis – the housing bubble, crazy loans and collapsing banks? Of course this was all very important. These specific factors profoundly influence the depth and nature of the downturn. Every crisis is a unique event with its own characteristics. But, with or without a ‘financial crisis’ the fact that the mass of profits in the USA, the most important capitalist country, halved over two years would have provoked a big collapse of output in any case.

How does the leadership of the CWI deal with the detailed criticisms of their approach thrown up by the advocates of the importance of the LTFRP as an explanation of crisis? Lynn Walsh argues in ‘Socialism Today’ that profit and investment have become disconnected in recent decades. “Despite the staggering increase in the share of income taken by the top 1% in the US, investment declined.”(‘Socialism Today’, November 2012) So profits (with the share of the top 1% as a proxy) are supposed have soared at the expense of working people, but this has not translated into productive investment. Walsh concludes, “This factual data, in our view confirms the analysis of a crisis in capital accumulation put forward in ‘Socialism Today’ over many years” (ibid.).

If true, this is not an explanation for a pattern of booms and slumps. It presents a stagnationist perspective for the future of capitalism, a permanent slowing down of the rate of accumulation. Is the CWI serious about decades of stagnation? How do they explain the present crisis, where investment fell as a result of the fall in profits?

In fact there is a simple explanation for this alleged disjunction between profits and investment: the profit figures quoted are wrong. Michael Roberts has meticulously chronicled the rate of profit since the Second World War in his blog. Nobody has challenged his figures, which attempt to look beneath conventional statistics to work out a Marxian rate of profit.

Roberts concludes: first that there has been no return to the fabulous profits enjoyed by capitalists during the golden years of the post-War boom; and secondly that the rate of profit today in 2013 remains below that of 2007 before the onset of the great Recession. Andrew Kliman also carefully shows (in ‘The failure of capitalist production’) that the reason for lower investment in the years since 1974 is lower profits. There is just less to invest. Simples.

The CWI leadership buttress their ‘explanation’ as to why investment has been lower with recourse to the notion of financialisation. As Lynn Walsh argues in the same article, more and more funds have been gobbled up by financial shenanigans in preference to investing in industry. There is no mystery here. In so far as more “profits disappeared into the financial sector” (ibid.), that is a response to lower pickings to be made in production – because of the LTFRP itself.

Increasing exploitation of the workers over recent decades has not led to increasing rates of accumulation because of financialisation, it is asserted. This is part of the analysis of a whole school of thought, regarding itself as Marxian, which sees the current crisis as one of the neoliberal form of capitalism rather than capitalism as a whole. In fact this is the conventional wisdom of the majority of academic Marxist economists. A whole new stage of capitalism is supposed to have developed since about 1980, buttressed by the holy trinity of globalisation, neoliberalism and financialisation.

Dumenil and Levy’s book – ‘The crisis of neoliberalism’, 2011 – is an example. Phil Hearse writing in Socialist Resistance, the publishing house of the so-called Fourth international, also refers to “a neoliberal ‘regime of accumulation’”. The logic of this approach seems to be that neoliberalism should be destroyed rather the capitalist system overthrown. As we see, the CWI leadership has swallowed this analysis whole. By accepting the interpretation of this school the CWI is on a slippery slope indeed. We’re with the opposition within their ranks on this one.Socialist Fight

Join-The-SWPThe Socialist Party Debates: The Tendency For The Rate Of Profit To Fall Vs Underconsumptionism.

The VOAG can’t help but notice the growing debate inside the Socialist Party (SP). The VOAG’s inbox had just quietened down following an avalanche of emails during the recent SWP splits. Now it seems it’s the Socialist Party’s turn to spam the living daylights out of us all.

The VOAG has already heard rumours of people being banned from the Socialist Party’s International Summer School, now I understand the SP’s NC is removing members from the SP Facebook group and banning all discussion relating to Marxist economics. (1)

As Bruce Wallace, one of the leading dissidents put it: “Under the pretext of agreeing to comradely debate, the critical material of oppositionists is being censored and repressed while public attacks on us are made by the leadership”. How SWP. (2)

And just like the SWP debacle, the argument is being conflated with a general dissatisfaction with internal party democracy. One dissident quotes Lenin: “Criticism within the limits of the principles of the Party Programme must be quite free, not only at Party meetings, but also at public meetings. Such criticism, or such “agitation” (for criticism is inseparable from agitation) cannot be prohibited”

What’s it all about.
 At the root of the argument are different perspectives regarding the relative importance in Crisis Theory (why capitalism goes into cyclical recessions) of “The Tendancy For The Rate Of Profit To Fall” (TRPF) and “Overacculation /Underconsumption”. Another SP dissident, calling himself Crucial Steve, writes on his blog:

“According to Lyn Walsh [editor of the SP’s monthly Socialism Today], the current crisis is one of over accumulation and lack of demand. Peter Taaffe writes in issue number 157 “The capitalists refuse to invest because there is no ‘profitable outlet’. In this sense, it is a crisis of ‘profitability’. Not because profits have dropped or there is a ‘tendency’ for the rate of profit to decline. Both the rate and the absolute amount of profit have increased it seems, even during this terrible crisis”.” (3)

Crucial Steve (Steve Dobbs) counters: “Marx was very clear that the accumulation of capital and the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall were in fact “two expressions of the same process”. As capital accumulates, the organic composition [fixed capital over variable capital] rises and the rate of profit tends to fall. Thus to speak of over accumulation without reference to the rate of profit is somewhat “one-sided”, shall we say.

Cde. Crucial sets out his stall: “According to the statistics, the rate and the absolute amount of profit have not increased as the SP would have it. As anyone who has worked with management in the private sector will tell you, capitalists are concerned with the rate of return. So naturally, the projected rate of profit will determine investment. A fall in return and a subsequent fall in investment can also lead to a drop in the mass of profits. We can see empirically that the fall in the mass of profits precedes a fall in investment prior to a recession”.

Crucial quotes Walsh in Socialism Today No.161: “How, as socialists, should we regard a stimulus package or programme of public works? In the face of mass unemployment and the prospect of prolonged economic stagnation, the leaders of workers’ organisations should indeed be calling for a massive programme of public works to provide jobs and stimulate growth. Effective economic stimulus would require a big increase in social spending, increasing pensions and other benefits. Tax rates for the wealthy and big corporations should be substantially increased, with a levy on the uninvested cash piles of big companies. Effective measures should be taken against tax evasion and avoidance”. (4)

The SP’s official position, that the current crisis is one of over accumulation and lack of demand, implies that the answer is to inflate the economy by increasing salaries and public spending, in order to spend ones way out of crises. In other words, classic Keynesianism. We at The VOAG reject this approach and agree with Marx, that capitalism has structural contradictions that cannot be resolved by keynesian economics or reformism.

Socialist Fight breaks it down.
To get some help understanding this argument, let’s visit the pages of this month’s Socialist Fight:
Let us first of all set out the proposition according to Marx: “The progressive tendency of the general rate of profit to fall is, therefore, just an expression peculiar to the capitalist mode of production of the progressive development of the social productivity of labour. This does not mean to say that the rate of profit may not fall temporarily for other reasons. But proceeding from the nature of the capitalist mode of production, it is thereby proved a logical necessity that in its development the general average rate of surplus-value must express itself in a falling general rate of profit. Since the mass of the employed living labour is continually on the decline as compared to the mass of materialised labour set in motion by it, i.e., to the productively consumed means of production, it follows that the portion of living labour, unpaid and congealed in surplus-value, must also be continually on the decrease compared to the amount of value represented by the invested total capital. Since the ratio of the mass of surplus-value to the value of the invested total capital forms the rate of profit, this rate must constantly fall”. Karl Marx, Capital vol. 3, chapter 13.

TFRP is the central plank of Marx’s revolutionary economic theories. He formed his theory in opposition to the closely related theories of the so-called “iron law of wages” and underconsumptionism, and sharply counter-posed TFRP to them. The Iron Law of Wages is a proposed law of economics that asserts that real wages always tend, in the long run, toward the minimum wage necessary to sustain the life of the worker. Karl Marx attribute the doctrine to Lassalle (notably in his Critique of the Gotha Programme, 1875), but credited the idea to Thomas Malthus in his work, An Essay on the Principle of Population.

Marx did not have several theories of capitalist crisis, he had one: TFRP. Marx attacked the “iron law of wages” in two lectures to the international Working Men’s Association in 1865. The argument was that the “iron law” meant the absolute immiseration of the working class which led to a lack of demand for commodities and hence a crisis pushing prices below the value of commodities finally squeezing profits.

This is closely allied to underconsumptionism. Of course it has an immediate reformist implication; there is a Keynesian solution to the crisis of capitalism. All we need to do is raise wages and pump more money into the economy and the crisis will be solved. The underconsumptionist tells us there is plenty of money available but the capitalists just won’t invest. So implicitly all we have to do is force them to do so or get the government to do so on their behalf. It is this reformist conclusion that Bruce Wallace has correctly identified in the line of both the CWI and the CPGB. The notion that they won’t invest because the rate of profit is too low is beyond them.

The point about TFRP is that it is a revolutionary theory; capitalism is in crisis because it has these fatal structural flaws; private ownership of the means of production and a system of production for individual profit which has this inescapable tendency to fall and halt production through lack of investment. Only a rationally planned socialised economy based on production for need will overcome the ever recurring [and increasing] crises of capitalism. War on a global scale is the only thing that will temporarily solve this crisis for the capitalists; a much smaller group of monopoly capitalists will now have their profits rates restored before they fall again and the next conflagration is prepared. That is the history of the twentieth century. The same iron laws apply to the twenty-first. (6)

Notes
1. http://howiescorner.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/is-shttp://howiescorner.blogspot.ocialist-party-heading-fo-split.html
2. http://69.195.124.91/~brucieba/2013/08/01/what-exactly-did-marx-and-engels-get-wrong-a-la-nial-mulholland/
3. http://socialismiscrucial.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/ted-grants-notes-on-marxist-economics/
4. Ibid
5. https://suacs.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/socialistfightno14.pdf
6. Ibid

Acknowledgements and Thanks
Many thanks to Ray Rising for providing a selection of print-outs regarding the Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall.

The VOAG would like to acknowledge Socialist Fight for their article “Ticktin, Taaffe and Underconsumption” in Socialist Fight No.14 some of which is reproduced here.

Thanks also go out to Socialist Fight for their excellent Open Meeting on the “Tendency for the Rate of Profit to Fall” which The VOAG attended. For details of future Socialist Fight meetings contact: Socialist_Fight@yahoo.co.uk.The Voag

A Marxist Critique of
“A Scientific Critique of Unscientific Marxism”

A Marxist Critique of “A Scientific Critique of Unscientific Marxism”
Reply by Gerry Downing to Steve Ballard’s “A Scientific Critique of Unscientific Marxism”

Gerald Downing, Editor Socialist Fight.  2012
This short document is a synopsis of a much longer one by Steve. However in neither document does he use actual quotations from Marx and Engels. He makes assertions that they ‘recognised’ this, they ‘hypothesised’ they ‘elaborated’, etc. but makes no attempt to prove these assertions. Supplying an academic apparatus would make his “scientific critique” far more scientific. His original text is in bold in quotation marks and this is followed by my reply.

Steve Ballard writes: “Marx and Engels were the first to recognise how:- The essence of capitalism is a system oflaws, created by dynastic owners of surplus property, which ranks their self-aggrandisement above all other socialobligations, including the obligation to nurture all life, human and otherwise.”

The essence of capitalism is not a “system of laws” but, in common with all forms of class society, the private ownership of the means of production. Wealth is privately owned under capitalism but socially produced. The conflict this creates between capital and labour, the means of production and the social relations of production is the class struggle and according to the first sentence of the Communist Manifesto, “The history of all hitherto existing (class) society is the history of class struggles”

Already we are on the wrong idealist track, Capitalism rests not on a “system of laws” but on this objective relationship, independent of will and consciousness. We might  therefore acknowledge that whilst Marx and Engels regarded “historical processes as law-governed processes” these laws are derived from a study of the evolution of capitalism and are the laws of Historical Materialism.

It is the task of the revolutionary party to make this historical processes a conscious process, we must become the “conscious expression of the unconscious historical process” (Trotsky, My Life). “Marx determined that the concealed essence of capitalism could be found in its history, and that this essence and history were then preserved in disguise within its existing institutions and beliefs. History thus was the entry point for the study of capitalism. This is the materialist interpretation of history, based on the view that what gives history its meaning is material life, meaning economic forces. From this standpoint, Marx was studying classical political economy, but the method he selected is what married this study to Hegelian philosophy. The dialectical element, derived from Hegel, emerged from the realization that there is extreme tension caused by the unequal relations between the superior and inferior classes within society. The main driving force of historical change is thus seen to be the class struggle, and this is associated with a dialectical view because it reveals a contradiction located within all modes of production, a contradiction between the forces of production and the relations of production.”(Marx on Historical Change & Capitalism) http://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/1702624.html)

We really do not know what “surplus property”, might be, the expression is found nowhere in Marx or Marxism and can only refer to a reformist notion that the rich have too much property and we should take some of it off them because they do not need it all. This is in line with the current thinking that if only we could retrieve the bankers’ bonuses and invest that all would be well with the capitalist economy. Such notions are pushed by the SWP and the World to Win in their LEAP stuff for John McDonald and the Labour Representation Committee. Feldman performed a like service for Ken Livingstone in his WRP days. There is, of course, “surplus value”, an entirely different concept which forms the bedrock of Marx’s study of Capital.

And really the notion that the owners of this supposed “surplus property” are very nasty  and irresponsible beasts which, “ranks their self-aggrandisement above all other social obligations” and could not give a hoot for their “obligation to nurture all life, human and otherwise” is simply another reformist moralist gripe about the nastiness of the ruling class. And anyway some of them do give a stuff; that nice Mr Gates gives away untold millions to help the poor, surely  he takes his “social obligations” seriously? Even if that is true that he does he is, of course, amongst the foremost defender of the system that starves a great proportion of humanity materially and whilst the world obviously has the capacity to feed, cloth, give proper healthcare, education, etc. to every individual on the planet. But that capitalism can never do, with the best will in the world.

But here we really need to go into some detail about the effects this private ownership of the means of production has on humanity in general; the details of how these social relations distorts and deforms the human psyche of the whole of humanity (including the capitalists) via the four forms of alienation analysed by Karl Marx’s in his Theory of Alienation:

(1)There is the alienation of the worker from the work s/he produces, from the product of his/her labour. The product’s design and the manner in which it is produced are determined not by its actual producers, nor even by those who consume the products, but rather by the capitalist class, which appropriates labour – including that of designers and engineers – and seeks to shape consumers’ taste in order to maximize profit.

(2) This is coupled with the alienation of the worker from working, from the act of producing itself. This kind of alienation refers to the patterning of work in the capitalist means of production into an endless sequence of discrete, repetitive, trivial, and meaningless motions, offering little, if any, intrinsic satisfaction.

(3) There is the alienation of the worker from himself as a producer, from his or her “species being” or “essence as a species”. To Marx, this human essence is not separate from activity or work, nor static, but includes the innate potential to develop as a human organism.

(4) Alienation of the worker from other workers or producers. Capitalism reduces labour to a commercial commodity to be traded on the market, rather than a social relationship between people involved in a common effort for survival or betterment. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/Marxism.htm)

“Alienation (which) describes the separation of things that naturally belong together; and the placement of antagonism between things that are properly in harmony…Alienation (Entfremdung) is the systemic result of living in a socially stratified society, because being a mechanistic part of a social class alienates a person from his and her humanity… Although the worker is an autonomous, self-realised human being, as an economic entity, he or she is directed to goals and diverted to activities that are dictated by the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, in order to extract from the worker the maximal amount of surplus value, in the course of business competition among industrialists.”(Marx’s theory of alienation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx%27s_theory_of_alienation, Wiki – our numbering)

“The capitalist system of secular laws must eventually overwhelm all pre-capitalist systems of religious laws, because of capitalism’s façade of freedom, its semblance of scientific neutrality and objectivity. Capitalism’s self-perpetuating, self-serving, quasi-scientific ideology of ‘survival of the fittest’ obscures the underlying oppression of whole populations, by owners of the greatest amount of surplus property, with complete disregard for the needs of any life that does not serve their self aggrandisement, human and otherwise”.

“Religious doctrinal laws oblige whole populations, including their most self-aggrandising clans, to nurture all life, human and otherwise, however imperfectly and inequitably; capitalism’s state-enforced repudiation of the socially-necessary obligation to nurture all life (a consequence of science’s repudiation of religion), must eventually cause the disintegration of all societies, pending the development of scientific socialism.”

Here again the problem is posed as if it was ideological and even on this level it is wrong. Only in a very few historical instances were whole societies governed totally by religious laws; Israel and Judea in Roman times, the reign of Mohamed, etc. Even the old Islamic Empire of the Ottoman Turks and modern Islamic Republics like Iran are mixtures of secular and Sharia laws. Already by the early Middle Ages conflict between church and state saw increasing secularisation of the state. And this was a progressive thing, an inevitable step in the preparation of society for the socialist revolution and the taking of power by the working class and so to the abolition of all classes. “Religious doctrinal laws oblige whole populations, including their most self-aggrandising clans, to nurture all life, human and otherwise, however imperfectly and inequitably;” seems to suggest that the development of
capitalism was reactionary and not progressive, this is surely a reference to noblesse oblige, a mere hypocritical principle to justify the jus primae noctis etc. And again we really do not know what “pending the development of scientific socialism” means if it does not signify some vague ‘raising of consciousness’ project and not the socialist revolution.

Look at how Christopher Hill describes this transformation in his great analysis of the intellectual and ideological conflicts that took place in the approach, during and after the English Civil War, The World Turned Upside Down (p242-3)

“One of the fascinating problems in the intellectual history of seventeenth-century England is the collapse of Calvinism. It was as though it had performed its historic task with the establishment of a society in which the protestant ethic prevailed. Before 1640 Calvinism had been attacked from the right by sacramentalist Laudians;[1] during the Revolution it was attacked by rationalist Arminians[2] of the left – John Goodwin, Milton, Quakers. Presbyterian discipline was unpopular both with the ungodly lower classes and with upper class anti-clericals. More serious, Calvinism had proved unable to sustain its defences against Antinomianism.[3] So long as the elect were respectable bourgeois Puritans, their sense of freedom through cooperation with God brought no fundamental danger to the social order. But it was impossible, once discipline brisk down, to decide who the elect were. The radicals rejected as hypocrites those Puritans whose faith did not result in works of love. Artisan Fifth Monarchists[4] proclaimed that they were the saints who should rule. Mechanick preachers and lower-class Quakers[5] were convinced that the Holy Spirit was within them. Some Ranters preached a dionysiac Antinomianism that would have subverted all the moral standards of a propertied society”.

Failure to agree who the elect were drove the men of property back to works — by their fruits ye shall know them. Standards and norms of conduct could be established and enforced by lay J.P.s with no danger of a clerical Presbyterian discipline. This was a very different theology of works from that of Catholics or Laudians; it was non-sacramental, in no “dependent on a mediating priesthood. It avoided both types of clericalism. And the sects themselves, once they had accepted the world and the sinfulness of man, cooperated in enforcing a morality of works on their members. We are all so Arminians now that it requires a great imaginative effort think oneself back into the pre-revolutionary society which Calvinism dominated.

The Catholic counter-reformation at the Council of Trent (1545–1563) decreed that an excerpt from the Gospel according to St John which begins; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” be read out in the vernacular (the only part that the mass of ‘the  common people’ could understand, the rest was unintelligible Latin and Greek until the 1960s) in all churches. It was very important for organised reaction to counter the rising materialist ideology which put men above God and welfare above that of the church.

In the Enlightenment it fell to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to demolish this idealistic reaction in the words of Faust: “This is how ’tis written: “In the beginning was the Word! Here now I’m balked! Who’ll put me in accord? It is impossible, the Word so high to prize, I must translate it otherwise If I am rightly by the Spirit taught. ’Tis written: In the beginning was the Thought! Consider well that line, the first you see, That your pen may not write too hastily! Is it then Thought that works, creative, hour by hour? Thus should it stand: In the beginning was the Power! Yet even while I write this word, I falter, for something warns me, this too I shall alter. The Spirit’s helping me! I see now what I need and write assured: In the beginning was the Deed!”  Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

All serious Marxists side unequivocally with Goethe, it is not “thought works, creative, hour by hour” but thought-driven practice, it was not the “battle of ideas” that determined the outcome of the great British miners’ strike of 1984-5 but the Battle of Orgrieve, which they lost. “Marx and Engels hypothesised that the only means to overcome the quasi-scientific ideology of capitalism would be science ­— the deeper and wider understanding of the unity and interdependence of all life, human and otherwise. They characterised their approach as scientific socialism to distinguish it from democratic or ‘utopian’ socialism, which disregards the particular significance of science’s discipline and methodology in the development of society.”

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Marx’s theory of alienation would refute this sentence. Marx never saw the objective as simply the raising of consciousness and enlightenment. We are revolutionaries because bourgeois ideology is constantly re-imposed on the consciousness of the working class by the social relations of production all workers are forced to enter into in order to make their living. They must sell their labour power to the capitalist; they must subordinate their will to the capitalist in a humiliating relationship as explained by Marx:

In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness. At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters.

Revolutionary Internationalist League’s 1995 Critique of Workers Power: The Roots of Degeneration

One general feature has become steadily more pronounced however, the adaptation to the feeling among sections of liberal western opinion that ‘our’ governments must ’do something’ – a sentiment that plays directly into the hands of imperialism. So now we have the ludicrous position of the LRCI [forerunner of Workers Power/ LFI] trying to sound revolutionary, and calling for the UN and NATO out of the Balkans and condemning the bombing, while at the same time demanding that ‘our’ government sends arms to the Bosnian forces and opens the borders to Islamic ‘volunteers‘ going to fight with them. In other words Workers Power does not want the imperialists to fight in the Balkans; they just want them to get their clients and proxies to do the fighting![Much like their apraisal of Lybia today]

Preface
The Revolutionary Internationalist League was formed in November 1984 as the British section of the International Trotskyist Committee, the renamed Trotskyist International Liaison Committee (TILC). Its origins lay in the Workers Internationalist League, (WIL) which was founded in 1983 by a Faction of the Workers Socialist League. The WIL split a year later into several factions and dissolved. It was one of these factions that formed the Revolutionary Internationalist League.

The VOAG doesn’t necessarily endorse all the positions of the RIL and doesn’t know the differences between these groups. What is of interest to the VOAG is the RIL’s 1995 critique of Workers Power (re-published below), which the VOAG supports. The document is as relevant today as it was in 1995 and explores the roots of Workers Power’s present tragectory, recent splits, and current politics. I have to warn the reader that this is a rather long document, but should be of  great importance to members of Workers Power and any one interested in their politics. So grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable, it’ll be worth the effort.

Introduction – Who are Workers Power?
Workers Power in Britain is one of the many ‘left’ organisations that likes to call itself Trotskyist (Revolutionary Marxist). On paper, they like to appear as the ‘purest’ of Marxist, but like so much of the rest of Britain’s left they have gone through a steady process of political degeneration and opportunist adaptation. Increasingly they have become just another irrelevant sect, more interested in selling their paper than building any real struggles that can forge a new revolutionary vanguard and party.

They have built up an ‘international’ in much the same way as British groups like Militant, and their own former ancestors, the SWP: Instead of developing a genuine democratic internationalist party, they have set up ’satellite’ sections who must follow the line of the British leaders. They call this the ‘League for a Revolutionary Communist International (LRCI), but as we shall see in this document the LRCI is no more than the extension of Workers Power in Britain. [Since this document was published the LRCI has been renamed the LFI, League for the Fifth International.]

Over the past few years and in particular since the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe in the early 1990s, Workers Power has rapidly speeded up its process of political degeneration and decay. It has come out with more and more rotten positions, it has developed an undemocratic and unhealthy internal regime and it has made a complete mess of just about every major area of practical work it has engaged in. Today, Workers Power holds out no hope of winning militant workers and youth to its organisation, it has become part of the British left’s living dead.

Worker’s Power’s Centrist Method
In essence Workers Power’s centrist method can be reduced to a sectarianism towards the working class and youth, which characterises its passive propagandistic, arrogant and literalist approach to class struggle. Increasingly, Workers Power has been further characterised by a total capitulation to bourgeois democracy, and middleclass public opinion. This adaptation to middle class public opinion has reached its peak in regards to the pro-imperialist policy Workers Power advance in relation to the war in Yugoslavia. But it goes back to their fears of raising the demand ‘victory to Iraq’ during the Gulf war and their constant refusal to defend the gains of the October workers revolution in the former Soviet Union from capitalist restorationism and counter revolution, which cloaks itself in the hypocritical gown of western ‘bourgeois democracy’.

The present leadership of Workers Power and the LRCI has for years been advancing the policy that it is correct to fight for bourgeois democracy within degenerated workers states. This shows a remarkable ignorance of class rule in capitalism, an ignorance all too often shared by groups like the USFI and Matgamna’s Socialist Organiser, who are desperate to prove to the middle classes that socialists are more in favour of bourgeois democracy than the bourgeoisie.

Since its first progressive period during the English Civil War and the French revolution, bourgeois democracy has always been the political system to which capitalist exploitation is best suited. It is about abstract ‘human rights’ that hide class power. Counter revolution within the workers’ states, whether healthy or degenerate, was always going to be best disguised in bottles marked ‘democratic rights’, especially when the so-called Communists are so eager to swallow the whole bottle without studying the ingredients. 

What is the relevance of Workers Power?
Workers Power is a perfect example of a sect. There might even be ten times as many members of Workers Power as are in the RIL, but when did they last lead a struggle, when did they last even organise a march? Increasingly, Workers Power hasn’t done anything. They can go to other peoples meetings and marches, criticise everyone else, and sell a few papers, and that to them is active political work. No wonder Workers Power has never tried to even talk to the working class youth, they know those youth wouldn’t be in the slightest bit interested in a group of people who treat revolution like an interesting schoolboy hobby.

Workers Power has become a sect; if it had the 9000 members the SWP boasts of it wouldn’t be any better. It has no perspective of winning or even leading anything. And not surprisingly the sect has become a clique (the term cult might imply something more exciting than the mundane existence of this increasingly irrelevant group). A clique of leaders and full timers who go back years with one another run the group and demand personal loyalty from all its members. Some of the material from the recent splits will make that so apparent we need not comment further.

So, you may ask, if Workers Power are increasingly so irrelevant why waste our time writing about them? The conservatism, routinist sect that Workers Power has become only serves as an example of how not to build a revolutionary organisation, how not to win workers and youth, how to abstain from struggle and criticise everyone else, how to turn revolution into its opposite – into a drinking club for left wing people who want a hobby and like to sound sanctimonious and a little bit intellectual.

Workers Power is not just Workers Power in Britain, it is the principal section of the League for a Revolutionary Communist International, which as an international organisation claiming to be Trotskyist has attracted small but important groups of revolutionaries in a number of countries. We believe the recent split of the Latin American sections from Workers Power, following closely on the split of the New Zealand section to be a decisive turning point for the LRCI. There is no longer any national section within the LRCI that can fight to reverse the degeneration. The regime will no longer allow for that, and most of the remaining members are too crushed and tied in terms of personal loyalty to do anything except leave.

We don’t gloat at this depressing spectacle, nor do we wish any harm to those comrades who have chosen to go down the road of degeneration. Frankly, we would be wasting our time to do either. Rather, we feel the recent split demands the drawing of a balance sheet, the learning of lessons – especially important to those youth getting involved in politics for the first time, and for those ex-members and ex-sections of Workers Power which must now ask themselves where to go next.

The recent splits in the LRCI – Austria
In spring 1995, the Austrian section of the LRCI, Arbeiter-lnnenstandpunkt split. In 1992 Arbeiter-Innenstandpunkt was the largest far left group in Austria, bigger than either the Militant or the Austrian RKL. Arbeiter-lnnenstandpunkt had won a number of youth who were quickly turned into sectarians.

The final straw in the degeneration for the Arbeiter-Innenstandpunkt group came when they joined a right-wing Serbian monarchist demonstration in Vienna. They shared the same platform with the apologists, monarchists and clerical counterrevolutionaries from the former Yugoslavia, and failed to utter a word of criticism of Serbian nationalism. The only Serb member of the LRCI did try to make some attack on the monarchists and was promptly beaten up by Serb nationalists.

Workers Power have refused to ever make any public or internal correction to this complete debacle. It is bad enough to make such a mistake but to go on defending it years later spells disaster. The Austrian group ceased to grow and conservative pessimism set in. Earlier this year, the LRCI held what appears as a ridiculous debate to anyone outside the sect. They had an almighty argument about whether the political period in the world was counter- revolutionary with revolutionary potentials, or whether it was revolutionary, within a counter- revolutionary situation.

Such nonsense denotes an organisation that has lost any grip of Marxist dialectics. The world political situation is extremely contradictory. The collapse of Stalinism and the rightward shift of social democracy has intensified both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary pressures. The world is a more unstable place. But to generalise that it is either revolutionary (which clearly it is not) or that it is counter-revolutionary (suggesting the complete victory of reaction and the impossibility of making any practical revolutionary developments in the immediate future) is a nonsense. It is a classic attempt to try and make an abstract schema fit a complicated and concrete world.

Workers Power in Britain decided the period was now revolutionary. This has more to do with their celebration of the collapse of Stalinism than anything that existed in the class struggle, or that they thought they could actually do anywhere. A section of Arbeiter-Innenstandpunkt, decided it was counter-revolutionary and that, in fact, there was nothing much that could be done except make propaganda. This ridiculous argument led to the first of this year’s splits. The result is that there are now two tiny sects in Austria both of which are in reality sterile passive propaganda groups.

New Zealand and Latin America
In September 1995, the ’Proletarian Faction’ in the New Zealand section split. This was followed in October by the departure of the Peruvian and Bolivian sections, the only two Latin American sections of the LRCI and their only groups in neo-colonial countries. The two splits have different origins and some important different positions. They also share a great deal of correct criticisms of Workers Power and the LRCI.

The points of agreement include opposition to Workers Power’s counter-revolutionary positions on the war in former Yugoslavia, where Workers Power have called on imperialists to give military support to the Bosnian state and supported the Bosnian army, whilst refusing to defend Serbs from NATO bombing.

They opposed Workers Power’s support for the counterrevolutionary government in Lithuania, and their call for the Thatcher government to provide military aid to the pro capitalist government there to use against Soviet forces. They opposed Workers Power’s ‘united front’ with Boris Yeltsin in the 1991 August coup in the USSR. Workers Power had demanded socialists take sides with one section of the old bureaucracy, the more openly pro-capitalist counter revolutionary and pro bourgeois democratic one, against another which was more anti-democratic but wanted a slower process of capitalist restoration.

Both opposed the insane line of the LRCI which stated that the Bolivian working class had suffered an historic defeat on the scale of the Paris Commune! They resisted this defeatism until the LRCI forced it to be finally published in Bolivia- on the eve of a one month general strike! They opposed Workers Power’s positions on Haiti and Rwanda where Workers Power rejected elementary Marxism in failing to distinguish imperialism, refusing to allow for the possibility of ever supporting the Haitian government against a US military invasion, and backing the British and US sponsored Tutsi RPF in Rwanda during the mutually genocidal civil war with Hutus.

They opposed Workers Power’s call for a ‘democratic’ Popular front with the far right Islamic fundamentalists against the reactionary regime in Algeria. Many of them had opposed Workers Power’s backsliding during the Gulf war between imperialism and Iraq. Workers Power quickly retreated from demanding the victory of the oppressed nation, Iraq, once the war was in full swing.

In all these conflicts, we are completely with the sections that have split from the LRCI, in so far as we have been able to study their positions. Many of these criticisms have been made by us for many years, and they are developed in this pamphlet. Workers Power did not tolerate this opposition and it is clear that the internal regime of the LRCI made it increasingly impossible to wage these struggles from within. Bureaucratic suspensions and expulsions combined with splits became inevitable.

In practical terms Workers Power’s centrist method has made it redundant. But the most important point leading to the split for us is not the struggle over Eastern Europe or Yugoslavia, centrally important though these questions are for Trotskyists, but the resistance to the attempts of the LRCI leadership to impose an analysis of the political situation in Bolivia which would rule out any intervention in the class struggle.

The episode is an example of Workers Power’s rotten method. According to the LRCI the Bolivian working class has, since 1986 suffered a strategic and historical defeat with the massive cutbacks in the mines and privatisation. Workers Power said this defeat was as deep as that of the French working class after the Paris Commune was smashed and drowned in blood in 1871. They equated a series of important defeats of a combative working class – which had not lost its combatively – to the world historical defeat of the World’s first attempt to establish a workers’ state.

The Bolivian comrades recognised that the workers had suffered serious defeats and setbacks, and that the bourgeoisie was on the offensive with further large-scale privatisations. But they knew that to accept the LRCI’s analysis would condemn them to a passive, propagandist existence in the face of a reality that was much more complicated and where the working class had not yet been crushed.

Despite heated protests against this new line dictated by Workers, the Bolivian section was finally forced to swallow it. Their resistance brought them up against the bureaucratic internal regime of the LRCI. They were told that they would be suspended from the LRCI if they did not print the ‘official’ line in their Bolivian paper. They printed the line earlier this year, just before the outbreak of the General Strike in Bolivia. Such an obviously foolish line must have made the Bolivian comrades look like clowns in their own class struggle.

The Latin American comrades clearly saw that the un-Marxist methods of the LRCI would destroy the possibilities of revolutionary work in their countries. And the internal regime was clearly making a fight against these methods impossible. The leadership tried to suspend José Ville, a leading Bolivian comrade in London for receiving a fax asking him to join the New Zealand faction. Then they suspended him for trying to go to the International Executive Committee, of which he was an alternate member, and where he would have had the proxy vote of two absent full members from Latin America, and said that he would be expelled if he went to the meeting. He was threatened with discipline for doing almost anything.

Workers Power’s gutter response
In typical fashion, Workers Power has attempted to obscure the real political disagreements with a cocktail of slanders, misrepresentations, character assassinations, appeals to moral hysteria and assorted gutter rantings. When all else fails the Workers Power leaders resort to labelling all opponents as individualistic, undisciplined thieves against the workers movement!

Villa was an “unreformable” cult leader hostile to discipline, so Workers Power tell us. But the most important thing is to come: “in the shortest terms our attitude to Poder Obrero depends on whether they possess a shred of revolutionary morality. The Bolivian section has kept the money sent to them for an air fare and have not to date returned it, despite many requests to do so. Clearly it they do not – and we still hope that they will despite their spilt –  this would bring into the whole situation a question of their honesty and honour as revolutionaries”.

Once again, Workers Power seek to hide the political argument by whipping up a moral outrage for their version of revolutionary morality against a world of ‘thieves’ and ‘robbers‘. When Chris Brind split it was the computer, now it is an airline ticket. Any piece of tittle-tattle will do for the workers Power leaders to demand loyalty by creating an anti-political and hysterical atmosphere. In issuing such crap the Workers Power leaders display even more contempt for their own members than they do for Villa and those who have split. Because anyone who swallows all this in place of a political examination of the questions concerned must be a total wooden head.

The roots of the crisis
The LRCI’s recent series of splits is the result of the contradictions in its politics. These contradictions have festered because of its inconsistencies. Since the LRCI was built around, and has always been politically dominated by its largest section, Workers Power in Britain, the causes and history of its degeneration are fundamentally those of Workers Power.

Workers Power’s method has always been characterised by an `academic’, formalistic and essentially mechanical attitude to Marxist theory and programme. Now this method takes the form of conservative passivity in ‘practical’ work, and a literary output designed to provide a convoluted ‘Marxist’ cover for positions which are in fact an accommodation to the shifts of British liberal middle class opinion, principally with regard to developments in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

The roots of the crisis lie in the incomplete and partial nature of Workers Power’s break with the politics and methods of Tony Cliff’s International Socialists (subsequently the SWP) in the 1970s, and of its movement towards Trotskyism. The group’s early struggles undoubtedly had a generally positive character, both against Cliff and subsequently against the rightward moves of Matgamna’s International Communist League which they were briefly part of before its Socialist Organiser phase. In the course of these struggles they turned increasingly to Trotskyist positions and made correct criticisms of the theories and practice of many of the groups claiming to be Trotskyist. However, they always tended to approach struggles on the basis of abstract propaganda, interventions and ultimatums, like their `take-it-or-leave-it’ fusion proposal to the Workers Revolutionary Parry after its expulsion of Gerry Healy in 1985.

The inconsistency in the break with Cliffism was clear in three main areas: its understanding of the theory of permanent revolution; its attitude to the Fourth International and the Trotskyist Transitional Programme, and its essentially economistic approach to the special oppression issues (racism, sexism and anti-lesbian anti-gay bigotry). The last six years have also shown that the dominant leadership only partially broke from a Cliffite view of the formerly Stalinist-ruled states.

Workers Power and Permanent Revolution
The limitations of workers Power’s understanding of permanent revolution was displayed by its support for the Tutsi-dominated and pro-imperialist, Ugandan-backed Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) during last year‘s civil war. It was necessary for Trotskyists to fight for integrated workers’ and peasants’ defence organisations, independent of both sides and giving support to neither. A further example, is Workers Power’s call for a ‘united front’ (in fact a popular front) in Algeria, against the regime‘s state of emergency and military repression, to include the reactionary, fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS).

In neo-colonial countries it is essential to fight for a united front of the anti-imperialist forces of the working class and the peasants, the impoverished petit-bourgeoisie and the urban poor, fighting for their own interests against their own capitalists and landlords, Trotskyists have to fight for such united fronts, without which the revolutionary victory of the working class is impossible in the great majority of neo-colonial countries.

The leaders of Workers Power were incapable of making a clear, honest distinction between that vital, necessary line of struggle and the possibility of occasional, episodic blocs with the neo-colonial bourgeoisie, or sections of its forces, when they find themselves in temporary conflict with the imperialists. They are all ‘united fronts’ and all united fronts are they keep reminding us, just `tactics’ around immediate practical questions.

These ’theoreticians’ use such word—games to try and justify their confusion and the dangerously mistaken policies it has led to in the cases of Algeria and Rwanda arguing in favour of working class support for reactionary bourgeois forces which are not fighting imperialism but trying to control the masses.

In the way that opportunism and sectarianism are always opposite sides of the same coin, Workers Power’s failure to apply the method of permanent revolution comes out in a blind sectarian attitude to nationalist movements or struggles that are actually a focus for the struggles of the advanced workers and the fighting masses.

This has been particularly clear over questions of electoral support. An early example was the initial refusal of Workers Power and the Irish Workers Group to call for a vote to Sinn Fein in the north of Ireland elections in the early 80s, despite the importance of the Republican military struggle against British imperialism, let alone the clear indications of the strength of its base among the most oppressed and militant sections of the nationalist working class. Subsequently they changed their position, merely commenting that they had not realised that Sinn Fain would get so many votes, as though it was just the number of crosses on ballot papers!

Much more recently we have seen a similar example of this sectarianism in the South African elections though without any possible excuse that they did not know the ANC would get so many votes. Trotskyists have to fight to break the workers and the masses from the ANC. In the elections it was essential to fight for independent working class organisation and action, to expose the treachery of the ANC, and to call for the unions and mass organisations to build a Workers Party. But this fight had to be taken into the living experience of the masses, who saw a vote for the ANC as constituting themselves as a nation, voting for social change and defending ‘their’ elections against sabotage. That is why we understood that on that basis and as part of that strategy (and not for any other reasons) consistent Trotskyists had to be in favour of a vote for the ANC.

Not Workers Power though. They could not bring themselves to vote for the ANC. They can vote for any bunch of counterrevolutionary social democrats on the basis that they are a bourgeois workers party. But the ANC and Sinn Fern are not bourgeois workers’ parties. They are petit bourgeois or bourgeois nationalists and the ANC, moreover, is a popular front. That is how political arguments are settled by Workers Power: it is just a matter finding the right label. We are not quarrelling with the labels here, we are disagreeing with the LRCI’s un-Marxist method of settling questions of revolutionary strategy and tactics -put a movement in the right category and up pops the appropriate response. This is a sectarian method which ignores the real questions of the movement and consciousness of the masses, of the advanced sections of the working class and youth, of their relationships to the various organisations and leaders, and of finding the most effective and dynamic way to intervene in their struggles and change the consciousness of the advanced workers.

So in the South African elections the LRCI ended up calling for a vote for the Workers List Party, an electoral front for a small centrist sect which got less than 1% of the vote. Moreover they knew perfectly well that this group actually opposed fighting for the unions to form a Workers Party, and that their electoral adventure was part of their sabotage of the Committee for a Workers Party. But never mind – they were not nationalists and they were not a popular front!

In both cases the opportunism towards reactionary bourgeois forces and the sectarianism towards the masses, mechanical formulae have replaced Marxist analysis and revolutionary strategy. It is not surprising therefore, that the most important opposition to the dominant Workers Power leadership within the LRCI has come from its sections in neo-colonial countries.

Special oppression issues and the influence of economism on Workers Power
More than anywhere else, the continuing influence of Cliffite economism on Workers Power is shown in its analysis and policy on special oppression which it rather oddly prefers to call ‘social’ oppression (as though there are some sections of the working class and the masses who are not oppressed in class society!).

It has failed to develop a real Marxist analysis of the relationship between class exploitation and special oppression, which understands the roots of special oppression in the development of class society, the ways in which oppression on the basis of race, sex and sexual orientation is not directly reducible to class exploitation and the essential role of all these forms of oppression in maintaining class society.

The highpoint of Workers Power’s lesbian and gay work, and its final limit, was without doubt the Trade Unionists against Section 28 campaign in the late 1980s. Workers Power comrades were right to take a stand against Section 28, the most serious institutional attempt by the state to attack the gains of the lesbian and gay movement. The problem was that they limited this to a narrow trade union, workplace perspective. They called for non-cooperation by council unions, and for strike action to defend any workers who were discriminated against on grounds of sexual orientation.

At the Trade Unionists against Section 28 conferences others argued that the biggest affect of the Section 28 would be in whipping up a reactionary anti-lesbian anti-gay climate, which would lead to an increase in physical attacks (this is exactly what happened, in fact).  And proposed a motion calling for labour movement organisations to maintain and defend any lesbian gay facilities threatened with closure as a result of Section 28, and to organise the physical defence of lesbian gay centres, clubs, bars etc. from anti lesbian/anti gay attacks.

The other side of the economistic outlook which lay behind that decision was demonstrated at the founding conference of the All-Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation in November 1989. Delegates moved a motion stressing the importance of drawing the most oppressed sections of society into a truly integrated movement to smash the poll tax. The motion made it clear that this would be impossible without a fight against the influence of racism, sexism and homophobia in the movement, and that therefore racist, sexist and anti-lesbian anti-gay activity was incompatible with membership of the anti poll tax movement. Those words were chosen with care, because this was not a motion to automatically exclude anyone with backward ideas from the fight against the poll tax, which is how Workers Power misrepresented it when the opposed the motion.

The reverse side of this method is Workers Power’s repeated refusal to challenge the limited democratic politics of the petit bourgeois leaders of the lesbian gay movement. A national demonstration against Clause 25, a measure designed to restrict lesbian and gay adoption rights was called for February 1991. By the time of the demonstration, of course, the imperialist attack on Iraq was in full swing. Many took the view that the question of the war was of central importance for every struggle of the working class and the oppressed in Britain. and raised the slogan Victory to Iraq on the march. Workers Power members refused to join in the chant, but limited themselves to calls for ‘lesbian and gay rights’.

More recently, in antiracist and antifascist work, Workers Power has taken to using the slogan Support black self-defence. Of course this is something we have to support, as a basic civil right, and there are circumstances where we would be in favour of calling for it and organising it but it cannot be the programme that Trotskyists should fight for in general, because it leaves the black communities isolated and does nothing to mobilise integrated working class action. Yet when, two years ago, Workers Power put forward a programme for an attempt to set up a new London anti-fascist network, this was their only reference to organised defence. They opposed an amendment to change the demand to organise worker/community defence.

The developments of movements and struggles of the specially oppressed have been a significant feature of the period since the second world war, especially since the 1960s. These movements have by and large developed separately from the workers’ movements, and under the political domination of petit-bourgeois or bourgeois leaders, because of the unresolved crisis of working class leadership. Thus the ability to respond to these developments as revolutionary Marxists is a critical test of the political health of groups claiming to be Trotskyist. In this area, too, Workers Power’s break with its Cliffite background has been incomplete and it has imposed a confused half-way house of radical democratic and economist positions on the LRCI.

Workers Power’s practice; the united front
The key test of revolutionary organisations is what they do, not what they say. And it is in its practice in Britain, and most notably in its understanding, or rather misunderstanding, of the united front that its centrism and its general rightwards trajectory are most clear.

In the run up to the Iraq war, Workers Power argued that once war started, the position of the united front Hands Off the Middle East Committee should immediately be Victory for Iraq. Once the war started, however, Workers Power started to edge away from the priority given to that centrally important slogan. Workers Power  increasingly accommodated to waveres on the HOME committee.

This became increasingly pronounced in the latter stages of the war when talk of a split in the popular frontist Committee Against the War in the Gulf held out to Workers Power the prospect of a broader campaign in which they could join with the SWP. Then we started to hear the argument that the slogan is less important than getting some action.

Of course we would support and build concrete action, including united fronts on a lower level than the Victory to Iraq slogan, wherever that would advance the struggle – but that would mean that it could not be at the expense of or counterposed to the central anti-imperialist demand. But as so often with Workers Power the possibility of a limited united front becomes an alternative or a block to raising vitally important elements of a Trotskyist programme.

Workers Power opposed the HOME committee, putting out a leaflet on the 2nd March CND demonstration opposing a motion that the committee should be based on “Victory to Iraq” and then voted for “Stop the War – Cease Fire Now” as the basis for the committee (before the war the LRCI had described this as ‘A hopeless pacifist slogan’).

The war demonstrated what were to become increasingly common features of Workers Power’s practice – accommodation to left-liberal opinion, which of course is an expression of bourgeois ’public opinion’ – and a view of the united front, which puts a dubious pretence of ‘unity’ above the fight to win the most advanced workers and youth to revolutionary politics.

After the war this became clear again in antifascist work, principally in Anti-Fascist Action (AFA). With the growth of racist and fascist activity in the course of 1991, AFA could have been an important organising centre for antifascist defence. However it was dominated by Red Action, a small splinter-group from the SWP which has a totally rotten, squadist and substitutionist  approach to the political fight against fascism. It opposes building mass action as part of the fight against fascism and refuses to have any orientation to black and Asian youth under attack. It quite consciously states that its constituency is white working class youth. AFA was built on the basis of these politics and Workers Power did not challenge them and went along with their squadism. The argument was that this was a specific limited united front for the purpose of confronting the fascists. However it was built on a definite political perspective that excluded mass action and an orientation to the black communities, and its outlook was promoted in a regular magazine sold by Workers Power members. For Workers Power the united front had to be kept on the level of their allies.

It was clear that without an anti-racist perspective it is not possible to have an orientation to the black and Asian communities, or to build an integrated movement, or to combat fascism ideologically, or to build mass working class action. Red Actions ‘orientation’ to the white working class (which, of course, meant that they never won any white workers or youth) was an absolute obstacle to building an effective anti-fascist movement.

The story of the Workers Power involvement in AFA indicates many of its basic political problems ~ its opportunist and limited view of the united front tactic, its inability to understand the importance and relevance of the struggle against special oppression, and its leaders’ arrogant refusal to give an honest account of political mistakes.

 Workers Power and the transitional programme
Revising the fundamental starting point of Trotsky’s Fourth International, the Transitional Programme, Workers Power challenge the notion that the crisis of humanity can be reduced to the crisis of proletarian leadership. The LRCI’s Trotskyist Manifesto boldly declares:

“However today it would be wrong simply to repeat that all contemporary crises are ‘reduced to a crisis of leadership’’. The proletariat world-wide does not yet face the stark alternative of either taking power or seeing the destruction of all its past gains. Nevertheless, in many countries and, indeed, whole continents, the crisis of leadership does reach such a level of acuteness”.

This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Trotskyism. They are saying that the crisis of leadership can only be central in revolutionary type situations. But what factors push society from nonrevolutionary to revolutionary and from revolutionary to counter-revolutionary situations? And what factors are responsible for the low levels of class struggle and political activity by the working class in nonrevolutionary periods. The question of leadership is fundamental to this. The central factor remains the crisis of proletarian leadership.

Trotsky never meant that only the crisis of leadership was important and when that was resolved all other factors would automatically fall into place. Such an approach, like Workers Power’s revision of Trotsky, shows an abandonment of dialectics and a refusal to understand the dynamics of struggle. The working class defeats suffered in recent years, the disorientation of workers’ organisations, the political demoralisation and disinterest on the part of some workers. all of these things are fundamentally caused by the crisis of leadership. The impact of defeats can reinforce that crisis, as the relationship between the class and its leadership is a dialectical and dynamic one.

However the essential point in this relationship is the crisis of proletarian leadership: the epoch we live in makes conditions for socialism ripe. The misleadership of the workers and oppressed movements is capitalism’s last salvage. The fundamental task of Trotskyists remains the resolution of the leadership crisis. To misunderstand this is to misunderstand the central basis for the creation of the Fourth International. The LRCI’s position on the crisis of leadership would suggest that the struggle for an international Trotskyist vanguard party is no longer of prime importance rather we should join up with reformist, Stalinist and centrist leaderships to ‘help’ the workers regain their combatively so that in future the crisis of leadership could once again be central!

Along with this revisionism Workers Power have a centrist approach to transitional demands. On paper they can raise many correct demands, but when faced with practice they backslide. This is shown in the example we have referred to before. Workers Power’s refusal to raise the demand of worker/community defence preferring all kinds of other more liberal sounding demands instead, such as ‘support black self-defence’ or ‘self-defence is no offence”.

The difference between these two approaches helps us understand the real practical importance of the transitional method. Because of the high level of organised racist attacks and murders on the black and Asian communities in parts of Britain, many youth have automatically been forced to organise some spontaneous level of ‘self-defence’. The demand for worker/community defence was able to intercept with the most militant vanguard sections – in this case the youth under attack – and take them forward instead of just giving them a slogan they already organised around. This demand posed the question of a political fight within the working class for active organisation against racist violence and fascist activity. It raised the fundamental question of who controls the streets, estates, schools, colleges or workplaces: The black and white working class, united in a struggle against racism and fascism, or the racist state which protects the fascist and racist gangs.

The slogan of worker/community defence is conceived from the standpoint of taking a struggle further, developing it into a greater struggle, broadening the involvement of sections of the working class and youth. lt is an immediately relevant concrete demand as well as one which ultimately leads to struggles that threaten capitalist power itself. It is a transitional demand the RIL has been able to organise mass mobilisations around, in Shadwell for instance on a scale Workers Power has never done.

The demand for ’self-defence’ on the other hand takes nothing forward. Of course we must support those who are defending themselves. But our task cannot be to simply support struggles as they spontaneously develop but to take them forward, to offer them a programme that raises the political level and broadens the struggle against the capitalist system, in other words to lead the struggles with transitional demands.

This is the difference between the transitional method, and the all too common understanding of it by centrists from militant to Socialist Outlook. We use transitional demands as immediately relevant ways of developing, broadening and raising the political level of struggles today. They see them as making a struggle slightly more ‘left-wing’, of demanding something capitalism cannot support, of making propaganda.

Whatever the abstract correctness of Workers Powers propaganda, when faced with sharp struggle, in the community campaign that drove the BNP off the streets in Brick Lane or in organising around racist attacks, Workers Power has constantly sided with the centrists and opposed transitional demands that could take the struggles forward.

The same is true about the worker/community tribunal following the police murder of Brian Douglas in South London this year. The aim of the tribunal was to go beyond the anger that many black youth and workers have towards the racist police, to challenge the illusions that somehow the state can achieve justice, and to create a movement that understands that only the working class and black communities can deal with racist police. Our whole conception was based on this, the struggle for a movement that wanted independent action against police and state murders as well as court cover ups.

Important sections of Lambeth Unison, the biggest trade union in Lambeth, organised such a public tribunal. Workers Power turned up and tried to close the tribunal down, stating that what was needed was an inquiry with a panel of ‘important figures in the black community’ that had established reputations in the eyes of black people (MPs etc.) to head the inquiry. This panel would pass verdict on the police, not the community itself. Workers Power said this might then convince more people that the police did murder Brian Douglas.

The problem was that we wanted to go beyond that, the overwhelming majority of black and white youth who had heard about it, knew the police were responsible for the murder. The question was what do we do about it. Our proposal for a tribunal was to aid the building of a movement that takes justice into its own hands. Workers Power’s craven opportunism was conceived from the standpoint of making attractive and acceptable propaganda. Workers Power’s proposals would have demobilised any struggle and given the bureaucrats the control back. We are not opposed to any number of liberal bourgeois inquiries, but to raise it in opposition to a workers/community tribunal, when that had already been established by the biggest trade union in the area, is the opposite of the transitional method. Unsurprisingly, all the rank-and-file workers from Lambeth voted down Workers Power’s right-wing proposal.

Electoral support and Workers Power’s conservatism – adaption to social democracy
The narrow understanding of the united front is reflected in a conservative application of the tactic of electoral support. We have already discussed an example of this in South Africa but the LRCI has made apparently opposite but in fact directly related mistakes in recent elections in Britain and France.

The only purpose of electoral support for the Labour Party, or any other bourgeois workers party, to break the most class conscious workers from reformism. (We know bourgeois workers parties once in power will always turn against the workers). Where sections of the working class are coming into political conflict with the reformist bureaucracy and are breaking from it electorally, Trotskyists should in general give critical support to those workers, and seek to develop such resistance.

On that basis the RIL called for a vote for all three Militant candidates in the last general election, because all of them clearly had a real base that was in conflict with the politics of the Labour leadership. And because of the importance of the anti-poll tax struggle which had brought millions of workers into conflict with the Labour politicians carrying out this Tory policy at local level, which Militant was campaigning against.

Workers Power only supported the two candidates who had previously been sitting Labour MPs and had been expelled by the party. For them having a base could only be measured formally in terms of Labour movement positions. They refused to support Tommy Sheridan the former chair of the All-Britain Anti-Poll Tax Federation in Glasgow, even though Glasgow had had the highest non-payment of the poll tax, and had mass mobilisations to stop court officers removing the goods of non-payers.

Not surprisingly Sheridan got a substantial vote – 19%. Workers Power could only ‘apologise’ that they did not have anybody in Glasgow! But they have not learned. Whereas the RIL has had a general policy of critical support for Militant candidates in local elections, Workers Power has refused to do the same, even though they normally get between 10% and 20% of the vote, and in some cases more, representing a significant section of the most class conscious workers who are voting for what they see as a militant alternative to the Labour bureaucrats.

In the French presidential elections earlier this year the LRCI stuck to the same policy of backing the main bourgeois workers’ party, in this case the Socialists of the outgoing president, Mitterrand. They refused to call for a vote for the candidate of Lutte Ouvrière, an organisation which presents itself as Trotskyist and has a significant working class membership, which regularly picks up hundreds of thousands of votes in elections. Of course, Lutte Ouvrière got 6% of the vote. A significant section of the working class rejecting the established social-democratic and Stalinist leaderships. In these cases Workers Power’s mechanical ideas of electoral support which led it to call for a vote for the irrelevant ‘Workers List’ candidates in South Africa, meant that they ignored the development, among the most class conscious workers, of a resistance to the betrayals of the reformists.

The LRCI and the crisis of Stalinism
More than anything else it is the development of the crisis of Stalinism since 1989 that has accelerated the LRCI’s general rightward movement, and brought the crisis of the LRCI to a head. At every critical turn of events in Eastern Europe the Workers Power/LRCI leadership has junked Trotskyism and taken increasingly revisionist positions.

The RIL has consistently argued for an independent, working class, political-revolutionary line against all the forces of capitalist restoration in the degenerated and deformed workers’ states, from the upheavals of 1999, through German reunification, the crises in the Baltic and the Caucasus, the August coup and the break-up of the Soviet Union, to the wars in the former Yugoslavia. At every stage we have had to fight and expose the dangerous, reactionary direction taken by the LRCI.

The conflicts over these positions have been the main focus of opposition inside the LRCI. “We regard the opposition to the leadership over the questions of Lithuania, the August coup, and the civil war in Bosnia as an attempt to defend Trotskyism within the LRCI and in general share the criticisms of the Latin American comrades and the New Zealand faction. These events have shown very clearly that Workers Power has not completely broken from a Cliffite view of the Soviet Union and the east European states, despite its rejection of Cliff’s state capitalist characterisation of their economic systems. On this area, more than on anything else, its politics reflects the pressures of middle class `liberal’ public opinion.

The first sign of these problems was clear back in 1989. WP’s political analysis of the upheavals that swept eastern Europe in 1989 was seriously flawed. These upheavals were generally negative from the point of view of working class interests. They were pro-bourgeois democratic movements, looking to ‘the west’ and testing out how far they could go against the bureaucracy in this direction under the changed conditions of Gorbachev’s accommodation with the imperialist powers. As they became bolder, more openly pro-capitalist forces came to the fore, replacing the more cautious bureaucratic reformists, but the overall direction of these mass movements was established from the beginning, and the working class hardly ever played any independent role.

The LRCI on the other hand saw the upheavals in a far more positive light, as originally moving towards a political revolutionary situation, despite the lack of evidence of any struggle by the working class for its own interests. Later the LRCI had to change its assessment of these movements but of course it was not a change of policy by the LRCI, it was the movements that had changed their character like the Iran-Iraq war previously! Quite how ‘political revolutionary’ developments in the working class had been reversed by pro-bourgeois movements they were never able to explain.

It was not that the LRCI leadership mistook a cross- class movement supporting bourgeois democracy, pushing for the restoration of a capitalist market economy, for a working class movement fighting for proletarian democracy against the privileged bureaucracy. The LRCI described these events as positive, political-revolutionary developments because the Workers Power leaders saw bourgeois democracy as progressive in the degenerated and deformed workers states.

The evolution of the LRCI’s positions over the subsequent five years bear out the accuracy of this judgement, and of our judgement that the roots of their crisis lie in their incomplete break with Cliffism. Indeed they are rapidly following down the path beaten by Socialist Organiser back to their ideological roots. 

The following year the tendency became clearer still as a result of German ‘reunification’, the capitalist takeover of East Germany and the developing crisis in the Baltic republics of the Soviet Union. The LRCI’s opposition to the process was notably ambiguous, declaring themselves against the “Undemocratic reunification’. The danger of slogans like this should be clear. Democracy is a form of state rule and cannot be neutral in class terms. This slogan left open the question of whose democracy, the bourgeoisie’s or the workers’? And of course reunification was ‘democratic’, in the bourgeois democratic sense; it was based on the results of bourgeois democratic elections in East Germany.

The capitulation to bourgeois democratic and bourgeois nationalist forces in eastern Europe   led to the LRCI taking an outright counterrevolutionary position with respect to the Baltic Republics. In the course of 1990 openly pro-capitalist nationalist movements had come to power in the three Baltic soviet republics, and in March 1990 the Lithuanian government declared its independence from the Soviet Union. In the context of the overall negative development of the crisis of Stalinism, without any significant independent movement of the working class, and because of the real history of national oppression by the Soviet bureaucracy, these movements did have broad popular support. They were nevertheless counter-revolutionary movements which were in effect the cutting edge of the accelerating movement towards the breakup of the Soviet Union by the forces of capitalist restoration.

That is why the RIL opposed supporting or defending these governments. We argued for a programme of independent working class action, with workers’ control of industry to defend collectivised property from the restorationists, and workers’ defence guards. We supported the right of workers to establish independent socialist republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, and argued for such republics to form a socialist federation of the Baltic. We did not call for Soviet troops to put down the Baltic regimes, and opposed the operations of the Soviet interior Ministry troops in the Baltic and their attack on the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, in January 1991. But socialists could not support the mobilisation against them by  the reactionary government of President Landsbergis, that could only mean supporting the liquidation of the working class into a pro-bourgeois movement as a preparation for capitalist restoration. This should have been clear as crystal to Trotskyists but it was inconceivable to the leaders of Workers’ Power.

In May 1990 Workers Power, under the headline “Hands off Lithuania”, argued that, socialists should “Demand that the British government recognises Lithuania and supplies goods if requested by Lithuania without conditions”.  They made it clear in the article that this absolutely included arms. So they had decided whose side they were on. They could only see a struggle between the forces of bourgeois democracy and the forces of the Stalinist bureaucracy, and in their view the former represented progress and had to be supported. If you did not make the same decision you were vilified and misrepresented as supporters of Stalinist repression.

Workers Power’s support for Yeltsin and counter-revolution in the former Soviet Union
After all this, it came as no big surprise when the LRCI capitulated to ‘democratic’ and imperialist pressures and backed the counter-revolutionary Yeltsin in the 1991 August coup in the former Soviet Union. The principled Trotskyist stand on this question was to see the refusal of the great mass of the Soviet working class to respond to calls for the defence of Yeltsin’s ‘democracy’ as essentially positive, though passive. The workers were certainly hostile to the coup, but did not see Yeltsin as offering any alternative that they were prepared to fight for. Trotskyists needed to turn this passive hostility to both wings of the restorationist bureaucracy into an active independent mobilisation of the working class.

Those groups in the Soviet Union who identified with Trotskyism should have called for workers’ councils to take control of the factories etc., organise a workers militia, begin a campaign of fraternisation with the soldiers to set up rank-and-file committees in the army, and prepare for a political revolution against both wings of the bureaucracy.

We opposed support for Yeltsin’s ineffective, and later rescinded, ‘general strike’ decree because this would subordinate the working class to the most open pro-bourgeois wing of the bureaucracy. We were against defending the Russian Parliament because this had nothing to do with democratic rights for workers. It was a bourgeois democratic institution which was a focus for capitalist restoration in a degenerated workers’ state.

Again, when it came down to it Workers Power were unable to fight for the independence of the working class, or see the connection between that and the defence of collectivised property. They could not think about the crisis in class terms at all. All they could see was a choice between bourgeois democracy and Stalinist repression. So in the words of one of their leading ‘theoreticians’, they “Stood arm-and-arm with Boris Yeltsin”. Of course, we can rest assured that it was Boris’s left arm Workers Power was linking with! And they would probably have held a red flag in their free hand too! They do have principles after all.

The Bosnian War
But it was over the long drawn-out civil wars in the former Yugoslavia – where the pressures of bourgeois opinion have been strongest – that the full extent of Workers Power’s retreat from Trotskyism has become apparent. The RIL has recognised that all the regional or ‘national’ capitalist-restorationist factions that have come to power in the republics of the former Yugoslav federation are trying to use ethnic divisions to carve out a base for themselves and establish their own privileged relationship with imperialism. The imperialists, in sofar as they have acted together, are trying to exercise control over the whole region by establishing a balance of power between these factions. For these reasons the RIL has refused to give support to any of the governments, or to take a defencist position in relation to any of them in the course of the wars between them.

We have argued that the only answer to their reactionary nationalism, is for integrated working class control of distribution; occupations of industries, and workers’ organisations in the different republics to build action against the war efforts of all the governments, and to take back the factories stolen by privatisation.

At different times Workers Power, too, has said many of these things, but they are flatly contradicted by the main line of Workers Power’s arguments, that has been for the defence of the pro-capitalist, pro- imperialist governments against its rivals. First it was for Croatia against Serbia, then for the Bosnian government against the Bosnian Serbs. Trotskyists support independent working class self-defence, but this is a far cry from the LRCI’s position of defend the Croatian or Bosnian governments.

One feature of WP’s positions has become steadily more pronounced: The adaptation to the liberal western opinion that ‘our’ governments must ’do something’- a sentiment that plays directly into the hands of imperialism. So now we have the ludicrous position of the LRCI trying to sound revolutionary, and calling for the UN and NATO out of the Balkans and condemning the bombing, while at the same time demanding that ‘our’ government sends arms to the Bosnian forces and opens the borders to Islamic ‘volunteers‘ going to fight with them. In other words Workers Power does not want the imperialists to fight in the Balkans; they just want them to get their clients and proxies to do the fighting! No wonder that this reactionary nonsense has blown the LRCI apart and exposed it as an unprincipled bloc.   
Revolutionary Internationalist League, 1995

5 Things You Need To Know About The NHS Bill

1 The bill will cost at least £2 billion
Estimates of the cost of implementing the Health and Social Care Bill range from the government’s £1.3 billion to Labour’s £3.5 billion, but most independent analysts estimate at least £2 billion. The government claims the bill will save money in the long run but even the Conservative-led parliamentary health committee says this is unlikely unless standards of care are cut. £1 billion is being spent on redundancy for managers, only for many to be rehired as consultants.

2 The bill will create more bureaucracy
The NHS bill replaces three levels of management (Department of Health, Strategic Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts) with seven (Department of Health, NHS Commissioning Board, Strategic Health Authority clusters, Commissioning Support Organisations, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Clinical Senates, HealthWatch), and creates two unaccountable super-quangos (Monitor and the NHS Board).

3 Waiting times will grow – unless you go private
The bill allows hospitals to fill up to half of their beds with private patients, and waters down guarantees on NHS waiting times. NHS patients will increasingly find themselves at the back of the queue, even for their own local hospital.

4 Care will depend on a postcode lottery
The bill will break up the NHS and create a postcode lottery on a scale not seen before. With no national standards, there will be widespread variation in the treatments available on the NHS. In some areas, people may have to go private to get services available for free elsewhere. Scotland and Wales, which are not covered by the bill, will continue to provide services denied to patients in England.

5 Private companies, not GPs, will be in control
The bill says GPs will plan and commission healthcare. But this complex role cannot be done on the side while providing the same level of care to patients. We expect pilots to have excellent flying skills – not to design and purchase their own planes. In fact leaked papers show the government expects private companies called Commissioning Support Organisations to take over this role. CSOs will decide how care is delivered but there will be no democratic control over them.

A Betrayal Of Trust: Watch this video to find out why we must stop Lansley’s bill

Further information on the Health and Social Reform Bill is available at Keep Our NHS Public www.keepournhspublic.com/index.php and Health Emergency: www.healthemergency.org.ukHands Off Our NHS