Saturday, 11 May 2013
TUSC andLeft Unity, where is the unity ?
Is a very good question I’d suggest. Firstly I don’t wish to criticise any group of people in particular but the recent rise of the left unity project has concerned me on several levels. I did post my initial thoughts on left unit a few weeks back not to everyons liking apparently but the early signs ar not great. The call for unity on the left and for a new party of the left was made by Ken Loach the radical left wing film director who’s recent film “the spirit of 45” has inspired 8 thousand people so far to sign a petition which is a founding idea for a new party. This weekend we hear of the left unity project holding their first national conference. TUSC the Trade Union and Socialist Coalitin of which I’m apart of and stood for recently tried to attend todays left unity meeting in a comradely open manner but apparently were turned away at the door. So much for left unity comrades ? There is much sectarian behaviour on the left right now why did left unity feel the need to set itself up without even acknowledging the existence of TUSC. I mean fair enough you may not agree withTUSC and think it doesn’t go far enough but to go ahead and try setting up a new party without even considerin to involve TUSC and its partners the RMT too smack’s of a bit of sectarian behaviour I’ve noticed for a while. Those who groaned when the left set up rival anti cuts bodies will now surely be smiling again as it looks like history is repeating itself with two rival left of labour projects. Of course we don’t know what left unity will stand for yet or what their aims are I’m sure we’ll find out in due course but for the two projects to not evn enter into some sort of discussion is very sad in my view. I’m a member of the socialit party and any new left party or mass workers party will likely and hopefully in my view see us involved others on the left who are turned off by the likes of us and the SWP and our behaviour over the years cannot simply wish us out of existence. They cantry and ignore us but I think that would be incredible sectarian as we can offer many ideas and organisational practises whichhave worked well for us in the past. For example all elected reps subject to immediate recall, no elected official to receive more than the average wage of a skilled worker and democracy at every level of the party with no appointed officials for them all to be elected by the membership. Key principles I think we uphold to and any new formation on theleft should stick to too. Disappointment and disenchantment with the Labour Party, exemplified by 8,000 signing up in support of the Left Unity statement, is hardly new. For example, when Arthur Scargill broke from the Labour Party the potential existed to immediately rally many thousands. But Scargill did not want any of the groups. He wanted to be the unchallenged labour dictator The most farcical of the SLP’s anti-democratic practices was Scargill’s use of the bloc vote of an ‘affiliated organisation’ - the North West, Cheshire and Cumbria Miners Association, made up of retired members of the National Union of Mineworkers. If conference looked as though it would vote the ‘wrong’ way, Arthur would ensure with just a nod and a wink that the NWCCMA delegates put their 3,000 votes to good use. Any new party or project bringing together Marxists and the left needs democracy at its heart. It cannot function or call itself a party with democracy as a added option in my view. WE strive to maintain democracy in the socialist party and I believe we do so very well. I know at this stage groups like TUSC, respect, Left unity etc hold up broad almost social democratic programmes clearly anti capitalist in nature but comparing these programmes which are small deliberately atthis stage they are often to the right of where we claim to stand. Take the SWP’s adventure with respect many of respects policies were decided and developed to please the likes of George Galloway and other big names involved. The SWP therefore foun itself making bigger and bigger concessions to keep them sweet. We are all aware of George Galloways out of touch views on the likes of abortion and the question of rape too more recently but When these questions came up more often than not respect fudged these difficult questions and left open ended questions like a womans right to choose very broad so you could red into it that it’s a womans right to choose whether to wear a head scarf or not. Not very clear comrades. There is an extraordinary paradox. As capitalism has gone into deeper and deeper into crisis, not only have we seen the Labour Party move further and further to the right, along with the whole of bourgeois society: the left itself has also been moving to the right. And it is common sense amongst comrades on the left that, while within the privacy of our own groups we can talk about Marxism, socialism, the history of our movement and the difficult ideas it has grappled with, when it comes to the ‘children’ - that is, the working class, a class that is meant to liberate itself - we pretend, especially when standing in elections, that really we are just like Labour used to be. That we are committed to a parliamentary road to socialism, to welfarism, to some sort of Keynesian golden age: in short that we are born-again Labourites. Now, I am not arguing that we ought to stand under a banner which simply reads ‘Revolution now!’ In fact we do stand for reforms. Quite clearly we are not in a revolutionary situation and in terms of readying our class to become the ruling class reforms are essential. We must have more democracy, we must have more power within capitalism. So it is not an argument about reform or revolution: it is an argument about what sort of reforms we want and how we go about getting them. That is the question. any Left Unity programme should explicitly state that it is about superseding capitalism. With that in mind it is also vital to stress internationalism. Socialism cannot be achieved in Britain alone. Nor can it be achieved even in Europe alone - though I think we need a bold, pan-European strategic perspective. Socialism is the task of the working class of all countries; socialism is the total transformation of all existing conditions. So, yes, we must argue that Left Unity must have a clear programme that commits us to the global supersession of capitalism. Of course, we have to defend and advance the existing gains of the working class. But that can best be done through a class struggle that does not stop at the shores of Britain.