Thursday, April 27, 2017

Class Consciousness and the Struggle Against Capital

 “a schoolmaster is a productive labourer when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of in a sausage factory, does not alter the relation.” Marx

As I have said before, I don't take notes except a few reminders and if I am not sure about something or forget things, I can add to the video in this way.  If it's not evident, I did want to make clear in my criticism here, that I have very fond memories of my involvement with the young people in Berkeley during this period and their sacrifice and struggle. I feel honored to have participated in the March 4th Committee that organized the marches and the rally that took place in Oakland on March 4th 2010. It was a very successful event.

I would also like to make it clear that some students that had what I would call an orientation to the petite -bourgeois or an aspiration to be an integral part of that class were not necessarily from it. Plenty of people from working class backgrounds, even poor working class backgrounds, orient to the middle class and have aspirations in that direction; it's what they want to be, especially in the absence of a significant working class movement.

Another thing is that when I refer to the self styled revolutionary groups I think part of the problem here is also that they are overwhelmingly petite bourgeois in their culture and make up even though members may be workers in that their means of subsistence is wage labor. A young woman of color once told me that the left organizations "don't appeal" to workers of color. Well they don't appeal to white workers either in the main.

The reason I use "petite bourgeois" and "middle class" to describe this social layer or class view if you like, is that here in the US middle class is used to describe the traditional middle class and also workers depending on how much money one makes. Petite Bourgeois is the more traditional Marxist term among Socialists and Marxists and more accurate I reckon. Here is one definition:

(pl) petits bourgeois (ˈpɛtɪ ˈbʊəʒwɑːz ; French) ( pəti burʒwa)
Also called petite bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie. the section of the middle class with the lowest social status, generally composed of shopkeepers, lower clerical staff, etc
a member of this stratum
of, relating to, or characteristic of the petit bourgeois, esp indicating a sense of self-righteousness and a high degree of conformity to established standards of behaviour

Richard Mellor

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Hypocritical whining as Mad Dog Mattis berates the Russians

Reagan with freedom fighters (Taliban) 1983
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

“One of the delightful things about Americans is that they have absolutely no historical memory.” Zhou Enlai

A major advantage the US has over many other advanced capitalist economies is that for the most part, the US population is completely oblivious to the real role the US state apparatus plays in the rest of the world through it’s military and economic dominance of world affairs.  In the mostly former colonial countries where the US war machine has slaughtered the population and/or decimated the economic and political structure of the country, they are all too familiar with the costs of resisting US imperialism’s intentions.

One of the main reasons for this is the immense power of the US media; highly censored and controlled, it adds to the isolation of the American population from the rest of the world. The more we’re afraid, the less we travel and learn on our own, and the less we question things.

It goes without saying that we are notoriously famous for our lack of geographical knowledge for example, and the standing joke is that we learn of foreign countries after the folks in Washington and at the Pentagon decide to bomb the place.  We then get to see the likes of Wolf Blitzer or his equivalent, standing on a map of the area on CNN news giving us U.S. state department briefings.

That’s how come mouthpieces for US imperialism, whether its politicians or military brass, the guys that wear all that scrap metal on their chests but do none of the fighting and take none of the risks, feel very confident when they make absurd and hypocritical public proclamations.

The latest is the US mass media’s reports of US Defense Secretary, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, whining about Russian imperialism arming the Taliban. The US must “confront” Russia on the issue, Mad Dog announces to the world during his Afghanistan visit.  “We’ll engage with Russia diplomatically…”,  Mad Dog adds and,  “…we’ll do so where we can, but we’re going to have to confront Russia where what they’re doing is contrary to international law or denying the sovereignty of other countries.”

Mattis can say these things because he’s confident many Americans will not pay much attention to detail, will certainly know next to nothing about the history of the Afghanistan conflict, and a whole host of diversions will keep it out of the collective consciousness.  “For example,” Mad Dog continued, “….any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law.”

Respect for “sovereignty”. “Funneling” weapons to groups.  I can barely contain myself reading this and can only imagine what people outside the US must be thinking, especially victims of US foreign policy. I think we will see Russian imperialism arming other forces hostile to US imperialism's interests, the Houthis in Yemen for example.

The US provides half or more of the world’s weapons of mass destruction, and more often than not to despotic undemocratic regimes. The horrific slaughter in Yemen that has killed thousands of innocent civilians is Pentagon driven and financed as US and Saudi planes continue to bomb the place. The US bombs Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya etc. The US has 15,000 troops in Bahrain that sat idly by as the ruthless family, an absolute monarchy that governs Bahrain, slaughtered civilians protesting for religious freedom, democratic rights and political reform.

All those ruthless despotic regimes in the Gulf stay in power through US money and weapons.

The US invaded Iraq and has basically destroyed it as a nation state yet Iraq nor its people threated the US in any way. The US arms the Zionist Apartheid state of Israel that occupies Palestinian land, destroys their farms, and imprisons and kills their men, women and children with impunity.

US imperialism doesn’t care about sovereignty unless a country has nuclear weapons. The little “fat man” in Korea is not so stupid. He doesn’t want to end up like
Gaddafi whose murder, rape and death was praised by Hillary Clinton, “We hope he can be captured or killed soon so that you don’t have to fear him any longer” and when her wish came true, she responded, “We came, we saw, he died.”. This is the person who considered the Egyptian dictator Mubarak, “like family”. *

Up until 1999 the salary of every Taliban government official was paid by the US taxpayer. ** The US taxpayer financed the Taliban and the CIA and Pakistani ISI covertly supported Moslem fundamentalists against the Soviets in Afghanistan including Osama bin Laden. The backward warlords in Afghanistan received billions in US weapons.

In an interview with Zbigniew Brzezinsky in 1998, the former national security advisor to Jimmy Carter when asked if he regretted having supported Islamic fundamentalism, replied, “What is more important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?” *** "Stirred up Moslems" The arrogance and outright ignorance of imperialism reveals the obstacle such thinking is to understanding world events.
1993 Independent UK portraying Bin Laden as freedom fighter

And while many Americans are not aware of these details and the lies and hypocrisy of US imperialism, hundreds of millions of workers throughout the world are,  through direct experience or through familial or social connections to the victims.

As I have commented in the past, what is lacking in individual situations and indeed, on a world scale, is the independent, organized voice of the working class. Only the working class can resolve these crises. Only the working class can put a stop to the never ending imperialist wars waged for profits and global resources and the poverty, disease and suffering that accompanies them.

Some time ago,  arguing for an independent working people political party as the alternative to the two Wall Street parties, I pointed out that a former professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura, was able to win the governorship of Minnesota and that the argument that the labor movement could not run its own candidate with any chance of success was a lie. I gave the example of the former strike leader Lula in Brazil.

Since then we have seen new parties spring up throughout Europe. In the French elections just a few days ago the traditional parties that have shared governance for some 40 years were crushed and left candidates, had they joined forces, would have won the first round.  As it stands, it’s likely the next president of France, the fourth largest economy in the world, will be Macron, the leader of a party that he himself formed barely a year ago.

As always, I must add that another factor in the ability of US capitalism to act in the manner it does both domestically and abroad, is the absence of any social force challenging it ideologically and organizationally.  In the US, the heads of organized labor are complicit not only in the rise of Trumpism, and the savagery of US foreign policy. But the thousands of members of self styled revolutionary organizations and other anti-capitalist groups also share some responsibility.

Unfortunately, the US working class will pay for the absence of a leadership prepared to confront the capitalist offensive and our own resignation to the status quo. While leadership bears responsibility for the delay, we are not entirely blameless.

The present administration will intensify the attacks on union and workers’ rights and we are faced with only one conclusion; we have no alternative but to fight.

* Initially, I was supportive of the rising against Gaddafi that I saw as being from below and being part of the Arab Spring and hopefully a movement toward genuine socialist democracy in the Middle East and Arab world. The entry of the US in the form of NATO was a different matter.
** Ted Rall, It’s About Oil, SF Chronicle 2-11-2001 Quoted in War and Globalization by Michel Chossudovsky p81 1st edition
*** Michel Chossudovsky War and Globalization p20 1st ed.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Nazi's White Nationalists, Klan. Making America Great Again

Well it's official: This month, traditionally competing white supremacist groups are all about uniting. Boosted by Trump, the modern day Caligula, or the Predator in Chief as he is known, Nazi's, Klan, various racists, anticommunists, anti Semites, anti-union and other groups that fall under the general category as anti-social, feel their time has come. They want to make race war acceptable as they make America Great Again at the same time. It's a bit like a Mel Brooks movie without the humor

"Originally called the Aryan National Alliance, the Nationalist Front renamed itself and dropped its use of the swastika in an attempt to broaden its appeal." one report in the media quotes them as saying. "  and some Klan groups are now consolidating to build membership and power as well.

Oh, that's alright then. Glad they made that clear. "White Power groups are binding together"  the article says and they're fighting for "white power". But if it's simply skin color that is the issue, aren't white skinned people in power? The government, the economy, the military industrial complex are all in control of white skinned people--white capitalists.

"This is making history. We are putting together all the white organizations...there is no more time for division...." says Jeff Schoep, the commander of the National Socialist Movement.

I  don't think some of the most powerful "white" organizations will be in the umbrella group, not openly anyway as they got burned last time Nazi's took power. The National Association of Manufacturers, bankers groups, groups like Blackstone, the Business Round Table and hedge fund groups, venture capitalist groups, all basically run by "white skinned" people and a major part of the power structure in society, didn't appear to be present at these rallies.

One has to wonder what it is that causes these people to take the position that a poor person, a refugee, an immigrant is the cause of their meager existence, of the crisis that US capitalism finds itself in yet the billionaires are OK. Given that it is overwhelmingly "white people" that hold power, changing who holds power is an issue. But not replacing one color of capitalist for another, as Moses Mayekiso, the South African trade unionist once said, they didn't want to change the color of the eoprssor, they wanted to change the system that oppresses.

On the one hand these characters and their bizarre celebrations are somewhat like a Monty Python episode but the reality is that they are some nasty and very dangerous characters.  The lessons of history is that we don't allow Nazi's any breathing room.  In the event of working class people taking state power we might be able to rehabilitate some of them, but in the meantime we must take them seriously and crush their movement.

French Elections: Combined left vote would have won the first round

Sectariansism of lefts defeats Melenchon
By Facts For Working People Admin

In a previous article analyzing the likely results of the first round of the French elections, we correctly explained that it was very positive that the extreme right winger and closet fascist Le Pen did not come first.  We also condemned Socialist Party candidate Hamon and the Socialist Party leadership for not putting their support behind the left wing candidate Melenchon. 

The election turned out as expected. Macron the preferred candidate of the French capitalist class came first with 23.86% of the vote. Le Pen came second with 21.43% of the vote and will face off in the second round.  The Republican Francois Fillon received 19.94% and Melenchon, the far left candidate and ex Trotskyist received 19.2% of the vote.  Hamon and the Socialist Party received 6.35% of the vote.

If the SP had withdrawn their candidate and supported Melenchon he would have been practically assured of winning the first round. This would have been a major victory for the French working class and a defeat for Le Pen and Macron, the candidates of the right. More importantly, it would have energized the left and the workers' movement not only in France but internationally.

It would have been a major victory and we condemn the SP for its sectarianism. But we do not leave it there. This blog and the supporters of Facts For Working People have continually criticized the sectarianism of the self styled revolutionary left groups. Between the two that ran, the Lutte Ouvrier and the Anti Capitalist Party whose candidate is a factory worker, got 1.75% of the vote. This was a pathetic vote but added to the SP vote it would have given Melenchon and the left almost 28% of the vote, a clear victory.  These groups and all like them internationally have to break from their damaging sectarianism.

Even with the Socialist Party’s refusal to support Melenchon and the left, these two sectarian groups should have put their support behind Melenchon. This would have put him close to Le Pen and maybe even made it possible for him to beat her as it would have shown increased unity among the left and would have inspired people who did not vote or who voted for other candidates to vote for him.  Surveys claimed that a significant percentage of voters were undecided and would quite possibly make up their minds on election day.

Most of the blame for Le Pen being in the run off falls on the Socialist Party. But the self styled revolutionary left groups have to also take a share of the blame. Until these groups break from their sectarianism and ultra leftism they continue to play only a damaging role in the struggle of the working class and for socialism.

French presidential election - first round.

Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron
From John Pickard
London April 24 2017

The first round of the French presidential elections has confirmed the enormous unpopularity of the traditional parties and the ‘old’ politics. In a political phenomenon which is sweeping the globe, hundreds of millions in elections in different parts of the world are registering their discontent and anger at the political and economic elite who have supervised universal cuts in living standards and increased insecurity for working people. While the rich have got richer and the mass of people have got poorer, the facts about this obscene disparity are harder and harder to hide. The facts have been noted and huge swings in votes have followed accordingly.

Since the foundation of the Third French Republic in 1958, every single one of the final round of voting for the French president has included a representative of one or both of the two main parties: The Republicans and the Socialist Party, the French equivalent of the British Tory and Labour Parties. For the first time in sixty years, neither of these parties will be represented in the upcoming election. The two parties that have dominated French politics for two generations only managed to get around a quarter of the votes between them.

The 22 per cent vote for the Front Nationale, an openly racist and xenophobic party, is a warning to the left and the labour movement for the future. If social crisis persists and living standards are crushed for the indefinite future and if the labour movement offers no solution to these issues, then the FN will be there to pick up the pieces and to move in the direction of becoming a fully-fledged fascist movement in the style of their 1930s forerunners. Economic insecurity, job losses, austerity and last, but not least, the apparently never-ending round of terrorist attacks has shaken French politics. More than 230 people have been killed in attacks in France in little over two years, the most recent only days before the election. The FN cynically latches onto these appalling crimes and uses them to attempt to drive a wedge between those of a north-African and Moslem tradition and the rest of the French population. But at this stage, some of the votes for the FN, reflected a politically crude and confused way – as did the vote of Trump in the USA – a yearning among white French workers for some measure of security and stability in their lives and with a socialist programme and policy, many of these voters could be won away from the FN.

Taken in by the demagogy of the Marine Le Pen – herself even more of an ‘outsider’ than Macron – many politically-backward workers would have seen the FN as a means of shaking up the establishment and the old politics. Taking the first round votes as a whole, and if the vote of the Front Nationale are added to the mix, at least two thirds of the electorate voted to change the political set-up and to abandon the ‘old’ politics.

Emmanuel Macron got the biggest single share of the vote, at over 23 per cent and his vote represents a genuine groping among millions of French people for something ‘different’. Macron had been a minister under the current President Hollande and is closely tied to business, but he conducted a glossy and slick campaign which hinted at – without too much attention to the detail – an assault on the old established political class. On all the social issues Macron is ‘modern’ and ‘radical’ and presents himself as a breath of fresh air. He is, at 39, by far the youngest candidate to have ever reached the final round of a presidential election and one of the very few never to have been involved in an election before. In an echo of Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution”, Macron has called for a “democratic revolution” in French politics. He is seen as ‘modern’, digitally savvy and an internationally-minded ‘progressive’ and it was entirely on the basis this cultivated image of being a ‘different’ and ‘controversial’ outsider that the won almost a quarter of the votes.

But although he made great play about being an ‘outsider’ and he started without even a political party to call his own, in fact, he is very much a part of the Establishment. How his “democratic revolution” squares with the fact that he is on excellent personal terms with the tops of the civil service and business leaders, it is not possible to say. French stock markets soared when he won the first round and this was no fluke. It was partly in relief to see that his opponent on the left, Jean-Luc Mélenchon was out of the final ballot and partly because big business see Macron as a pro-business candidate. Behind the rhetoric of being radical on social issues, Macron is the French equivalent of Tony Blair on economic issues and, as President, is expected to move quickly to limit trade union rights – reducing what is deemed by big business as “red tape”.

Macron will now need to build up his party – only a year old – so that he has sufficient candidates standing and then elected to support him in the parliamentary elections that will take place in June. Without the support of the National Assembly his presidency will be hobbled. Although he has opened his party to all comers – at no cost – what is certain is that he will dictate from the top who is selected as candidates. His party, En Marche! (Forward!) will be his own personal dictatorship, whatever is said about ‘democracy’.

“…what stood out was how much Macron’s campaign was centred on himself. He gave the movement his initials and the spotlight and decision-making fell firmly on him. At rock-star style stadium gigs, he smiled and raised his outstretched arms to the sky. He believes that ever since Louis XVI’s head was chopped off in the Revolution, the country has been searching for a figure who could personify France.” (Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian, April 24th)

Assuming he wins the second round of the presidential poll, Macron’s party will probably now move to select enough ‘safe’ candidates to get him a working majority in Parliament. It will be a right-wing Assembly, whatever Macron may have said on the stump and it will administer cuts in living standards and restrictions on trade union rights every bit as bad as Hollande has done. A Macron presidency will not usher in a period of social peace, but on the contrary, when voters realise they have been ‘conned’ it will usher in even more social, political and industrial unrest than we have seen in the past ten years.

As an aside, En Marche! is the latest in a new breed of political movements, like Podemos in Spain and more recently on a smaller scale like Momentum in the British Labour Party, where a genuine movement of radicalism is contained by a structure that on the one hand espouses ‘democracy’ but on the other hand is carefully stage-managed – often through a system of ‘e-voting’ – by a single individual at the top.

Apart from Macron and the FN, the most significant vote was that for Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the independent left candidate who was formerly a Socialist Party minister and who was backed by the French Communist Party. He conducted the most radical, vigorous and energetic campaign of any of the candidates. His campaign was far bigger and more dramatic even that Corbyn’s leadership campaigns in Britain. Mélenchon  addressed massive rallies up and down the country, including a mass rally in Paris of over 100,000. Some of his rallies were projected electronically to other locations so that while he spoke in real time to a rally in one place, his hologram addressed crowds at four or five other places.
Mélenchon speaking in Paris

It was not the man, of course, but his programme that electrified the crowds – railing against tax-dodging and the rich and promising to raise income tax on incomes over £30,000 to 100 per cent (later reduced to 90 per cent). He was not the slick and polished politician that Emmanuel Macron is, and as a result, he came across to millions of voters as a genuine break from the old and failed politics of the past. His programme was on the face of it far more radical than Jeremy Corbyn’s has ever been and as a result his rating in the polls shot up from around 11-12 per cent weeks before the election to 19 per cent on the day. More significantly, among 18-24 year olds, he got the largest vote of any candidate, at 30 per cent, half as many again as Macron and three times the figure achieved by the Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon.

In contrast to the independent left, the candidate of the Socialist Party failed miserably, getting less than 7 per cent of the vote. This is all the more remarkable, when one considers that at the time of his selection as SP candidate, by means of a ‘primary’ election, around two million people participated in the election. Having 1.2 million voting for Hamon as the candidate of the Socialist Party shows a level of participation in the party selection processes far exceeding even the huge vote for Jeremy Corbyn in Britain in 2015 and 2016. Moreover, Hamon was selected precisely because he was then the most radical Socialist Party candidate on offer and after his election, the other failed candidate from the right of the Socialist Party promptly announced his support for Macron. This would have been equivalent to Owen Smith in the British Labour Party abandoning the Party of Corbyn (because he lost the leadership race) and announcing support for a Blairite party in opposition to Labour.

Yet despite this huge advantage and an early surge of support – Hamon being at that time at 15 per cent in the polls and ahead of Mélenchon – he utterly failed to get any momentum in his campaign and to motivate and inspire his potential supporters. Whatever, Hamon was doing, of course, he was also working against the appalling legacy of the so-called ‘Socialist’ President Francois Hollande, whose personal poll ratings are at an historic low for any president, at about 4 per cent. Hollande was elected originally with some enthusiasm but has followed a rigorously pro-business economic policy that has led to 10 per cent unemployment and a squeeze on living standards for French workers the likes of which has not been seen in a generation. Little wonder that his support was so low, little wonder that he made no attempt to stand for a second term as president (another unprecedented development in the history of the Republic) and little wonder that Hamon, a member of the same party, was tarnished with the same brush.
Benoit Hamon, SP Candidate

One of the key discussions that will take place in the Socialist Party now, of course, is why Hamon refused to stand down in favour of Mélenchon in the two weeks leading up to the vote. By that time, it was clear from the polls that Hamon was not going to get into the next round and that he would be outflanked on the left by Mélenchon. What the election figures show clearly is that if Hamon’s 6.2 per cent had been added to Mélenchon’s 19.2 per cent, then Mélenchon would have gone into the final round ahead of Macron and would, in all likelihood, be in a position to win the presidency.

Hamon’s action in not standing down has demonstrated something that has been shown over and over again in politics, in Britain and internationally, that ‘soft lefts’ will always prefer the victory of the right wing in preference to a ‘hard left’ candidate and that is a measure of the shallowness of their commitment to ‘socialism’.

Despite Hamon’s very low vote, it does not necessarily mean the complete demise of the French Socialist Party. After all, the Party was reduced to only 3 per cent in the polls in the late 1960s, before making a dramatic come-back. But it does mean that there needs to be an autopsy and a serious discussion among worker-members and supporters of the Party. Unless and until the Socialist Party moves in the direction of genuine socialist policies – with an economic programme in the interests of working class people – it will not recover any of the ground lost to the awful legacy of Francois Hollande.

The likely election of Macron as President of France – he is clearly bookies’ favourite, as three quarters of voters will vote for him to keep Le Pen out – might have serious implications for Theresa May and her negotiations on Brexit, assuming she is still Prime Minister after June 8th. Macron has gone on record as being in favour of Britain being offered a very tough Brexit deal, as he made clear in a recent visit to London. “Standing outside No 10” The Guardian noted, “he said he wanted ‘banks, talents, researchers, academics’ to move across the Channel after Britain left the EU.” Even in his manifesto, he described Brexit as a ‘crime’ that would leave Britain in “servitude.”

The presidential election process in France is another indicator of the shift in the tectonic plates of politics. Moreover, each new development has effects that resonate and reverberate from one country to another. There are no political ‘islands’ separated off from world political developments. Like their fellow workers in Britain and elsewhere, the working class of France are beginning to change their outlook on politics, beginning to change and develop their political consciousness. It is the task of socialists not just to participate in these great political movements and struggles but to examine them carefully, understand them better and to prepare ourselves better for even bigger movements in the future.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The reactionary, class nature of left Academia today.

We reprint this article from Jacobin  and are in general agreement with it.   The author writes:
"So in academia today, we have a well-off class which has no reason to gravitate towards working class politics. They do have an interest, however, in retaining their class privileges. The notion that socialism is Western emerges from this quarter. It takes the form of a radicalism that claims to speak for the Global South, and declares that socialism is unsuited for the realities of that part of the world. Western ideas like socialism, they argue, do not address the cultural experiences of the non-West."

What also emerges from "this quarter" as the author puts it, is hostility to the white worker and the use of academic, petite bourgeois language that not only white workers but practically all workers can't relate to. Accusations of "class reductionism" are hurled at any white worker that dares raise the class issue, this is more often than not the modern term for calling a white worker a racist. This trend as the author explains is no threat to capitalism or its adherents, it safeguards the users' class privilege, while the struggle against capitalism which by its very nature requires an orientation to the working class, is a threat to their class privilege----the white worker is a much safer target. 

I think the author is correct when she explains how this situation arose: "A perspective like this gains resonance only at a time of defeat. Four decades of unremitting neoliberal onslaught on the poor and working people, on wages, on the kind of public funding of basic necessities like housing, health care, and education that makes a decent life possible, and the decimation of unions and working class power in general, has resulted in an eviscerated Left unsure of its own legacy."

As the working class moves in to struggle in a major way, changing the balance of class forces, not only academia, but organized labor and all sections of society will be transformed in the process.
Richard Mellor

Is Socialism Eurocentric?

Both capitalist exploitation and workers’ resistance look fundamentally similar all over the world. Within the West and outside of it, socialism speaks to those experiences.


A worker at a Bangladeshi garment factory. Asian Development Bank / Flickr 

The new issue of Jacobin, “Journey to the Dark Side,” is out now. Subscribe for the first time at a discount.
Last year, Jacobin published The ABCs of Socialism, designed to answer the most common and most important questions about the history and practice of socialist ideas.

Jacobin and Verso Books hosted a series of talks with authors from the book at the Verso offices in Brooklyn. One of those speakers was Nivedita Majumdar, who spoke on the question of whether socialism is Eurocentric. An edited transcript of her speech is below. You can also listen to a podcast of her talk here.

To coincide with our second printing of the book, Jacobin recently hosted a series of talks with ABCs contributors. You can buy a copy of the book for $5 here.

The best way to talk about socialism is to start with capitalism. Capitalism, as we all know, is a system that is fundamentally driven by the profit motive. That is at the heart of capitalism. All the ills of capitalism that we know of — low wages, poor work conditions, loss of workers’ autonomy, retaliation against organizers — all of this come from the profit drive. Capitalists want to make profit; everything follows from that fundamental drive.

Socialism emerges as a response to this fundamentally unjust nature of capitalism. If capitalism is rooted in the profit motive, socialism is rooted in the drive to fight for fairness and justice. Workers, against all odds, always fight back. Socialism is about that fight, and about the vision of a just order, free of oppression and domination, that animates that fight.

The question for us is, do these oppositional forces of capitalist exploitation and socialist resistance look different in different parts of the world?

There was a garment factory accident that happened in 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where 1,100 workers lost their lives when the walls collapsed on them. It was a very avoidable tragedy. Management knew that the building was crumbling, but they forced the workers to go work anyway. Even though the incident drew global attention, work conditions in the garment industry remain dismal. But workers in Dhaka have continued to organize for better wages and better conditions. The retaliation against them has been brutal. In December 2016, several thousand Bangladeshi workers participated in a wildcat strike. Consequently, over the last two months, dozens of organizers have been arrested on trumped-up criminal charges; more than 1,500 have lost their jobs, and on the factory floor, workers face routine verbal and physical retaliation and union busting.

There’s no doubt that that the Bangladeshi story resonates with workers in Mexico, in Indonesia, in Brazil, and elsewhere. Earlier this year, in India, for instance, the courts subjected thirteen people in a multinational auto factory to life sentence in prison and several others to smaller sentences. Their crime: organizing. There is the Marikana miners’ massacre in South Africa, in which thirty-four miners were shot and killed. These examples abound.

The question is, do these things in the Global South look any different than what we see over here?.
During the recent Senate hearings of Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, the case of the truck driver, Alphonse Maddin, received national attention. Maddin was driving a trailer truck in sub-zero temperatures when the brakes of his trailer failed. He called for a rescue truck, and after waiting for several hours without heat, he decided to unhitch the trailer and drive to safety. For that decision, Maddin lost his job.

Maddin, like the Bangladeshi garment workers, was forced to choose between his life and livelihood. And again, here in the US, like anywhere else in the world, when workers organize against such brutal work conditions and for better wages, they encounter retaliation.

In 2015, Walmart closed five of its offices and 2,200 workers lost their jobs, all under the pretext of plumbing repairs in the stores — but the closings were clearly union-busting measures. The retaliation may not be as naked, as brutal, over here, but that’s only because they can get away with it in that part of the world, and here they can’t.

The drive, however, is the same. There is no difference in what’s driving the capitalists — or what’s driving workers.

The charge that socialism is Western assumes that because of socialism’s place of origin, the West, it loses relevance in the non-Western world. But workers are subjected to the very same forces of exploitative work conditions regardless of where they are. They work for bosses who are solely driven by the profit motive and have little incentive to address their needs.

And workers everywhere also realize that their only option is to struggle if they want improved conditions. Thus, against all odds, they fight back.

Always Internationalist
Since its inception, socialism has been fundamentally internationalist in both its conceptualization and reach.

This is the idea of socialism that animated Frantz Fanon in his battle against French colonialism, the communist Chris Hani in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, Amílcar Cabral as he fought the Portuguese, Walter Rodney in his activism for the disenfranchised across the Caribbean, Che Guevara in Cuba and Latin America. For them and countless others, socialism was a theory and philosophy no less relevant to their reality than it was to the reality of British or American trade unionists.

Think of MN Roy. He was born in the late-nineteenth century in a village in Bengal. He was radicalized in the Indian independence movement, and in his twenties, Roy left India to raise funds for an armed insurrection against the British. He traveled from Indonesia to China, to Japan, then the United States — all the time dodging authorities, making political connections, trying to raise arms and money, and traveling in disguise for the most part.

He could not stay for very long in the United States because he was being followed. He ended up in Mexico, where he got involved with organized workers and founded what is today the Communist Party of Mexico in 1919. Vladimir Lenin entrusted Roy to work on the colonial question, and Roy famously debated Lenin on the role of the national bourgeoisie in colonial nations.

In 1920, Roy was also one of the founding members, in Tashkent, of the Communist Party of India. In his later life, he went back to India and was jailed in horrific conditions, where he kept writing. Now imagine the absurdity of the question of whether socialism is Eurocentric when posed in the context of the life of a revolutionary like MN Roy from the Global South, who founded not one, but two Communist Parties.

So the question really is, why has this question of whether socialism is Western or Eurocentric gained currency at this time?
A Product of Defeat

A perspective like this gains resonance only at a time of defeat. Four decades of unremitting neoliberal onslaught on the poor and working people, on wages, on the kind of public funding of basic necessities like housing, health care, and education that makes a decent life possible, and the decimation of unions and working class power in general, has resulted in an eviscerated Left unsure of its own legacy.

So the question emerges from an academic left, a Left that has been devoid of the lifeblood of movements, and the understanding of power and solidarity that movements bring into the larger culture.

Without movements, there is not very much awareness of what animates the working class. If you are not a working-class person; if you’re a middle- or upper-middle-class person, you will not naturally gravitate towards the needs and interests of the working class unless there are movements. This is why movements in many ways changed the landscape of this country, especially that of universities,  in the 1960s and 1970s. But since then there’s been a long period of drought.

So in academia today, we have a well-off class which has no reason to gravitate towards working class politics. They do have an interest, however, in retaining their class privileges. The notion that socialism is Western emerges from this quarter. It takes the form of a radicalism that claims to speak for the Global South, and declares that socialism is unsuited for the realities of that part of the world. Western ideas like socialism, they argue, do not address the cultural experiences of the non-West.

Notice how such a position discredits socialism. It’s creating a rift within the Left, such as it is, but it is not a position that’s threatening to the power structures. And yet, it appears radical because it claims to speak for an authentic non-West. Pretty clever.

This position is also part of a larger trend in academia often turned towards issues of colonialism, race, gender, sexuality, and such. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. You cannot be a socialist if you’re not an anti-racist, a feminist — someone who’s against every form of discrimination and indignity.

The problem is somewhat different. It’s that analyses of these issues have been largely divorced from the logic of capital and class struggle.

A Toothless Radicalism
What we get today is the anti-racism of the privileged, an anti-racism that is both un-threatening to power and disengaged with the actual sufferings of the poor and of minorities.

The Left critique of Bernie Sanders’ presidential run reflected a lot of this position. Ta-Nehisi Coates, for example, critiqued Bernie for his championing of race-blind structural transformations like minimum wage or free college. Coates argued that those kind of universal programs end up primarily benefiting whites.

What such anti-racism ignores is the fact that the large majority of workers who would be lifted out of poverty by raising the minimum wage would be people of color. Or that the benefits of free college would be enormous and weighted overwhelmingly towards working-class blacks.

I teach at CUNY, a university which is 75 percent minority students. More than half of our students have an annual family income of less than $30,000. My students did not need any training in intersectional thought to understand that free college is in their interest.

Why, then, this opposition to universal programs aimed at transforming structural inequities — precisely the inequities that sustain racism? It’s an anti-racism that refuses to see capitalism as the primary driver of inequality — and an anti-racism that actually enjoys huge popularity in this era. As a result, it’s an anti-racism that does not speak to the needs and interests of working-class minorities. It’s the anti-racism of a privileged class.

If you believe that universal economic policies are not particularly beneficial to poor people of color within the country, then you would be similarly critical of socialist politics internationally. If socialist politics do not speak to the experiences of US racial minorities, the argument goes, it is also foreign to the cultural reality of non-Western countries.

It’s a radicalism that in both cases undermines certain fundamental needs and drives of exploited people in the name of culture.

Some of the same forces have been at work in the Global South, which has similarly witnessed a reign of unchecked neoliberal growth. There too, with the weakening of organized left resistance, socialist ideas of economic transformation and universal rights are increasingly under attack.

I was in the student left in India, and we were fighting, as students everywhere fight, for quality and accessible education for everyone. We were also very active in other, larger, social and political causes. I was lucky to be part of the Left in a country where it does enjoy, unlike in the United States, a much larger resonance both culturally and electorally.

Do I remember being charged with the idea that our fight for educational justice and workers’ rights, was Western? That we were somehow duped by Western thought in following that line? Yes, I do remember. And that charge came from the Right.
The cultural right was fine with capitalism, but socialism was Western. As was feminism, for that matter. Sound familiar?

Now, the de-legitimization of socialism as Western by a nationalist right in the Global South is of course understandable. What is curious is the resurgence of the same idea, that socialism is Eurocentric and unsuited to the lived experience of the non-West, in the Western left largely based in academia.

Think about what this position means.

It means that a Bangladeshi woman, in a garment factory, organizing despite the risk of getting fired and physical retaliation of different kinds — that a woman like this, who’s getting together with others, trying to organize, trying to form a union, has a vision of what it would be to work under conditions that are not as coercive, wages with which she can feed her family, might even have a decent life — that such a woman is duped.

It means that she is not in tune with authentic Bangladeshi culture, where people do not perceive oppressive work conditions as injustice, and if they do, they’re not supposed to fight against such conditions. That Bangladeshi people do not experience freedom from coercion as a fundamental need.

This worker has supposedly been duped into socialist thought; she’s functioning in a way that’s disconnected from her culture. That’s the charge we are talking about.
A Universal Fight
We should be clear: a radicalism that believes that socialism is a foreign idea in the non-West is one that denies the fundamental human response of fighting against oppression to workers in that part of the world. It is saying that non-Western people are incapable of envisioning a just and free society.
So when US radicals claim that socialism is Western, they are joining forces with the Right the world over.

To embrace the universality of socialism is not to deny cultural specificities. People everywhere live and flourish in their immediate and broader cultures and communities. But human beings cannot fully thrive in any culture as long as capitalism continues to generate deprivation and powerlessness.
Socialism is about the drive to fight against a dehumanized social order, and create the conditions for human flourishing. It is a universal drive.

Some writings on this issue from Facts For Working People

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Chicago Turns Out for Science and Earth Day

Greg Bartik, Chicago

It is inspiring to see hundreds of thousands of people out for the science marches on Earth Day and it was a beautiful morning and great weather on Michigan Avenue here in Chicago. The video above gives a good idea of the size of the march.

When I arrived, there were already swarms of people disembarking from extra EL cars and emerging in to the sunshine and the rally.  It was well organized with volunteers at every corner keeping people safe and directed.  The crowd was well over estimates of 10K from Facebook and 40k indicating they were “interested”.  People were interested enough to turn out.

It got a bit congested as people walked along slowly, tens of thousands of them to hear the speakers on Columbus passing by left wing activists tables, bullhorned speakers, hand bill/paper distributors and all sorts of people and groups sharing their views.

By 10 am the area was swamped, not the type of swamp Trump would have an easy time draining that’s for sure. The mass of people was too wide for the streets to contain them and they began to spill east on to Columbus by Buckingham Fountain backwards from the speakers. A Bell helicopter was filming, I wasn’t sure if it was the cops or the news media but after I saw some of the live feeds on social media I figured they probably came from that helicopter. I was a bit annoyed by the helicopter as it was low enough to drown out what a lot of the people were saying and so low I wondered what might happen if it malfunctioned and crashed. Would it kill hundreds with a fireball?  At least it provided good video for a wider audience. 

I couldn't find my friend in the same vicinity because the crowd was so huge; and couldn't hear because of distance and the chopper, so I withdrew to the Gage Tavern to eat and communicate with others on social media. Many friends were posting and asking questions and discussing the coverage. Social media has a lot of garbage on it but it is undoubtedly a useful organizing tool.

The huge crowd was very diverse, fresh new faces I think, and didn't stop even after the march was well along. It reminded me of the airport protests after the Muslim ban that seemed to spring up out nowhere when Trump signed his executive order banning Muslims for many countries from entering the US. Train after train kept unloading relentlessly for hours. 

It seemed to me that there were a lot of white collar workers and professionals there who appeared new to protests; folks with white coats and a whole range of adults and their children, of all ages. There were doctors, academics, hippies, kids, lefties all with the emphasis on science. The mood was very positive and cooperative. Street actors, artists, and bands intertwined.  The city used manned snowplows to block bridges and the police stayed in background largely passive. 

Watching the overview video it looked like a mile of people a whole wide street across slowly shuffling. No fights, no friction, no pushing. It was upbeat like the Women's March. I think once ordinary working class people come out, whether professionals, tradespeople, white or blue collar and they bring their families, the atmosphere is very different.

Think this was nationwide including DC and all major cities, maybe global. 

Israeli settler terrorists add their torture to Palestinian hunger strikers.

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

1000 Palestinian prisoners are on hunger strike to protest the inhumane conditions in in the Zionist regime's prisons. There are about 6500 Palestinians in Israeli jails.

Settlers and their supporters organized a barbecue outside the walls of the jail in the hopes that the hunger strikers will smell the meat cooking. "We want the smell of the cooking meat to waft into the jail...." these terrorists claim. These settlements are illegal and many of these settlers are foreign nationals from all over the world whose claim to the land is that god gave it to them.

What sort of god would support such savagery as this?

What person who claimed adherence to the Jewish faith would not condemn such inhumane treatment in the first place and such brutal and cruel acts by these settler/terrorists in their name?  "The idea was to make them hungry"  a spokesperson for the National Union Party tells the media. Politicians of the National Union Party, a right wing neo fascists party, have called for asylum seekers (mostly Africans) to be shot.

Many prominent US Jews support the Zionist regime financially but its biggest donor is the US taxpayer.

Israel is undoubtedly one of the world's leading terrorist regimes. It is an Apartheid state backed by the US. The Zionism love anti-Semitism, it feeds off it, welcomes it as a advertisement for immigration to Israel (Jews and Christian Zionists only please) It is a curse on the Jewish people and centuries of progressive and revolutionary Jewish history. This European settler state is a curse on the Jewish people. The first British mayor of Jerusalem referred to to the creation of an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine as British imperialism's "loyal little Ulster in the Middle East".

It boils down to Jews and Jewish workers in particular,  placing the future of Jewish religious tradition on a rogue state backed by US imperialism. A false hope.

See the movie Omar for a glimpse in to how the Zionist regime uses indefinite detention to build a web of informers in the Palestinian community

Friday, April 21, 2017

Britain: Theresa May Calls Snap Election

Add caption
As readers are aware, British Prime Minister, Theresa May has called a general election for June 8th.  This report is from a contributor in Britain.

Snap election called
by John Pickard

In calling a snap election, Theresa May is seeking a mandate to manage a hard Brexit. It is becoming clear that the Brexit negotiations are not going to be easy, that they are not going to be quick and that, in effect, the Tories are having to reconcile themselves with a ‘hard Brexit’ with all its political, economic and social consequences.

It is practically a ‘given’ that the Tories will do their best to negotiate away any EU legal safeguards that there are on rights at work and working conditions in general. That applies to regulations like the working time directive, health and safety regulations and other legal obligations on employers. Even where these are enshrined in British law, as most of them are (and as a result of the struggles of the labour movement in the past) the Tories may use the pretext of ‘harmonising’ laws to reduce or eliminate them. It is just as certain that the Tories will water down environmental and food safety standards to bring those more into line with the ‘voluntary’ policies of the big food multinationals. There will be no guarantees for the NHS against the predations of international drugs and private health companies.

What cannot be negotiated away, however, are the economic consequences of a hard Brexit and British exclusion from the single market. A big proportion of British exports (44 per cent) currently go to the EU and these will come under increasing pressure as tariffs are applied and they are priced out of the market. It is almost comical to see Liam Fox flying the Union Jack in the Philippines – a country that takes less than half of one percent of our exports – while his boss is in Europe opening divorce proceedings with the EU which takes nearly half of our exports. The only ‘positive’ economic gain from Brexit so far has been the decline of the pound – by sixteen per cent against the dollar and eleven per cent against the Euro. This will temporarily boost British exports as they will be cheaper in Europe, but in exchange it has made imports (particularly food) more expensive and added significantly to inflation. Oil, which is priced in dollars, has also increased in price by the equivalent of the devaluation. When the Pound Sterling is at parity with the Euro, this inflationary trend will become even more pronounced.

The pre-eminent position of London as a world financial centre will also be challenged by Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt. Already, big banks and finance houses are opening offices in Europe, to prepare the ground for moving at least a part of their operations out of Britain. The British economy has come to depend to a huge degree on the profits made from finance and services and these will not be immune from being left out in the cold after Brexit.

These dark clouds are looming on the horizon like the mother of all storms about to hit the British economy but they take no account of the squall in which we already find ourselves. The ‘upswing’ in the economy predicted for this year is almost entirely due to borrowing and consumption. There has been no miracle in manufacturing, building or even in the service/finance sector and no resurrection of productive investment. Leading economists have already expressed concern about the fact that consumer debt has reached the levels last seen before the 2008 crash. Unsecured consumer credit, which includes credit cards, car loans and second mortgages, grew by 10.8% in the year to last November to £192.2bn. Savings have stagnated. It is not rocket science, of course – this is a direct result of the squeeze in living standards as prices begin to edge up and wages are frozen or driven down.

If it is to be a hard Brexit and the Tories replace access to the single European market with a dash to make the UK a low-tax, low-wage haven for investment, it will inevitably be at the expense of working class living standards. What we have seen so far in terms of public spending cuts, benefit cuts, restrictions on union rights and wage freezes, etc, will be nothing compared to what the Tories will attempt to put in place as an ‘alternative’ to the EU single market. The net result will be a British economy and a political landscape more like Greece than Western Europe. In Greece, workers have suffered a catastrophic drop of over 40 per cent in living standards and the result has been a succession of general strikes and political upheavals. There is a road to travel before we get to the same crash in living standards as in Greece, but that is the logic of the strategy of the Tories’ hard Brexit.

It is beyond the scope of this article to deal in detail with Scottish and Northern Irish politics, but clearly Scotland and Ireland are on different but parallel, tracks to the rest of the UK. It is more than possible that the SNP will win a clean sweep of all the seats in Scotland. The failure to win its one remaining seat will be no great loss to the Labour Party, since the incumbent was one of the worst representatives of the Blairite wing of the Party. But what the election will mean for the Tories will be an amplification of the problems of Brexit and the border in Ireland and the question of Independence in Scotland. Even a bolstered majority in Westminster will mean a weakened hold on Northern Irish and Scottish politics.

All of these possibilities must have been in Theresa May’s mind when she decided to take the plunge and seek a stronger majority in Parliament. As it is with every major decision of the British ruling class at the present time, however, a snap election is big gamble. The Tories have long since lost their global and historic compass, their capacity to calculate long-term and even to take short steps back, all the better to take bigger strides forward in the longer term. They no longer have any long-term strategy, aims or goals. Every serious decision they make now is a gamble.

They gambled on the question of Scottish independence and only won a narrow victory – and a temporary one at that, because that issue is still very much alive. They gambled and lost on the question of the EU, although it is also clear that a number of the medium and even large capitalists have the delusion that the economy will benefit from leaving the EU. Now they are gambling again on this election. What is effectively a split in the ruling class over Brexit will at some point lead to a split in its political representatives, the Tory Party. May is hoping for a big majority so that she can use this to whip the two wings of her own party into line, but even if she were to succeed in the short term, she cannot erase the fundamentals of the growing rifts in the Conservative Party.

May is calculating that with Labour well adrift in the opinion polls – some put the Tories 17-21 per cent ahead – she will strengthen her majority in Parliament, not only to keep Labour quiet, to cow the trade unions and any other opposition, but to keep Tory ‘Remainers’ quiet. John Major referred to the Brexiteers of his day as “bastards” as they continually sniped at his leadership. Now the boot is on the other foot. One of the aims of her snap election is to allow May to crush her own snipers, except in this case, they are not the Brexiteers but the more sober and deep-rooted part of her own party who can see the potential damage to business by a hard Brexit. One thing is clear, this will be no ‘gentlemanly’ contest. The campaign will be crude and brutal, with the gutter press stopping at nothing to tarnish Labour and Corbyn especially. The Daily Mail headline “Crush the Saboteurs” give a small foretaste of what is to come.

But even if an increased Tory majority looks the most likely from today’s polls, it is not a foregone conclusion. One pollster, ICM’s Martin Boon, told The Guardian that he thought the result “is going to be a foregone conclusion.” But as they did in 2015, the pollsters may yet eat their words, because the fundamental feature of politics today is its volatility. Ted Grant used to always say that we live in a period of “sharp turns and sudden changes” but it was nothing then to what we have now. Even in the short period from April 18th to June 8th, many things can change dramatically. Last year, the polls that were indicating ‘Remain’ to win the EU referendum were firm for a long period of time, before they changed quite suddenly in early Spring. The Scottish referendum opinion polls changed even more dramatically and suddenly. It is almost possible to put a precise date on it – around August 10-12th – only weeks before the voting, when there was a sudden plunge in support for the ‘No’ campaign and a surge of support for ‘Yes’.

In the coming general election campaign, the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Express will continue to pour out their bile against Corbyn and the Labour Party. But let us not forget what happened in Corbyn’s second leadership election. It almost got the point where the smears became “expected” and some commentators even blushed at the how blatant they were. The more Corbyn was vilified, the more his support went up. In an election campaign, while the gutter press will stay in the gutter, the BBC and other media will be obliged to give more air time to Labour and its leaders. It is well established that many of the policies espoused by Corbyn – on opposition to austerity, on re-nationalising rail, etc – are popular among the electorate. It is highly likely, therefore, that the gap in the opinion polls will narrow between now and June. Whether that narrowing will be enough to stop a Tory victory is another matter. What we do know, however, is that there is a huge potential for change. The consciousness of policies, leaders and parties may change dramatically even in the short time between now and June 8th.

For active members of the Labour Party, campaigning and working hard for a Labour victory, the next seven weeks will be an opportunity for energetic discussion and debate about where the Party is going. Marxists would argue, of course, for Corbyn and the Labour leaders to put forward a clear set of policies in the interests of working class people. Even Ed Miliband, on the few occasions he accidentally mentioned class issues (“them and us” – a fairly tame comment) saw a temporary spike in his popularity. We would explain that the root and branch transformation of society is the only means of guaranteeing living standards and security.

Corbyn is not going to put forward a programme to take into public ownership the commanding heights of the economy and the socialist transformation of society, but we must argue for real and concrete measures to benefit working people. We must turn concrete Transitional Demands into arguments for solid benefits for workers. If Corbyn were to combine concrete policies to benefit workers with a barn-storming series of rallies and mass meetings – as in his two leadership campaigns – he could mobilise massive support in the Party and make a difference in the polls.

Corbyn’s ‘ten points’ are vague at best, but in discussions with Labour Party members and supporters over the next seven weeks we must put flesh on the bones. We would argue, for example, not just for a ‘secure’ NHS, whatever that means, but for the re-nationalisation of the whole service, for the cancellation of the ‘internal market’ and all privatization contracts, for the cancellation of PFI debts and for the nationalization of drugs and other suppliers to the NHS.

In our discussions, we would also raise many other political issues, like automatic reselection of MPs, the role of the right wing and so on. The election campaign is an opportunity for discussion, debate and analysis on a huge scale and we must use the opportunity given.

In discussing perspectives, we can only outline the broadest and most general developments. The myriad of individual and accidental factors that will come to bear and affect the outcomes may even create a political trajectory in a completely different direction to the one anticipated. But from where we stand now there is no reason we can see to change the general perspective that Marxists have outlined for the Tory Party and the Labour Party and labour movement. 

What would a Labour defeat mean?

What must concern Labour Party members is what would happen to the Labour Party if the pollsters are right and May wins a bigger majority. A big defeat for Labour will almost certainly lead to a change in leadership so the key question then would be, who would replace Corbyn? It is ironic that among those MPs most likely to lose their seats there are a large number of right-wingers and dedicated opponents of Corbyn. Indeed, some of them declined to stand in the election. Expecting that their lucrative parliamentary careers were coming to an end anyway, they have obviously calculated that they might as well look for employment elsewhere in the seven weeks of paid leave they have left.

Even with substantial losses, the Labour Party would remain in essence as it is now – a divided party with its ‘tops’ reflecting the pressures and interests of capitalism and with its ‘base’ reflecting the fears and aspirations of working people. We would still be left with most parliamentarians on the right of the party and with the rank and file overwhelmingly on the left. Under such circumstances, the right will not make the same mistake they made in 2015 when they were (at first) tolerant of Corbyn’s place on the ballot for a leadership contest. At that time, they really thought that their candidate would win and, moreover, with a victory against a left candidate, that they would win with a strong mandate.

They would not want to make the same mistake, but on the other hand, they could not very easily foist an openly right-wing candidate on the Party. Not only has the Party membership been shown in two election campaigns to be overwhelmingly on the left, but the membership will be even more energized and radicalized by the election campaign. £200,000 was raised, by over 9400 members, in the first 24 hours of the campaign. During and after the election, there will be no tolerance shown to those candidates and sitting Labour MPs who are openly disloyal and are openly sabotaging Labour’s campaign. There will be howls of anger and upheavals in CLPs up and down the country if the right try to foist a right-wing leadership on the Party. It is far more likely, therefore, that they will try to build support for a leader nominally on the ‘left’, but one who they feel they could pressurize and manipulate. Some party members and even some lefts might be dispirited or demoralized by a Tory victory. But that will soon give way to anger and deep resentment against the right wing who have consistently sabotaged the leadership of Corbyn. Moreover, that anger will grow, against a backdrop of austerity, cuts and gloomy economic forecasts.

Before the announcement of the election, there has been something of a lull in activity in Momentum groups and in the Labour Party. The hot lava of the leadership election campaigns, with its mass rallies and it enthusiasm and energy had cooled considerably. The big majority of the new Labour Party members who joined to support Corbyn failed to attend Labour Party meetings and there was even a decline in Labour membership. A large number of these members will be re-activated and re-energized and after the election, Momentum groups will also spring back to life.

Within the Labour Party branches and Momentum groups there are many, many genuine activists who are looking for a way forward. It is among these people that Marxist ideas will find an echo and among these that book clubs and discussion groups should be organized to find a way forward for the Labour Party and the working class. The longer-term perspective for the Labour Party is still that it will go through a split or a series of splits as the right wing is vomited out and the rank and file reflect the growing anger and disenchantment of the working class. At a local level, re-selection of councilors will provoke local disputes and upheavals. Even with the apparatus of the Labour Party behind them, the right wing cannot hold back the tide of anger that will engulf active workers, trade unionists and Labour Party members.

There have been many on the left in the Labour Party, especially some lefts around Momentum and the LRC, who have looked on Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘once in a lifetime’ chance of a left government. Many of these are in despair already about the possibilities of a Labour defeat, and a large one at that. They will be utterly demoralized by a Labour defeat and even more by Corbyn being replaced by a leader more to his right. Their reaction stems precisely from the fact that they do not have a perspective and cannot see the general line of direction of change within society. Having a perspective is like having an outline map and a compass in a strange land. We may not know every minor dip and turn in the road, but we know roughly where we are going. It is not the job of Marxists to despair or bemoan developments outside our control. We have to discuss, analyse, understand and plan for the future.

Whatever the precise outcome of this election, it does not alter the fundamental trajectory of British society towards revolutionary events.
Ted Grant used to always use the expression, “events, events, events”, in the context of explaining that it is experience that will determine and shape the consciousness of the working class. He was absolutely correct. We live in unprecedented times and we do only that which we can do: work, live and fight alongside workers, but all the while discussing and arguing with them. By that means we seek to build a movement with the necessary understanding, clarity and determination to offer a genuine way forward for the class.