Tag Archive: movement


socialist-actionFive Precedents For Understanding Egypt’s July Coup

 

Socialist Action 2nd October 2013
The Egyptian army’s July coup was met with widespread confusion  on the left. Within Egypt and internationally some socialists actually supported  the coup, others were explicitly neutral in the struggle between the Muslim  Brotherhood government and the army.
The article by John Riddell that appears below considers these  issues from the point of view of the experience of the international communist  movement from 1917 to the 1930s, drawing out why these positions are dangerously  wrong.
 
John Riddell, a Canadian Marxist, is the foremost historian of  the Comintern and translator of its proceedings. His article is reproduced, without  permission, to inform the debate amoungst activists in Guildford,

Five precedents for understanding Egypt’s July coup

By John Riddell, September 15, 2013
Two months after Egypt’s generals ousted its elected Muslim Brotherhood  government, there is still a wide spectrum of views among socialists regarding  the meaning of this event. (See my “Egypt:  Socialists Need to Rethink”) This discussion can be deepened by considering  a few precedents from socialist history – some well known, others obscure.
 
1. 1917: The Kornilov coup
My first and best-known example of workers’ response to an attempted rightist  coup took place a year and a half before the Comintern was founded. In August  1917, workers and soldiers in Russia united to block an attempted coup by  General Lavr Kornilov against the Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky.  At the time, Kerensky’s regime, a coalition of reformist and bourgeois forces,  was blocking progress on key revolutionary goals like peace and land reform  while repressing the Bolsheviks and other revolutionary forces.
The Bolsheviks recognized that the working class, not Kerensky, was the real  target of the reactionary military forces. Together with most other Left  currents and in alliance with Kerensky, the Bolsheviks rallied workers to oppose  the coup. Workers won a quick victory, while the Bolsheviks and their allies  gained respect and confidence from the masses. This outcome set the stage for  the Russian soviets to assume power two months later.
Surprisingly, discussions in the Comintern during its early years contain  almost no references to the Kornilov episode. In 1930–33, however, Leon Trotsky  repeatedly cited this experience as a precedent for the united front of  working-class forces needed in Germany to beat back the rising danger of  Fascism. His fullest treatment was in section  6 of What Next? Vital Questions for the German Proletariat (1932). A detailed analysis of resistance to Kornilov appeared in two chapters  of Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution, published in  English the same year.
 
2. 1920: The Kapp putsch
Two years later, workers in Germany faced a similar situation. A Social  Democratic-led government had waged a brutal war against revolutionary workers  and was building up the state’s forces of repression. On March 13, 1920,  however, far-right forces made a bid for power. They led army detachments in  seizing the capital, seeking to replace constitutional government with military  dictatorship. The coup became known by the name of one of its leaders, Wolfgang  Kapp. Trade unions reacted to the coup with a call to general strike. Amazingly,  the German Communist party (KPD) called on workers not to take part in the  struggle. The strike was immensely powerful, and the KPD rapidly rectified its  stance. Only four days into the strike, the coup regime was toppled. (The story  of the Kapp Putsch is well told in chapter 18 of Pierre Broué’s masterly  history, The German Revolution 1917–23, Merlin: 2006.)
Despite their initial error, the Communists played a leading role in several  aspects in the anti-Kapp movement. In one important industrial city, Chemnitz,  the KPD led workers’ councils, representing all workers’ parties, in forming a  municipal government during the period of most intense struggle. Communists took  part in armed workers’ detachments that, for a time, drove the army out of  significant areas of the country. At one point, the KPD gave guarded support to  a union call for a government of unions and workers’ parties.
During the Kapp struggle, workers in action provided clear answers to a  series of strategic issues that were much debated in the Comintern at that time:  united front, response to rightist coups, and governmental power. However, after  an initial flurry of debate, the Kapp experience was rarely mentioned in  Communist International discussions, and its lessons were not assimilated.
 
Drawing the parallel
There are striking similarities between the Kornilov and Kapp experiences and  the military takeover in Egypt. Still, I have seen only one attempt to draw the  parallel: by Vancouver-based socialist Roger Annis.
A few days after the Egyptian takeover, Annis  wrote of the Kornilov and Kapp coup attempts: “These were both cases of  military intervention by the old orders to try and forestall and ultimately  destroy developing revolutionary situations. The Russian and German military  officers played on political deadlocks in the respective political situations in  which neither the capitalist nor the working classes could deliver a decisive  blow that would decide who would rule. In both cases, the immediate targets of  intervention were discredited or increasingly unpopular governments led by  social democrats or political equivalents.” The Egyptian situation is different in important ways, Annis says, but  “perhaps there are useful analogies here.”
 
3. 1923: Abstention in Bulgaria
During the Comintern’s early years, its Bulgarian section, a formidable mass  party, was widely regarded as the Communist movement closest to the Bolsheviks  in history and outlook. Bulgaria was ruled from 1919 by a radical peasant party,  the Agrarian Union, led by Alexander Stamboliski. Threats of a rightist coup  against his regime did not, however, lead to an effective alliance between the  peasant forces and the Communist Party. By late 1922 the Agrarians and  Communists were locked in enmity.
Elections were held April 1923, and the Agrarians were re-elected with an  absolute majority of the vote. Two months later, the rightist bourgeois  opposition mounted a coup to oust the peasant government. Resistance was  crippled by abstention of the Communist Party, which declared its neutrality.  The Stamboliski government had “used its power to defend its class and clique  interests,” the party declared. “The working masses in town and village will not  participate in the armed struggle … between the urban and rural bourgeoisie,” it  stated. (Joseph Rothschild, The Communist Party of Bulgaria, p. 120) The  coup triumphed rapidly.
The Comintern Executive Committee sought to convince the Bulgarian party of  its disastrous error. The response in Bulgaria to this critique, however, was a  premature and poorly prepared attempt at an uprising by the Communist forces  alone, which was quickly suppressed. The Comintern response to this fiasco was  ambiguous. Comintern President Gregory Zinoviev endorsed the Bulgarian party’s  conduct, while the Comintern’s representative in Bulgaria condemned the party  for “having shown itself incapable of maneuver and of leading the mass  movement.” (Broué, Histoire de l’Internationale Communiste 1919–1943, pp.  333–35)

4. 1926: A ‘socialist’ general’s coup in Poland
In our fourth example, Communists in Poland actually fought alongside rebel  army detachments in a brief civil war against defenders of a constitutionally  established but discredited bourgeois government. The coup’s leader, Joseph  Pilsudski, reputedly represented the bourgeoisie’s more progressive wing.  Indeed, Pilsudski had long been a leader of right-wing Socialist forces in  Poland, before emerging as the leader of Polish armed forces on the  Austro-Hungarian army during World War 1 and then as the president of newly  independent Poland from 1918 to 1922.
In 1926, Poland was gripped in economic crisis. Its rightist government, just  installed, was displaying authoritarian ambitions. Pilsudski, formally retired,  in fact led and inspired the bourgeois opposition. The Communist Party declared  conditional support for Pilsudski’s movement, “if they fight to defend  democratic institutions.” On May 13, troops loyal to Pilsudski rose in revolt;  the Communist and Socialist parties declared a general strike in their support.  The strike, widely effective, was decisive in enabling the rebels to win out in  a four-day civil war. Although Communists fought on the rebel side, they were  being arrested by Pilsudski’s forces even before fighting ended. Pilsudski’s  regime, which lasted until his death in 1935, preserved some democratic forms  but was heavy-handed and repressive toward the working class.
Party members quickly regretted what they ruefully called their “May mistake”  but differed in explaining what the mistake was. By now, the Comintern was  deeply influenced by Stalinism, which obstructed a correction. In 1927, an  ultraleft current took the party’s helm, wrongly explaining the Pilsudski  movement to be “fascist.” (Broué, Histoire, pp. 472–75)
 
5. 1932. Germany’s ‘red referendum’
Six years later, the German Communist Party launched a campaign in support of  a Nazi initiative to unseat the Social Democratic-led government of Prussia, the  state containing two-thirds of the German population and its capital, Berlin. By  this time, the Comintern had embraced Stalin’s assertion that Social Democracy  represented another form of fascism, “social fascism,” which had to be opposed  as strongly as the Nazis. The Communist Party claimed it would transform the  Nazi initiative into a “red referendum” for workers’ rule.
The Nazi initiative was not in itself a coup, but it was an important step  along the road to fascist power. If the referendum had won, it would have forced  new elections, which the Nazis and their allies felt sure they would win. Even  with Communist support, however, the Nazi campaign fell short, winning 38% of  the vote.
The Communist Party declared the result to be a victory, “the greatest blow  of all that the working class has yet dealt Social Democracy.” Trotsky commented, “The most rabid foe could not have thought up a surer way  of inciting the Social Democratic workers against the Communist Party and of  holding up the development of the policy of the revolutionary united front.” (Tony  Cliff, Trotsky: 1929-40)
It was three years before the Comintern abandoned this sectarian approach –  only to flip over to a “people’s front” policy that aimed for alliances with  parties of the imperialist bourgeoisie.

Summary
What can be learned from these disparate examples? Some conclusions:
· None of these examples is fully comparable to the events in Egypt. There is  no textbook here.
· Even in the Comintern’s best years, its parties sometimes, under the  pressure of events, became entangled in complicity with right-wing military  coups.
· In every such case, Communists soon realized that involvement or tacit  support had been a serious error.
· The most damaging aspect of these episodes was not the error itself but the  failure to correct it clearly and openly.
This article is reproduced, without  permission, to inform the debate amoungst activists in Guildford,Voag-Logo-Darker
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The VOAG is watching - The VOAG is everywhereOn why we must vote by simple majority and why this protects the rights of the minority. And why the Occupy movement are wrong.  

 GERALD DOWNING , Nov 28 2011  
On consensus: excerpts from Murray Bookchin’s “What is Communalism? The Democratic Dimensions of Anarchism” by Ozaki Takami

‘Libertarians commonly consider democracy, even in this sense, as a form of “rule” — since in making decisions, a majority view prevails and thus “rules” over a minority. As such, democracy is said to be inconsistent with a truly libertarian ideal. Even so knowledgeable a historian of anarchism as Peter Marshall observes that, for anarchists, “the majority has no more right to dictate to the minority, even a minority of one, than the minority to the majority”. Scores of libertarians have echoed this idea time and again.
 
What is striking about assertions like Marshall’s is their highly pejorative language. Majorities, it would seem, neither “decide” nor “debate”: rather, they “rule,” “dictate,” “command,” “coerce” and the like. In a free society that not only permitted, but fostered the fullest degree of dissent, whose podiums at assemblies and whose media were open to the fullest expression of all views, whose institutions were truly forums for discussion — one may reasonably ask whether such a society would actually “dictate” to anyone when it had to arrive at a decision that concerned the public welfare.
 
How, then, would society make dynamic collective decisions about public affairs, aside from mere individual contracts? The only collective alternative to majority voting as a means of decision-making that is commonly presented is the practice of consensus. Indeed, consensus has even been mystified by avowed “anarcho-primitivists,” who consider Ice Age and contemporary “primitive” or “primal” peoples to constitute the apogee of human social and psychic attainment.
 
I do not deny that consensus may be an appropriate form of decision-making in small groups of people who are thoroughly familiar with one another. But to examine consensus in practical terms, my own experience has shown me that when larger groups try to make decisions by consensus, it usually obliges them to arrive at the lowest common intellectual denominator in their decision-making: the least controversial or even the most mediocre decision that a sizable assembly of people can attain is adopted — precisely because everyone must agree with it or else withdraw from voting on that issue. More disturbingly, I have found that it permits an insidious authoritarianism and gross manipulations — even when used in the name of autonomy or freedom.

To take a very striking case in point: the largest consensus-based movement (involving thousands of participants) in recent memory in the United States was the Clamshell Alliance, which was formed to oppose the Seabrook nuclear reactor in the mid-1970s in New Hampshire. In her recent study of the movement, Barbara Epstein has called the Clamshell the “first effort in American history to base a mass movement on nonviolent direct action” other than the 1960s civil rights movement. As a result of its apparent organizational success, many other regional alliances against nuclear reactors were formed throughout the United States.
 
I can personally attest to the fact that within the Clamshell Alliance, consensus was fostered by often cynical Quakers and by members of a dubiously “anarchic” commune that was located in Montague, Massachusetts. This small, tightly knit faction, unified by its own hidden agendas, was able to manipulate many Clamshell members into subordinating their goodwill and idealistic commitments to those opportunistic agendas. The de facto leaders of the Clamshell overrode the rights and ideals of the innumerable individuals who entered it and undermined their morale and will.
 
In order for that clique to create full consensus on a decision, minority dissenters were often subtly urged or psychologically coerced to decline to vote on a troubling issue, inasmuch as their dissent would essentially amount to a one-person veto. This practice, called “standing aside” in American consensus processes, all too often involved intimidation of the dissenters, to the point that they completely withdrew from the decision-making process, rather than make an honorable and continuing expression of their dissent by voting, even as a minority, in accordance with their views. Having withdrawn, they ceased to be political beings — so that a “decision” could be made. More than one “decision” in the Clamshell Alliance was made by pressuring dissenters into silence and, through a chain of such intimidations, “consensus” was ultimately achieved only after dissenting members nullified themselves as participants in the process.
 
On a more theoretical level, consensus silenced that most vital aspect of all dialogue, dissensus. The ongoing dissent, the passionate dialogue that still persists even after a minority accedes temporarily to a majority decision, was replaced in the Clamshell by dull monologues — and the uncontroverted and deadening tone of consensus. In majority decision-making, the defeated minority can resolve to overturn a decision on which they have been defeated — they are free to openly and persistently articulate reasoned and potentially persuasive disagreements. Consensus, for its part, honors no minorities, but mutes them in favor of the metaphysical “one” of the “consensus” group.
 
The creative role of dissent, valuable as an ongoing democratic phenomenon, tends to fade away in the gray uniformity required by consensus. Any libertarian body of ideas that seeks to dissolve hierarchy, classes, domination and exploitation by allowing even Marshall’s “minority of one” to block decision-making by the majority of a community, indeed, of regional and nationwide confederations, would essentially mutate into a Rousseauean “general will” with a nightmare world of intellectual and psychic conformity. In more gripping times, it could easily “force people to be free,” as Rousseau put it — and as the Jacobins practiced it in1793-94. 
 
The de facto leaders of the Clamshell were able to get away with their behavior precisely because the Clamshell was not sufficiently organized and democratically structured, such that it could countervail the manipulation of a well organized few. The de facto leaders were subject to few structures of  accountability for their actions. The ease with which they cannily used consensus decision-making for their own ends has been only partly told,6 but consensus practices finally shipwrecked this large and exciting organization with its Rousseauean “republic of virtue.”

It was also ruined, I may add, by an organizational laxity that permitted mere passersby to participate in decision-making, thereby destructuring the organization to the point of invertebracy. It was for good reason that I and many young anarchists from Vermont who had actively participated in the Alliance for some few years came to view consensus as anathema.
 
If consensus could be achieved without compulsion of dissenters, a process that is feasible in small groups, who could possibly oppose it as a decision-making process? But to reduce a libertarian ideal to the unconditional right of a minority — let alone a “minority of one” — to abort a decision by a “collection of individuals” is to stifle the dialectic of ideas that thrives on opposition, confrontation and, yes, decisions with which everyone need not agree andshould not agree, lest society become an ideological cemetery. Which is not to deny dissenters every opportunity to reverse majority decisions by unimpaired discussion and advocacy.’
Gerry Downing is the editor of Socialist Fight magazine.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.    

ALARM (All London Anarchist Revolutionary Movement) Conference

I left the comforting hills of Surrey today, Saturday 7th January, to attend the ALARM (All London Anarchist Revolutionary Movement) conference.

I was impressed with the conference. The discussions were sensible; the conference well-organised, and the attendance was around 100 people.  

The conference was devoted to community action and organising issues. There were no theoretical or historical sessions. Several discussions referred to the August riots and to police repression. The conference had some good ideas about how to link the two issues and build connections amongst the youth to promote grass-roots organisation.

One idea was a poster campaign on estates, explaining legal rights under ‘Stop and Search’ laws, followed-up by legal-rights workshops. Also to support existing groups, for example, various local Police Monitoring Groups.

One contribution spoke of those who have been convicted of offences, relating to demonstrations or the August riots, as political prisoners: “Everyone who is charged with offences relating to demonstrations or riots, should be supported throughout their legal process and any subsequent sentence. Support should also be given to those effected by the riots, such as those made homeless”.

The Legal Defense Group added that their organisation provided support to political defendants in court. They appealed for more volunteers, and suggested that everyone who gets arrested and released without charge, or is wrongly accused, or mistreated by the police, should sue the police and donate some of the money to such groups.

It was a good conference, well worth attending.

Meeting on Total Policing @ LSE. With the London Met Police Commissioner
16th January, 6.30 – 8.30

WEB:              http://www.soundthealarm.org.uk
F/B Group: http://www.facebook.com/#!/Alarmists