Monday, 30 April 2012

Vote TUSC this Thursday against all cuts!

This Thursday you can vote for an anti cuts candidate across the country. A vote for TUSC is not a wasted vote. Every vote we get is a vote against cuts from all parties.

Total number of TUSC council candidates: 132
Councils in which TUSC candidates are contesting a seat: 38
In addition there is the TUSC list of 17 candidates for the Greater London Assembly, and the TUSC candidate for the mayor of Liverpool, Tony Mulhearn.
This compares well with last year’s elections. Then there were a total of 174 candidates, standing in 50 councils, who contested the local elections under the TUSC umbrella. However, in 2011 there were elections in 279 councils (all in England) with 9,396 seats to be filled. So last year TUSC fielded a candidate in 18% of the councils where there were elections and contested 2% of the seats.
This year there are elections in just 128 councils in England, with 2,407 seats to be filled. In England TUSC are standing 118 candidates (5% of the seats) in 34 of the local authorities where there are elections (27%). In Wales there are 14 TUSC candidates (out of the 1,224 seats vacant) in four of the 22 Welsh councils with elections.
In Scotland, all 32 councils are up for election, with 1,222 seats (proportionally elected in multi-member wards). There are 38 candidates standing in nine Scottish councils as the Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition – a name registered by TUSC and made available to candidates in Scotland, in accordance with the TUSC mandate to enable trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners to contest elections without having to appear on the ballot paper as ‘Independent’ or with no ‘party description’.
Aswell as this we have a sitting Cllr Dave Nellist who in coventry is standing under the banenr socialist alternative who needs your votes too he has a fantastic record of standing up for ordinary people and deserves your votes.

You may still think labour stand for you and won’t be as harsh like the Tories but reality has shown this is just not the case any longer.

The old phrase we got to vote labour to keep the Tories out is not washing so much now. It has been shown when labour have got control of councils they have voted for cuts just like the Tories. There is very little difference any longer

So why not vote TUSC then if labour Tories and lib dems all would be voting for cuts.

TUSC candidates would not vote for cuts under any circumstances we’d reject rises in council taxes and reject outsourcing and privatisation.

TUSC cllr’s would represent ordinary people and not put their own interests ahead of the working class they would demonstrate this by only taking the average wage of a skilled worker in their area they would not financially benefit from the position like other parties elected representatives do.

As I have blogged about previously there is no need for any cuts and the cuts are simply to make the working class pay for a crisis not of the making.
I’d urge everyone who can vote TUSC to do so but not only vote TUSC join the socialist party and join the fight back against austerity the fight for a change of society which we are starting to build.

Do not take labours word when they say they care for you and your vote matters to them it doesn’t all that matters to them is to get elected to continue pocketing a nice salary. For them it’s a career move for TUSC candidates it’s about defending ordinary people from the attacks of the Tories under capitalism.

The deeper this crisis gets under capitalism as it will do the more people will look for an alternative. TUSC will be there offering that and we will be standing more broadly year on year.

This year the RMT union backed by Bob crow is officially backing TUSC in the local elections and the mayoral election in Liverpool where our comrade Tony Mulhearn is standing and has a good chance we feel.

I think last year people wanted to give the lib dems a kicking and did that I think now we may find a difference with the cuts really starting to take affect people may be willing to take that step now to move away from labour and vote for something different. It is a hard inertia to break those traditional labour voters to see that their vote isn’t helping and is voting for cuts to changing to vote for us is a tough job but during this election I have spoken to many who are considering switching. Whether they ultimately will or not when they get into the ballot box will be the test from last year. Last year we got a fantastic response on the doorsteps and our vote was poor but this year we have had a similar response but we can’t tell if people will come out and vote for us.
It is difficult to tell what that objective shift in consciousness will be what will get those who may never have voted and don’t normally vote would come out in support of a socialist alternative. Our ideas are having an echo but whether it’ll translate into votes it is hard to tell at this stage. But it is important we do stand though and don’t just give labour the credibility of appearing anti cuts as they are not and we are doing well to point this out. Still more needs to be done to convince people of labours record and how they will vote for cuts and ultimately no different from Tories in terms of policy. Whether it’s a Tory or a labour cllr making your cuts matters little to people on the sharp end of cuts. But people will want to see an alternative increasingly so. A change is coming please be part of it on Thursday and vote TUSC where you can.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Public sector pensions battle not over by a long stretch

You’d be forgiven for thinking the battle over public sector pensions was a lost one. No way jose. This may on the 10th of May the PCS along with the UCU Unite in health and local government with the RMT and the NIPSA in sections will be striking to defend pensions.

A dispute which looked lost at Christmas time with Unison and the GMB two of the biggest unions pulling out. With unison this is not totally lost there is a ballot running where the membership should and I urge any Unison members reading this to vote no and continue to fight over pensions.

This April contributions over public sector pensions will be going up, you will be being asked to work for longer and in the end get less. Is this not a reason to continue fighting or not?
The situation has not changed certain unions have decided against their membership to agree to the governments heads of agreement I think this is a huge mistake. There is still a chance this battle can be won and won well if a united front with unions willing to fight keep their heads and don’t sell out.

The NUT is in a difficult position now with its dithering on whether to go for regional action or national action. For me it is simple keep with the coalition of the rejectionist unions and keeps a dialog with unions like the PCS who has a fighting left leadership who won’t see you far wrong in my view.

It is clear this fight must continue and it is fantastic tribute to the PCS left unity conference called on the 7th of January 2012 to bring together all of the lefts in the unions to provide a platform to speak and form a determined fight back.
After the attempted sell out by Unison and the GMB before Christmas it was imperative that the unions wishing to continue the fight sticked together and took on a more concerted fight back against the government who are pressing ahead with attacks. Dave Prentice of Unison is wrong to move on to regional pay as the next dispute he should be looking to link his union with other unions in the defence of pensions and then linking in regional pay as one big battle not trying to waken the movement by disuniting the movement by splitting off and trying to fight other battles on their own.

Unison is a big union but if unite keep fighting strong as they have been unison could see the situation where they start to loose members if they carry on looking to not fight. In this period of intensive class struggle workers will be looking for a strong fighting leadership and if Unison do not show this they will either be transformed or will loose many members to the likes of Unite etc.

The PCS and Unite are also calling on the TUC to organise a national demonstration against austerity in the summer. This strategy of action presents an opportunity to re-ignite this struggle which seemed to be in danger of dissipating after the capitulation of the right-wing union leaders and the TUC.
We also call on Unison and GMB members in the NHS to reject the pension deal in their ballots that are currently taking place and demand that their unions join this or any future strikes.

This action should demand the re-opening of pension negotiations, the cancellation of the next two years pension contribution increases as well as this year's - or at least immediate financial compensation for it, as well as not increasing the retirement age.
After the incredible show of force of 30 November (N30), which saw over two million public sector workers take strike action, it is natural that in the hospitals, schools, councils and job centres, workers have been asking "what now?"
This is particularly the case when, in the next few weeks, millions will have the first set of increased pension contributions deducted from their pay. If the Con-Dems aren't forced to retreat, further increases will follow over the next two years. Of course, all this is on top of a four-year pay freeze. There is also potential to coordinate with and give confidence to other groups of workers planning action against cuts.
The NUT conference, which took place over Easter, was in some cases a microcosm of the debate that must be taking place throughout the union movement and especially in public sector workplaces. Understandably, there was frustration that no national action has taken place since N30. Inevitably, workers enthused by N30 will react to the sense that this power, and the opportunity it presents to register a victory or at least wring major concessions out of the government, will slip away. We have to place the main responsibility for this on the right-wing union leaders in Unison, GMB and the TUC who consciously pulled out of the 'coalition of the willing' by signing the Con-Dems' heads of agreement in December, agreeing to pay more, work longer and get less.

Since then the PCS and other unions like the NUT have been leading a painstaking process of regroupment to put together another coalition, albeit smaller than N30 but comparable to the 30 June alliance which pulled over 750,000 workers out on strike.
Many NUT activists were furious at their NEC's decision to back down from national strike action on 28 March and instead only call out London, along with the UCU. UCU and NUT members responded magnificently with up to 10,000 teachers and lecturers marching to Westminster.
On the first evening of NUT conference, over 100 delegates attended a meeting called by a number of local associations (branches) to focus this anger into agreeing an amendment to the executive's motion in the pension debate next day. To put this into perspective, this was bigger than the meetings of either of the two established left organisations which provide the majority of the leaders of the union and it’s NEC - the Socialist Teachers' Alliance (STA) and the Campaign for a Fighting Democratic Union (CFDU).
These delegates were rightly concerned that the NEC's motion would lack clarity and an amendment setting out a clear schedule of action over the summer term and beyond was vital, starting on 10 May, anticipating the strike that has now been called.
Unfortunately, this and another amendment were passed over, in favour of one from the STA. While this gave more detail about the "aim" of action before the end of June, up to and including national strike action coordinated with other unions, to many delegates, coming on the back of the NEC vote about 28 March, this lack of clarity sounded like a conscious attempt by the leadership to demobilise the pensions struggle.
Socialist Party members were concerned that this feeling would be dissipated after conference and approached the local associations and offered to open up our pre-booked fringe meeting to them in order to give frustrated delegates the opportunity to debate the way forward.
This time, over 150 delegates attended to vent their concern but also to coordinate a rank and file campaign through the associations to see what regions are willing to strike on 10 May. Also, it was agreed to organise a rank and file conference on 16 June, a week after the National Shop Stewards Network conference, supported by as many associations as possible.
The PCS and the NUT were strengthened by the overwhelming mandate they received in their consultation ballots for further action. The PCS correctly postponed their intention to strike on 28 March in light of the NUT NEC vote against national action, in order to re-build a wider coalition, preferably including the NUT.
But in the aftermath of their conference decision, the NUT at their NEC in late April should be urged to join the strike on 10 May, preferably with national action or at least regional action and then another national strike before the end of June, all coordinated with the other unions.
In the absence of a serious coordinated resistance to the cuts, with the biggest public sector union Unison in particular refusing to lead in the councils and the NHS, the pensions struggle is in many ways the first major national battle against the Con-Dems' austerity offensive. For the struggle to dissipate now would be a setback which could embolden the government, who were quick to threaten regional pay after the NUT executive's retreat in March.
Alternatively, the strike on 10 May can re-ignite this struggle and send a clear message of defiance to what is a weak and divided Con-Dem coalition, while also marshalling the membership for the future battles, including on pensions that are coming thick and fast.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Remembering the dead on workers memorial day

As every year we stop to remember those who have died and lost loved ones in accidents at work and those brave workers who do some extremely dangerous jobs for their employers.

The day is also intended to serve as a rallying cry to “remember the dead, but fight like hell for the living”.
Toll. The TUC says in the UK over 20,000 people die prematurely every year as a result of injuries or accidents caused by their work. This year it has called on unions and safety campaigners to make 28 April a day of action to defend health and safety from attacks by the press, politicians and employers. The union body is concerned that the UK's workplace safety record could be about to get worse as a direct result of government policies. Not only do funding cuts - both to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and to local authorities - mean there will be fewer official safety inspections, the government has also said that workplaces like shops, offices, schools, docks and farms no longer need to be routinely visited. TUC adds that 'health and safety bashers' should be reminded what safety law is really all about - not pointless regulation but necessary protection to stop employers taking risks with workplace safety and which prevents people from being killed, injured or made ill as a result of their work. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Sensible employers who are happy to work closely with unions improving safety and occupational health at work don't see safety regulation as an intrusive burden. But rogue employers, who are happy to cut corners and take risks with their employees' safety, do. It's these reckless employers that we need to target and the government's rhetoric will only encourage yet more of them to think they can get away with unsafe workplaces - without fear of ever getting a visit from the HSE or their local council.' UK events have been organised in over 50 towns and cities from Aberdeen to Penzance.
With the rights calls for slashing red tape in other words cutting health and safety measures will only make the workplace more and more dangerous for workers young and old.
Coupled with the fact that workers are being asked to work long and longer while the contradiction that there is record young people unemployed is ridiculous. Those older workers can be putting themselves in unnecessary danger by carrying on working past the age they’d normally retire due to not being able to afford to retire.

Its time we fought back and fought back for all workers young or old.

What are the most favourable conditions for the working class under capitalism?

It is often said capitalism from a left wing position is a awful, evil and exploitative system but I’d like to examine which conditions under capitalism would be favourable to the working class for winning concessions and gaining under the system not that they could ever really gain but for a time gain bit on their employing masters.

In Karl Marx fantastic pamphlet wage labour and capital the last chapter describes this brilliantly for me.
As we know the interests of labour and capital are in total opposites of each other and fighting in two different directions.

As Marx’s chapter 8 of wage labour and capital quoted here shows us
“A rapid growth of capital is synonymous with a rapid growth of profits. Profits can grow rapidly only when the price of labour – the relative wages – decrease just as rapidly. Relative wages may fall, although real wages rise simultaneously with nominal wages, with the money value of labour, provided only that the real wage does not rise in the same proportion as the profit. If, for instance, in good business years wages rise 5 per cent, while profits rise 30 per cent, the proportional, the relative wage has not increased, but decreased.
If, therefore, the income of the worker increased with the rapid growth of capital, there is at the same time a widening of the social chasm that divides the worker from the capitalist, and increase in the power of capital over labour, a greater dependence of labour upon capital.
To say that "the worker has an interest in the rapid growth of capital", means only this: that the more speedily the worker augments the wealth of the capitalist, the larger will be the crumbs which fall to him, the greater will be the number of workers than can be called into existence, the more can the mass of slaves dependent upon capital be increased.
We have thus seen that even the most favourable situation for the working class, namely, the most rapid growth of capital, however much it may improve the material life of the worker, does not abolish the antagonism between his interests and the interests of the capitalist. Profit and wages remain as before, in inverse proportion.
If capital grows rapidly, wages may rise, but the profit of capital rises disproportionately faster. The material position of the worker has improved, but at the cost of his social position. The social chasm that separates him from the capitalist has widened.
Finally, to say that "the most favourable condition for wage-labour is the fastest possible growth of productive capital", is the same as to say: the quicker the working class multiplies and augments the power inimical to it – the wealth of another which lords over that class – the more favourable will be the conditions under which it will be permitted to toil anew at the multiplication of bourgeois wealth, at the enlargement of the power of capital, content thus to forge for itself the golden chains by which the bourgeoisie drags it in its train.

Marx is explaining that the greater growth of capital and the capitalist mode of production is in an upswing and is increasing its means of production to a point more workers can be employed from the mass reserve army and the workers can therefore go on the offensive within the trade unions to fight for better working pay and conditions. As socialists we look to expose the capitalist system at any chance we get but it’s a two fold approach from what I can tell when the capitalist system is in decline as we are now the system becomes far more exposed and workers can realise how little stake in society they really have whereas if the capitalist system is in a incline the workers can gain more as a slice of the pie but find it harder to recognise the contradiction of the system as they are benefiting from in the short term.
As the rich get richer the poor get constantly poorer even during the so called better times. So my argument would be even though an upswing in the capitalist system can benefit the workers in a sense this will not challenge the contradictions of the system and ultimately do nothing to defeat the wage labour system and lead to a breaking of the workers chains for their ultimate road to freedom.
But of course workers would prefer periods where they can go on the offensive and gain rather than periods they are set to defend what they have gained and to not loose anymore.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Why do Marxists stand for elections ? ?

Next week in our branch meeting in Harlow socialist party the topic for discussion will be why do we stand for elections? I will do this lead off as branch secretary and open up for debate and discussion.
With our meeting coming the night before the 3rd may elections I thought it was very appropriate to schedule this discussion in for our branch and what attitude we take to elections.

WHAT ATTITUDE do Marxists take to elections and representative government? In the history of the socialist movement there have developed or coexisted two principal and, in the end, quite different and opposing views of the question. One, reformism, argues that modern representative government affords the working class the opportunity to achieve socialism by electing a socialist majority into office. This view emphasizes the peaceful, gradual transition to socialism, and sees campaigns around elections and the work of socialist elected officials as the most important aspect of socialists’ activity. The other trend, first outlined by Marx and Engels, and then elaborated by Rosa Luxemburg and Lenin, argues for a revolutionary overthrow of the state, based upon the mass struggle of the working class, and its replacement by new organs of workers’ power.
The reformist trend flourished in Germany in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, expressed most fully by a former collaborator of Engels, Eduard Bernstein, who wrote in his reformist bombshell Evolutionary Socialism,
The task of social democracy is to organize the working classes politically and develop them as a democracy and to fight for all reforms in the State which are adapted to raise the working classes and transform the State in the direction of democracy.1
But even Karl Kautsky, the foremost theoretical leader of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) and a critic of Bernstein’s views, saw "the conquest of political power" as essentially the conquest of parliament. He wrote, for example, in 1912,
The objective of our political struggle remains what it has always been up to now: the conquest of state power through the conquest of a majority in parliament and the elevation of parliament to a commanding position within the state. Certainly not the destruction of state power. 2
Kautsky considered mass action–street protests and strikes–to be abnormal methods of struggle, denouncing an emphasis on them as being "one-sided" and reflecting a "cretinism of mass action."3
In the early socialist tradition, these two tendencies were often blurred by the fact that both reformists and revolutionaries used the term "conquest of political power" by the working class to describe two very different sets of aims.
Marx and Engels on the state, parliament and elections
Throughout their political lives, Marx and Engels always argued that the working class–whatever its size and state of development–must organize itself independently as a class "and consequently into a political party,"4 as they wrote in The Communist Manifesto.
Just months later, during the revolutions of 1848 that swept across Europe, Marx and Engels, as leading members of a small group of socialists in the Communist League, participated in the revolution in Germany as the far left wing of the radical bourgeois-democratic movement. With only a few hundred members across Europe, the League was simply not big enough to assert itself as an independent force. But in the course of the revolution, it became clear to Marx that, due to the cowardly and tentative nature of the radical middle-class elements, it would be necessary for the working class to organize independently to safeguard its own class interests.
In his March 1850 "Address to the Communist League," Marx recommended that in the future course of the revolution, the workers’ party "‘march with’ the petty-bourgeois democrats against the faction whom it aims at overthrowing," but that it oppose "them in everything whereby they seek to consolidate their position in their own interests."5
In addition to arming themselves and organizing centralized and independent clubs, the workers’ party should put candidates up for elections in Germany in the event of the creation of a national assembly as a result of revolutionary upheaval:
Even when there is no prospect whatsoever of their being elected, the workers must put up their own candidates in order to preserve their independence, to count their forces, and to bring before the public their revolutionary attitude and party standpoint. In this connection they must not allow themselves to be seduced by such arguments of the democrats as, for example, that by so doing they are splitting the Democratic Party and making it possible for the reactionaries to win. The ultimate intention of all such phrases is to dupe the proletariat. The advance which the proletarian party is bound to make by such independent action is indefinitely more important than the disadvantage that might be incurred by the presence of a few reactionaries in the representative body.6
The argument for voting against left-wing or socialist candidates on the grounds that they can’t win and are therefore helping the right wing into power has, of course, been a time-worn argument in the U.S. against bucking the two-party system. Engels, in an 1893 letter to an American colleague, pointed out that in the U.S., the formation of a workers’ party is hindered by the "Constitution…which makes it appear as though every vote were lost that is cast for a candidate not put up by one of the two governing parties."7
Marx’s March circular was shelved after revolutionary upsurge ebbed. But Marx and Engels lived to see the formation of the first mass socialist workers’ party in Germany that was able to use the German parliament, the Reichstag, to advance their cause. The SPD in Germany was formed in 1875 out of a merger between two different parties–one influenced by Marxism, the other based on "winning reforms through a compromise with the Prussian state."8 But as much as they came to consider this their party, Marx and Engels were from the start critical of what they considered its political shortcomings and always fought any attempt to dilute its working-class character.
As early as 1879, Marx and Engels wrote a circular letter to party leaders in which they asked if the party had not been "infected with the parliamentary diseases, believing that, with the popular vote, the Holy Ghost is poured upon those elected."9 The circular letter also attacked an article written by, among others, Eduard Bernstein. The article applauded the idea of a socialist movement led by "all men imbued with a true love of mankind," and attacked those who "trivialized" the movement into a "one-sided struggle of the industrial workers to promote their own interests." The article called upon the party to be "calm, sober and considered" in order not to scare "the bourgeoisie out of their wits by holding up the red spectre." It also called for "educated" men to represent the party in the Reichstag.10
Marx and Engels attacked the authors, arguing that they should leave the party if they intended to "use their official position to combat the party’s proletarian character."11 For Bernstein and the others:

As Marxists we often say that standing for elections and trying to win votes is the lowest form of class struggle. As the socialist party standing as TUSC of late we have not made big breakthroughs this is true and we do not expect to see them this year either but what we do do is have that opportunity to talk to people and get our ides to a wider audience.
But we do not hold illusions in bourgeois democracy as Rosa Luxemburg was clear that even if socialists were able to achieve a majority in parliament in a given country, this would not signal the victory of socialism. The ruling class would rally around its most trusted state institutions–the police, the army, the state bureaucracy and corrupted party politicians–against parliament if necessary:
In this society, the representative institutions, democratic in form, are in content the instruments of the interests of the ruling class. This manifests itself in a tangible fashion in the fact that as soon as democracy shows the tendency to negate its class character and become transformed into an instrument of the real interests of the population, the democratic forms are sacrificed by the bourgeoisie and by its state representatives
This is not some theoretical debating point, but has often been the bitter historical experience of the workers’ movement internationally. In Chile, for example, Salvador Allende’s reformist socialist government was overturned in a bloody military coup in 1973. Moreover, in many countries, such as China, Saudi Arabia and many others, capitalism and the market go hand in hand with military, monarchic or one-party rule. Democracy–even bourgeois democracy–is in some cases seen as a luxury that those who rule cannot afford.

The Bolshevik Party was the first to utilize elections in a really revolutionary way. The fact that the Bolsheviks organized independently of the reformists, the Mensheviks, freed them to follow the course outlined by Luxemburg, to utilize the rostrum of parliament to conduct revolutionary propaganda and agitation.
Like Germany, Russia had not undergone a bourgeois revolution and was still under the heel of a semi feudal autocracy. Revolutionaries were driven underground, forced to operate clandestinely in order to escape persecution, arrest, exile and even execution.
In the mass upheaval of the 1905 revolution, the Tzar issued a manifesto announcing the creation of a parliament (Duma) as a sop to the revolutionary movement. This was not to be a real legislative body but a consultative council to the Tzar that the latter could dissolve at will. Moreover, the Duma election system was weighted to give more representation to big landlords. The Bolshevik Party advocated an "active" boycott of the first Duma. But once the revolution began to ebb, Lenin changed his position and argued that socialists should participate in the Duma.
We were obliged to do–and did–everything in our power to prevent the convocation of a sham representative body. That is so. But since it has been convened in spite of all our efforts, we cannot shirk the task of utilizing it.
Lenin had to wage a determined fight against party members who argued that on principle Marxists should boycott the Duma. He argued that under changed, no revolutionary conditions, the boycott was meaningless:
The boycott is a means of struggle aimed directly at overthrowing the old regime, or, at the worst, i.e., when the assault is not strong enough for overthrow, at weakening it to such an extent that it would be unable to set up that institution, unable to make it operate. Consequently, to be successful the boycott requires a direct struggle against the old regime, an uprising against it and mass disobedience to it in a large number of cases.
Lenin therefore attacked the idea of a "passive" boycott–that is, simply abstaining from elections or parliament, a refusal to "recognize" existing institutions even if the movement cannot destroy them. He did not glorify the work, but said, "Since the accursed counter-revolution has driven us into this accursed pig-sty, we shall work there too for the benefit of the revolution, without whining, but also without boasting."
Even so, Lenin was clear that revolutionaries considered participation in elections as only a small part of their activity, and that the struggle in the workplaces and streets was far more important.
We shall not refuse to go into the Second Duma when (or "if") it is convened. We shall not refuse to utilize this arena, but we shall not exaggerate its modest importance; on the contrary, guided by the experience already provided by history, we shall entirely subordinate the struggle we wage in the Duma to another form of struggle, namely strikes, uprisings, etc.
What did that work consist of? For party work, it meant using the election campaigns to conduct propaganda among masses it normally did or could not reach. And, for the party members who were elected as deputies, it meant using the Duma as a platform to disseminate propaganda, to expose the right wing and the liberal bourgeoisie and to assist in the organization of struggles outside the Duma. Socialist deputies could use their parliamentary immunity to conduct propaganda that outside the Duma would normally be considered illegal. They could make Duma speeches that reprinted in the party and non-party press could reach a wider audience than other types of party propaganda, and they could use the Duma rostrum to expose, in the form of "interpolations," the various abuses of the system against peasants and workers. Unlike in the German SPD, where parliamentary representatives were the stars in the party crown, the Bolshevik Party subordinated their Duma deputies to party control and saw them as servants of the working-class struggle.

This is exactly the same approach we take today we do not sow false illusions in parliament but we do fight for every reform for workers we can and be that beacon on the inside to expose the right wing and the system from within.
As Lenin rightly points out there are some workers who still look towards parliament as bodies of power and we need to be there winning them over and turning them towards our point of view if we can. Lenin said Participation in parliamentary elections and in the struggle on the platform of parliament is obligatory for the party of the revolutionary proletariat…As long as you are unable to disperse the bourgeois parliament and every other type of reactionary institution, you must work inside them, precisely because there you will still find workers who are stupefied by the priests and by the dreariness of rural life; otherwise you risk becoming mere babblers.
We do not take a ultra left view of totally against elections like the anarchists do we look to be the best working class fighters possible while pointing to the fact that reforms will never be enough for workers.

We are faced with the fact that Parliament exists and that the mass of the population, despite their criticisms, look to it for change. In 1940 Trotsky, while discussing the question of war, explained how Marxists must make use of bourgeois institutions like parliament. “The courts are bourgeois but we don’t boycott them as the anarchists. We try to use them and fight within them. Likewise with parliaments. We are enemies of the bourgeoisie and its institutions, but we utilise them.”
Trotsky carried the argument forward – to the question of war: “War is a bourgeois institution a thousand times more powerful than all the other bourgeois institutions. We accept it as a fact like the bourgeois schools and try to utilise it.” He continues:
“In the union I can say I am for the Fourth International. I am against war. But I am with you. I will not sabotage the war. I will be the best soldier just as I was the best and most skilled worker in the factory. At the same time I will try to convince you too that we should change society.” (Writings, 1939-40, p. 256).
So with parliament. There is no contradiction between understanding, from a revolutionary point of view, the true nature of a bourgeois parliament and at the same time fighting for every crumb, every concession we can gain from it. In the same sense as Trotsky in 1940 advocated that the members of the Fourth International, while opposing the war; in the case of that particular war should be the “best soldiers,” we must be the “best parliamentary representatives,” the most effective in squeezing every possible concession and, at the same time, the most resolute in revealing its limitations. If we are to expose the limits of change through parliament we have to struggle within it to reach those limits and thereby bring them into the view of the working class.
Instead of such sterile ultra-leftism we explain that we are fighting to become the majority in parliament and go on to spell out what we would do if we had that majority. We say we would pass legislation to take the wealth out of the hands of the ruling class. But, as the bitter experience of Chile showed, the ruling class will not peaceably surrender their wealth and power. They would use their control of the armed machinery of the state to resist. Under those circumstances we would mobilise the working class to confront them, just as the Bolsheviks did in August 1917. Part of this resistance would be the formation of workers’ councils, of committees in the army, in short of the emergence of an alternative state based on the independent power of the working class. In this way the real question of power would be posed.
Only a sectarian divorced from reality could reduce this explanation to holding open “the possibility that socialism can be achieved by a mass movement ‘backing up’ its parliamentary representatives.” The ability to go from abstract theoretical understanding to a day-to-day programme and explanation, put forward in a manner and language which can be understood, is one of the factors which distinguish Marxism from doctrinaire sectarianism.

The revolutionary line which avoids the opposite but twin pitfalls of ultra-leftism and opportunism is a difficult and often narrow line which cannot be traced out in advance or from the sidelines of the class struggle. It is not formed through declarations of revolutionary intent, nor is it made deeper by revolutionary phrase mongering. It can only be traced out in practice in the course of the struggle itself.

We are often told by others on the left oh you’ll just end up turning into a reformist and just the same as all those other polititians we refute this as our first elected TD in Ireland has shown Joe Higgins. Like Terry Fields, Pat Wall and Dave Nellist, Joe Higgins has not adopted the lifestyle or adapted to the customs and norms of bourgeois politics. He lives on a workers wage and provides the Dublin West electorate with an account of where the rest of his salary and all his allowances go. He has used the Dáil chamber to challenge the establishment. He has brought the scent of the class struggle into the otherwise rarefied atmosphere of the Dáil, as with his handcuffed gesture in solidarity with jailed building workers. He has used his position to promote working class struggle outside the Dáil, speaking at countless meetings, protests and pickets. He has intervened in debates on legislation, with opposition proposals and amendments. On top of this he has carried a huge constituency case load, trying to use his influence to help working class people in Dublin West with day-to-day problems.

So it is clear going into these coming elections as TUSC where we stand and how we hope to gain from standing. As we say its not just about standing for us at all it’s about having a broad outlook to winning over workers to your cause to change society.

With extracts from the late Peter Haddon from th CWI on Marxists in elections and extracts from ISR

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Britain back in recession austerity not working fight back against capitalism needed

Today it has been confirmed that Britain in the last quarter contracted by 0.2 % GDP meaning that two back to back negative growth figures lands us back in recession. A light one at present but still a recession none the less. Too many this has been on the cards for sometime and to the poorest in society may argue it never felt like we left recession with the misery of cutbacks and tax hikes and inflation all mounting to mean a huge strain on people’s lives and living standards.

The Tories and lib dem government has been in power for two years now and their plan of the phoenix of the private sector rising from the ash’s has simply not happened. We were told we must cut the public sector spending to allow the private sector to grow this hasn’t happened either if anything the public sector borrowing has goes up not down and our deficit is increasing.
The old phrase of its hurting but its not working is very apt here.

Even reformist measures here of investing in jobs socially useful jobs and a mass house building programme would go someway to helping this. But the con-dem government look focused on reducing the deficit the most painful of ways and still may not actually work for them. If anything this is a cocktail of cuts tax’s and inflation which will send us spiralling into endless austerity.

It was always said the definition of insanity was continuing to do what has been proven not to work. So the Tories and labours idea that if cuts don’t work we’ll have some more cuts is just barmy.

A serious shift is needed a ramping up of the tax’s on the very richest in society is needed a wealth tax with other tax’s preventing the rich getting away with not paying for the mistakes of the bankers who were the ones who got us into the position.
What is also needed is a nationalisation programme bringing in the major 150 companies into public ownership properly run democratically by the workers with all of the profits made ploughed back into the public purse to invest in more jobs, services and the things that people need to live. Not just for the benefit of a rich minority.

Its time the argument on austerity is won once and for all and a major shift to change society for the benefit of the many is fought.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The real Olympic legacy in London borough of Newham

Today in the news Labour run Newham council has created all sorts of controversy with their plans to exile the poorest in their borough to stoke on Trent of all places. This has been met with a volley of criticism rightly so in my view.

New ham council has been accused of starting "social cleansing" in the capital by asking a Stoke-on-Trent housing association to take on up to 500 families on housing benefit.
New ham Council says it can no longer afford to house tenants on its waiting list in private accommodation.
The gap between market rents and the housing allowance is too big, it says.
But the association says such a move could mark the start of "thousands of needy people" being dumped elsewhere.
Labour MPs say the decision to seek accommodation outside London is proof that the government's policy of capping housing benefit is already "beginning to unravel".
Which is of course easy to say when their own government in power failed to build anywhere near enough affordable homes in their 13 years in go?
The simple fact that 5 million people are currently on the housing register for council property in the UK is testament to the lack of homes built in the previous period.
It is a disgrace for labour to claim the moral high ground on this when their record on housing is so so poor. I think the outrage at this story is justified with the new labour MP for stoke equally shaming his party by coming out to say
Unwanted by New ham, unwanted by Stoke. "We look forward to the Olympic flame – but not east London's exiles" - Tristram Hunt.
Talking of the Olympics this borough of London is due to host the Olympics this summer with 40 million pounds of the council’s budget going towards putting on the Olympics disgracefully.
Olympic effect

New ham Council, which is Labour-controlled, is in the east of the city and will host this summer's Olympics.
It has written to the Brighter Futures Housing Association in Stoke, offering it the "opportunity" to lease homes to it.
The letter says the local private rental sector is beginning to "overheat" because of the "onset of the Olympic Games and the buoyant young professionals market".
It says the council can no longer afford to house tenants on its waiting list in private accommodation as the gap between market rents and the local housing allowance has become too great.
The council has been "forced to look further afield for alternative supply", it adds.
'Right-wing extremism'
The Brighter Futures chief executive officer, Gill Brown, has not formally replied to new ham Council's offer.

To me this is passing the buck one council cant and won’t deal with people who can’t afford to live in an area so decide to move them elsewhere so the other council where they are proposed to be going say oh no we don’t want them either. A typically middle class attitude of not in my backyard. An absolute shambles and a disgrace from a party who claims to stand for social justice.

It is clear that we need a major affordable house building programme today but who’s going to put it forward the tories and lib dems certainly wont and on this recent form labour wont either. We need a new workers party who can put forward these demands and speak for the majority of people ordinary people who are suffering due to this crisis of capitalism that they are being made to pay for unfairly.

Monday, 23 April 2012

No such thing as a national interest only class interest

We are often told that a certain thing has to happen in the national interest we need to make cuts to reduce our deficit in the national interest is one notable one. But what is this so called national interest?

It certainly doesn’t cover all of us as the 99% are facing all of the cuts while the 1% increases their wealth.

The politicians in the UK and across Europe whether on the centre left or centre right you can hardly tell the difference these days all talk of acting in the national interest but this can be translated to in the interest of the markets, the city and the capitalist system. When Ed Miliband told David Cameron he should be looking after the British interest he meant the city of London’s interest. It is clear to me as a Marxist who sees the world in a class based system not through wish but through reality and the ways things are.

As I explained above the rich and the ruling class do not share the same interests as the poorest in society and the workers the working class’s if you like. The workers wish to improve their life their pay, conditions and living standards all the time while the rich 1% look to hang on to their wealth and only look to invest when they can see a profit opportunity and increasing their already vast wealth’s.

So I for one do not believe there is such thing as a “national interest” a nations interests are bound up in a class based society whose interests are polar opposites.
For me until the class based system of exploitation is abolished for good this will continue to haunt us. With the use of language in a broad sense of a national interest the ruling class and their capitalist politicians who do their bidding like to try and distort class lines and try and catch all in affect claiming we are “all in this together” is another well known one from this present time. It’s to distort the true reason behind the capitalist crisis and also lay the blame at ordinary peoples doors, even though they played no part in such things. Its to pass the burden like is happening right now that we all must pay for this mess we are in and we all spent too much which frankly is just not true at all.
So I and others struggle for a new society a better society based in the interests of all not a fictitious national interest how about a socialist interest.

Under socialism there would not be nations as such any borders at least. This is not possible under capitalism due to the havoc it would cause but under socialism and eventually communism this would be possibly with free moving people as all would have access to what they need there would be no great reason to move about to a better area for a job or house as the idea would be that you could have that where you are if you so wish.

Socialism can only be democratic. At one time Socialism was known also as "social democracy", a phrase which shows well that democratic control would extend to all aspects of social affairs, including the production and distribution of wealth. There is an old socialist slogan which speaks of "government over people" giving way to "the administration of things"; meaning that the public power of coercion, and the government that operates it, will have no place in Socialism.
The State, which is an organisation composed of soldiers, policemen, judges and gaolers charged with enforcing the laws, is only needed in class society for in such societies there is no community of interest, only class conflict. The purpose of government is to maintain law and order in the interests of the dominant class. It is in fact an instrument of class oppression.
In socialism there will be no classes and no built-in class conflicts: everyone will have the same basic social interest. There will be genuine social harmony and community of interest. In these circumstances there is no need for any coercive machine to govern or rule over people. The phrase "socialist government" is a contradiction in terms. Where there is Socialism there is no government and where there is government there is no Socialism.
Those who wrongly assume that government and administration is one and the same thing will have some difficulty in imagining a society without government. A society without administration would indeed be impossible since "society" implies that human beings organise themselves to provide for their needs. But a society without government is both possible and desirable. Socialism will in fact mean the extension of democratic administration to all aspects of social life on the basis of the common ownership of the means of production and distribution. There will be administrative centres but they will merely be clearing-houses for settling social affairs.
But will not the administrators become the new ruling class? Democratic organisation does indeed involve the delegation of functions to groups and individuals. Such people will be charged by the community with organising necessary social functions. They will be chosen by the community and will be answerable to it. Those who perform the administrative functions in Socialism would be in no position to dominate. They will not be regarded as superior persons, as tends to be the case today, but as social equals doing just an essential job. Nor will they have at their command armies and policemen to enforce their will. There will be no opportunity for bribery and corruption since everybody, including those in administrative jobs, will have free access to the stock of wealth set aside for individual consumption. The material conditions for the rise of a new ruling class would not exist.
The purpose of socialist production will be simply and solely to satisfy human needs. Production solely for use will replace production for the market with a view to profit, in line with the social basis that the means for producing wealth will belong to and be under the democratic control of the entire community. The production and distribution of sufficient wealth to meet the needs of the socialist community as individuals and as a community will be an administrative and organisational problem. It will of course be no small problem but the tools for solving it have already been created by capitalism.

Capitalism has developed technology and social productivity to the point where plenty for all can be produced. A society of abundance has long been technically possible and it is this that is the material basis for Socialism. Capitalism, because it is a class society with production geared to profit-making rather than meeting human needs, cannot make full use of the world-wide productive system it has built up over the past two hundred or so years. Socialism, making full use of the developed methods of production, will alter the purpose of production. Men and women will be producing wealth solely to meet their needs, and not for the profit of the privileged few.
Using techniques for predicting social wants, at present prostituted to the service of capital, socialist society can work out how much and what sort of products and services will be needed over a given period. Men and women will be free to discuss what they would like to be produced. So with social research and after democratic discussion an estimate of what is needed can be made. The next problem is to arrange for these amounts to be produced. Capitalism, in modern computing machines, input-output analysis and information technology, has developed the techniques which socialist society can use.
When the wealth has been produced, apart from that needed to renew and expand the means of production, all will freely take what they feel they need to live and enjoy life. This is what we mean by "free access" There will be no buying and selling, and hence no need for money. What communities and individuals want does not vary greatly except over long periods and it will be a simple administrative task to see that the stores are well-stocked with what people want. If any shortages develop they will not last long. Planned reserves will be produced as a safeguard against unforeseen natural disasters.
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is another long-standing socialist slogan. It means what it says: that men and women will freely take part in social production to the best of their abilities and freely take from the fruits of their common labour whatever they need.
Confronted for the first time with this proposal for free distribution according to need, many people are sceptical. What about the lazy man? Or the greedy man? Who will do the dirty work? What will be the incentive to work? These are objections socialists hear time and time again. These are perhaps understandable reactions to what seems, to those who have never thought about it, a startling proposition. As a matter of fact, behind these objections, is a carefully cultivated popular prejudice as to what human nature is. This is dealt in the section "Is human nature a barrier to Socialism?" Suffice it to say here the biological and social science and anthropological research conclusively show that so-called human nature is not a barrier to the establishment of Socialism.
Work, or the expenditure of energy, is both a biological and a social necessity for human beings. They must work to use up the energy generated by eating food. They must work also to provide the food, clothing and shelter they need to live. So in any society, be it feudal, capitalist or socialist, men and women must work. The point at issue is how that work should be organised. A very strong argument against capitalism is that it reduces so central a human activity as work to the drudgery it is for most people, instead of allowing it to provide the pleasure it could, and would be in a socialist society.
To suggest that work could be pleasant often raises a laugh; but this only shows how much capitalism has degraded human life. Most, but certainly not all work under capitalism is done in the service of an employer so that people almost without thinking identify work with employment. Working for an employer is always degrading, often boring and unpleasant and sometimes unhealthy and dangerous. But even under capitalism not all work, as we have defined it, is done in the course of employment. Men and women are working when they clean their cars or dig their gardens or pursue their hobbies -and enjoy themselves at the same time. So close is the misleading association of work and employment that many would not even regard such activities as work. They think anything that is pleasant cannot by definition be work!
There is no reason at all why the work of producing and distributing useful things cannot be as enjoyable as are the leisure activities today. The physical conditions under which work is done can be vastly improved. So can the relations between people at work. Human beings, as free and equal members of a socialist community, will no longer have to sell their mental and physical energies to an employer for a wage or a salary. The degrading wages system will be abolished so that there will be no such thing as employment. Instead work will be done by free men and women co-operating and controlling their conditions of work, getting enjoyment from creating things and doing socially-useful tasks.
In socialist society there will be no social stigma attaching to any kind of work. Nor will there be pressures, such as exist at present, to continue - because they are cheap and therefore profitable to the capitalist -industrial processes which are harmful or dangerous to those engaged in them. In any event, with human needs and enjoyment as the guiding principle, there will be no need for anybody to be tied to the same job continuously. The opportunities for men ands women to develop and exercise their talents and to enjoy doing so will be immense.
Finally, Socialism must be world-wide because the productive system which capitalism has built up and which Socialism will take over is already international. There will be no frontiers and people will be free to travel over the whole earth. Socialism will mean the end to all national oppression -and indeed in its current political sense to all "nations" -and to discriminations on the grounds of race and sex. All the people of the world wherever they live, whatever their skin colour, whatever language they speak, really will be members of one vast human family. Socialism will at last realise the age-old dream of a world-wide community of interests.

Far more cuts to come with 16 billion more announced today, time to fight back!

When you thought the cuts were bad enough we are told today there is more on their way as this government of millionaires looks to continue to make ordinary people pay for a crisis they did not create at a much faster and harder rate than before.

Danny Alexander is shaking up Whitehall spending rules
"In an environment of economic uncertainty, with ongoing instability in the eurozone, the UK's large deficit remains a crucial economic vulnerability. It remains a clear and present danger to stability," he will say.
New rules, which will be enforced from this year on, have been drawn up by finance directors in Whitehall and are aimed at improving financial management.
Mr. Alexander will say they are "rules that demonstrate the collective determination of government to ensure that never again will our nation's finances be allowed to get into such a mess".
He will insist that departments' delegated responsibility for spending cannot be "an excuse to hide information, close the books, or weaken financial management".
"For too long financial management in Government has been stifled by poor information sharing and poor incentives. That has to change," the Cabinet minister will say.
"From now on, all departments must monitor and share spending information with the Treasury on a monthly basis. And that data must be consistent."
In an environment of economic uncertainty, with ongoing instability in the eurozone, the UK's large deficit remains a crucial economic vulnerability. It remains a clear and present danger to stability.
Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander
The Treasury kept central reserves small in the spending review so departments could have the most money possible, which means departments themselves have to have a buffer in case of any problems.
Under the new rules, they will have to identify around 5% of their resource budget which could be used if new "pressures" emerge or new policies need funding.
Mr Alexander will stress that the changes are not a "small tweak to the Whitehall machine".
"They are another signal of our unwavering determination to deliver the fiscal consolidation we promised," he is to say.
"It is this focus on delivery that is the cornerstone of our country's credibility. Credibility, let us not forget, which is delivering the record low interest rates that are benefiting millions of families across the UK."

This all sounds very like a hard line austerity or nothing kind of speech. If this doesn’t wake the trade unions up to get up off their knees and fight back I can’t see what will. This is a huge threat to our standard of living. With the original cuts still only about 9% into their 5 year programme things are going to get a hell of a lot worse. Some people still think amazingly that this is just a short term measure to see our finances back on track but I personally believe we are being locked into permanent austerity with this.

This should be a warning shot to the anti cuts movement and the trade unions to prepare for battle. A bigger more concerted battle this time with the willingness to build for a general strike with public and private sectors. We can’t just simply lie down and let this happen we will have no choice but to fight back I feel. More cuts are not the answer with 120 billion going evaded in tax each year the vast majority of austerity cuts could be avoided.

With an investment in public services and a mass house building programme we would not have to endure huge spending cuts. They are not savings at all they cost us more in the long run so do beware of the language these capitalist politicians use.

It is also clear still we need a party that will fight for our interests a new workers party that will reject austerity once and for all. This can only come about by people having the heart to feel ready to build a new party out of the ash’s of a capitalist apocalypse .

Sunday, 22 April 2012

TUSC’s role in the coming elections

Firstly I’d like to say I don’t expect us to win big that may be a given to say that but I really don’t. For us in the socialist party at least our role as we see it is to get the message out there to as many people as we can that there is an alternative to vote for and that the 3 main parties do not offer you a solution to cuts.

We will maybe gain a few decent votes here and there and many I am sure will ridicule this especially others on the left. But to me this does not worry me at all. For now TUSC is a new project of trade unionists and socialists with the backing of the RMT for the first time. Even if we consolidate our base and our name out there and our message which is the most important bit I’ll be happy with our lot. Of course I’d love to win seats all over the country but realistically we are not going to I don’t think. That sea change that spark we talk about has not happened yet and we as Marxists cannot predict what will spark people into that shift in consciousnesses that tells them that the 3 main political parties cannot offer them a alternative and perhaps a grouping like TUSC can. The only way we can appear credible is sticking to your programme and putting it to a wider audience. If we do get comrades elected here and there we can point to the work they do. It is difficult telling people what we would do as it all seems hypothetical to them at present there is no struggle we can point to that highlights the role we can play. We will simply have to be there on every protest, every strike, every election we can manage to publicise our name and program and convince many more to join with us.

For socialist party branch’s participating in TUSC across the country apart from Coventry which has a good base now we are all looking to build our party and our branch’s off the back of election work. We don’t see winning as the be all and end all at the present time. As Marxists we see the situation out there as constantly changing and ebbing and flowing and we can not predict the next spike in consciousness and where the next sharp rise in consciousness will come. We know it will and can prepare ourselves for that shift but we can’t actively predict its arrival.

I myself do feel we can do more at times and we are perhaps not bold enough but are reminded that you can do all the work and canvassing and campaigning as you can possibly do and it still may not affect your election result at the end of the day.

In Stevenage last year where the situation was perhaps different before the cuts had really hit and people wanted to give the lib dems a good kicking. We experimented by canvassing and leafleting one ward like mad and another hardly at all the actual vote turnout was minimal to be honest and our one comrade who stood in Ware got 12 % of the vote and was a paper candidate so you can say do all the work in the world but it ultimately does not matter it’s the objective situation and whether people are prepared to trust you in what you say at that given time.

A whole host of various reasons can be to blame why things are the way they are but until the mass of the working class turn towards electoral politics we will still be making the arguments for no cuts and no to privatisation but there is not that mass of people moving towards us at present.

This does not make our ideas wrong or irrelevant but simply haven’t had the airing yet to a bigger mass of people.

The lack of a mass workers party in this country and across the globe plays its part in a fragmented left in many ways with some clinging to labour for warmth and others doing their best to provide a clear alternative to labour and the other pro capitalist parties.

Things will change and it can happen quickly but I think again this May’s elections will be a good test for us to see how the ground lies but I don’t expect despite my optimism for TUSC and our fantastic campaign for us to make any major breakthroughs just yet. I do hope Dave Nellist is re-elected but I can’t see mass’s of us getting elected right now. Besides this isn’t our major goal at the moment that may come though so we will have to be ready. But just to challenge the consensus that some cuts are necessary gets our message and arguments to a wider audience than we perhaps would be able to at other times of the year.
To be pointing out that labour councils are not opposing the cuts and are not using all their powers including using their reserves and prudential borrowing will be key arguments making the case for elected workers representatives on workers wages as all TUSC elected officials would only take. Our stance of no to all cuts will at some point really hit home I feel as the cuts really begin to flood people and hit home hard I am sure there will be a mass shift to finding the only credible party standing against all cuts and means it.

It is clear to me we are entering a very turbulent time in the class struggle anything ca happen now as George Galloway’s fantastic Bradford west victory showed but we can make that more a regular occurrence in time but this may not come as quickly as we think. We have got to be optimistic but realistic too given the situation.

Friday, 20 April 2012

The life and times of Rosa Luxemburg

I have been reading a bit of the works by Rosa Luxemburg of late and thought I’d give a brief summary of her revolutionary life.

Rosa Luxemburg was born in Poland, 1871 - the year of the Paris Commune. In her short lifetime she experienced three major revolutions and participated in the most important debates amongst socialists internationally.
They did not then have a model of a successful socialist revolution, but were trying to grapple with how workers would move into struggle and become conscious of the need to change society. Rosa was a thinking and 'creative' Marxist, ready to defend the ideas of Marx and Engels but prepared to develop them when necessary.
Hers was an inspirational life, exuding passion and determination, She was passionate in her love of life, about her beliefs and principles and her desire to see an end to all exploitation and oppression. She showed courage and determination, standing firm when in a minority or facing repression, imprisonment, illness, even death.
Rosa became involved in revolutionary politics when she was still at school in Poland. At the age of 18, state repression forced her into exile in Zurich.
When Rosa moved to Germany in 1898 she had already established herself amongst international socialists as a Marxist speaker and thinker. She became active in the German Social Democratic Party (SPO), the largest working-class party in the world. By 1912 it had amassed one million members, 15,000 full-time party workers, 90 daily newspapers, youth and women's sections and 2.5 million affiliated trade unionists.
The party described itself as Marxist and revolutionary but had never been tested in struggle. The end of the nineteenth century saw an economic upswing allowing the German ruling class to buy a degree of industrial peace through some economic and social improvements. But the repressive regime restricted political activity.
Despite her youth and the internationally recognised political authority of the German SPD leaders, Rosa would speak out if she disagreed with their political orientation. Sometimes she confronted overt sexism from an overwhelmingly male leadership unaccustomed to confident female revolutionary leaders.
Her first real test came when Eduard Bernstein, an SPD leader, challenged the basic ideas of Marxism. Capitalism, he argued, had overcome its basic contradictions, Economic crises had been eliminated through credit, the development of monopolies and 'globalisation', The SPD should no longer stand for class struggle and revolutionary change but economic, social and political reform within the existing system.
In her famous pamphlet Social reform or revolution which is one of the pieces I have been most interested in reading as I feel capitalism will look to reformist measures in the future to save its system, Rosa Luxemburg argued that capitalism may have experienced a prolonged economic upswing but it hadn't solved its contradictions. Credit could only temporarily delay a crisis and would also intensify it, Monopoly capitalism had not eradicated competition which was sharpening between the imperialist countries resulting in further conflict when war broke out in 1914.
Bernstein's theory of gradual reform of capitalism was utopian, she argued. As capitalism moved into crisis the capitalist class would attack the wages and conditions of workers. The fight for revolutionary change in society was as relevant as ever.
How do working people become conscious that society needs to be transformed and that they have the power to change it? For Rosa, reform and revolution were inextricably linked.
By struggling for economic, social and democratic reforms on a daily basis, workers become more confident, better organised and aware of the need to fight for a fundamental transformation in the way society is structured.
Bernstein's arguments were defeated at three SPO congresses. But over the next few years the gap between revolutionary theory and practice widened. Day-to-day activities, especially standing in parliamentary elections, became increasingly divorced from the struggle for revolutionary change. Sections of the leadership were conservative arid bureaucratised, holding back the movement of the working class.
Rosa, more than anyone else, recognised the dangers. She waged a constant struggle against reformism within the SPD. When revolution broke out in Russia in 1905 she grasped the opportunity to try and shake the leadership out of its conservative complacency.
A new historical period was opening up. In The Mass Strike she describes how Russian workers were striking in their thousands; how their strikes became generalised and political giving confidence to less organised workers to strike for their own economic demands.
She lambasted the SPD leaders who argued that mass strikes were purely Russian and not relevant to Germany. The growing crisis of capitalism would push the German working class into following their Russian brothers and sisters, she argued.
Rosa emphasised the spontaneous nature of the strike movement. Some critics have used this to argue that Rosa ignored the role that a revolutionary socialist party plays, believing that spontaneous mass movements alone would be sufficient to change society. This is a crude misrepresentation of Rosa's thinking.
Her aim was to shake up the ossified German leadership who either thought that mass strikes were irrelevant or could be organised at will by the party regardless of economic social and political conditions.
She bent the stick towards spontaneity but also recognised the necessity of a revolutionary party, which could unite together the most conscious workers to give a lead in a revolutionary situation. In her words, the party must not 'fold its arms" and wait for a spontaneous movement of the people to 'fall from heaven" but instead "hurry on ahead of the development of things and seek to accelerate it."
But in the concrete situation in Germany Rosa didn't draw the necessary organisational conclusions. She was confident that when German workers moved into struggle they would either push the SPD leaders into taking a more revolutionary position, or replace them in the course of struggle.
Lenin was critical of this approach, as he was of Rosa's position on the national question. In Russia he pursued a very different course, patiently pulling together a core of revolutionary Marxists around a clearly defined political programme. Politically and organisationally cohesive, the Bolsheviks successfully gave leadership to the revolutionary movement in Russia, 1917.
Rosa's failure to organise a coherent political and organisational opposition to the SPD leadership proved fatal both to the outcome of the German revolution and to her own life. Individual political and personal courage were on there own insufficient for the historical tasks at hand.
The bankruptcy of the SPD leadership was laid bare in 1914 when they backed the war aims of the German capitalist class. Only a handful of revolutionaries around Rosa Luxemburg initially opposed the imperialist war. Rosa herself spent much of the war in prison.
In 1916 an attempt was made to strengthen organised revolutionary opposition to the war through the formation of the Spartacus League. Though it attracted some of the best youth and workers in Germany it remained a loose 'network' rather than a cohesive political party.
When the German revolution finally erupted in November 1918, the Spartacus League and its successor the German Communist Party (KPD) (formed in the heat of the revolution) were too weak to lead the working class to successfully overthrow capitalism as the Bolsheviks had in Russia 1917.
The state forces, with SPD leaders at their head, reasserted control and crushed the revolution, brutally murdering Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebnecht and many other heroic revolutionary workers.
As the revolution faced imminent defeat and she faced possible death, Rosa confidently wrote: 'The revolution will come back and announce I was, am, I shall be". Within five years of her death, she was proved right as revolution broke in Germany 1923.
As socialists today we maintain Rosa's confidence that working-class people will struggle to change society. But we combine that confidence with a determination to learn from her mistakes and build a party, which can ensure that next time the struggle, will be successful.

With thanks to the socialist party for extracts on rosa’s life.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Ireland, reject the treaty reject austerity !

The “Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union” is a treaty to institutionalise synchronised austerity across Europe at the expense of basic democratic rights. If implemented, it will mean a further assault on the living standards of working people and will further deepen the economic crisis.
The central reason why this is an Austerity Treaty is the enforcement of the “balanced budget” rule contained in Article 3. This rule imposes a maximum structural deficit of 0.5% for a country with a debt to GDP ratio of greater than 60%, and 1% for other countries. Exceeding that amount will trigger an automatic “correction mechanism” - which means cutbacks and extra taxes.
What is a structural deficit? Essentially, it is a measurement of the deficit in an economy when cyclical movements in the economy and one-off expenditures are taken out of the equation. However, how to determine it is a matter of a lot of debate between economists with the result that different institutions can come up with very different figures. For example the IMF estimates that Ireland ran a structural deficit of 5.4% of GDP in 2006, while the EU Commission estimated a surplus of 2.2%! It also is really something that can only be measured with the benefit of hindsight, with the result that structural deficit estimates differ radically over time.
Countries that are in bailout programmes are shielded from these targets until they exit. Ireland is currently due to exit in 2014. The Department of Finance estimates that in 2015, Ireland will have a strucutral deficit of 3.7%. Bringing that down to 0.5% would mean at least €5.7 billion worth of extra cuts and taxes. It is more likely that the Commission would give Ireland a few years to meet the target. A target of 2017 would simply mean extending that austerity over three years, with around €2 billion of extra austerity per year. Those cuts would further reduce GDP, therefore necessitating yet more cuts!
If it is passed and implemented across Europe, this Treaty will not bring stability and growth, it threatens an absolute disaster. Austerity is already destroying lives and economies across Europe – with the Greek economy in freefall as a direct result, the Portuguese economy continuing to shrink and the Irish economy set to become the first in the EU to have six consecutive years of declining domestic demand.
According to the European Commission, in 2013, 18 countries out of 25 will have a structural deficit greater than their target, with an average deficit of 2.6 per cent. Reducing these deficits to the target levels in 2013 would mean at least €166 billion worth of cuts and extra taxes. That would have a devastating impact on the European economy. If a longer timeframe is given by the Commission, this will simply mean the same savage austerity drawn out over years.
A bondholders' Treaty
Article 4 requires countries with a debt to GDP ratio of over 60% to reduce it by one twentieth of the excess per year. In theory, there are two ways in which this ratio could be reduced. GDP could be increased or the debt itself could be reduced through paying back the principal. In practice, because of the austerity policies already being pursued and the implications of Article 3, the option of significant GDP growth is effectively ruled out.
Therefore, this Article in effect calls for a massive pay back of debt to the bondholders! In the Eurozone as a whole, the debt to GDP ratio is at 85%. Reducing that to 60% without GDP growth would require a reduction of €2.3 trillion of debt. This is a recipe for yet more austerity that will provoke a further contraction across Europe.
Ireland's debt to GDP ratio is likely to be around 120% in 2015. Reducing the debt to GDP ratio by one twentieth of the excess per year will therefore mean paying back €4.5 billion per year in principal to the bondholders on top of the €9 billion a year we will be paying in interest rates. This debt will only be paid back on the basis of yet more savage austerity imposed on working people.
Restrictions of major public investment
Articles three and four together demonstrate how this is an austerity Treaty in the interests of the bondholders and speculators. This is not simply one off austerity, but an attempt to enshrine it “through provisions of binding force and permanent character”. They mean that engaging in expansionary fiscal policy will be effectively made illegal.
While it is the case that often achieving a structural balance would be a worthwhile aim, it also often makes sense for a state to engage in borrowing and deficit spending in order to create employment and develop the economy. The need for massive public investment is particularly evident right now in Ireland. 450,000 people are on the live register and private sector investment has collapsed. Despite an increase in profits for the private sector (the gross operating surplus of non-financial corporations increasing by €2.6 billion in 2010) investment continues to decline (by €30 billion since 2007). On the basis of relying on the private sector, it is simply wishful thinking to suggest that the financial resources will be put together with the available skills and talents of labour to create jobs and wealth in our economy.
That is why massive public sector programmes are needed to get people back to work, as well as improving our infrastructure and developing our economy. If big business is not willing to invest, the key sections of the economy should be taken out of private ownership and into democratic public ownership and a democratic plan developed based on massive public sector investment to redevelop the economy.
Attack on democracy
The Fiscal Treaty is part of a process, with the economic crisis, that has seen significant attacks on democratic rights within the EU. For example, the unelected and unaccountable European Central Bank has become increasingly powerful – sending detailed prescriptions of austerity measures to the Italian governments for them to carry out. The unelected European Commission has played a central role in the removal of elected governments in Italy and Greece and their replacement by bankers' governments. This treaty is a significant attack on the basic democratic right to elect a government to decide on budgetary and economic strategy. It does this in two key ways.
Firstly, with the balanced budget rule it effectively ties future governments to the same economic policies as this one – neo-liberalism and austerity. It rules out governments running structural deficits – which could be used for investment in vital public works, to engage in necessary public spending and so on. It is surely one of the most basic requirements of a democracy that people are free to vote for different economic policies.
This has not come out of the blue – it is part of a process whereby economic policy has been technocratised. There has been a conscious attempt to use the crisis (a crisis of capitalism caused by speculators, bankers, neo-liberalism and deregulation, let us remember) to move economic policy out of the sphere of democratic discussion and to turn it into a purely technical question. So neo-liberalism is not posed as a policy choice, it is simply “responsible” behaviour.
The second key proposal diminishing democracy is the mechanism for countries to be effectively placed in administration. This is contained in Article 5 of the treaty, which says that countries in an “excessive deficit procedure” have to put in place a “budgetary and economic partnership programme including a detailed description of the structural reforms which must be put in place and implemented to ensure an effective and durable correction of their excessive deficits.” These programmes will be endorsed and monitored by the European Commission and Council. In this way there is a surrender of budgetary powers to the Commission and Council; consequently it will not only be countries in receipt of bailout funds like Ireland, Greece and Portugal that will have their budgets effectively written by these powers.
A neo-liberal Europe
With the economic crisis, the illusions that so-called social democrats promoted about a supposedly social Europe have been smashed by the reality of a neo-liberal Europe. This Treaty goes further along that road of diminishing democratic checks and accountability of the leading bodies in Europe, in order to create a Europe where the interests of the bankers and billionaires come first. This Treaty writes economic policy into law in their interests, at the expense of the vast majority who will suffer under austerity. It must be met with a vigorous No campaign in the referendum but also with struggle in the streets and workplaces by workers across Europe against their agenda.

With thanks to Paul Murphy MEP of the socialist party ULA in Ireland for this e xcellent article on the bits I don’t fully understand.

Why this weekends Bahrain grand prix should not be going ahead

This weekend to many peoples astonishment the formula one world championship heads to Bahrain. Despite all that has gone on in that country over the last year the boss’s of F1 is still intent on heading to this country with its fair share of issues.

The semi-feudal dictatorship crushed pro-democracy protests last year and has used torture and show trials against its dissidents.
This weekend Bahrain is due to host a F1 motor racing event. F1 teams are participating on the grounds that the event is "safe", and multimillionaire F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says 'don't mix sport and politics'.
Other reasons might be that the UK based McLaren F1 team is 40% owned by Bahrain's ruling family who also own 50% of the McLaren car group and that the event is worth $25 million to F1.

It is clear to me that the money for this event is far more important to the likes of Bernie ecclestone and the like far more so than the killings of innocent people protesting against their dictatorial government in Bahrain. If the boss’s of formula one had any conscience at all they’d cancel this race and respect the people of Bahrain and not rub salt in their wounds. It is an insult to hold a race like this as if nothing has happened and is still happening today. No doubt the security will be water tight there and the drivers will be safe but that is no consolation to those ordinary Bahrainians on the outside fighting for a better life for themselves struggling to get by day to day.

To me this symbolises everything about capitalists that they value their money and increasing their profits over the safety of others. They don’t care that hundreds and thousands of people in Bahrain have been brutally tortured and oppressed for months on end just as long as their precious GP and money keeps happening.

But hey what are a few people dead they will never have known to a capitalist wanting to increase his profits though

What it will do is show to the world that profits are put ahead of ordinary people even more. Its time that this was stopped and peoples freedom granted once and for all.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Unemployment slightly down but still the fight for jobs continues

as I blogged about yesterday the National minimum wage is now worth 9% less than what it was when introduced in 1999. But today’s unemployment figures make even more gloomy reading. The con-dem government are trying to put a spin on it saying that the figures are coming down and unemployment is falling but I am not convinced.

Like myself in part time work its not a happy existence earning poor money and not working enough hours to get much in benefits but now Part-time Britain reaches new record, As more people than ever before are in part time work many taking more than one part time job just to get by. This in affect is the working poor if you like those who are made to feel lucky to be in work but do not earn nearly enough to live. These who are in work are also living in poverty still. The number of unemployed women hits 25-year high too this due to the fact that many more women work in the public sector than men and the government are attacking public sector workers hard with their savage public spending cuts. Aswell as this long-term joblessness reaches worst total since 1996 so now try telling me we are getting better and the shoots of the recovery are there for all to see

They are not and it’s clear to me that it’s only going to get worse for the 99%. As 90% of the cuts are still yet to happen I still see us being trapped in eternal austerity of pay freezes, pay cuts, job cuts and service closures. While the 99% take austerity the 1% however is increasing their wealth year on year sitting on bigger and bigger funds playing the stock market and creaming off huge profits. We hear today Tesco and their profits are down but this is only down to the fact people are not spending so much due to as I say less pay and job loss’s people are naturally being more careful what they spend.

So I still say we need a mass socially useful job creation project launched to get people back to work including young people with a proper living wage for all with trade union rights to fight for decent pay and conditions.

It is key that groups like youth fight for jobs continue the fight for decent jobs and education to give people hope that there is an alternative out there to be realised. But I’m afraid there is no solution under capitalism. Just endless austerity. Its time to fight for a change of society a change of direction a society based on the millions not for the millionaires.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

minimum wage is 9% lower in real terms than when introduced , fight for a living wage now !

The minimum wage was one of the better things new labor did it gave young people protection by the law in terms of low pay.

One of the better ideas by labour didn’t stop it finding difficulties as I have blogged on before many companies and employers find ways around paying minimum wage which still sits at a tiny level in 2012.

As the socialist party and youth fight for jobs we fight everyday for levels of pay and conditions which are falling all the time. At the moment the national minimum wage isn’t under huge threat from being scrapped but there may come a day. But while this is the case we must continue to fight hard and doggedly for a national living wage keeping pace with inflation as a reformist measure for workers.

As Marxists we are not reformist we may fight dam hard for the best reforms for working class people but also point out that reforms will never last and will be given with one hand and taken with the other by the ruling class.

SO a national living wage of 8 pounds an hour rising to 10 pounds an hour as a sliding scale of wages would be our stance. With trade union recognition in all workplaces and the right to join a trade union.

Everything is up for grabs right now and the minimum wage is not safe at all may be for now but it will come back on the agenda. It was just the other year Phillip Davies a Tory MP suggested disabled people taking jobs for less than minimum wage just to get work. How insulting. Gives me further impotence to fight for a living wage and ultimately the means of production to be in the hands of the working class where the wage labor system is abolished for good.

The minimum wage is no longer at the rate it was when it was introduced due to the cost of living and inflation. Yet no one is pointing this out only us labour who introduced the law is silent on the issue as they like the Tories are servants to the capitalist system and are in the pockets of big business and the bankers.

As well as fighting for a national living wage this must be linked to the need for a new workers party which can provide reforms with the eventual goal of transforming society to one based on everybody’s needs.

minimum wage is 9% lower in real terms than when introduced . , fight for a living wage now !

|We need a living wage for all!

The minimum wage was one of the better things new labor did it gave young people protection by the law in terms of low pay.

One of the better ideas by labour didn’t stop it finding difficulties as I have blogged on before many companies and employers find ways around paying minimum wage which still sits at a tiny level in 2012.

As the socialist party and youth fight for jobs we fight everyday for levels of pay and conditions which are falling all the time. At the moment the national minimum wage isn’t under huge threat from being scrapped but there may come a day. But while this is the case we must continue to fight hard and doggedly for a national living wage keeping pace with inflation as a reformist measure for workers.

As Marxists we are not reformist we may fight dam hard for the best reforms for working class people but also point out that reforms will never last and will be given with one hand and taken with the other by the ruling class.

SO a national living wage of 8 pounds an hour rising to 10 pounds an hour as a sliding scale of wages would be our stance. With trade union recognition in all workplaces and the right to join a trade union.

Everything is up for grabs right now and the minimum wage is not safe at all may be for now but it will come back on the agenda. It was just the other year Phillip Davies a Tory MP suggested disabled people taking jobs for less than minimum wage just to get work. How insulting. Gives me further impotence to fight for a living wage and ultimately the means of production to be in the hands of the working class where the wage labor system is abolished for good.

The minimum wage is no longer at the rate it was when it was introduced due to the cost of living and inflation. Yet no one is pointing this out only us labour who introduced the law is silent on the issue as they like the Tories are servants to the capitalist system and are in the pockets of big business and the bankers.

As well as fighting for a national living wage this must be linked to the need for a new workers party which can provide reforms with the eventual goal of transforming society to one based on everybody’s needs.

minimum wage is now 9% lower in real terms than when introduced . , fight for a living wage !

The minimum wage was one of the better things new labor did it gave young people protection by the law in terms of low pay.

One of the better ideas by labour didn’t stop it finding difficulties as I have blogged on before many companies and employers find ways around paying minimum wage which still sits at a tiny level in 2012.

As the socialist party and youth fight for jobs we fight everyday for levels of pay and conditions which are falling all the time. At the moment the national minimum wage isn’t under huge threat from being scrapped but there may come a day. But while this is the case we must continue to fight hard and doggedly for a national living wage keeping pace with inflation as a reformist measure for workers.

As Marxists we are not reformist we may fight dam hard for the best reforms for working class people but also point out that reforms will never last and will be given with one hand and taken with the other by the ruling class.

SO a national living wage of 8 pounds an hour rising to 10 pounds an hour as a sliding scale of wages would be our stance. With trade union recognition in all workplaces and the right to join a trade union.

Everything is up for grabs right now and the minimum wage is not safe at all may be for now but it will come back on the agenda. It was just the other year Phillip Davies a Tory MP suggested disabled people taking jobs for less than minimum wage just to get work. How insulting. Gives me further impotence to fight for a living wage and ultimately the means of production to be in the hands of the working class where the wage labor system is abolished for good.

The minimum wage is no longer at the rate it was when it was introduced due to the cost of living and inflation. Yet no one is pointing this out only us labour who introduced the law is silent on the issue as they like the Tories are servants to the capitalist system and are in the pockets of big business and the bankers.

As well as fighting for a national living wage this must be linked to the need for a new workers party which can provide reforms with the eventual goal of transforming society to one based on everybody’s needs.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Are the rich feeling charitable ?

Allot of noise is being made of late about the rich and the levels of tax they pay. David Cameron wish’s to see a return of a society where the rich pay towards helping the poor more.
Philanthropy in other words. This is not to help the poor or to benefit them but to aid the rich in reducing their tax bill by giving some of their wealth away. The rich don’t do things to help the poor if there isn’t anything in it for them. Call me cynical but the rich only care about increasing their own wealth.

With Cameron and his Tories trying to replace public services with charity this is their idea of helping the poor. It’s an insult and highly patronising and all this is to aid the rich and their conscience.

The Tories say charity is more important than ever before but this is nonsense as they carry on cutting charitable funding from the government .
The better way to help the poor would be to reverse the cuts and invest in socially useful jobs and services to get people into work instead of making rich donations to ease their guilt of exploitation the poor which is fundamental to capitalism and the mode of production.

With the rich evading huge figures of tax a year a huge drive to tax the rich a hell of a lot more is desperatly needed with the aim of eventually bringing the commanding heights of the economy into public hands under workers control to benifit the millions not the millionaires

It’s time we pointed out charity should not be needed if society was equal and there wasn’t such huge gaps in wealth between the rich and the poor. It’s time to end this unfair system and replace it with a socialist planned society based on people’s needs over the benefit of a few rich individuals.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Helping to re-elect Dave Nellist a true class fighter in Coventry

Today and many comrades descended on Coventry St Michaels ward in particular to help out the big push to mass canvas the whole ward on behalf of our sitting socialist councillor Dave Nellist

Dave has a proud record of defending working people in Coventry having been a city councillor for 14 years now standing by his socialist principles for all that time. So it was testament to this that so many had turned out from all over the country to help campaign for Dave’s re-election.

Dave Nellist who has always only taken the average wage of a skilled workr not the 60 K plus expenses other politicians do still till this day. He was expelled from the Labour party for refusing to pay his poll tax and rightly so as the poll tax was rightly roundly defeated not long after. A true gentleman who I had the pleasure of meeting last summer is a real genuine class fighter too on our side.
The 2 hour journey up to Coventry was good and all comrades were in good spirits heading up
When we got to Coventry we found the Coventry comrades have been doing a fantastic job and have covered large areas of the ward already.

With a ward with a turnover of residents of between 40 and 50% a year it is a very hard ward to win. With the ward being made bigger to include different parts each time in order to unseat Dave and the level of working class supporters becoming less and less not due to the lack of support that’s still as strong as ever but due to the turnover of residents as a high student area with a very multi cultural diverse make up of residents.

We were split up in to various teams and covered most if not all of the ward I’d have thought I was shattered by the end but I was very encouraged for the movements and Dave Nellists chances of being re-elected. Of course we cant take anything for granted in politics and we’d be foolish to rest on our laurels but as Dave said before we all set off they wouldn’t have tried to get so many comrades down to help out as they did if they didn’t think they had a chance of winning back the seat.
The labour party locally try to scare voters into voting labour by saying only labour can beat the tories. We know this is simply not true as Dave has beaten both labour and the tories the last few times.

Having Dave on the city council as was felt on many doorsteps today is very important and gives ordinary people a voice inside the council chamber. Dave has consistently opposed all the cuts and has voted against them too. Some will argue can Dave make a difference being the only socialist in the council

I’d argue he does and if he wasn’t there anyone would represent you the cuts would be voted through straight off with no opposition at all. At least Dave draws attention to labours hypocrisy and anti working class actions by passing on all of the Tory cuts in Coventry by showing opposition he can show what a opposition could do if there were more of us which we intend on doing in the years to come.

I was inspired today that a movement is growing against the cuts and against the rich. There is a feeling that things can’t just go on and something needs to happen. No doubt the George Galloway victory will give people confidence to vote for who they want a bit more now rather than voting to keep a certain party out. As we have explained the time old argument of we got to vote labour to keep the Tories out is waning fast as has been shown there is little difference any longer you can fit a cigarette packet between the parties in terms of policies nowadays. As someone rightly said the Tories want to cut this week labour the next. Where is the alternative and opposition in that I ask you ?

With George Galloway sending Dave a good luck message and offering to come and speak on a public platform with Dave in coventry there is certainly a groundswell of support out there to be tapped into i feel.

So please if you live in Coventry or can lend Dave Nellist your support between now and may the 3rd please do. Every vote matters and every vote counts. Your vote can make a difference this year.

Vote for a socialist alternative in Coventry and across Britain this may with TUSC