Tag Archive: fith


2011 August Uprising One Year On –
The VOAG reviews the RKOB’s analysis

Marking the anniversary of the 2011 August uprising, The VOAG has received with interest a series of documents from the RKOB (Revolutionary Communist Organisation for Liberation).  The Austrian RKOB originated as a left wing split from the LFI (League for the Fifth International), and has since founded the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency of which it is the Austrian section.

The VOAG would like to thank the RKOB for coming over to Britain in solidarity with the workers and youth who bravely fought Street battles against the police in defiance of austerity, unemployment, police harassment and oppression.

The VOAG would like to applaud the RKOB for its internationalism and sincerity. Whilst the RKOB sent a delegation from Austria, many Trotskyist groups based in London were no where to be seen on the streets of London. Left wing groups in Britain, as the RKOB have pointed out, limited themselves to standing on the sidelines, issuing impotent statements of half hearted sympathy and understanding toward the workers and youth. Many within the Labour movement even condemned the communities that participated in the resistance, labeling them rioters.

The VOAG also congratulates the RKOB on its forthright analysis of those August Days and the attitudes of the British labour movement toward them. (4) The uprising was a test which the labour movement universally failed. The RKOB asked the question “What Would A Revolutionary Organisation Have Done” (3) The RKOB says a revolutionary party would:  “have criticised all those reformist and centrist forces which restrict themselves to merely explain[ing] why the poor and oppressed take to the streets,(…) or who only call for abstract solidarity without raising a finger for practical participation and support for the uprising.”

A revolutionary organisation would have visited the communities, distributed propaganda, and directed those involved in the uprising, as much as was possible, away from targeting small shops and personal property and towards multinational chain stores, police stations and barricades. How embarrassing, how utterly shameful that this work had to be done by a group based in Austria, whilst so called revolutionaries in London stayed at home, ignoring historical opportunities to make connections with working class youth and their  communities.

As a member of the LFI –known in Britain as Workers Power, (since expelled for being working class and left-wing) I was amazed at the attitude of my own organization toward the protests. The RKOB correctly criticises Workers Power for not participating in the uprising, even though its annual international youth camp was taking place only two miles away from some of the protests.

The VOAG agrees with the RKOB’s characterisation of the uprising and its conclusion that the lower working classes are central to the struggles to come. The VOAG echoes the RKOB’s criticisms of groups like Workers Power  for being petty-bourgeois and for turning their back on the poorer, oppressed layers of the working class, in favour of the labour aristocracy and organised workers.

However The VOAG considers the RKOB has strayed too far in the opposite direction. It puts too much emphasis on the youth and the poorer, more oppressed sections of the working class. It is true that: “ after the mass protests of the youth in the education sector and the strikes of the trade unions, the lower strata of the working class and migrants have now entered the battlefield of class struggle with their uprising”. (1)

And further: “It is precisely the poorer, the lower, the oppressed layers of the working class – including the young, the racially and nationally oppressed layers – that are often ready to resist against the massive oppression and exploitation. And this part of the working class constitutes the largest mass, the heart of our class. How absurd is – given the present development – the theory of the League for the Fifth International that the labour aristocracy constitutes the core layer of the working class (at least in imperialist countries like the UK). In fact, this part of our class is – as Lenin put it – “the craft-union, narrow-minded, selfish, case-hardened, covetous, and petty-bourgeois “labour aristocracy”, imperialist-minded, and imperialist-corrupted, (…). That is incontestable. In contrast to the false assumption of LFI, the oppressed, the lower layers of the working class can play a central role in taking the class struggle against capitalist oppression on to the streets. This is what we see today in Great Britain.”(1)

However, the corollary of the petty-bourgeois tendencies of the labour aristocracy and trades unions is the alienation and lack of leadership of the unorganised precariate, youth and unemployed. Like it or not only the organised labour movement – however aristocratic- as expressed through the unions, has the ability, organisation and wherewithal to mount effective strike action and economic resistance to capitalism.  It still comes down to who has the economic power in society. And it is they, the organised labour movement, in their aristocratic unions – with their ability to withdraw their labour in a general strike – that hold the power in society.

Whilst the poorer and oppressed layers of the working class can provide a vital push from below, the organised labour movement can give their resistance organisation and economic clout.  Both these categories of the working class have positive and progressive features as well as negative and reactionary features.

The RKOB writes: “it confirmed to us how serious the political mistakes of the unions are not to organize lower layers of the workers en mass”: These aren’t mistakes. The Trades Union bureaucracy wants nothing to do with the lower working class. The bureaucracy is implacably opposed to the radicalisation that would surely follow a serious recruitment drive among the precariate, unemployed and poor.

For this reason the VOAG agrees with the RKOB when it: “advocates that the labour movement organises the most oppressed layers.“  (2) That we need a: “revolutionary Workers International with nationally rooted combat parties…based on the working class and in particular the lower and middle strata.” (5) And that our goal must be: “an indefinite general strike in connection with the organising of youth uprisings”.(2)

 Workers Power, who along with other pretendy trot groups, have clearly chosen petty-bourgeois and labour aristocratic forces over the precariate, youth and unemployed. We as Marxists choose scientific socialism. We make objective assessments of how the class struggle is playing itself out, based on an analysis of the constantly shifting interplay of class forces. We don’t seek to subjectively counter pose one force against another; we seek a revolutionary alliance of these forces.

Note:  The VOAG broadly agrees with the RKOB’s analysis. However – No.4: Five Days That Shook Britain is an excellent document that summarises the attitudes and positions of a number of left groups toward the uprising. If you decide to read any of the original documents linked below, The VOAG recommends you definitely read this one.

  1. These Are Not Riots – RCIT 10-08-2011
  2. The August Uprising Report Of The RKOB Delegation – RCIT 13-08-11
  3. What Would A Revolutionary Organisation Have Done – RCIT 18-08-11
  4. Five Days That Shook Britain – RCIT 01-09-11
  5. On The Anniversary Of The August Uprising – RCIT 07-08-12
    Revolutionary Communist Organisation for Liberation (RKOB)
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Theses on inter-imperialist rivalries

The VOAG’s comrades at Socialist Fight sent the following statement explaining their (correct) position on contemporary imperialism.  The VOAG feels that it deserves a wider audience, and therefore has taken the step of publishing it. For PDF back issues of Socialist Fight journal, scroll down and click the links to the right. For the latest Socialist Fight journal contact: Socialist _ Fight@yahoo.co.uk

Gerry Downing, 18 May 2012
1. The US is still the hegemonic imperialist world power.
2. Its overwhelming military superiority and the dollar as world trading currency make it the main enemy. The situation is not like that before WWI and WWII when there was no clear dominant world imperialist power.
3. That being said the position of Marxism on inter-imperialist wars remains, dual defeatism and civil war against our own bourgeoisie – the main enemy is at home!
4. Though declining the US still has the ability to make alliances and force compliances far more than other imperialist power blocks which are only half-formed – the EU or China/Russia with Germany balancing between both.
5. In this situation semi-colonial countries like Syria or Iran are perfectly entitled to seek aid from Germany, Russia and China in defence of their own sovereignty, although we acknowledge they are giving it in defence of their own imperialist interests.
6. Attempts by the US to splinter its rivals e.g. South Ossetia/Georgia, the Ukraine, Tibet and the World Uyghur Congress must be politically opposed.
7. There is a major difference between the finance capital-dominated economies of the US and GB and their allies (as seen in the UN vote to attack Libya) and the industrial capitalist economies of Germany, Russia and China who abstained in that vote.
8. However this conflict is not between finance capital and industrial capital or between neo-liberal laissez-faire capitalism and Keynesian, ‘big state, social democratic’ capitalism.  All capitalist production is dominated by finance capital; it is the method of extraction of the surplus from the wage-labour of the workers.
9. Rather it is a conflict between two forms of capitalist exploitation, the one in which fictitious capital and the dollar as world trading currency was able to extract value from the rest of the capitalist world and the other where advanced technology and in particular heavy industry in Germany benefiting from the low exchange value of the Euro was able to dominate in both Germany and China with Russia benefiting from both.
10. Therefore we cannot alter our Leninist appreciation of world Imperialism and the anti-Imperialist rivalries emerging as US Imperialism weakens relative to its rivals and which will produce WWIII but we must understand the differences behind the conflicts in formulating our own tactical approach to this crisis.The VOAG

Workers Power Conference 2012: Divisions, Expulsions, & Appeals – The VOAG Investigates. 

Workers Power, a small communist group had its conference over the weekend. The conference was dominated be factionalism and division. Two people were expelled, and although as yet there have been no formal splits, resignations from the National and Political Committees surely herald one in the coming days.

The conference began on Saturday 24th, March with two members formally appealing against their expulsions. In true Weekly Worker style, the VOAG (Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford) publishes the first of the two expulsion appeals – Delivered to the conference as a speech.    

Bureaucrat Expulsion
I went to two meetings in Manchester where I met with half a dozen people from the RSO, Socialist Fight and others. There were two subsequent meetings in Manchester, but neither I nor Cde B. attended them.

Like all members of Workers Power, I attend meetings organised by a number of different groups. I didn’t consider my attendance at this meeting any different than attending an SWP or SP meeting or indeed holding discussions with local Anarchists or anti-cuts campaigners.

There was a variety of attitudes regarding what might be achieved by the discussions. Opinions ranged from formalising a new group to continued informal discussions. I made it clear that my interest in the meetings was from within the framework of an Anti-Capitalist project

I recall prior to joining Workers Power, speaking to the 2009 Anti-Capitalist event. I told the conference:”What we really want is local groups, we have to come together at a local level because we don’t believe that political groups are capable of achieving a meaningful unity on a National basis”. “An Anti-Capitalist Party must be built from below, as an umbrella organisation connecting local Anti-Capitalist groups with the flexibility and freedom to react and adapt to local conditions”.

“However “, I added: “The Anti-Capitalist Party was not a replacement for existing groups, but a way for existing groups – along with non-aligned activists and anti-cuts campaigners – to work together” It was the feeling of the Surrey United Anti-Capitalists, “that a federal approach to a new Anti-Capitalist Party may provide the break-through to a successful ‘unity project”. This continues to be my belief. It is surely imperative to maintain ideological coherence by struggling for a clear programme via democratic centralism, a paper and our identity.

Late in the evening before the NC meeting in January, I received a phone call from Cde B. He told me he had received an email from the NC regarding the meetings inManchester. He forwarded an email to me, which had been sent from Simon Hardy to the members of the NC. The email contained correspondence between Cde B. and Gerry Downing. The emails addressed issues that arose out of the Manchester meetings and included a discussion about what kind of an organisation, if any, might arise out of them.

I too have had similar discussions. If the Anti-Capitalist Party is to be a Party of the working class, it must encourage the entire labour movement to sign up- and be a forum where theories and practices are put to the test. As Richard Brenner asked rhetorically in Workers Power 341, (Winter 2009): “Do we say that we want it to be a pluralist party? We want a democratic party in which everyone can say what they think. But another feature is that we want to win the argument in the party for revolution”.

It should be obvious that winning the argument for revolution requires a functioning group, faction or caucus to consistently argue for revolutionary Trotskyist politics inside the Anti-Capitalist project. Only Trotskyism has the programme that can defeat and replace the existing leadership of the working class by the method of the transitional programme. Bringing down the government and leading the working class to a socialist future.

I was aware that discussions were continuing between the participants of the Manchester meetings. Naturally, I too discussed these meetings. However, neither I nor Cde B. participated in the e-group where the emails Simon presented to the NC originated. Indeed, I didn’t know of the existence of the e-group.

Simon Hardy was leading the proposal for my expulsion. No accusations regarding a breach of discipline were leveled against me. Simon’s sole charge was that I “attended a meeting of a group hostile to Workers Power and the Anti-Capitalist project”.

My answer to Simon was, and still is: “that we all attend meetings with groups hostile to Workers Power. However, I didn’t discuss or impart any privileged information regarding Workers Power and I don’t believe Cde B. did either”.

I must add to this now, that Simon is wrong regarding the caucus’ hostility to “Anti Capitalism”. It is my understanding that Socialist Fight, and the other participants in Manchester, with the exception of the RSO, were in favour of joining an Anti-Capitalist project.

Cde B. may have made references to divisions in Workers Power, but I do not believe any details beyond what was in the public domain, were ever discussed. I do not accept Cde B. or I broke discipline or any democratic-centralist principle.

Cde B. has consistently been one of the most active members of Workers Power inLondon. He is well known and respected for his work within the GRL. He has been involved in numerous campaigns, the electricians and bus drivers’ disputes being recent examples. Billy is also the most consistent recruiter. There are people in this conference today that Billy either recruited or introduced to Workers Power. Indeed, I believe it would be foolish for any rump that may continue after this conference not to actively recruit Billy to it.

No, I think it is obvious to us all that the real splitters are those who have finally broken cover at this conference to propose liquidation. It is they who have been undermining Workers Power, and as we shall see – in their rush to promote their vision of an Anti-Capitalist formation – have already broken from democratic centralist methodology. Far from seeking to split Workers Power, Cde B. was looking for ways to save its politics and programme, the very reason Cde B. and I joined the group in the first place.

Libya
The first major retreat from the programme was over Libya. Unlike the majority of Workers Power, I saw no basis to believe that a popular or progressive uprising was unfolding. Indeed, behind the headlines there was plenty of reason to assume the opposite. Whilst Workers Power rapped their support for the NTC in the flag of Permanent Revolution, I felt those same arguments correctly applied to the forces supporting Gadaffi.

The most disturbing aspect of Workers Power’s support for the NTC was that the NTC was openly courting the patronage of the imperialist powers. It even promised western companies “preferential treatment” in what amounted to another arms for oil deal.

Leon Trotsky, “On the Sino-Japanese War”, wrote: “The Trotskyists, they say, ‘want to serve Chiang Kai-shek in action and the proletariat in words’. To participate actively and consciously in the war does not mean ‘to serve Chiang Kai-shek’ but to serve the independence of a colonial country in spite of Chiang Kai-shek. And the words directed against the Kuomintang are the means of educating the masses for the overthrow of Chiang Kai-shek”. “You cannot advance Imperialism’s victory and the victory of the working class at the same time”.

The leadership’s justification for their Libyan position was in the name of democracy and abstract liberal freedoms. In the early days of the conflict, I questioned the leadership about the lack of reliable evidence substantiating claims that it was a genuine popular uprising. Where was the general strike? Where were the mass demonstrations? In terms of numbers, it appeared that the rallies in support of Gadaffi were always larger than NTC organised events. Indeed, apart from a couple of small demonstrations, the only forces that the NTC commanded were rag-tag militias backed up by a few tribes and foreign interventionists”.

I find it Ironic that I’m appealing my expulsion, when those that are most keen on it are seeking to dissolve Workers Power anyway. It appears I am accused of breaking democratic centralism. However, it is my feeling that democratic centralist discipline broke down in WP some months ago.

The paper has ceased to be a coherent representation of the group. Under Simon Hardy’s editorship the paper has become the arena for internal differences between an old guard, and a middle class clique, running to the right and away from the working class. Their duplicity and dishonesty is exposed by their inconsistent and ever rightward stances in the paper.

Occupy – The 99%
With regards to the Occupy movement: Sceptical comments such as “the 1% as they have been called by the occupiers”. Criticisms such as “[occupy’s] limitation of always talking about “the people”. And calls for “discussions as to who constitutes the main agency of change”. (November’s issue of WP) have disappeared from the pages of WP.

Such comments and criticisms have been gradually replaced by a populist, un-critical support for the Occupy movement. And has led to a banner reading “We are the 99%” on the top of the South London Anti- Capitalist Network blog.

In contrast, on the WP blog last week, Dave Stockton, referring to ‘Occupy’ notes the: “necessity of working class direct action –that is, strikes – seemed to escape the more doctrinaire horizontals”…”In fact horizontalism- is an expression of layers and classes whose position in capitalist society gives them no natural unity: the lower middle classes, students, long term unemployed and intellectuals, who seek to escape cut-throat capitalist competition but at the same time feel collectivity, especially discipline imposed by a majority, an intolerable violation of their freedom”.

Compare that to March’s Workers Power, ‘Next steps for the Occupy movement’ in which Anton Solka writes “We are the 99% has brought the issue of class to the fore, there really is an us and them.”

Personally, I consider myself to be working class and not one of the 99%. My interests run contrary to many of the 99%. – And I would expect Workers Power to argue for class politics; warn of the dangers and Stalinist origin of popular frontism, and expose the contradictions within the 99% movement.

As with Libya, elements of Workers Power, with scant sources of information provided by the bourgeois media, has jumped on to the populist bandwagon of democracy and freedom. Support for the autonomist, environmentalist and horizontalist forces – those that are described by the clique struggling to break up our group as ‘New Left’ – may have temporarily grown, but there is nothing qualitatively new in Occupy. This ideology and methodology has been part of the political scenery for decades. The leaders of London’s Occupy are not just of the same milieu, but in many cases are the very same people that were on the peace camps and convoys of the eighties, on the road protests of the 90’s, and on the occupations and climate camps of the naughties.

Anti-Capitalism
As far as the Anti-Capitalist project goes; the Workers Power paper rarely repeats the same line twice. In February’s Workers Power article, “Labour in the Unions” Dave Stockton appeals to the unions to “put their money behind building a new fighting, Socialist Party”…”It must be a party whose aim is not to court the selfish individualism of the middle classes, but to lead the working class in a struggle for power”.

Simon Hardy writes in February’s paper “It is the battle to unite the anti–cuts movement, to create a new sense of energy and activism that UKUncut and Occupy exemplified. Although in the Editorial of the same month he writes: “In Britain, too, after an initial breakthrough, Occupy has reached a dead end”. Such is the retreat to the right, that even the name Anti-Capitalist is too radical for some in Workers Power. The group set up in Brighton is called the New Left Initiative.

In Conclusion
In conclusion, there are several common threads running through Workers Power at present.
In Libya WP elevated bourgeois democratic demands over the economic needs of the working class. With little information to support the position, WP opportunistically rode the wave of populism and supported the NTC. Its position sacrificed the security of the Libyan people, its welfare state, and its resources for democratic freedoms that will never be achieved and for the illusion of parliamentarianism.    

Again in the paper’s coverage of the Occupy movement and its 99% slogan, a faction of WP showed itself to be impressionistic. With little first-hand experience of the occupations, WP used second hand reports to analyse occupy. Here again elements in WP bent to populist sentiment and degenerated into uncritical support for the occupy movement. They sacrificed class analysis for democratic demands, popular frontism and horizontalism. As Dave Stockton said above: “These are the politics of the petit-bourgeois”.

It seems to me that the reason for the inconsistencies in the paper of late is not just the result of arguments on the PC, largely hidden from the membership. It is the result of a middle class clique in Workers Power looking for a way out and using Anti-Capitalism as their vehicle. Why else are they suddenly so enthusiastic about a project that’s been talked about for years. Why else would they be rushing headlong in to forming Anti-Capitalist groups before WP has decided the nature of this Anti-Capitalist project?

The rub, the elephant in the room, is finally exposed on paragraphs 20 and 21 of the draft proposal to the NC (included in the pre-conference IB.). Regarding Anti-Capitalism it says: “We will not declare a formal tendency or platform” – [But somehow] “will remain members of the League”. I don’t really think these people have thought this thing through. Does this clique really expect to reconcile plurality and democratic centralism within the same organisation? Or indeed, expect to remain members of the League, whose rules of affiliation insist on a regular paper. Read the rules of the League! You’re so gone. It’s these inconsistencies, and there are many, many, more, that make me realise the clique’s sudden enthusiasm for Anti-Capitalism is an unprincipled retreat into petite-bourgeois acceptability. We’re lefties, but harmless, and oh so intellectual they tell their peers. After-all, they’re reaching that age.

A post-script: Today – 9th April
It’s just two weeks after the above speech was delivered to the WP Annual Conference. News is reaching the VOAG that Workers Power is splitting. The VOAG believes that it totally vindicates everything that the two comrades who were expelled told the conference.  It follows a complete breakdown in the democratic centralist principles professed by Workers Power, mentioned above. Those of the ‘central tendency’ who claim to remain Leninists, saying they want to continue to build WP as a tendency in the worker’s movement, could have and should have put a stop to the machinations of the right-wing splitters long ago. Their refusal to do so shows their opportunism, and has led to this unnecessary impasse.  The right-wing, liquidationist splitters should have been expelled long ago for breaches of discipline and democratic centralism. The fact that they were not proves the degeneration and right-wing,
petite-bourgeois
trajectory of the entire group.    

 Tory Cuts Will Lead To Recession  And Spiralling Unemployment!!

Yahoo News reported today that more than 50 leading economists have issued a warning that Tory plans for cuts will push the economy back into recession. 

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph said 58 economists from around the world had signed a letter warning the recovery remained “fragile” and “rash action” could lead to spiralling job losses.

The Tory paper, which claimed it had obtained a leaked copy of the letter, said the signatories included such Tory academic economists as Lord Layard, Lord Skidelsky, Lord Peston and Sir David Hendry. The disclosure comes after the first week of the General Election campaign was dominated by declarations of support for the Tory plan by business leaders.

In their letter, the economists said that while the Tories described their proposed £6 billion cut as “efficiency savings”, in economic terms it was “just a cut by another name”. They said: “It will lead directly to job losses and indirectly to further falls in spending.  With the recovery still delicate we will tip back into recession – with much larger job consequences.”

Here in Guildford there is only one choice, as the bar chart below indicates. It is between the Liberal Party and the Tories. Many may say that there is no difference between them. Both parties will make cuts, both parties will attack living standards and neither party represents normal working people.

Whilst this may be true – a Conservative government is the very worst case scenario for the normal working majority of the country. A hung parliament  is better than a Tory government, A Labour majority is better than a Tory government. The three main parties may all be the same, but for those of us that remember the Tory years – We know we have to keep them out at all costs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Million Unemployed, Riots in all Major Cities, Poll Tax, Destruction of Industries, Break-up of Communities, Minors Strike, Steel Workers Strike, Argentine War, High Crime Levels, Unsafe Cities.

Here in Guildford, it may only be one seat in the parliament – But why give that seat to the Tories by not voting, or by voting for the Greens or by making a “protest” and giving your vote to some kind of quasi religious sentiment.

We all want Peace – But we won’t get it by voting for the Peace Party and letting the Tories win here.