my recent twitter updates

There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Further crisis's of capitalism, food prices to double by 2030

The price of key crops could rise by up to 180%, Oxfam says Continue reading the Food prices 'threaten millions'
More food market regulation urged
The prices of staple foods will more than double in 20 years unless world leaders take action to reform the global food system, Oxfam has warned.

By 2030, the average cost of key crops will increase by between 120% and 180%, the charity forecasts.

Half of that increase will be caused by climate change, Oxfam predicts, in its report Growing a Better Future.

It calls on world leaders to improve regulation of food markets and invest in a global climate fund.

"The food system must be overhauled if we are to overcome the increasingly pressing challenges of climate change, spiralling food prices and the scarcity of land, water and energy," said Barbara Stocking, Oxfam's chief executive.

Women and children

In its report, Oxfam highlights four "food insecurity hotspots", areas which are already struggling to feed their citizens.

We are sleepwalking towards an avoidable age of crisis - one in seven people go hungry every day despite the fact that the world is capable of feeding everyone”


Oxfam chief executive
in Guatemala, 865,000 people are at risk of food insecurity, due to a lack of state investment in smallholder farmers, who are highly dependent on imported food, the charity says.
in India, people spend more than twice the proportion of their income on food than UK residents - paying the equivalent of £10 for a litre of milk and £6 for a kilo of rice.
in Azerbaijan, wheat production fell 33% last year due to poor weather, forcing the country to import grains from Russia and Kazakhstan. Food prices were 20% higher in December 2010 than the same month in 2009.
in East Africa, eight million people currently face chronic food shortages due to drought, with women and children among the hardest hit.
The World Bank has also warned that rising food prices are pushing millions of people into extreme poverty.

In April, it said food prices were 36% above levels of a year ago, driven by problems in the Middle East and North Africa.

Oxfam wants nations to agree new rules to govern food markets, to ensure the poor do not go hungry.

It said world leaders must:

increase transparency in commodities markets and regulate futures markets
scale up food reserves
end policies promoting biofuels
invest in smallholder farmers, especially women
"We are sleepwalking towards an avoidable age of crisis," said Ms Stocking.

"One in seven people on the planet go hungry every day despite the fact that the world is capable of feeding everyone."

Among the many factors driving rising food prices in the coming decades, Oxfam predicts that climate change will have the most serious impact.

Ahead of the UN climate summit in South Africa in December, it calls on world leaders to launch a global climate fund, "so that people can protect themselves from the impacts of climate change and are better equipped to grow the food they need".


From the BBC.

But what this article does not mention that it is the corrupt rotten system of capitalism that has led us to this position. The hunger for profit has come before the hunger for feeding the world. The fact that climate change has occured can be directly attibuted to capitalism and its exploitation of the earth. The only reason there will be further food shortages in the future will be down to this unfair system and only a over throw of this system to a fairer socialist society will be able to benifit the many not just the few.

In rich countries such as America and the United Kingdom so much food is wasted yet so much of the world goes hungry, How can this be ?

Mass over production of food in the west is not expropriated around the world. There is no collaboration to help poorer nations feed their population and that i'm afraid is a disgrace that we continue to allow to happen in 2011.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Why living standards for the working class will continue to fall post recession

Millions of people on low-to-middle incomes face years of declining living standards and are seeing their hopes of home ownership disappear, a major report will conclude this week.

The study by the independent thinktank the Resolution Foundation questions whether the new phenomenon of falling living standards and lower aspirations will be reversed, even when the UK economy returns to robust health.

The report, entitled Growth Without Gain?, will suggest that those in the "squeezed middle" are losing out in the post-boom era, as the highest earners take more and more from the proceeds of limited growth and so-called "middle-skilled" jobs are replaced by advancing technology.

As a result, the current generation of hard-working individuals is being left dependent on lower-paid jobs in retail, hospitality and care and can no longer expect, as their parents did, to see their living standards rise as output expands.

Writing in the Observer, the thinktank's chief executive, Gavin Kelly, an economist and former No 10 deputy chief of staff, says the assumption that growth will trigger a return to an era of abundant skilled jobs and home ownership for all is at best "contestable" and at worst "risible".

Kelly says politicians have yet to grasp the dangers of the phenomenon, let alone how to address it in the interest of 11 million low-to-middle earners who make up a crucial sector of the electorate. Echoing remarks by the business secretary, Vince Cable, who warned of a severe squeeze in living standards, Kelly says: "As yet there is no emerging political response, nor even a shared sense of which elements of this challenge are reversible and which need to be accommodated. Our political class haven't been here before: none of us have."




This is exactly why we must be concerned by the choices being taken by our capitalist polititians today. Inflicting pain and hurt on the working class will treat them into the ground further resulting in many falling into severe povety.

But as we eventually climb out of this economic crisis as no doubt we will at a huge expense to the working class our living standards will take years if not decades to recover to anything like what they wre pre banking crash.

What is even more concerning is that no one has any idea how long this will last and as always the working class will see its living standards rise the last out of all of us sadly.

They are always the class that gets burdened with bailing out the capitalists and the wealth takers.

So we must be well aware of what is going on now and wise up to the capitalists thinking. As the pressure grows on the working class to pay for the capitalists mistakes the calls will grow for a change in the system no doubt. This is when i am hoping people will start to re think about socialist ideas and the alternative to what we have. To know that there is anotehr way and we do have a choice will be key to the working class finding a way out of this constant cycle of bailing out its masters.

revolutionary ideas

This was a excellent article in issue 147 of socialism today a monthly in depth look at socialist oand trade union matters and matters the world over. This last month Peter Taaffe looks at Eric Hobsbawm recent publications and looks to set the record straight in terms of marxism and socialist ideas.
Marxism as we all know has sadly been rubbished and made out to be something it is not. Hopefully Peter in this article makes it clearer to people what marxism is and what we stand for as marxists. The capitalists have tried to rub the name through the mud but true socialists will know its true meaning even till this day. It is our job to reintroduce those ideas to the mass's.


The relevance of the ideas of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky has been underlined by recent events. Financial crisis, economic recession, savage austerity and waves of revolution are sparking new interest in socialism and Marxism. Left-wing intellectuals are keen to ride this wave. However, as PETER TAAFFE explains in this review, their writings often fall far short of providing real answers to the question, how to change the world?

How to Change the World
By Eric Hobsbawm
Little, Brown, 2011, £25
ERIC HOBSBAWM IS enjoying a revival of interest in his ideas, particularly through this book in which he sets out to ‘change the world’. This, he freely admits, arises from a growing inquisitiveness in the ideas of Karl Marx. It is a pity, however, that his book could be the first introduction to Marx’s ideas for many. Its subtitle is ‘Tales of Marx and Marxism’. They are indeed tales, because the book’s contents bear very little relationship to what Marx really stood for and how Marxism can change the world in the modern era.

Hobsbawm has a long pedigree as a Marxist academic and theoretician. He appears to recant his former position of slavish support for Stalinism, but he has not yet fully broken with its baleful heritage. He remained within the British Communist Party even after the Stalinist obscenities of the suppression of the Hungarian political revolution in 1956 and the crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968.

Even in this book, he continues to employ the term ‘socialist’ in relation to the former Stalinist regimes of Russia and Eastern Europe, etc. In reality, these regimes were much closer to capitalism than the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky as to what constituted genuine socialism – even though they did possess the vital elements of a planned economy based on the nationalisation of the main productive forces and, therefore, were relatively progressive. To continue to describe one-party totalitarian regimes as ‘socialist’ will further the aims of bourgeois ideologists in discrediting socialism, in the eyes of the new generation in particular.

It is quite incredible that Hobsbawm relegates Leon Trotsky and Trotskyism to a minor historical role. As Terry Eagleton points out, Hobsbawm consigns "one of the most fertile currents of modern Marxism – Trotskyism – to a few casual asides". (London Review of Books, March 2011) Yet it is absolutely impossible to begin to understand the phenomenon of Stalinism without reading and understanding the works of Trotsky and the Russian and International Left Opposition on this issue. Moreover, it is not possible to approach the struggle for socialism today without clearing out of the way any apology or connection with Stalinism or totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, which are still used as scarecrows by capitalist ideologists to frighten the working class away from real democratic socialism.

This is underlined by bourgeois reviewers of Hobsbawm’s book. While praising him for his erudition, they remorselessly mention his Stalinist past. Hobsbawm "has never convincingly dispelled accusations of being an apologist for the Soviet Union [read Stalinism]", writes Dominic Sandbrook in The Sunday Times. (9 January 2011) Geoffrey Goodman, former industrial correspondent of the Daily Mirror, argues, quite mistakenly, that Hobsbawm "offers neither illusions nor excuses for the failure of Soviet communism". (Camden New Journal, 10 February 2011) But even if this were true, he offers no real explanation as to why Stalinism triumphed and effectively strangled all the ideals of the October revolution: workers’ democracy and the international goal of world socialism.

There is no mystery as to why Hobsbawm fails to do this. A rigorous examination, from the Marxist point of view, would lead him back to the analysis and conclusions advocated by Trotsky: that a political revolution against the one-party totalitarian Stalinist regimes could have saved the planned economies and re-established genuine workers’ democracy. The continuation of Stalinism, which Hobsbawm did not do anything to defeat, led to the collapse of the bureaucratic regimes and the liquidation of the planned economies, which was a massive ideological victory for world capitalism.

A revival of interest
IN THE FIRST chapter, Hobsbawm records the revival of interest in ‘Marxism’ in the recent period. Even hedge fund billionaire George Soros has praised Marx. There is no surprise in this; it is connected intimately with the current economic crisis, one of the greatest to affect the system that Soros supports, world capitalism. The capitalists, however, are more interested in Marx now because of his diagnosis of the maladies of their system rather than the remedy he recommends, socialism.

There have been times in history when the bourgeois have similarly sought to use Marx for their own ends. For instance, in pre-revolutionary Russia, bourgeois ideologists attempted to use Marx’s ideas to argue for the ‘inevitability’ of a stage of capitalism to replace tsarism. In this, they garnered the support of the Mensheviks – in the early part of the 20th century, the minority in the Russian workers’ movement – to argue that socialism was the music of the future. Vladimir Lenin and particularly Trotsky, in his famous theory of the permanent revolution, opposed this and argued that the bourgeois-democratic revolution could only be carried through by an alliance of the working class and the peasantry. Once having come to power, this alliance would be compelled to pass over to the socialist stage of nationalising industry, the land, etc. This, in turn, would provoke the international socialist revolution. This is what actually happened in the aftermath of the first world war and the 1917 October workers’ revolution.

But for the betrayal of the social democratic leaders, a European socialist democratic revolution would have resulted. This would have transformed the objective situation in Russia itself and eradicated the backwardness from which Stalinism was a later outgrowth. All of this is absent in Hobsbawm’s analysis.

Hobsbawm, in seeking to account for the renewed interest in Marxism, asserts that there are two reasons for this: "The first is that the end of the official Marxism of the USSR liberated Marx from public identification with Leninism in theory and with the Leninist regimes in practice". Thrown overboard in a single phrase is the colossal contribution made by Lenin, who created and led the Bolshevik party – the most democratic mass workers’ party in history – supplying the necessary ‘subjective factor’ to carry through the greatest single event in history, the Russian revolution. It is a gross bourgeois and Stalinist slander to link Lenin with the subsequent bureaucratic degeneration of the revolution. Lenin and Trotsky stood for socialism – creating the basis for this in the planned economy in Russia – and workers’ democracy.

There is also an airy dismissal of the "official Marxism of the USSR", with which Hobsbawm was identified for a very long time. Again, there is an evasion of any historical analysis of this "official Marxism" which, to give it its real name, was a Stalinist distortion of genuine democratic socialism and the ideas of Marxism. So long as Hobsbawm is imprisoned in this ideological straitjacket he will continue to make some of the political mistakes evident in this book.

Take his remarks on the economic foundations of the Soviet Union: "The claim that socialism was superior to capitalism as a way to ensure the most rapid development of the forces of production could hardly have been made by Marx". This is a quite astonishing admission of this ‘scholar’s’ lack of awareness of the historical schemas traced out by Marx, and developed by the Bolsheviks of Lenin and Trotsky and their work in the October revolution and subsequently.

Socialism remains a utopian dream unless it can develop a higher productivity of labour, and is able to develop the productive forces – science, the organisation of labour and technique – onto a higher level. This is necessary, argued Marx, in the very first period of socialism, its lowest level. Its starting point should be on a higher level than the most advanced capitalist economy, for instance, the USA today. Marx summed up this idea in one of his first works, German Ideology. He wrote that, unless the productive forces could develop in a new socialist society, "want would be generalised and all the old crap would reappear". What he meant is that classes, the state, as well as the bureaucratic remnants of the old society, inequality and the rest, would exist and even grow to some extent in the ‘new society’ unless it possessed a higher economic level and productive capacity.

Is this not the reason why Stalinism developed in Russia and elsewhere? The October revolution took place under the signboard of democratic socialism, the abolition of inequality, and of a democratic workers’ state controlled by the masses with workers’ control and management. And this did exist to a great extent in the first immediate period after the October revolution – but in a ‘besieged fortress’. The Bolsheviks never perceived that this could be maintained, particularly in an economically and culturally backward society like Russia, unless the revolution spread to the west – particularly to Germany, which probably had the most industrially developed economic capacity in the world at that stage – and, ultimately, to the whole world. Therefore, all the old ‘crap’ was revived in the growth of the bureaucracy, reflected, unconsciously at first, by Stalin. The working class was elbowed aside and power concentrated in the hands of the greedy and inefficient bureaucracy. Hobsbawm seems to be ignorant of all this, leading him to discard the progressive elements of the planned economy which showed, in practice, what would be possible on the basis of a genuine workers’ democracy.

An eclectic mishmash
HOBSBAWM’S BOOK IS an eclectic mishmash, without a clear idea being pursued to the end. For instance, he states that "the traditional socialist vision of socialism [is of] essentially a non-market society, which probably Karl Marx also shared". There is no ‘probably’ about it. The idea that socialism was the answer to capitalism runs like a red thread throughout Marx’s works. What this comment really indicates is that Hobsbawm, in full flight from his previous, mistaken pro-Stalinist position, is discarding central features of Marx’s analysis, particularly relating to the goal of socialism.

This is not the first time he has engaged in such an exercise. He was the high priest of so-called ‘new realism’, which evolved from the Eurocommunist layer of the Communist Party of Great Britain, around the journal Marxism Today in the 1970s and 1980s. Neil Kinnock drew heavily on Hobsbawm’s ideas to shift the Labour Party towards the right, furnishing the basis for the expulsion of the Marxists around the Militant newspaper (now the Socialist Party) from the Labour Party. This was decisive in the emergence of Blairism, which transformed the Labour Party from a workers’ party at its base into a bourgeois formation.

Hobsbawm and the Eurocommunists saw in the decline of the industrial working class – a product of so-called ‘post-Fordism’ – an overall weakening of the labour movement, industrial militancy and class consciousness. Marxists opposed these ideas, amongst other things pointing to a growing industrial militancy of former ‘white-collar’ workers – teachers, post office workers, technical workers in offices, etc. The bourgeois were forced to attack these layers because of the economic crises of the 1970s and 1980s and the need to boost their profits and increase capitalist accumulation. In the process, they undermined their social reserves. The ideas of new realism were themselves products of the overall ideological offensive of neo-liberalism – individualism against so-called ‘statism’ (privatisation, etc) – which came to full fruition after the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the liquidation of the planned economies.

Hobsbawm, Kinnock and Blair were not apostles of a new ‘realistic’ adaptation to changing conditions. They represented the liquidation of the combative fighting spirit and programmatic class opposition of the labour movement to all aspects of pro-capitalist ideas and methods. Any real balance sheet of the failure of the ideas of ‘new realism’ is entirely absent from this work. Hobsbawm mentions the opportunist reconciliation of the German Social Democratic leader Eduard Bernstein to capitalism, during a boom period at the end of the 19th century. Yet he and those like him did exactly the same thing in the British labour movement in a similar period – the short economic boom in the 1980s. Moreover, they reconciled themselves to the more sustained boom of the ‘noughties’. We, on the other hand, never ceased to argue that the financialisation of world capitalism was creating massive bubbles, which would end in tears for capitalism. Our prognosis was borne out with the onset of the present devastating economic crisis, from which capitalism is finding great difficulty in extricating itself.

On almost every page, examples of praise for Marx can be found alongside thinly-veiled dismissals of some of his major conclusions. In the chapter ‘Marx Today’, on the one side Hobsbawm believes that Marx’s idea that capitalism would be superseded is "a prediction that still sounds plausible to me". In the next paragraph, he writes: "[Marx’s] prediction that industrialisation would produce populations largely employed as manual wage-workers, as was happening in England at the time… was correct enough as a middle-range prediction, but not, as we know, in the long term". On the contrary, while the industrial working class has declined in the formerly industrialised countries, given the industrialisation of China, India and Brazil, Marx’s ideas still retain their validity, from a world point of view. On a global scale, the industrial working class has probably grown in the past ten to 20 years in numbers as well as in specific weight in society.

Even if this was not the case, the proletarianisation of formerly ‘privileged’ layers means that, today, they form a substantial section of the working class who will be involved in the task of ‘expropriating the expropriators’, democratic socialism. Hobsbawm seeks to sanitise Marx’s more revolutionary conclusions, to make them more acceptable, perhaps to academia and bourgeois and petty-bourgeois public opinion. In the process, this blunts the message for workers, particularly young workers, who are engaged in a mighty struggle against capitalism.

This clearly comes out when Hobsbawm deals with the issue of the state: "The mature Marxian theory of the state was thus considerably more sophisticated than the simple equation: state equals coercive power equals class rule". Contained in these lines is the same opportunistic approach, beginning with the German Social Democratic reformists and their counterparts in Britain and France, etc, towards the problem of the capitalist state. As Hobsbawm concedes, Marx was quite clear that the working class could only take power if it were organised "as a ruling class" through "the dictatorship of the proletariat". This term did not denote, as the detractors of Marx argue, a kind of anticipation of one-party dictatorial Stalinism. Marx’s idea clearly meant what subsequently transpired in Russia in October 1917: a state organised as a ‘workers’ democracy’. For Marxists, this term is preferable today. We do not use the term ‘dictatorship’ because it conjures up visions of one-party totalitarian regimes synonymous with the idea of a socialist society.

Hobsbawm qualifies ‘his’ Marxist definition of the state: "The concept of the state as class power was modified, particularly in the light of the Bonapartism of Napoleon III in France and the other post-1848 regimes which could not simply be described as the rule of a revolutionary bourgeoisie". This is not a valid interpretation of Marx – certainly not a rounded-out one – let alone of Engels, Lenin and Trotsky on the state. Marx brilliantly described the phenomenon of Bonapartism where, because of the deadlock in the class struggle, the state is able to attain a relative independence and balance between the classes. Nevertheless, in the final analysis, it represents the "dominant economic class" which in France post-1848 was the bourgeoisie, who were not so ‘revolutionary’ at this stage. Hobsbawm seeks to water down the Marxist conception of the state in order to smuggle in the idea that the state can in some way be ‘reformed’. The struggle is seen by him as taking power away from the ruling class – the capitalists – and creating a new state. A rupture, a sharp break, is therefore not necessary to establish socialism.

Hiding behind Gramsci
THIS INFORMS HOBSBAWM’S whole approach. This is revealed in the chapter dealing with Antonio Gramsci, leader of the young Italian Communist Party (PCI) after the first world war, who was jailed by Mussolini and died in prison. Gramsci had many fine qualities. Trotsky, for instance, credits him with understanding the character of fascism – that after the victory of Mussolini in 1922, the working class, weakened and scattered, would be in for a lengthy struggle – earlier than others, including Trotsky himself. But Hobsbawm asserts that he was "the most original thinker produced in the west since 1917".

Gramsci, because of his imprisonment, was cut off from developments in Italy and internationally. Therefore, it was not possible for him to form a complete picture of the development of the workers’ movements and, particularly, of events in Russia with the rise of Stalinism. But it is no accident that Hobsbawm lights on the figure of Gramsci. He thinks he has found in some of his prison writings a theoretical explanation for both his own and the PCI’s adaptation to capitalism. Is it entirely incidental that the long-time PCI leader, Palmiro Togliatti, also used the alleged ideas of Gramsci to shift his party to the right? The net effect of Togliatti’s actions and those of his successors was to lead effectively to the disintegration of the once mighty PCI.

Hobsbawm’s attempts to single out the objective conditions of Italy to explain the unique character of the Italian labour movement and the figure of Gramsci are one-sided to say the least. He highlights the character of Italy combining features of backwardness and semi-feudal conditions with the elements of modernity, industry, factories in the north, etc. But Italy was not the only country, even in Europe, where the working class was a minority, with a rural population, the peasantry, together with the rest of the middle-class forming a majority. In Germany and France, the task of winning these intermediate layers to the side of the working class was also posed. Hobsbawm states that Gramsci "pioneered a Marxist theory of politics", regarding "politics as ‘an autonomous activity’." Hobsbawm invokes Gramsci to underline "the autonomous role of the superstructure in the social process, or even the simple fact that a politician of working class origin is not necessarily the same as a worker at the bench". Gramsci also sought to analyse the ideological role of "intellectuals".

Of course there is more than a grain of truth in these ideas. Politics is not an automatic reflection of the economic situation. If that was the case, the politics of the working class today would be clearly revolutionary given the devastating world economic crisis. Consciousness – which is a bedrock for a Marxist’s approach to ‘politics’ – is formed by events, together with the intervention of the organisations of the working class, and develops in a contradictory fashion. An economic crisis does not automatically lead to mass radicalisation and rising consciousness, no more than a boom lowers it. The Russian revolution of 1905-07 was followed by an economic crisis. This did not lead to a radicalisation of the masses because it came after the defeat of the revolution. On the other hand, the boom beginning in 1910, by economically strengthening the working class, laid the basis for a further upswing in the class struggle. Having said this, however, politics is not completely ‘autonomous’. Marxists are not crude reductionists. Politics, like the state itself, can retain a certain relative ‘autonomy’ for a time. But, ultimately, it is dependent on and reflects the economic fortunes of the ruling class and those of the middle class as well as the working class.

Hobsbawm betrays his real intentions in drawing on Gramsci’s alleged ideas: "Italy was a country in which, after 1917, several of the objective and even subjective conditions of social revolution appeared to exist – more so than in Britain and France and even, I suggest, than in Germany. Yet this revolution did not come off. On the contrary, fascism came to power. It was only natural that Italian Marxists should pioneer the analysis of why the Russian October revolution had failed to spread to western countries, and what the alternative strategy and tactics of the transition to socialism ought to be in such countries".

To paraphrase Trotsky, every word here is a mistake and some are two. Different objective conditions were not the primary reason that the revolution did not transpire in Europe – although there were different conditions in all the European countries, particularly compared to Russia. If anything, opportunities for revolution were greater because of the greater strength of the working class and the huge upheavals following the first world war. Nor did the failure of the revolutionary wave lie in the subjective consciousness of the working class who threw themselves against capitalism following the Russian revolution. It was entirely due to the perfidious role of the social-democratic leaders who betrayed the revolution. Hobsbawm indicates his pure Menshevism when he implies that Britain and France were not ready for revolution after 1917, ‘or even Germany’.

The German working-class movement was probably the strongest in the world outside of Russia at this stage. Between 1917-23 the German working class tried again and again to take power, throwing itself against capitalism in mighty mass movements. In 1923, the German workers, faced with a very favourable position, failed to take power because of the fatal prevarication of their leaders at a decisive moment. Hobsbawm does not even mention this. He looks for a different, easier, more ‘objective’ reason. How ironic that this book with this message is published against the background of the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa! The Egyptian and Tunisian masses ignored the nostrums of their ‘Hobsbawms’ in their chosen methods to overthrow their dictators. In the circumstances that obtained, they could take no other road. The weak bourgeois forces in each country and the region had built a brick wall against all attempts to reform the system either from above or below

Hobsbawm’s pessimism
THE CONCLUSION FROM Hobsbawm’s interpretation of Gramsci is that the gradual transformation of the state, the conquering of ‘civil society’ and a kind of ‘long march’ towards ‘changing the world’, is the only possibility for the workers’ movement. This reformist approach, where it was tried, from Spain in the 1930s to Chile in the 1970s, broke its neck against counter-revolution, which is the chosen method of the bourgeois when all else fails. They have no recourse to such methods today because they are not being seriously challenged politically by mass organisations of the working class, which have either been ‘Blairised’ out of existence or, like the trade unions, have been effectively neutered up to now by cowardly and passive leaders.

One of the positive things in the book – few in number it must be confessed – is Hobsbawm’s reference to Engels’s demand for the independence of the working class and the creation of its own organisations: "Never mind how, so long as it is a separate workers’ party", wrote Engels. This is exactly the task which the Committee for a Workers’ International has set itself around the world, in order to politically rearm the working class in the stormy battles to come. One of the reasons why this task is necessary today, 150 years after Engels first made the call, is precisely because independent organisations of the working class disappeared in the ‘noughties’, partly helped by the likes of Hobsbawm, the theoretician of the gravediggers of the old Labour Party like Kinnock.

Gramsci wrote a great deal about the role of ‘intellectuals’. He was dealing primarily with this issue from the point of view of the development of consciousness, including the dominant consciousness or ideology of the bourgeois. This general idea, which has been misunderstood by his latter-day interpreters, is an important one. The labour movement, including the Marxists, wish to influence and win the intellectuals, the best of them at least, to their side. For instance, a struggle is necessary in the state to win over technicians, the middle class in general, and even managers.

Moreover, as the present situation in Britain indicates, savage attacks on state employees – including the police and armed forces – can radicalise layers who have never seen themselves as allies of the working class. Lawyers will protest against the cuts on 26 March. Faced with attacks on their rights and conditions, they can be drawn over to the side of the labour movement. But this will not be achieved by watering down the programme of struggle, solidarity and socialism.

It is only by offering a new vista, the idea of a change in society, that state employees, as well as intellectual ‘brain workers’, will be attracted to the labour movement and, even then, not just by propaganda but by struggle. This has been underlined in all the great social movements seen in Britain, from the poll tax to the miners’ strike, etc. A similar situation can now develop in the anti-cuts movement. It is emphasised by the revolution in the Middle East and North Africa. That part of the intellectuals and youth going through universities and colleges can also be attracted to the labour movement. A significant section can be influenced and won to Marxism.

Hobsbawm writes: "Granted that in Italy and most of the west there was not going to be an October revolution from the early 1920s on – and there was no realistic prospect of one – [Gramsci] obviously had to consider a strategy for the long haul". But Hobsbawm admits that Gramsci was not committed to just this one strategy. He did not rule out a ‘frontal attack’, that is revolution, in the classical sense of October 1917. He feared the ‘integration’ of the revolutionary movement into the capitalist system. He elaborated, in the manner of Machiavelli’s idea set out in The Prince – which, for Gramsci, meant the party – a programme for the working class to establish ‘hegemony’ over other classes in the struggle for power. Ironically, this idea of ‘hegemonism’ has been interpreted in exactly the opposite sense of what Gramsci intended. It is used as a criticism, usually by anti-Marxists, against any attempt to establish the primacy of the working class and its organisations or of Marxists striving in a principled political fashion to win a majority in the organisations of the working class.

Overall, despite the title of the book, Hobsbawm is pessimistic about how to change the world. Surely, the starting point today would be how to face up to the devastating economic crisis afflicting the whole world, the deepest since the 1930s? One indication of this is that, according to the International Monetary Fund, world capitalism lost a total of $50 trillion from 2008-10, through the loss of production and the devaluation of assets – equal to the total output of the world in goods and services in a single year! Yet, Hobsbawm comments: "The socialists, traditional brains-trust of labour, do not know any more than anyone else how to overcome the current crisis. Unlike in the 1930s, they can point to no examples of communist or social-democratic regimes immune to the crisis, nor have they realistic proposals for socialist change".

The collapse of his former idols, the Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe and Russia, means for him that there is no traction in arguing for the socialist alternative. However, before the Russian revolution and the creation of the Soviet Union, socialists did argue, and quite effectively, for socialist change – without having a prepared model. Without this struggle over generations, the labour movement would not have been built and the subjective factor necessary for carrying through a revolution and social change would have been absent. There were many periods of disillusionment because booming capitalist economies appeared to be ‘doing the job’ – for instance, between 1896 and 1914. Then, reformists like Bernstein in Germany, Millerand in France and MacDonald in Britain sought to reconcile the labour movement to an inch-by-inch ‘march toward socialism’. The first world war, which signified the absolute impasse of the productive forces under capitalism, put paid to these ideas, although their advocates were not completely defeated politically within the labour movement.

True, the actual creation of a workers’ state in Russia was followed by the terrible historical fact of Stalinism. That is an obstacle to workers easily drawing socialist conclusions today. Stalinism has acted as a blot on the history and the reputation of the labour movement, introducing complications that did not exist prior to the first world war and the Russian revolution. But the only way to overcome this ‘contradiction’ is to have an honest and serious balance sheet of why the revolution in Russia degenerated and how this can be avoided in the future. Hobsbawm is incapable of doing this because of the tawdry political garments of the past he still clings to, the remnants of a much distorted ‘Marxism’ which has not come to terms with the phenomenon of Stalinism.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Socialist Way: The Class War or More Evil

The Socialist Way: The Class War or More Evil: "Well comrades and what a week this has been in the class struggle, looking at Spain for a moment and we see that the mass demonstrations t..."

Friday, 27 May 2011

Why we shouldnt hold illusions in thecapitalist media

I hear time aftertime when there is a in depth class struggle is occuring in the streets and comrades are feeling oppressed that the media out there do not wish to report our struggles.

I find this sad yet makes me want to bang my head in all honesty.

The capitalists greatest tool on their behalf is the media. The power the media can have today is truely scarey in some ways. It can influence public opinion and influence trials in court and all sorts. It is no doubt in the hands of the capitalists a very powerful tool. Lets be under no illusions with this. Comrades on the street still do seem to hold this notion that the media is independant and thinks for itself and reports on whatever it wants. Wrong i'm sorry to say but who owns these media sources i ask you ?

Well does the name Rupert Murdoch ring any alarm bells. and who is he linked to ? the tories anda right wing capitalist agenda. So should we be surprised that him and other media organisations acting in the interests of the ruling class dont report on our struggles ?

I persoanlly am not.. But to get this message over to other comrades who are perhaps new to the struggles of the working class is difficult and often frustrating. Many still thinkt he media should be reporting wherever there is a major incident . Not nessesarily. Only when it benifits them. Just like at the student protest last december. They covered them as they were big news at the time but you heard one side of the story of course. When newly radicalised comrades get aggrieved that they are not being treated fairly and rightly by the media i am not sure what they expect when they are not on our side anyway.

I am not having a go at good natured and well intentioned comrades but i do think sometimes we need to take a reality check and realise who is on our side and who isnt and just there to make some quick dosh out of our phlight.

So this has got to be another excellent wink in the direction for a marxist paper/ publication.

Such papers as the socialist formaly the Militant a weekly socialist publication from the socialist party is a excellent read but not only that it sets out our common transitional demands each week. If you read closely enough you will be able to identify our transitional demands formulated by Leon Trotsky many many years ago. Of course ours have been updated to reflect the current class contiousness of today as all power to the soviets as correct as that was back then during the Russian Revolution would not really apply to todays struggles. So we put forward our demands and our targets where we want to be heading each week. We may have some excellent writers with good experience and knowledge but also we have a organised program behind us which not many political organisations can claim today in all fairness.

So when comrades moan and groan about not gaining enough coverage from the media who feel aggrieved because our struggle isnt playing out live on tv well why do we not take Leon Trotsky's route and form our own publications and media and put our own counter arguements out there and invite real debate in politics rather than a one way media frenzy against the working class.

As the cost of living soars, we are going to fight back.

I thought i'd share a excellent article in this weeks socialist paper with you all.
You can read more excellent articles like this at www.socialistparty.org.uk

With Cuts in public services, a widening wealth gap and declining living standards for the majority of working and middle class people could lead to an explosion of anger in Britain.

Recently, even Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, warned that the rise in the cost of living could become so great that workers will fight for pay increases.

Meanwhile, supermarket giant Asda reckons an average family saw their disposable income drop by 7.1%, or £13 a week, during April compared with the same month in 2010. Asda says soaring petrol prices and higher train fares mean families are now spending around 10% more on transport compared with 2010, with petrol prices 12.7% higher than in April last year.

Higher rents and heating costs have slashed families' budgets while wages are growing at only around half the level of inflation.

And a new report from the Resolution Foundation predicts that millions of low to middle income families face years of declining living standards and are seeing their chances of owning their own home disappear.

The report also shows that most people's earnings were flatlining well before the banking and financial meltdown in 2008. It says that income levels are expected to fall next year, only returning to 2001 levels in 2015. Meanwhile the 1,000 richest individuals in the UK saw their combined wealth rise last year by £60.2 billion to an unbelievable £396 billion.

With capitalism in crisis, workers can expect an unrelenting assault on their living standards. Only a resolute fightback by working class people, involving coordinated strike action, can reverse this offensive.

A local authority worker in London, a member of the Unison trade union, spoke to the Socialist about the financial pressures on workers and what can be done to protect living standards.
"A common refrain at work these days is 'I've never worked this hard and yet felt so poor'. I've got responsibilities, I've got a child to clothe and feed. I've got to find the money for school trips, etc.

When I go to the bank machine and look at my statement after I've just been paid, it's shocking to see what little I've got to live on for the rest of the month. This is at a time when the housing association is increasing my rent by £50 a month.

Today, management asked us to accept a 2% pay cut. And cuts in my enhanced pay for weekend working, which the council is pushing for, could result in me losing £1,000 a year.

In the last two months there has been a shocking realisation of just what the government's austerity measures really mean for my standard of living.

As a result there is a feeling of generalised anger developing amongst the people I work with and in my local community about working class people's shrinking living standards.

I think the argument of the government that there is no alternative to cuts and pay freezes and that ordinary people should bear the brunt of the financial and economic crisis, is wearing thin. It hasn't escaped the attention of me and my fellow workers that we're getting poorer at a time when the rich are getting richer and that we're meant to passively accept this situation. Well no way!

The trade unions must tap into this mood of anger and organise strike action now to fight these seemingly never ending attacks on our living standards. It's entirely possible that the trade unions can build upon the mood that we saw on the massive 26 March TUC anti-cuts demo with united strike action over the rising cost of living."

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Building a new electoral base for socialism will have to be done, but will take time, patience and ingenunity

This excellent post i found on the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition website highlights the tasks for a new socialist electoral base which does need to be built and the need for it is greater than ever i feel. I talk to people on the internet alot who feel no party truely represents them. Well TUSC is what is missing i think. A true new workers party with socialist roots and appeals. Under neath i have posted a excellent article that many may or may not find interesting. I know i certainly did.

This article comes from Will Mcmahon a TUSC representitive helping to promote its message.

Over the last decade or so many socialists living in Britain who come from a variety of different political traditions have reached the conclusion that the route for socialism has been cut-off through the Labour Party and we have to begin again by building a new socialist party.

Electoral battles are but one front in an on-going battle with the ruling-class and will for a period involve many more electoral defeats than successes. Ultimately, electoral outcomes will be governed by waves of class struggle, union strength and working class confidence. However, irrespective of the ongoing level of class struggle, working people are asked, and are asking themselves, on an almost annual basis, which party are they going to vote for?

In England, the Walsall Democratic Labour Party and the Socialist Alternative in Coventry have demonstrated that local bases for socialism can be built and sustained for a number of years. While a local vote for a local socialist is a good answer to some local political questions, most political questions in the electoral field are, in the end, answered by voting for national governmental alternatives.

The long run survival of these bases ultimately depend on a national political formation to replicate their success in other areas. The question for socialists is how do we build this national political alternative and what vote is a good enough indication that the project is making headway?

Some argue that the target of five per cent (the percentage vote needed to retain your deposit in a constituency election) is the threshold by which success and failure can be measured. This is not a view I share. Nor is this view shared by those who have built minority parties that have had an impact on national politics over the last two decades.

The tables below show how these parties have developed their presence as national force. Note the low votes that they have had to endure while they have been building their electoral machines for future challenges. Rather than taking the view that it is not worth standing if the vote is likely to be less than five per cent, they have stood ever further and wider into what sometimes seem completely hopeless areas. They have adopted this strategy for one simple reason: it has enabled them to spread and deepen their roots and consequently to develop their national organizational strength.

In less than two decades, UKIP (with a constituency mainly based on and to the right of the Conservative Party) have broadened their base by standing more and more candidates across the country. Rather than being troubled by the five per cent threshold, or even some much lower votes, (eg 0.53 per cent in seats targeted in 1992 and 1.06 per cent in 1997 when UKIP saved just one deposit out of 194 candidates) they have pressed on in the belief that their core political message has political resonance. After 20 years and five general elections UKIP have built an electoral base that has begun to alter the electoral arithmetic and are now close to a million votes.

UKIP
Year Candidates Number of Votes Seats Deposits Saved % Total Vote % Vote in Contested Seats
1992 17 4,383 0 0 0.01 0.53
1997 194 106,028 0 1 0.34 1.06
2001 428 390,563 0 6 1.48 2.16
2005 496 605,973 0 38 2.20 2.80
2010 572 920,334 0 99 3.10 3.45



The Green Party has followed a similar strategy. According to the five per cent rule, the Green Party should have stopped standing a wide numbers of candidates in elections long ago and simply concentrated on their heartlands. But they didn’t; once again, convinced that they had a national political constituency constituency, they stood widely. Note that the experiment they conducted in 1997 of standing fewer candidates was quickly abandoned.

GREEN PARTY
Year Candidates Total votes Average votes per candidate % of total vote Average % of vote per candidate Saved Deposits Number of MPs
1979 53 39,918 753 0.13 1.46 0 0
1983 109 54,299 498 0.17 1.04 0 0
1987 133 89,753 675 0.28 1.35 0 0
1992 253 170,037 672 0.51 1.27 0 0
1997 89 61,731 694 0.21 1.34 0 0
2001 145 166,477 1148 0.63 2.75 10 0
2005 182 257,758 1416 1.04 3.29 22 0
2010 310 265,187 855 0.96 1.81 6 1



Finally, look at the votes of the BNP, built on a growing economic crisis that has impacted on some of the most depressed areas abandoned by Labour in its search for the hallowed middle ground of politics:

BNP
Year Number of candidates Total votes Average votes per candidate Percentage of vote Change (percentage points) Saved deposits Number of MPs
1983 53 14,621 276 0.0 N/A 0 0
1987 2 553 277 0.0 0.0 0 0
1992 13 7,631 587 0.1 +0.1 0 0
1997 56 35,832 640 0.1 0.0 3 0
2001 33 47,129 1,428 0.2 +0.1 7 0
2005 119 192,746 1,620 0.7 +0.5 34 0
2010 338 563,743 1,668 1.9 +1.2 73 0



It took the BNP a bit longer to work out that by focusing on a few areas in the hope of maximizing a local vote the party had cut itself off from all those whom might vote for it nationally. By 2005 the penny had dropped in the Griffin bunker and by 2010, in the space of just three general elections, the BNP had gone from 47,129 votes to over half a million.

As suggested above, there are political, social and economic reasons for the rise of the fascist vote, but the determining electoral factor was that the BNP stood widely across the country so that they could collect up as many votes as possible from their core constituency and develop roots in those areas. Fortunately, the BNP’s response to almost tripling its candidates and votes between 2005 and 2010 has been to implode into internecine strife. However, the far right will regroup and continue to exploit the vacuum left by the absence of a socialist alternative in areas abandoned by Labour. The fascists understand that 1.9 percent nationally – or half a million votes, is not to be abandoned without a fight.

The tables above show that a small national party can make enough inroads to create an electoral block that begin to change the terms of the national political debate if it stands widely enough to express a level of political strength. The lesson is don’t stand in just the few seats where it is possible to get above five per cent – this will only serve to cut you off from the overwhelming majority of your core support; and don’t let low votes limit your electoral ambitions – to build a national party stand as far and wide as possible. What we all know is that building a new electoral base for socialism will have to be done – but it will take time, patience and ingenuity.

Building a political home for your core support to live in

By standing as widely as possible TUSC would be able to advertise its presence to as wide a layer of its core support as possible and invite them to join. The most reliable estimates suggest that despite the growth in their aggregate electoral vote, all three parties discussed above have quite small party memberships. UKIP has about 10,000 to 14,000 members (depending on how you count); the Greens have around 10,000 members and the BNP have between 6,000 and 8,000 members. In rough terms this means that at the last general election the Greens have one member for every 25 votes received and the BNP and UKIP one member for every 60 votes. (Labour was one member for every 50 votes).

If TUSC were to make a broad challenge at the 2012 and 2013 local elections and 2014/15 general election then merely by advertising its presence and presenting itself as a national political party it could draw more potential members into its orbit and build the platform for a core membership organization. If TUSC was ambitious and aimed for two per cent average vote in core seats in England at the next general election then, assuming TUSC actually built a membership campaign and structure alongside the election campaign, the number of people joining would increase and bring more resources and people for the future battles to come.

By core seats I am thinking of those seats that Labour won in 2010 in England (191) – although TUSC could stand much wider than that number. For example, if TUSC were to average 1000 votes across 200 constituency seats it would win 200,000 votes. To put this in perspective, TUSC and allies stood 180 candidates in about 170 council wards in 2011 and got 25,000 votes. This was, proportionally, about six times more than the 12,000 votes that TUSC got in around 500 average council wards it stood in as part of the 2010 General election. (Incidentally, even though TUSC was late off the blocks for the 2010 General Election, you will see if you revisit the tables at the start of this article, even that vote is comparable to UKIP/Greens/BNP when they first stood.)

General Election England 2011
Party Seats Seats
change Votes % %
change
Conservative 297 +92 9,908,169 39.5 +3.8
Labour 191 -87 7,042,398 28.1 -7.4
Liberal Democrat 43 -4 6,076,189 24.2 +1.3
Green 1 +1 258,954 1.0 -0.1
Speaker 1 0 22,860 0.09 -
Turnout: 25,047,355 65.5



So 200,000 votes in England is not beyond the realms of the possible if it was decided as a plan of action to stand 200 general election candidates. (The Greens stood 200 candidates, almost half in the more prosperous South East and got over a quarter of a million votes.) It is out of such results that a national party can be built. At a Labour Party votes to membership ratio (1/50) this would produce a possible membership of 4,000, or the Green party ratio (1/25) it would be 8,000.

It is for this reason that it is the aggregate vote (rather than the low vote in particular areas) makes a difference over the long run. A national presence, even on a low percentage vote, can translate into a party membership that in itself can build a local election campaign presence in areas where they did not previously exist. Rather than shun the low votes TUSC should stand widely to accumulate more of them – because they are the raw material out of which a nationwide socialist presence will be built. Put simply, in order to rally to a flag you have to be able to see it in your locality.

The aim would be to create a virtuous circle of standing widely, and out of the contacts made building a national membership and resource base, then using this national membership and resource to build a local electoral interventions to reach more people. Out of this strategy, combined with an ongoing presence in working class communities and trade union campaigns, some local strongholds would emerge and be sustained. Then rather than being embattled out posts these areas would be the advance guard of a growing nationwide electoral challenge. This is the lesson of the Green Party and, unfortunately, even UKIP and the fascists.

Electoral politics can be brutal.

The count can feel quite an uncomfortable place to be when you know that you are going to come last (as I have done twice since February this year). Especially after you have trod the streets week in and week out leafleting and knocking on doors trying to winkle out the socialist vote, when your party is new and the potential voter may not have heard of it or your candidate. As can standing next to Labour Party members who may have won, many of them councillors who have recently voted to cut local services to working class communities.

If the thought of a low vote feels like a rebuff from the class then it is perhaps worth considering the 33, 45 or 96 working class people who saw the election name ‘Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition – against the cuts’ and in the ballot box decided to vote for you or the candidate you have worked for. They were sending a message: ‘I am a trade unionist and a socialist and I agree with you’. This is the kindling of a new socialist party and alone is a reason to stand and to begin the process of building a new party that can represent the working class; but this will only be worthwhile if it done as part of a national project that those voters they might later consider joining.

In 2011 for every Sheffield, Coventry or Preston there were other TUSC votes that were just below or above one per cent. It is important to get all votes into perspective. For new small national parties this range of votes is normal, especially with small financial resources and finite numbers of people to call upon and, it has to be said, a relatively late election campaign. However, what is important about the TUSC results was not those at the top or the bottom of the range of votes, but those in the middle two quarters – the middle 50 per cent. The voting range in the middle is between 2.2 and 5.4 per cent (perhaps a welcome surprise to some of those who stood for the first time) and more than respectable for a new party standing it is first local elections. Not at all disappointing, but in fact something to build upon and comparable with other new parties in Europe who have the benefit of a much more proportional system. For example, The United Left Alliance in Ireland received a mid range vote of between 1.5 and 9.2 per cent.

We have a base – but we have yet to reach them

Between 1997 and 2010 the Labour Party lost over two million working class votes. While some of these voters decamped to other parties, the majority have simply stopped voting because they have no party to vote for. Then there are those left wing voters who do vote Labour because there is no other credible left alternative available. These are the millions that TUSC can reach but only if it has a strategy bold enough and wide enough to reach them.

Will McMahon, a member of the TUSC Independent Socialist Network 24 May 2011

Unite the union comes out against all cuts and deals big blow to labours stance

In the last day or so Unite the Union has pledged its undivided support to no to all cuts. This flies in the face of the labour party and Ed Miliband too far too fast line that he seems incapable of not saying in any interview and Unite rightly have condemned this approach and made it clear that Britains biggest trade union which still backs labour sadly is against all cuts. So watch this space for the backlash from the right within the union and in Labour to this latest news.

Unite with its new leader Len Mcklusky is clearly on the left but has no idea how to organise it would seem. It is a chance now for all unions to revive themsleves and learn how to be a proper union again.
Below is the statement to come out of Unite and its executive this week.
I think this is major news and deals a huge blow to labours opposition or timid opposition to the cuts. As in reality we all know or should be told that labour do not oppose the cuts. Only for political point scoring do they. As if they were in power right about now they would be cutting very deep and hard too. The fact that as i have previously stated not one labour run council has voted against the cuts at a local level speaks volumnes to me that they are not a party against the cuts. Only in minimalising the impact. That is dividing workers and dividing the working class to choose which services and jobs it'd want to keep. What a awful choice. Shame on those labour councillors voting for cuts.


Unite’s Executive Council unanimously confirms its opposition to all Government spending cuts. We commit ourselves to fight this ideologically driven assault on our much valued public services and welfare state.

This assault on our class is designed to shift the blame for the economic crisis to the public sector and make working people pay for a crisis not of our making but caused by the negligent and irresponsible behaviour of financial institutions, gambling for profits in an unregulated market for financial products.

The consequences of these actions, coupled with the failure of both national and international regulators to prevent even the worst excesses of the free market and their promotion of self regulation, are now being felt by workers across the globe. Further, the economic crisis has given government the opportunity to promote and further its ideological attack on collective trade unionism, social and employment protection and the wider social fabric of our society.

Of course there is an alternative:

■collect the missing tax billions from the banks, multinationals, rich and powerful in our society and close the loopholes and avoidance scams that enable them to opt out of making their fair and proper contribution.
■introduce a Robin Hood tax to collect revenue from all financial transactions, bonuses and share options and raise tax rates at the top to ensure a fairer contribution from those most able to make one.
■maintain public spending and invest in our future, keeping people in jobs and growing our economy to create new ones. Supporting public services as well as our private sector, construction, manufacturing and support services is vital to rebalancing our economy.
We congratulate our General Secretary and this Executive Council in promoting our position of opposing all Government‟s cuts and the call for co-ordinated industrial action, but much more needs to be done:

1.Unite’s position on the cuts must be effectively communicated to our officers and staff, our constitutional committees, shop stewards and activists, within our political structures and to Unite MPs and councillors as well as within our wider communities. We have to end confusing messages being communicated within certain sections of our union sympathetic to the Labour leadership‟s message of “cuts too far, to fast” – the so-called “dented shield approach”.
2.We must do more to inform, inspire and engage with our lay representatives, shop stewards and activists across all sectors of our Union. We must equip them with the arguments they need to engage our members at work and within local communities if the fight back against the cuts is to be effective. This campaign requires leadership from the top but also grassroots activity at local level.
3.We encourage all workplaces, branches and constitutional committees to send resolutions to their Regional and National Industrial Sector Committees as well as to this Executive Council supporting actions for consideration.
4.We firmly believe coordinated industrial action is an essential tool in the fight before us and ask the General Secretary to write urgently to all officers, branches and constitutional committees with a strong message of encouragement to take up the fight and to initiate a series of communications and promotional materials to support our activists in developing the arguments for action. While decisions on industrial action will of course be taken by our members in democratic ballots, they must be confident in an alternative and know that they have their Union‟s full support in taking action. When members of any union are taking industrial action against cuts Unite members in workplaces not taking industrial action are encouraged to protest and show solidarity as far as they can.
5.Industrially, it must be clear that we will support all members fighting back. Unite recognises the importance of advancing our members interests by fighting for improved pay and conditions even in these difficult times, while in our public services specifically our full resources must be given to those fighting against job losses and compulsory redundancy, pay cuts and/or freezes and the privatisation or outsourcing of work.
6.We support the initiative in developing training for our activists. It is critical that we up-skill our officers and activists in preparation for delivering our fight back strategy. Providing evidence to support the fact that we are not “all in this together” such as the fact provided by recent evidence from the High Pay Commission that chief executives of FTSE 100 companies earn an average of £3.7 million which is 145 times the average wage.
7.We are seeing an employers‟ offensive unleashing itself against all workers – on their pay and conditions, their pensions and their collective bargaining rights. If workers vote to take strike action, they should be encouraged to co-ordinate strike dates with others in dispute to maximise their effect. We ask the General Secretary to ensure that mechanisms are put in place to enable such coordination to develop.
8.We particularly urge the General Secretary to ensure that this union immediately engages with other like minded public and private sector unions with a view to our working together on an urgent programme of co-ordinated strikes over pensions and pay cuts, redundancy, privatisation and outsourcing of work. This should however not stand in the way of Unite taking a lead or acting alone in the defence of our members interests wherever necessary.
9.We believe we must communicate our position within the Labour Party at all levels and make it clear that Unite cannot support a position based on government cuts being “too far, too fast”. We must seek urgent dialogue with elected councillors on ways in which, by working together, we can reach agreement on alternatives to cutting, outsourcing or privatising services and jobs. We are very clear that we will reject and fight any attempt by councils to use the economic crisis in an opportunistic way to attack and/or undermine trade unionism, our agreements or facilities.
10.We must ensure that Labour MPs and councillors receive an unequivocal message from our union supporting our policy of opposing all cuts. Elected councillors must know they will receive the full support of this union if they face disciplinary or other action for supporting union policy. We must ensure Unite fully supports councillors who oppose cuts to local services.
Finally, we are determined that Unite will never abandon those who face the most serious cuts of all; the poor and vulnerable in our society including the disabled, the unemployed and those on low incomes who are now beginning to suffer real hardship as the first £18 billion of Welfare Benefit cuts begin to bite.

Some are our members but many are not, our success in fighting the cuts will require us to stand shoulder to shoulder with those at the sharp end. We recognise that the most vicious cuts of all are hitting those who often have no voice.

We urge and encourage our activists, shop stewards and members to get involved in the fight back, linking up trade unionists with groups coordinating actions locally and nationally such as UK Uncut and the Coalition of Resistance, as well as students, pensioners, tenants associations, community groups, the unemployed and welfare claimants.

This is a fight to defend our class. We must redouble our efforts to ensure we will win that fight. This Executive Council and our unions leadership is fully committed to this strategy and must now ensure that this message runs through our union, at all levels and in everything we do.

FBU: fire engines could be sold off as contractor recieves winding up order

Fire Brigade Union says woes of key contractor battling winding-up order put capital’s safety at risk. The government’s enthusiasm for privatising key public services has been thrown into question amid fears the company that owns and leases appliances to London’s fire service is heading for administration, a move that could see the capital’s fire engines sold off.
AssetCo, a private company that in 2001 won a 20-year multi-million pound contract to supply the London Fire Brigade with all its appliances, has seen its share price collapse amid fears it is running out of money. If the company ends up in the hands of its creditor banks, they will have the right to sell off the appliances.

AssetCo owns and leases 500 vehicles and 50,000 pieces of equipment to the London brigade, the world’s largest fire service. It was also awarded a contract to provide ambulances to the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust that was worth £7m in its first year.

The Fire Brigade Union has raised concerns about public safety if the company enters administration. “How are they going to guarantee there are fire appliances if the company that owns them goes into administration?” asked Duncan Milligan, the FBU spokesman. “The creditors are going to have first call on the assets. There’s a real risk here that the fire service are not going to have access to the engines.”

Question marks also hang over what would happen to the contract the company holds to supply reserve firefighters if fire service personnel go on strike.

A £10m fundraising exercise has yet to materialise and several of AssetCo’s directors have quit as the company battles a winding-up order from creditors. The company’s share price, which has touched £2.31 within the last five years, now stands at 3.75p. Chief executive John Shannon was dismissed in April for what the company called “serious breaches of contract”.

Last week Labour MP John McDonnell asked the government to reveal what it would do to protect the London Fire Brigade if the company goes into administration. “I’m extremely worried that the precarious nature of the company could put the fire service at risk,” McDonnell said. “I believe we need a full investigation into how this company was allowed to get this contract.”

The company’s problems will be seized on by unions and Labour politicians against the privatisation of vital public services such as the NHS.

The London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, which oversees the brigade, is chaired by Brian Coleman, the former Conservative mayor of Barnet council, famous for its stripped down “budget airline” approach to public services.

From The Observer,


All this is rather worrying in times of cut backs and job loss's. I think this latest issue will need resolving or will put the public at greater risk. If this has to come to industrial action to protect the fire engines and their use that will have to be the result but London considering it is always at threat from a terrorist attack and a key city on the world stage needs a good well funded and resourced fire service. Cutting jobs or equiptment will only hamper their role in protecting the public.

So i do hope a resolution can be found before industrial action is called.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Is a better capitalism possible ?

This was said this weekend:

We need a different kind of economy, fairer to the lowest paid and demanding greater responsibility from the higher paid; broader-based, less reliant on financial services. A better capitalism.


THis was said this weekend at the Progress, the moderate labour right thinktank conference this weekend. The speech was by.... Ed Miliband. The labour leader.

Would you believe it. This new leader not even in the job a year and already we know what he is about. Although some may say we dont know nearly enough i think we can work out what kind of Britain he is after.

Lets be honest you cannot make capitalism fairer. yes you may be able to grant concessions to the working class all you like but there will always be greater wealth at the top of the economy than the bottom.

Ed Miliband ought to remember this. Gordon Brown said he had eliminated boom and bust whilst forgetting that it is in capitalisms nature for a unstable peaks and troughs of a economy. The fact that it is built on many contradictions according to Karl Marx suggests that periods of upturns and downturns are going to be repeated and repeated.

For the left to hold any illusions in this new labour leader that he will take this party in a left ward direction are sadly kidding themselves. Miliband has already spelled out that he and his party would have to make cuts all be it at a slightly less fast or as deep . But cuts all the same.

As a socialist i am against all cuts as i do not beleive they are at all nessesary. The ruling class beleives they are but they would. They want to make the working class pay for the mistakes of the bankers and the failiures of another capitalist break down.

But for a labour leader who could possibly lead our country in 2015 it is rather concerning that he still believes you can make capitalism better and fairer for the poor. This is incorrect as i previously said you can grant concessions to the working class but never provide the fruit of their labour as they will still not own it.

Only a taking over of the commanding heights of the economy where workers democratically control the economy including the banking sector nationalising all of the banks properly. Not a semi-nationalisation like Northern Rock but for real true workers ownership. Included in this the commanding heights of the economy including the wealthiest 150 or so monopolies will be brought under public workers control. All run democratically of course.

Only this way will the working class be able to fullfill their wishes and be able to afford a decent living for themselves. Miliband has been shown to not understand the way capitalism works. Perhaps he could read some of Marx's Das capital to read how the system works. As quite frankly he is lacking judgement if he and other labour members believe it can be made fairer.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The worst is yet to come

I thought i'd share a excellent article which featured in socialism today a monthly publication of more in depth look at articles from our party. I foundt his a interesting read and shows we have not seen the start of this crisis barely and it is bound to get a lot worse before getting better.


The following article is by Lynn Walsh a good comrade in the labour and trade union movement for many years now.

Lynn Walsh, Editor of Socialism Today

The Con-Dem chancellor, George Osborne, claims his budget (24 March) is the "most pro-growth budget for a generation". But the British economy is barely crawling along, and the budget will do nothing to promote growth.

The government previously predicted 2.3% growth of gross domestic product (GDP - value of the total output of goods and services) for 2011. Now, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts meagre growth of 1.7% of GDP for 2011. Even that may prove to be optimistic given the scale of spending cuts and tax increases.

Consumer spending, which has been the locomotive of the British economy over recent years, is falling. This is the chilling effect of job losses, escalating prices, and fear of what is to come. The former boss of Asda supermarket, Andy Bond, warns that worse is yet to come. "You’re kidding yourself if you think the worst is over and we’ve had a consumer recession - it’s ahead of us." The bosses of big supermarkets and high street stores, like Dixons and Mothercare, are warning of reduced sales and company profits.

"The economy," comments the Financial Times (6 April), "has been much weaker over the past six months than almost any economist expected." It was "practically stagnant over the past two quarters even before the impact of higher inflation and deeper spending cuts, according to a respected economics research group [National Institute of Economic and Social Research]."

As bad as they are, the Con-Dem cuts have so far merely been nibbling at public services: "The deeper cuts will bite with increased severity over the coming years." (Financial Times editorial, 25 March) Osborne’s fraudulent ’expansionary austerity’ is going to be austerity, austerity, austerity.

Squeezed incomes
Living standards have already been severely hit by inflation and squeezed wages. Prices are rising by 5.1% a year, according to the RPI (retail prices index, which includes housing costs).

At the same time, wages are only increasing by 2%, which means a 3% fall in real (inflation-adjusted) wages. Every 1% fall in real wages means a loss of £250 a year. This has resulted in the first fall in disposable income for over three decades, and there is likely to be a further fall in 2011.

The BBC Panorama programme recently carried out a survey of actual take-home pay (BBC News, 28 March). This showed that, on average, workers are taking home £1,088 less a year than two years ago. Their real pay has fallen by 5% since the beginning of 2009, which was half way through the recession.

The sharpest drop in real pay was in the construction industry, where it was £99 a month less. In the public sector, average pay was £45 a month less, while in the retail sector it was £41 a month less.

Privatising debt
One of the most alarming predictions for the next few years is for a huge rise in household debt. The Con-Dem government is aiming to cut public debt by £43 billion. At the same time, the OBR estimates that private-household debt (including mortgages and credit card debt) will rise by a staggering £245 billion. With increased unemployment, squeezed wages, higher prices and taxes, people will borrow more simply to survive.

In effect, this is the privatisation of the state debt, a huge share of which came from the nationalisation of bank losses. Now, spending cuts and tax increases will push millions deeper into debt, throwing a huge burden onto working class families.

By 2015, according to the OBR, debt as a percentage of household income will increase from the current 160% to 175%. In hard figures, this means a rise from an average of £58,000 debt to £66,291 by 2015.

Petrol tax
Faced with explosive public anger over the soaring price of petrol and diesel, Osborne cut fuel duty by 1p a litre and postponed a further 3p rise until January 2012. Undoubtedly, the government fears the possibility of another fuel price protest on the lines of September 2000, when lorry drivers and farmers blockaded oil refineries and jammed motorways. At that time, protests were encouraged by the Tory opposition, but new protests would now pose a threat to the Con-Dem government.

However, the 20% VAT on fuel will remain, and pump prices will no doubt continue to rise as a result of the rise in world oil prices, due to the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa.

To pay for the fuel duty cut, Osborne has raised taxes on oil production. The windfall profits tax on UK oil and gas production will increase from 20% to 32%, which is expected to bring in an additional £2 billion. Despite their increased profits from the 35% increase in oil prices over the last five months, the oil companies are screaming about this very limited tax increase, peanuts to these giant corporations. Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, said: "This change in the tax regime will decrease investment, increase imports and drive UK jobs to other areas of the world."

This is a barely disguised threat of a ’strike of capital’ if the government increases its tax on oil production. They are unlikely to carry this out, at this time, however, because of the immensely profitable reserves that remain in the North Sea, especially given the fact that oil has now risen to around $120 a barrel.

Nevertheless, it is an indication of the likely reaction of big business, like the banks, to the threat of a ’Robin Hood tax’ proposed by the TUC. Without measures to take control of big business and mobilise mass support for such measures, big business will attempt to sabotage any such steps through withholding investment, etc.

Heading for disaster
The Con-Dem government’s leading economic policy guru, Oliver Letwin, has revealed the private discussions of Con-Dem ministers. "Leading up to the recent budget, we took the view collectively in cabinet that we faced an immediate national crisis in the form of less growth and jobs than we needed." (The Guardian, 31 March) Nothing in Osborne’s budget will overcome this crisis, which will deepen in the coming months.

In response to the budget’s supposedly pro-growth measures, the ’independent’ OBR concluded: "We do not believe there is sufficiently strong evidence to justify changing our trend growth assumption in light of policy measures announced in budget 2011."

It is predicting a mere 1.7% growth in GDP for 2011. At the same time, unemployment is projected to continue to an appalling 2.52 million or 8.2% of the workforce. This includes over a million unemployed young people.

The Con-Dem government’s aim is to reduce the government’s budget deficit to near zero by 2014-15. This is an unrealistic objective even from the point of view of big business and their system - and is likely to prove counter-productive. It is a doctrinaire policy dictated by the interests of the big banks and wealthy speculators, who manipulate bond markets in search of speculative profits.

Wiping out the budget deficit depends on faster economic growth, which is why Osborne continually claims he is promoting "expansionary austerity" through pro-growth measures.

His budget, however, did not impress the financial markets that much. The rating agency, Moodys, which assesses the credit status of borrowers, including governments, warned that "slower growth combined with weaker-than-expected fiscal consolidation could cause the UK’s debt metrics to deteriorate to a point that would be inconsistent with a AAA rating."

Near zero growth or even a new recession would mean even higher unemployment and reduced tax revenues. The Con-Dems’ savage austerity policy could then result in an increase in the deficit, the worst of all worlds.

The so-called ’expansionary austerity’ cannot provide a way out for sickly British capitalism. The crisis referred to by Letwin can only deepen. The Con-Dem government has already been shaken by mass opposition, especially the mighty 26 March TUC demonstration in London. It has been forced to partially reverse the abolition of education maintenance allowance, and to announce a ’natural break’ on the savaging of the NHS through accelerated privatisation.

The 26 March demonstration was only a beginning. It should be the prelude to further action, especially coordinated public sector strikes against cuts, a massive weekday demonstration, and a 24-hour general strike.

Black Wednesday budget
There are 44 changes in tax and benefits in Osborne’s budget. With such a complex tax/benefit system it is very hard to calculate their exact effect. But one thing is certain: most of the changes will cut the incomes of working-class families. The government’s claim that everyone - apart from the rich - will benefit is completely false.

One organisation, Credit Action, calculates that, on average, the changes will reduce household income by at least £200 a year. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reckons that the average family income is expected to still be lower in 2013 than it was in 2008, making it the biggest five-year drop for more than 40 years. The IFS also calculates that the typical pensioner household has seen its real annual income fall by 2.4% (£456) since 2008.

However, these estimates come before further price rises, job losses, squeezed pay levels, and benefit cuts. The Centre for Economic and Business Research reckons the higher cost of living in 2011 will mean that the average family will be £910 worse off this year - the tightest squeeze on finances since 1921.

This year’s budget, moreover, is a supplement to last year’s horrendous Con-Dem spending review which spelt out £81 billion cuts and £33 billion tax raises by 2013.

The basic personal tax allowance (the threshold below which no income tax is paid) is to rise by £1,000 to £7,475, which means around 500,000 workers will not pay income tax.

This small gain, however, will be wiped out for many by the loss of services through cuts and reduced benefits. In particular, changes in tax credits and a freezing of child allowances will mean a sharp cut for working parents.

•Many middle class families will be squeezed by the lowering of the threshold for the higher (40%) tax rate from £37,401 to £35,000, which will mean around 750,000 workers paying significantly more tax (as well as higher national insurance contributions). Osborne tried to provide some populist window dressing through a number of taxes aimed at big business and the wealthy.
•The levy on windfall bank profits (heavily subsidised by state support during the crisis) is being marginally increased. North Sea oil companies will have to pay another £2 billion on their soaring profits.
•There will be a tax on passengers in private jets, and the stamp duty on the purchase of houses over £1 million will be raised to 5%. At the same time, however, there are concessions on stamp duty for developers and landlords buying multiple properties.
•The fee paid by wealthy overseas visitors to register as ’non-doms’ will be raised to £50,000, but they will continue to enjoy the privilege of paying no UK tax on their offshore profits.
•In the small print of the budget, there is a whole series of tax allowances for big business. Big companies will be able to offset against tax investments in enterprise zones, research and development, and many forms of new capital investment.
•Above all, corporation tax, currently 28%, has been cut by 2% with the promise of further cuts to 23% in three years’ time.
•Osborne has also promised that the 50% top rate of tax on those earning over £150,000 will be reduced in the future. This highlights an important aspect of the Con-Dems’ policy. Many of the current taxes levied on big business and the wealthy minority are regarded as temporary, to be reduced in the future. On the other hand, the cuts in public spending, with the massive loss of services and public sector jobs, are regarded as part of the permanent reduction of the public sector - in other words, a permanent blow to the living standards and well-being of many millions of workers.

The Socialist Way: The Class War and Upholding that System

The Socialist Way: The Class War and Upholding that System: "As I write this post on my continuing theme ‘class war’ I am sure you are all aware of the Spanish situation where tens of thousands of pr..."

Britain finally pulls out of Iraq but the scarres still remain

The UK's military operation in Iraq will officially end at midnight, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

It comes after the Royal Navy completed its training of Iraqi sailors, with the last personnel leaving the country on Friday.

While Operation Telic, the name for the UK mission in Iraq since 2003, will finish, a handful of staff will remain at the British embassy in Baghdad.

At its peak the operation involved some 46,000 personnel.

Most UK forces withdrew in July 2009 from Basra, their main base, but 81 Navy trainers remained at the port of Umm Qasr and there were three UK personnel based in Baghdad.

The completion of the mission on Sunday comes eight years after Britain became involved in invading Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein.


Defence Secretary Liam Fox paid tribute to the 179 British personnel who died since 2003 "fighting for security and stability in Iraq".



A total of 1,800 Iraqi personnel were trained on 50 different courses, including maritime, small arms, oil platform defence, and maintenance training, the Ministry of Defence said.

Britain is still involved in Nato's training mission in Iraq, with 44 UK military personnel still in the country.

Members of Iraqi Security Forces will continue to be trained at UK-based courses, such as the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: "Royal Navy personnel have used their formidable skills and expertise to bring about a transformation in Iraq's naval force.

"The Iraqi navy has a key role to play in protecting Iraq's territorial waters and the oil infrastructure that is so vital to Iraq's economy, and I am proud of the role British forces have played in making it capable of doing that job."


As this 8 year mission draws to a close after a very bloody occupation. It highlights the fact that we were wrong to invade iraq it was quite clearly a illegal war but as usual AMerica and Britain make up their own rules t suit themselves.

If they had supported the over throw of Saddam Hussain just like what has happened in Egypt and Tunisia with their dictators so many lives may not have been lost on both sides.

Of course the world is safer now Saddam is gone but the price it came at was heavy and not just financially.

The Iraq war will have cost millions if not billions of pounds to fund.



Now the west has its oil safely secured they can leave it was clear it was always about oil as there were deals done at the time as we have later heard recently.


So i am glad the Iraq invasion is over but we must not forget how many have lost lives and lives ruined by bombings and american occupation.

Iraq has a government of sorts but there needs to be real working class representation there. The banning of trade unions in Iraq is quite worrying and must be opposed.

Today we remember all those who have lost thier lives in the conflict on both sides. Hope now there c an be peace between the different factions within Iraq. It will always be complicated there but hopefully with a working class lead movement things can begin to look better for ordinary Iraqi's.

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Socialist Way: The Class War Junkies and Free-loaders

The Socialist Way: The Class War Junkies and Free-loaders: "Truly inspirational was a letter published in yesterdays Morning Star, and brought to my attention by comrade Chris H who made a comment ..."

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The euro zone crisis deepens

So as i eluded to earlier in the week with my post on us not being out of the woods of this economic crisis by a long stretch of the imagination i thought i'd follow it up with this excellent article in this week's issue of the socialist
wwhich you can read more brilliant articles like this one at a

www.socialistparty.org.uk
The eurozone faces its deepest crisis since the euro was launched in 1999. Failure to resolve the sharpening Greek debt emergency would have a devastating effect on the European and world economies. A default by Greece, in effect, bankruptcy under which the Greek government would not be able to pay its debts, would trigger a new banking crisis, probably as severe as 2008. At the same time, a Greek default could trigger the breakup of the eurozone, with the emergence of two or more currency areas, if not a complete disintegration.

Greece, moreover, is far from being an isolated case. Ireland, Portugal and Spain face similar problems.

There is no agreement between the eurozone leaders on how to deal with the crisis. Their disarray has been heightened by the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair, with the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) facing charges of sexual assault in New York.

Whichever policy is followed by the eurozone capitalists, the working class faces a prospect of savage austerity. New loans will only be granted to the Greek government on the basis of even more drastic austerity measures. On the other hand, a default and exit from the eurozone would, on a capitalist basis, also lead to a further degradation of living standards.

The Greek bailout implemented last year has not worked. The Greek government was granted €110 billion of loans on condition that it carried out drastic attacks on the working class: welfare spending cuts, wage cuts, pension cuts, and increased taxes. However, it is estimated that Greece will require around €50 billion of new loans in 2012 to cover its borrowing needs. The main reason Greece has not met its economic targets is that the austerity measures have prolonged the economic slump. The Greek economy contracted by -4.4% last year and is expected to contract by -3.5% this year. In reality, the IMF/ECB/eurozone 'rescue' has only increased the indebtedness of Greek capitalism and undermined its ability to pay off its debts.

Privatisation
The eurozone leaders are discussing a further €30 billion loan to Greece, but only on condition that the government rapidly carries out a further €50 billion of privatisation of state industries and utilities. It has even been proposed that these privatisations should actually be supervised by the IMF, which would mean a complete loss of economic sovereignty for Greece.

Capitalist leaders are deeply divided. The European Central Bank, the German government and others favour more loans to Greece, on condition of further austerity measures and privatisation. Leaders like Angela Merkel in Germany fear an electoral backlash against further bailouts. There is fear of the eurozone becoming a so-called 'transfer union' in which the stronger economies are effectively financing the weak economies.

Other sections of the capitalists, particularly in the finance sector, now believe that a default is inevitable. They recognise there is a limit to the austerity that can be imposed on the Greek people without provoking greater social conflict and uprisings. It would be better, in their view, to carry out an orderly default. This would involve the exchange of existing Greek government bonds for new bonds, guaranteed by the IMF/ECB, etc, that modified their terms. This could mean longer periods of repayment and a lower interest rate. But the most contentious issue is whether there should be a reduction in the face value of the bonds (though in the secondary bond market there is already at least a 40% reduction in the value of the bonds).

The main motive of these finance capitalists is to carry out an effective rescue of the banks. Overall, foreign banks have loaned £1.6 trillion to the four heavily indebted eurozone countries, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Domestic banks also hold billions of euros of government bonds. A forced default, or a panic-driven rescheduling, could trigger a banking crisis on the scale of 2008. There would be huge losses for the banks, not only on government bonds but also on the various 'derivatives' which are linked to the bonds.

At the moment, the Greek government is clinging to the euro (despite rumours early in May that it was considering withdrawal from the eurozone). It calculates that if it is part of the eurozone then the stronger eurozone governments will be forced to bail out the Greek economy.

However, at a certain point the conditions of such a bailout will become unsustainable. The conditions attached to new loans would make them intolerable, making withdrawal from the eurozone preferable. Then, countries like Greece and most likely Ireland and Portugal (and possibly Spain) would at least have the option of devaluing their new national currencies and boosting exports, as well as encouraging inflation which would reduce the real (inflation-adjusted) value of their debts.

Recent events confirm the analysis of the eurozone that the Socialist Party put forward from the beginning. While the euro could develop for a period on the basis of the growth of the European economy, we predicted that the common, multinational currency would not be able to overcome the national divisions of capitalism. In fact, the euro did not bring a 'convergence' between the stronger economies, like Germany and France, and the weaker, 'peripheral' countries, like Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The low interest rates that were based on the performance of the stronger economies helped fuel property bubbles in the weaker economies. They also allowed their governments to hugely increase public spending on the basis of a temporary boost to tax revenues, fuelled by property booms and financial speculation.

When the global economy was pushed into deep recession after the onset of the US subprime crisis in 2007, the peripheral economies were faced with an unsustainable burden of debt. Deficits were boosted by the downturn, with the eruption of mass unemployment and the collapse of tax revenues.

The euro may or may not survive this crisis. But, sooner or later, the eurozone will be wrecked on the rocks of insurmountable economic problems and the conflict of national interests between the member states.

Horrendous austerity measures have provoked massive resistance from the working class throughout Europe, and especially in the countries facing the most acute debt crisis. Workers are furious that they are being forced to pay for a crisis triggered by the banks and other predatory speculators. The real bailout is the rescue of the banks and big business by the working class.

General strikes
In Greece there have been nine general strikes and seemingly endless protests against cuts. There has been resistance in Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Commentators, however, have noted that there appears to be a lull in the strikes and protest action, a certain 'protest fatigue'. Any such pause, however, will be purely temporary. It arises because the leaders of the workers' organisations, while calling strikes under pressure from below, have no alternative to the policy of bailouts and austerity measures.

Faced with this deep, long-term crisis of capitalism, the working class needs a bold alternative. This should be based on a clear refusal to pay the debts run up by capitalist governments, from which banks and other speculators hugely profited when the going was good. Repudiation of debts, however, is not in itself a solution. On the basis of capitalism, bankruptcy of the state would mean a period of prolonged poverty and suffering for the working class.

Control of the banks and the commanding heights of the economy - the major industrial and commercial companies - must be taken out of the hands of the capitalist class, which is responsible for the present global crisis. The economy should be planned and managed in the interests of working people, controlled by elected representatives of workers, trade unions, consumers, community organisations, and so on. This would be the beginnings of a socialist planned economy.

European institutions, like the eurozone and the EU itself, which are clearly agencies of the capitalist ruling class, should not be opposed from a narrow, nationalist point of view. Europe, as well as the wider world economy, cries out for socialist economic planning. This is the only way that the living standards of workers everywhere can be raised, obscene inequalities progressively eradicated, and the environment protected for future generations.