Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Is it possible to imagine an Anarchist International, a trans-national version of the inchoate but impassioned demonstrations that have ravaged Greece this month? (Perhaps because it is easier to say what Greece’s malcontents are against than what they are for, the word “anarchist” is an accepted catch-all term for the anti-establishment rebels who form the hard core of the Athenian protesters.)
By definition, anarchy is harder to propagate than rigid Leninism. Whatever is spreading from Athens, it is not a clear programme for a better world. The malcontents of Greece include ideological class warriors, nostalgists for the protests against the junta of 1967-74 and people (including drug dealers and bank robbers) with a grudge against the police. Relations between police and the counter-culture have worsened recently; the police are accused (rightly) of bullying migrants, the bohemians of dallying with terrorism. A messy scene, with no obvious message.
But the psychological impulse behind the Greek protests—a sense of rage against all authority, which came to a head after a 15-year-old boy was killed by a police bullet—can now be transmitted almost instantaneously, in ways that would make the Bolsheviks very jealous. These days, images (moving as well as still) spread faster than words; and images, of course, transcend language barriers.
E-communications are now a familiar feature in pro-democracy protests against dictators. Equally fast-moving, say specialists, is the role of technology in what might be called “undemocratic protests”: violent acts in prosperous, networked societies.
This became obvious during the French riots of 2005, when teenagers posted blogs that urged people to “burn the cops”—and made massive use of text messages to co-ordinate the protests. The youths that trashed Budapest in 2006 relied on blogs to enlist supporters, and distribute an audio recording of the prime minister admitting government corruption.
Hungarian blogs were also used to aggregate visual evidence of police brutality. There were novel online projects such as an “Interactive Riot Walkthrough”, which superimposed photos of the latest events on a map of Budapest, offering “virtual tours” of the city as it burned.
Already, the Greek riots are prompting talk of a new era of networked protest. The volume of online content they have inspired is remarkable. Photos and videos of the chaos, often shot with cellphones, were posted online almost in real time. Twitter, a service for exchanging short messages, has brimmed with live reports from the streets of Athens, most of them in Greek but a few in English.
A tribute to the slain teenager—a clip of photos with music from a popular rock band—appeared on YouTube, the video-sharing site, shortly after his death; more than 160,000 people have seen it. A similar tribute group on Facebook has attracted more than 130,000 members, generating thousands of messages and offering links to more than 1,900 related items: images of the protests, cartoons and leaflets.
A memorial was erected in Second Life, a popular virtual environment, giving its users a glimpse of real-life material from the riots. Many other online techniques—such as maps detailing police deployments and routes of the demonstrations—came of age in Athens. And as thousands of photos and videos hit non-Greek blogs and forums, small protests were triggered in many European cities, including Istanbul and Madrid. Some 32 people were arrested in Copenhagen.
The spread of sympathy protests over what began as a local Greek issue has big implications for the more formal anti-globalisation movement. That movement has ignored the idea of spontaneous but networked protest, and instead focused on taking large crowds to set-piece events like summits. Such methods look outdated now. Governments are not the only things that networked “anarchy” threatens.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
In return the British state and it's apologists have spat on them and their son's memory.
the best that they have been able to achieve has been an open verdict at the inquest (and only then due to the bravery of the jury in rejecting the pressure from the police and the coroner) and not a single policeman or woman having to face responsibility for Jean Charles' murder.
After the murder of Alexandros Grigoropolous the streets of every city and large town in Greece have been ablaze with the righteous anger (and petrol bombs) of a youth enraged with the desire to gain justice for Alexi!
One week after Alexi's murder the pigs who killed him are facing charges of murder!
I hold the de Menzies in the greatest respect and hope with all my heart that they gain justice.
but the next time anyone loftily opines that "Violence never achieves anything," or how non violent protest is the only, or the best way, of winning anything; ask them about Alexi and Jean Charles.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
This pamphlet was written by members of the SPGB in 1932, in reply to those who argued that the Wall Street crash was the final crisis of capitalism; instead they insisted that Crisis was a essential feature of capitalism and that the system will not collapse without the active revolutionary action of the working class. I disagree with the SPGB about what constitutes revolutionary action, but the essentials of this pamphlet are still relevant especially in reply to the opportunism of today's state lefties and Trotskyists in response to the latest 'credit crunch' crisis.
Why Capitalism Will Not Collapse
Our view of the crisis 
We are in the midst of a crisis that is world-wide. Every country feels its ravages. Millions and millions of workers are unemployed and in acute poverty. Everywhere there is discontent and a feeling of insecurity, and the prestige of even the strongest of governments has been shaken. All sorts of emergency measures have been hastily adopted, but the depression still continues. Working men and women who normally ignore such questions, are now asking why the crisis has occurred, what will be its outcome, and whether it could have been avoided. In some minds there is a fear, and in others a hope, that the industrial crisis may bring the present system of society down in ruins, and make way for another.
The Socialist Party of Great Britain answers those questions in this small pamphlet. The answer is worth the consideration of every working man or woman, as it concerns the great social problem—the problem of poverty. Our views on the crisis are set out here with the hope that workers who read them may be led on to study more seriously the principles of Socialism. One great obstacle has first to be overcome. The worker, seeing the inability of the experts to agree among themselves, may doubt his own capacity to understand the problem that other and seemingly wiser heads have found so baffling. Do not be put off by that idea. Working men and women, who make and tend the wonderful machinery of modern industry, and who carry out the intricate operations of trade and finance, have powers of thought that are well able to grasp the basic problems of politics and economics. We who address you are also workers, and we know that only the lack of desire and of confidence has hitherto prevented the mass of the workers from thinking these things out for themselves.
The reader is asked to remember that this pamphlet is not merely the opinion of an individual—it is the view of the Socialist Party. Moreover, it is not the product simply of the present trade depression. It is based upon the writings of many who have given special study to past crises and to the workings of the social system in which these crises have taken place. We are especially indebted to the fruitful and painstaking work of Marx. The S. P. G. B. has held the views set down here, not for a short while only, but ever since its members took up the problem at the formation of the Party over 27 years ago. All that has happened since has confirmed our view of crises. It has also deepened our conviction that in the theory of Marx the wage-earners will fund valuable instruments with which to work for their emancipation.
I. FEARS THAT CAPITALISM WILL COLLAPSE.
The purpose of the Socialist Party is to show the working class the need for a complete alteration in the organisation of society. The basis of Capitalism is the private ownership of the land, the factories, the railways and the rest of the means of life. This is the root cause of poverty, insecurity and wars, and of a whole host of other evils. The remedy lies in making the means of production the common property of society. In other words, the working class must replace the existing social system, known as Capitalism, by a system of common ownership and democratic control, known as Socialism. But our work has been made more difficult by the idea that Capitalism may collapse of its own accord. It is clear that if Capitalism were going to collapse under the weight of its own problems then it would be a waste of time and energy to carry on socialist propaganda and to build up a real socialist party aiming at political power. If it were true, as is claimed, that Capitalism will have broken down long before it will be possible for us to win over a majority for the capture of political power, then, indeed, it would be necessary to seek Socialism by some other means. Workers who have accepted this wrong and lazy idea of collapse have neglected many activities that are absolutely essential. They have taken up the fatalistic attitude of waiting for the system to end itself. But the system is not so obliging!
At first sight there seems to be a ground for this idea. Capitalism from time to time develops acute industrial and financial crises; and at the depth of these it does appear to many observers that there is no way out, and that society cannot continue at all unless some way out is found. Men of very different social position and political convictions have been driven to this conclusion—reactionaries and revolutionaries, bankers and merchants, employers and wage-earners.
Let us go over some of the statements made by those who have foretold collapse, and notice how much alike they are. Notice, too, how each one falsifies the preceding ones. The fact of another crisis taking place is proof enough that the earlier crises did not turn out to be insoluble—the patient cannot have more than one fatal attack.
During the 19th century there were about ten well-marked crises. One commenced in England in 1825. William Huskisson, a former President of the Board of Trade, wrote about it in a letter dated 30th December, 1829:
"I consider the country to be in a most unsatisfactory state, that some great convulsion must soon take place . . . I hear of the distress of the agricultural, the manufactural, the commercial, the West Indian, and all trading interests. . . I am told land can neither pay rent nor taxes nor rates, that no merchant has any legitimate business . . . I am also told that the whole race of London shopkeepers are nearly ruined" (Huskisson Papers, pub. Constable, 1931, page 310).
Another crisis occurred in the eighteen-eighties, and was dealt with by Lord Randolph Churchill in a speech at Blackpool, in 1884:
"We are suffering from a depression of trade extending as far back as 1874, ten years of trade depression, and the most hopeful either among our capitalists or our artisans can discover no signs of a revival. Your iron industry is dead, dead as mutton; your coal industries, which depend greatly on the iron industries, are languishing. Your silk industry is dead, assassinated by the foreigner. Your woollen industry is in articulo mortis, grasping, struggling. Your cotton industry is seriously sick. The ship-building industry, which held out longest of all, is come to a standstill. Turn your eyes where you will, survey any branch of British industry you like, you will find signs of mortal disease" (Lord Randolph Churchill by Winston Churchill, M. P., pub. Macmillan & Co Ltd, London, 1906, Vol 1, page 291).
There is one important thing to notice about the two statements above. Huskisson wrote at a time when England was a protectionist country. He was an advocate of free-trade. Lord Randolph Churchill spoke at a time when England had long been a free-trade country. He was an advocate of protection. It is clear that neither free-trade nor protection offers a solution for trade depressions, and that the return to protection in March, 1932, will not prevent further crises.
Of late we have been asked to take a very serious view of the alleged "adverse balance of trade", by which is meant that this country has had more imports than exports, with the consequence that debts have been incurred abroad to the extent of the excess imports. The facts are still the subject of argument, but it is not necessary to go into that question. All that we need to remember is that the fears about the "adverse balance of trade" are not new.
In a paper read to the Royal Statistical Society on December 19th, 1876 (see Trade, Population and Food, by S. Bourne, pub G.Bell and Sons), Mr. Sidney Bourne who for many years was in the Government Service, engaged in the compilation of trade statistics, painted an alarming picture of Great Britain's trade. He argued that serious consequences would follow if the adverse balance (which he pointed out was then in evidence) was allowed to continue. He mentioned, too, the considerable and influential body of political and public men who shared his views.
After making the adjustments he considered necessary on account of income from investments owned abroad by British subjects, and the so-called "invisible exports" (i.e. the services, such as shipping and financial services, that are paid for by foreigners, but which do not take the form of actual articles passing through British ports), he declared that there was an "adverse balance" in the years after 1872.
"In 1872 the true excess would seem to have been on the side of exports rather than imports, to the extent of nearly £4,000,000; but in the following year the imports again predominated, and have continued to do so with increasing weight up to the present moment" (page 69).
Mr. Bourne, like many modern observers of the course of trade, was apprehensive about the future:
"I firmly believe that Britain now stands tottering on the eminence to which she has attained, and.
In passing, we may notice that one of Mr Bourne's suggested remedies for avoiding the threatened doom of Great Britain has a familiar ring today. It was that the "lower classes" should drink a much smaller quantity of intoxicants. Another was that the rich should "restrain the heavy expenditure accompanying cravings of ambition, the undue pursuit of pleasure and frivolous idleness" (page 74).
It is not necessary to deal with the pessimistic utterances of public men at every crisis; it is sufficient to say that each period of trade depression produces its prophets of catastrophe. We may add, however, that those politicians and business men who foretell collapse now are no more to be relied upon than the others who foretold collapse in past crises. They do not understand the workings of the system that they defend. As recently as 1931 we saw this strikingly illustrated in the abandonment of the gold standard by Great Britain. During August and September we were told that chaos would ensue if that abandonment took place. When it happened everything went on much as before, to the astonishment of the economic "experts" who are supposed to understand these things.
We can leave them and concern ourselves rather with the acceptance of the idea of collapse by those claiming to be socialists. The policies and actions of the workers have been, and will continue to be, powerfully influenced by their theories about the way in which Capitalism works and about its future developments. Wrong theories lead to wrong and dangerous actions.
II. THE IDEA OF A BLIND REVOLT OF THE WORKERS
The defenders of Capitalism who have been panic-stricken in times of crisis, have sought for ways to save the social system, which they believed to be in danger. On the other hand, many who desired Socialism have looked at industrial crises not with fear but with hope. They have thought that in a time of great unemployment and distress the majority of workers, although not socialists, would be forced by their sufferings to revolt against the capitalists and their government, and that they would place in power a government which would try to remould society on a socialist basis.
One of the organisations to hold this view was the Social Democratic Federation. The late H. M. Hyndman, who was prominently associated with the S. D. F., thought that Socialism might be expected as the result of almost every one of the crises that occurred in the period from 1881 onwards. Thus, in 1884, in the paper Justice (January, 1884), he made the following declaration:
"It is quite possible that during this very crisis, which promises to be long and serious, an attempt will be made to substitute collective for capitalist control. Ideas move fast; the workers are coming together".
Later on he suggested 1889 as the probable date for the revolution (see Rise and Decline of Socialism by Joseph Clayton, pub 1926 by Faber & Gwyer, p.14). Edward Carpenter in My Days and Dreams, says:
"It was no wonder that Hyndman . . . becoming conscious as early as 1881 of the new forces all around in the social world, was filled with a kind of fervour of revolutionary anticipation. We used to chaff him because at every crisis in the industrial situation he was confident that the Millennium was at hand" (pub, Allen Unwin Ltd, 1916, page 246).
Hyndman continued to see the revolution "round every corner", until the date of his death, in 1921.
Similar ideas are held by members of the Labour Party and Independent Labour Party, and they were handed down from the Social Democratic Federation to the parties that in 1920 became the Communist Party of Great Britain. It is indeed probable that the Russian Bolshevist leaders, many of whom hold these views, learned them during their exile in England round about the beginning of the century.
The communists provide the clearest example of a party holding this theory and trying to act upon it. In The Communist (22nd October, 1921) it was frankly stated that those who founded the Communist Party of Great Britain were "impelled by the conviction that the capitalist economic system had broken down", while Mr W. Paul, a prominent communist wrote in the communist journal, The Labour Monthly (15th February, 1922):
"The most important fact in modern history is the breakdown of capitalism . . . there is the greatest possibility that the social revolution may take place in the immediate future".
In July, 1926, The Labour Monthly stated that:
"The decline of capitalism in Britain, whether measured in the figures of trade or of production, has developed at a startling and accelerated pace between 1921 and 1926".
In 1928, in a Communist Party book, The Decline of Capitalism, the author, E. Varga, declared (p. 7):
"It is no longer a 'dying' capitalism, but one already in the process of mortification . . ."
In the October, 1931 Labour Monthly (just before the General Election), Mr. Dutt, the editor, wrote in a manner indicating the utmost excitement at the likelihood of a decisive crash: "The fight is here", "the crisis marches on relentlessly", "it is the whole basis of British Imperialism that is now beginning to crack", "the whole system is faced with collapse", "the hour of desperate crisis begins"; and much more to the same effect.
Mr. James Maxton, M. P., putting the I. L. P. point of view, has been as confident as the communists. He made a speech at Cowcaddens on 21st August, 1931, reported as follows in the columns of the Daily Record, 22nd August, 1931 (Reprinted in Forward, 12th September):
"I am perfectly satisfied that the great capitalist system that has endured for 150 years in its modern form, is now at the stage of final collapse, and not all the devices of the statesmen, not all the three-party conferences, not all the collaboration between leaders, can prevent the system from coming down with one unholy crash".
The Daily Record report goes on to describe Mr. Maxton's speech:
"'They may postpone the collapse for a month, two months, three months, six months', he cried, forefinger pointing at his audience, and body crouched, 'but collapse is sure and certain'".
In contradiction to those who hold this theory of an automatic collapse of Capitalism, the Socialist Party of Great Britain has never deviated from opposition to that view. Our knowledge of past history and of the way in which the social system develops, convinces us that no crisis of Capitalism, however desperate it may be, can ever by itself give us Socialism. Socialism cannot come by stealth. It can only come by the deliberate act of workers who understand Socialism, and are organised politically to obtain it through control of the machinery of government. The blind revolt of desperate workers would cause great distress and destruction. It might prove troublesome to the capitalist authorities, who would have to exert themselves to suppress it, but the outcome would not be Socialism.
Why are we so confident of this? In the next section our confidence is explained.
III. THE CAUSE OF CRISES
The cause of trade depression is really a simple one to understand. Highly developed Capitalism, while condemning the vast number of workers to a meagre standard of living, causes extraordinarily large incomes to flow into the pockets of a small section of the population (i. e., those who own the factories, the land, the railways, etc.). Most wealthy people have incomes so large that they do not spend anything like the whole amount. After having purchased all they need, often including luxuries of the most extravagant kind, they still have a large surplus that they seek to invest in profitable concerns. But these concerns are in competition, each trying to sell goods more cheaply than the other. In order to maintain and, if possible, increase his profits, each employer tries to get from his workers a larger output at a smaller cost. By means of labour-saving machinery and methods the same quantity of goods is produced by fewer and fewer workers, and displaced workers are constantly added to the army of unemployed. The unemployed man or woman, having only unemployment pay to spend, cannot buy as much as formerly. Thus buying is curtailed while all the time efforts are being made to increase production—a contradiction that is bound to result in over-stocked markets and trade depression. During a depression, this situation is worsened by wage reductions.
The depression shows itself, every few years, in the accumulation of stocks of goods in the hands of retail stores, wholesalers and manufacturers, farmers and others. While trade is relatively good each concern tries to produce as much as possible in order to make a large profit. It is nobody's business under Capitalism to find out how much of each article is required, so that industries quickly expand to the point at which their total output is far larger than can be sold at a profit. Quite young industries like artificial silk, soon reach the degree of over-development shown by the older industries. Goods such as farm crops, that are ordinarily not produced to order, but with the expectation of finding a buyer eventually, naturally tend to accumulate to a greater extent than those produced only to order—such as railway engines.
As traders find it more difficult to sell, they reduce their orders to the wholesalers, who in turn stop buying from the manufacturers. Plans for extending production by constructing new buildings, plant, ships, etc., are cancelled and the workers are laid off.
The reduced income of the workers and of the unemployed reduces still further the demand for goods. In desperate need of ready money to pay their bills, retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers are driven to sell their stocks at lower and lower prices—often at a price less than the original cost price. Workers, for the same reason, are forced to offer to work for lower wages. It is not that there is any lack of money, but that the rich who have it can find no profitable field for investment. The economies that are made in a time of depression—whether voluntary ones, or economies enforced on the workers by wage reductions, actually aggravate the crisis instead of relieving it. Yet "economise" is the advice given by public men now, as it was by Mr. Bourne in 1876, referred to earlier in this pamphlet.
Here is a situation that always causes grave discontent. It is from this discontent that the believers in the theory of the collapse of Capitalism think that they can draw the force which will overthrow the capitalist system. But it does not work out like that. In spite of riots and agitations, Capitalism still continues. The actual events show us why this is and why it must be so.
IV. WHAT HAPPENS IN PRACTICE
Since the War, to go back no further, the situation has been tested many times and in many places. The result has always been the same—suffering for the workers without compensating gain.
In Great Britain two outstanding events may be considered. First, there was the great depression of 1921 and 1922, when, as now, unemployment was between 2,000,000 and 2,500,000. Then, in 1926, there was the spontaneous demonstration of sympathy with the miners in their resistance to wage reductions, that resulted in what is known as the "General Strike". Since the communists have been the most persistent advocates of the doctrine we are attacking, let us see what came of their efforts to take advantage of these two crises.
Round about 1921 and 1922 the communists claimed that they had the leadership of the hundreds of thousands of members of the unemployed organisations. They organised marches and demonstrations, deputations to Cabinet Ministers and local authorities, and attempted to seize public buildings. They did everything they could to force the authorities to grant their demands for better treatment. By winning the confidence of the workers in this way the communists then hoped to be able to lead them on to an attack on Capitalism.
What was the result? A writer in their official organ tells us:
"The unemployed have done all they can and the Government know it. They have tramped through the rain in endless processions. They have gone in mass deputations to the Guardians. They have attended innumerable meetings and have been told to be 'solid'. They have marched to London enduring terrible hardships . . . All this has led nowhere. None of the marchers believe that seeing Bonar Law in the flesh will make any difference. Willing for any sacrifice, there seems no outlet, no next step. In weariness and bitter disillusionment the unemployed movement is turning in upon itself. There is sporadic action, local rioting, but not central direction. The Government has signified its exact appreciation of the confusion by arresting Hannington.
The plain truth is that the unemployed can only be organised for agitation, not for action. Effective action is the job of the working class as a whole. The Government is not afraid of starving men so long as the mass of workers look on and keep the ring" (Workers' Weekly, 10th February, 1923).
Another communist described the way in which discontent will drive men and women into joining associations that promise them immediate benefit, but how easily the membership thus recruited fades away when capitalists give slight concessions. The references are to an unemployed organisation in Liverpool, but are typical of what happened all over the country. The article was published in January, 1923, in The Worker (20th January 1923).
First, the writer tells us that the organisation began in 1921, with a gathering 20,000 strong and a committee "comprised for the most part of Communists". There was a baton charge by the police in September and most of the committee were arrested. The unemployed then attacked a picture gallery and turned it "into a shambles".
"From then onwards the number declined, due to the fact that a scale of relief had been granted, and that the spineless ones had got the wind up and left. We managed to keep a crowd of 10,000".
The article then describes how the unemployed again came into conflict with the police:
"This gave us another setback in point of numbers, and the people left began to show signs of class consciousness . . . They began to flock to the Communist Party. Very few stayed in, but those who left were inoculated with germs of the class struggle. Due to another agitation we were granted the use of another hall. Again, after another couple of months, we got notice to quit. From then onwards until about April or May 1922 the apathy became terrible.
'The Guardians of the rich', seeing this, began to get brave by daring to cut the relief down. A few hundred returned and wanted to know what we were going to do . . . try as we would we could not get them to kick . . . In September (1922) they returned again. The Guardians had brought in a system of test work . . . the agitation became strong . . . the test work suddenly stopped, so did the demonstrations of our organisation."
This communist writer's last words sum up the whole situation. Writing of the typical unemployed worker, he says:
"The immediate wrongs . . .being satisfied . . . he drifted away again. Thus the movement has declined, and hardly exists to-day outside of a small committee".
The years 1931 and 1932 have seen the communists—blind to their own experiences—acting this tragic farce over again.
It must be obvious that unstable organisations of this kind, composed of non-socialists, and recruited merely on some minor question of the day, cannot be of use in the striving for Socialism.
In 1926 the communists had an excellent opportunity to try out their theory on the millions of workers who were involved in the strike or were sympathetic towards it. The result was just what we have said it must be. Strikes can serve a useful purpose in resisting wage reductions or securing increases, but they cannot overthrow Capitalism. To begin with, the workers themselves have not that purpose
in mind, and even when they become socialists they will still need political organisation in order to capture the real centre of power—the machinery of government and the armed forces controlled by it. This no strike can do.
The strikers wished simply to help the miners. In the main, neither they nor the miners had any wish to overthrow the government or to introduce Socialism. To the extent, therefore, that the communists were able to make known their intention of using the strike to overthrow the State, they were not attracting but repelling the workers. As the communists confessed, the "strikers had no horizon beyond bringing aid to the miners, and thereby resisting the employers' offensive against themselves" (The Labour Monthly, June 1926, p. 347). The workers had no desire to use the strike for revolutionary ends, and as the outcome showed, the State, with its financial resources, its armed forces, its support in the press, and its prestige with the mass of the population, has nothing to fear from striking workers even when they number two or three millions.
In a large strike, as in a small one, starvation fights on the side of the propertied class against the wage earners. We know from the General Strike, and from revolts of workers attempted in many countries at different times, that desperate men and women will take desperate action when goaded to it by the hardships of their life under Capitalism. But we have seen in the General Strike of 1926 how such spontaneous outbursts are always crushed by the forces at the disposal of the ruling class through their control of the machinery of Government. How much easier it is, and how much less costly in human suffering, to convert a majority to Socialism than to engage in these blind revolts!
There is, too, another factor of great importance. The ruling class usually and in the long run are not blind to their own interests, and do not drive the working class as a whole into revolt. They are not so foolish as to leave only that alternative. By means of charity, doles, and unemployment insurance, and, if need be, the grant of higher wages and other concessions, the capitalists can always take the edge off periods of the more acute industrial depressions.
The problem of "over-production" that is behind every crisis is always relieved in due course for a time. Employers close down production and thus stop the stocks from being added to. Governments tax the employers and with the money so obtained enable the unemployed to buy a certain amount of the accumulation of articles. Capitalists combine, with or without the assistance of Governments, to destroy stocks. At the beginning of 1932, Brazilian coffee was being burned, thrown into the sea, and used for fuel. Wheat was being burned in Canada and U. S. A., and a resolution was passed by the United States Senate recommending that the U. S. A. Government hand over to the unemployed the 40,000,000 bushels of wheat held by the Farm Board. In addition, in site of every care, great stocks of raw materials deteriorate and spoil. As a last resort there is the colossal destruction of wars to relieve pressure. Sooner or later, these crises of over-production have always given place to a resumption of fairly brisk trade and employment, without, of course, abolishing unemployment. Capitalism cannot do that.
Some of the communists have indeed just begun to recognise the unsoundness of their theory. In The Labour Monthly (January 1932), Mr. Dutt quotes with approval a statement of Lenin's—that no situation for Capitalism is "without a way out", and says:
"We know that the overthrow of capitalism . . . requires the most titanic and long-drawn struggle, action, organisation, and victory of the working class; and that until this is attained, capitalism will still drag on from crisis to crisis, from hell to greater hell".
To this we would add that the workers will never be able to take sound action until they possess the knowledge of Socialism that it is our aim to provide. So long as the workers lack a knowledge of socialist principles, and a determination to bring Socialism about, each crisis will pass off in this fashion. As a matter of fact, it is not always true that the additional hardship makes the workers kick, even blindly, against Capitalism. The capitalists are so well able to excite the workers' fears, because of a lack of socialist knowledge, that we often see the workers in times of crisis rallying round the most openly capitalist and reactionary parties. We saw this in the 1931 crisis, when an overwhelming majority of workers in Great Britain and in Australia voted into power reactionary "Nationalist" parties, in spite of the plans of these parties to reduce unemployment pay and the pay of Government employees, and to impose other economies.
V. THE ONLY ROAD TO SOCIALISM
The lesson to be learned is that there is no simple way out of Capitalism by leaving the system to collapse of its own accord. Until a sufficient number of workers are prepared to organise politically for the conscious purpose of ending Capitalism, that system will stagger on indefinitely
Throughout the 19th century, and up to the present time, many attempts have been made to build up working class organisations on the basis of demanding concessions from the capitalists to meet the evil effects of the capitalist system. There have been numbers of unemployed organisations asking for "work or maintenance" and political parties, such as the Labour Party, the I. L .P., and the Communist Party, seeking support on programmes of reforms. Some of these bodies have obtained a large membership and have appeared to gain small concessions. Some have even taken over the Government and tried to apply their reform programmes. But such organisations do not, and cannot, bring Socialism. Their members are attracted by the promises of immediate results. They are not
willing to work for the abolition of Capitalism because they have not learned that it is Capitalism which causes the evils they are seeking to remove. These organisations cannot get beyond the limited aims and understanding of their members. They are built up on a wrong foundation. They are not deserving of working class support. They may reform Capitalism, but they cannot abolish it.
So long as the workers are prepared to resign themselves to the evils of Capitalism, and so long as they are prepared to place in control of Parliament parties that will use their power for the purpose of maintaining Capitalism, there is no escape from the effects of Capitalism. The workers will continue to suffer from the normal hardships of the capitalist system when trade is relatively good, and from the aggravated hardships which are the workers' lot during trade depressions.
That is the prospect before the workers of all the world unless they actively interest themselves in understanding socialist principles and assisting in socialist organisation.
A PERSONAL APPEAL
We have now stated our case and we hope that you have given it the consideration it deserves. The question is, what are you going to do? Are you going to put it aside and carry on as of yore, or are you going to arm yourselves with socialist knowledge? One way lies poverty, misery and bondage; the other way lies the road to emancipation and, at its end, all the happiness and fullness of life that the gigantic and fruitful machinery of modern industry offers to a world of free and equal men and women. The choice is before you; only knowledge, desire and self-confidence are needed to realise the free society of the future. Place not your trust in others, but be assured that the work there is to do must be done by yourselves.
Friday, December 12, 2008
On Saturday night, the Greek police assassinated a 15 year old student.
His assassination was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
It was the continuation of a coordinated action, by state terrorism and the Golden Dawn, which aimed at university and high school students (with the private universities first), at migrants that continue to be persecuted for being born with the wrong colour, at the employees that must work to death without compensation.
The government of cover-ups with its praetors, having burnt the forests last summer, is responsible for all major cities burning now, too. It protected financial criminals, all those involved in the mobile phone interceptions scandal, those looting the employees’ insurance funds, those kidnapping migrants, those who protected the banks and the monasteries that steal from the ordinary people.
We are in Civil War: With the fascists, the bankers, the state, the media wishing to see an obedient society.
There are no excuses, yet they once again try to use conspiracy theories to calm spirits down.
The rage that had accumulated had to be expressed and should not, by any means, end.
Throughout the world we are making headlines, it was about time that people uprise everywhere.
The generation of the poor, the unemployed, the partially employed, the homeless, the migrants, the youth, is the generation that will smash every display window and will wake up the obedient citizens from their sleep of the ephemeral American dream.
Don’t watch the news, consciousness is born in the streets
When the youth is murdered, the old people should not sleep
Goodbye Alexandros, may your blood be the last of an innocent to run
Thursday, December 11, 2008
OH! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, we who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!--Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!
When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,
When most intent on making of herself
A prime Enchantress--to assist the work,
Which then was going forward in her name!
Not favoured spots alone, but the whole earth,
The beauty wore of promise, that which sets
(As at some moment might not be unfelt
Among the bowers of paradise itself)
The budding rose above the rose full blown.
What temper at the prospect did not wake
To happiness unthought of? The inert
Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!
They who had fed their childhood upon dreams,
The playfellows of fancy, who had made
All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and strength
Their ministers,--who in lordly wise had stirred
Among the grandest objects of the sense,
And dealt with whatsoever they found there
As if they had within some lurking right
To wield it;--they, too, who, of gentle mood,
Had watched all gentle motions, and to these
Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more mild,
And in the region of their peaceful selves;--
Now was it that both found, the meek and lofty
Did both find, helpers to their heart's desire,
And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish;
Were called upon to exercise their skill,
Not in Utopia, subterranean fields,
Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us,--the place where in the end
We find our happiness, or not at all!
From the defence statement of one of the child killers who took Alexandros Grigoropolous's life:
This tragedy is the result… of an act by the policeman to fire into the air. The bullet ricocheted, we have an entry wound from above. It proves irrefutably that it was a ricochet.
Lying, filthy, murdering bastards.
thanks to bristlekrs for this.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
UPDATE 13:43 A friend on the phone: “I just walked down Mesogeion ave” (far from the centre) “and a small group of students, 12-13 year old, are attacking a riot police van. They are just armed with stones but they are totally going for it!”
UPDATE 13:35 TV footage already shows 12-year old students pelting the riot police with stones this morning; fresh rioting has erupted at the Propylea of the university of Athens; riot police threw tear gas at people sitting in cafeterias &those people attacked them in response. The stalinist trade union (PAME) has already retreated and left the street. Now is our time!
Today is the day. Yesterday’s events showed that the Greek state will try to end the rebellion as soon as possible. The fascists are now out on the streets; mainstream media carry fresh reports this morning that the government has decided to declare a state of emergency tomorrow (Thursday), should the rioting not end by then. Reports on indymedia claim that the ballistic report of Alexandros’ death has been altered to claim show the cop’s bullet bounced off before killing Alexandros (should this happen, his killer cop will avoid conviction).
These are all rumours, but now seem increasingly likely to happen. What will happen today is extremely important and will define what happens from now on. I’m heading for the street, next short reports will come in from there.
here is the truth:
Tuesday’s demonstration was called by local anarchist groups. Participation was phenomenal by the city’s standards - around 3,000 people (some reports put this number up to 5,000) took the streets of Patras behind the anarchist banners and against state violence. The march cruised through the city; banks were smashed. Meanwhile, the city’s police force had gathered around the main police station in order to protect it.
Toward the end of the demo however the riot police launched a major attack, forcing it to retreat toward the city’s historical university building (the so-called parartima). Soon thereafter, the most incredible attack began: Tens of fascists (that seem to had gathered in Patras from across the country, in a pre-planned joint operation with the police) attacked the demonstration with knives and stones. Co-ordinating perfectly with the police, they continued their attack and, according to some reports, even did some joint arrests. The demonstrators were confronted with the following unbelievable spectacle: They were facing a group of people throwing them police-owned tear gas while chanting “blood-honour-golden dawn” (the name of a nazi group in Greece).
The demonstrators’ block (which only numbered around 500 at the time, as this happened near the end of the demo) was completely torn apart; people were chased all the way into their flats; demonstrators had to seek refuge in flats in 10s and 20s, while the cops and the nazis would smash their windows and try to force entry.
Patras Indymedia reports 26 detentions and 9 arrests. Thankfully, the reports that the fascists would head for the city’s Afghan refugee camp have proven false so far.
What makes the above story even more unbelievable is that the mainstream media report it as the “local business owners” being the ones who attacked the demonstrators, “taking the law into their own hands”. Putting aside the …minor detail that absolutely no local businesses were damaged (only multinational banks, the courts and the police station), these supposed “shop owners” and “respectful citizens” were depicted in media in their balaclavas, holding knives! There was an unbelievable joint police-fascist operation in Patras today and they are trying to cover it up and to claim the public has turned against the demonstrators.
It is crucial to confront their lies and to resist their repression - the future of this movement could depend on this. Please spread the word.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
... Lily Kember, one of the spokespeople for this bunch of eco-toff crap, is the product of a the Godolphin and Latymer School, the fees for which amount to some £14,000 pa - more than my total annual income. These fees were generously paid by her mummy and daddy to, ahem, give her the best start in life. So it seemed very strange when one of her climate chumps was quoted as saying:
We're here because our parents' generation has failed us
But perhaps she wasn't referring to her own privileged upbringing, but the fact that the great unwashed no longer know their place and have aspirations to take advantage of cheap modern travel.This pillock also said
We're afraid of what the police might do to us, we're afraid of going to jail Don't worry, Odious Ferry says you can share his cell.To make matters worse, Energy Secretary, and political caste member, Ed Miliband is reported to be calling for "popular mobilisation" to support politicians trying to pressure world leaders into a deal on climate change. He went on to say there needs to be "a mass movement" along the lines of Make Poverty History. Well that will be great news for the wristband producing sweatshops in Bangladesh, and the washed up rock stars with messianic delusions and a mountainous back catalogue to sell.And just to illustrate the pointlessness of this approach - there's still massive poverty all over the world, it didn't work.What a sorry bunch of fucking wankers
During the night there were attacks on police stations, banks and other targets, the number of which is still unknown. The day started early on Monday. Students at highschools across the country had meetings this morning and decided to protest and show their rage for the murder and the police. The students walked out of the classrooms, some schools were occupied and on others the students demonstrated, stopping the traffic in major roads and setting barricades. This has happened in dozens of cities, even the smaller ones. Slogans were shouted and painted on walls and in some cities the students attacked the cops and their stations, setting fire barricades on the streets, and turning police cars upside down. In Athens, in many neighborhoods, suburbs and downtown, there were big demonstrations by students in the morning, a big number of which classed with the police and there were arrests. The police reactions were very strong against the students (14-17 year old kids) and even the corporate media, who usually follow the police views and cover up their acts, showed riot cops brutally abusing and beating 15 yo boys and girls. What happened later, in the afternoon and night is still unclear. For sure there were thousands of people in the streets rioting, clashing with the police and smashing banks, corporate shops and governmental buildings. The media talk about huge disasters and they show videos of rioting and burning buildings and cars but there are no independent reports since the local Indymedia center is down all day due to heavy traffic and perhaps attacks from the police. The government is holding meetings all day and there is a rumor going on in the news that it will declare a state of emergency. There is need for international solidarity. Please mention the subject on your local infoshop, squat, anarchist talking group and organize gatherings outside the greek embassies and consulates. Print and handout pamphlets about the situation and protest against the police brutality everywhere. So far, the greek embassies in London (UK) and Berlin (Germany) were occupied, demonstrations took place in Hamburg (Germany), Paris (France), Verne (Switzerland),Leukosia (Cyprus) outside the greek embassies, in Croatia where the embassy was attacked and probably more.
8.10pm - Latest eyewitnes..- via Butchers……..
I had to leave earlier from the demo…. I am sure there are still a lot going on but could not stand there any longer I had big breathing problems… I have to trash my mask for sure, it did not help at all….
I am 30 years old, I have been to a number of demos but what happened today is out of any imagination….. I have NEVER seen something like this. NEVER. This is not the usual riot against riot police this is a BIG PUBLIC OUTRAGE. 15000 people on the streets tonight and HUDGE number of them participating on the riots. EVERYTHING IS BURNED. COMPLETELY. From the beggining of the demo, in Omonia, up to near the Greek parliament building (about 3 km) EVERYTHING got destroyed… I left after this point I had to walk for miles in order to get out of the city centre because there was nothing working, no tube, nothng…There is not a single bank, shop, or anything that remained undamaged…. The police responce was big, a LOT of chemicals, I am sure some “new” ones as well as I have a different “feeling” than on other days and also a lot of plastic bullets. A lot of people injured because of them. At a point a group of policemen had a girl down and were hitting her visiously. Others were hitting midle aged people that were on the demo. I did see policemen THROWING THINGS IN SHOPS AND STORES… Especially if those items WERE ON FIRE.
I am speaking to people on the phone now… in the department of Law of the university of Athens there are people trapped inside… The police are outside and are throwing chemicals INSIDE the buidling from the windows… It is a building with a lot of floors and one big stairway that connects them…. I suppose that the most people are trying to go to the top floors in order to avoid the chemicals as much as possible
Monday, December 08, 2008
Andreas Grigoropolous RIP
never forget! never forgive!
Thousands of people continue to demonstrate from the centre of athens to the main police station in the exarthia. The anarchists supported by thousands of other people from around greece. At the moment, the police are throwing lots of tear gas at demonstrators. There is a lot of fire around the streets, in between the demonstrators and the police station.Demonstrators have been on the streets since yesterday evening, after the death of a 16-year-old boy from a police shooting.
We have hear that in the demonstration, people are crying, because of the death of this child. Older people are joining in the demonstration, throwing stones at the police.Head of internal affairs in the government, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, has offered his resignation, in order to absolve himself of responsibility for the police murder. Panayotis Xinofotis, another politician, has done the same. The greek president has so far refused to accept the resignations. The head of exarthia police station is currently being interviewed with the 2 policemen who carried out the shooting.
The police have now entered the university, which they are forbidden from doing, and are firing rubber bullets which are injuring demonstrators.
International media are stating that the police are taking a defensive role, and is showing demonstrators vandalising shops and cars. But footage is not showing the police violence, or mentioning that a kid was killed by police yesterday. This violence was started by the police yesterday when they turned up at the square where people gather, and started swearing at the kids there. The police car left, but then came back and shot one of the kids then left straight away. One hospital refused to accept the child, who finally died on arrival in another hospital.
I knew it since early morning today. I know what happened. I also know that there were riots, angry demonstrations, attacks against police stations, banks, and/or state buildings everywhere in Athens, Thessaloniki, Serres, Komotini, Xanthi, Alexandroupoli, Giannena, Trikala, Volos, Agrinio, Patra, Sparti, Chania, Irakleio, Mytilini and elsewhere.
Apart Athens the most voilent reactions were in Chania and Irakleio (both in Crete), Thessaloniki and in the cities in northern Greece (Serres, Komotini and Xanthi). In Athens there were under occupation - as a direct reaction to the murder - the National Technical University (the historic Polytechnic School, known also by the famous popular uprising against the dictatorship in November 1973), the Faculty of Law, the Economic University (ASOEE) and the Panteio University.There were attacks in many police stations/buildings and at least two of them (one in Acropolis and another one in the suburb of Neos Kosmos) have been destroyed almost completely. We had attacks in police cars, banks, state building, multinational offices, luxury cars and shops etc etc., we had barricades in the centre of Athens.Things are still going on!
We had the resignations of the Interior Ministry leadership (minister and undersecretary) but the prime minister didn’t accept them (!) The Mass Media are all in the government’s line, except Radio Flash 96,1 (mainstream radio) - which talked clearly for state murder - and some independent Media, such Athens Indymedia and the Radio Station “Kokkino” (Red) and of course lots of blogspots and the left newspapers.
At this time attacks etc still going and now has started a big demonstration next to the Polytechnic, outside of the National Museum, which is to go to the central police headquarters. I think it will be again a very violent and militant demonstration.Anarchists of every tendency etc are of course in the front line of everything but also all the left wing organisations (maoists, trotskyists and others) are participating, as well as university students (who during the last month had not only one time but many confronted the aggressive police in their demonstrations against the initiation of the private colleges etc in Greece), migrants (who also were the last months subject of police brutality etc), workers etc.
Note also that only last week finished a hunger strike in the Greek prisons by the inmates in which about 6.000 prisoners all over the country involved. The right wing government of New Democracy and Kostas Karamanlis (since 2004 on) is not only in trouble with the assassination of the 16 year old and the students, workers and migrants mobilisations but also because it is a very corrupted government with many financial and others scandals in their disposition, involving also part of the Church, local capitalists and others.
Note also that the Greek economy is one of the first of the European Union to collapse if the current crisis is going further.
See also, yesteday:
“A group of Athens Medical School students yesterday held Deputy Health Minister Giorgos Constantopoulos hostage in a ministry auditorium for about half an hour after he refused to discuss reforms that would result in them working the first six months of their careers without pay.”
There is no hierarchy of the dead. The slaughtered are the slaughtered. This is not always what the slaughterers think. For those who kill in the name of religion their killing answers to deserts – a casual bullet in the face if you're a poor Hindu, a more selective punishment if you're American or British, a slow, luxuriating torture if you happen to be a Jew. In reward for which, their religion tells them, they themselves will be arranged according to degree in heaven: the more assiduous their killing in God's name, the closer to His right hand they will sit. They are cruelly mistaken. No rewards await them in another world. Just as no restitution according to degree of suffering awaits their victims. In death there is no hierarchy. So I mean nothing hierarchical when I talk about the Jewish victims of the Mumbai massacre. I sorrow no more for them than I do for the impoverished Bihari migrant workers waiting to catch trains home, innocent of any involvement in the mythical cause the gunmen had been brainwashed into believing they must kill for. I allude to the Jewish aspect of this tragedy, not because I am Jewish myself and know a little about the outreach programme in which the murdered Jews were involved – the provision of kosher food and a place of prayer for Jewish tourists in Mumbai – but because it bears on the blame game which, with the usual unseemly haste and ignorance, has already begun in this country. As it was after 9/11 so it has been after Mumbai – hearts going out to the victims, necessity of bringing perpetrators to justice, blah blah, and in the same breath the moral exculpation of those perpetrators in one of those acts of "understanding" which in fact understand nothing but give the speaker the opportunity to inveigh piously against our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Israel's presence anywhere. Even before the bodies had been recovered from the towers, contributors to Question Time were laying the blame for 9/11on us. After Mumbai, before the blood on the streets had dried, they were doing the same on Any Questions?. It's not the programmes' fault. They merely hold the mirror up to nature. Though you might ask how the BBC always manages to have the appropriately sanctimonious speaker on hand to remind us that, whatever the calamity in whatever part of the world, we in the West in general, and Israel in particular, are responsible. It was Caroline Lucas who, unlike the Bihari migrant workers, happened on this occasion to be in the right place at the right time. Caroline Lucas, should the name mean nothing to you, is the elfin leader of the Green Party. But she could, as far as attributing the usual culpability is concerned, have been anyone at that end of British politics. Reader, I could have gone on the programme and said what she said for her. To wit, Iraq and Afghanistan prove we can't bring peace at the end of a gun (though it would seem that "understanding" can be found at the end of a terrorist's gun), many people see the "war on terror" as a war on Muslims (a point that fails to distinguish between what people choose to "see" and what is the truth of the matter), and, in her actual words, "if we are to defeat extremism we have to go to the root causes of it – we have to look in particular at countries like Palestine". We are not unsubtle in this column. We understand that a simmering resentment will not always express itself rationally or fairly. In frustration, the angry often kill the wrong people in the wrong places. But to argue that Palestine fuelled the massacre at Mumbai, that the Hindu waiter shot in the forehead after serving water to a terrorist was paying for the inequities of Gaza, that he wasn't already, in the eyes of that terrorist, expendable enough as an unbeliever, as one who had stolen Kashmir, or simply as a spot of target practice en route to a mad and misguided martyrdom, is not only preposterous, it is irresponsible. I don't doubt that the terrorists' moral education included lessons about the vileness of Jews, along with lessons about the vileness of everyone else in the west, but we cannot be responsible for the lies people tell about us. Vileness of the Jews, note, not vileness of the Israelis. However carefully Caroline Lucas distinguishes between Jews and Israelis in her frequent newsletters and platform speeches on these and other "Green" issues; whatever her hurt at being accused of anti-Semitism when it is only a Jewish country, for God's sake, and not Jews themselves she abominates – it would appear she has not succeeded in communicating this nice distinction to the Mumbai terrorists. Frankly, my dear, they don't give a damn. The Chabad Centre in Mumbai was a Jewish organisation, not an Israeli one. Its occupants were tortured and killed for being Jews, not for being complicit in the "strangulation" of Gaza, unless all Jews are held to be complicit in the strangulation of Gaza, in which case Caroline Lucas must be very careful where and in what language she lays blame. If she is right that the perception of a great wrong in Palestine motivates such murders as those in Mumbai, then it behoves her, as one who influences perception, to be scrupulous in her observations. Scrupulous, I say, not discreet. I would not wish her, in caution's name, to speak other than the truth. But truth is hard to find. I have visited Israel several times recently, making a documentary about Jesus, travelling in the company of Israelis of all parties and persuasions. The "Green" view is that there are good Israelis and bad Israelis, the good being those who oppose the occupation. Nothing could be more simplistic. I encountered extreme left-wingers who could not bear what their government was doing, but understood its sometime necessity; I met right-wingers who had no sympathy with settlers, and could not wait to live in peace with Palestinians; all wanted change, all were frightened, all loathed the naive, ahistoric sentimentalism that paints them as brutal invaders of a foreign land, and not as fellow combatants in a long and tragic struggle for safety and self-determination. Whatever doesn't tell that story is propaganda – the institution of a falsehood into truth. And propaganda, by Caroline Lucas's own account, kills. Come the next massacre, when she is looking around for someone other than the perpetrators to blame, she might ask how much of their hatred she has stoked. When the world is a tinder box, it is a crime to play with matches.
This piece by Howard Jacobson is from The Independent.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
What was the cause of the failure of the great movement of the twentieth century?
Why was it that socialism, which promised the end of the history of Human oppression through class exploitation, should fail so completely?
How did a movement which embodied the high ideals of creating a new human millennium free from tyranny, slavery and oppression have become so compromised by its support for tyranny, slavery and oppression?
These are some notes I have been playing with to try to answer these questions any comments would be welcome.
I have written before of my belief that the answer to these questions lies in the real class interest which the socialist parties have pursued.
Marx was undoubtedly correct when he described the principle actors in the class struggle of Modern industrialised capitalism as being between the modern proletariat and the bourgeoisie and he was careful to add that this did not preclude the existence of other classes. I believe that Marx missed the development of a third historic class, which emerged to meet the needs of managing and administrating an increasingly intricate and complex capitalist state system; this class is the educated managerial class, the Salatariat.
Marx once noted that the New Model army did not defy, defeat, and execute a Divinely appointed King under a banner emblazoned with the motto 'protection of the dividend', nor did the French San culottes take their revolution across Europe on the end of their bayonets in the name of 'all power to the Bourse!', instead the class interests that these revolutions were fought were disguised behind the most noble of slogans and programmes, of liberty, equality and brotherhood. The first, and most important, of the tasks of the victorious regimes brought to power by these revolutions has been the suppression of the hopes and aspirations which those slogans and programmes have created. Because these revolutions were for the benefit of minority Classes they were forced to hide their true programme and interests, the working class, Marx declared, as the vast majority, had no need to disguise its programme, and so would inscribe it upon their banners; "Abolition of the wages system!". (It may be instructive that, with the exception of the venerable old SPGB, none of the various 'Marxist' or socialist parties ever actually used that slogan).
Capitalism could maintain its 'classical' form only as long as it remained a mercantile system; the industrial revolution required a concurrent managerial revolution reflecting the increased complexity of controlling industrial capitalist companies. This new management in industry was matched by the expansion of a new state bureaucracy which grew to adapt to the burgeoning interrelation between industry and state. The expansion of Empire upon which so much of Britain's industrial growth depended for its profit also needed its own army of functionaries. To provide personnel for the Imperial, state and private bureaucracies meant a vast expansion of education and a major change in its character. The universities became the entry points to the Salatariat, producing a pool of educated young men (and occasionally women) to provide for the needs of industrialised State and Capital.
Whilst a very few functionaries of empire, government and industry held important and powerful positions vital to the continued running of society the vast majority undertook mundane work for rewards which, in their eyes, failed to account for their expertise and provided little or no control over the society which they helped to run. Amongst these young intellectuals grew new political ideas based upon conceptions of 'meritocracy', which the power of the state was to be invoked and expanded to take over control of the whole of society on 'rational grounds' by which what was meant it should be run by those whose education and ability made them best suited to do so. In early nineteenth century Europe the marginalisation of radical alternatives following the victory of Reaction after Waterloo, pushed these meritocrats into collusion with the emergent working class movement. Very different and divergent concepts of how a future society was to be organised developed alongside each other and became confused with each other.
An essential difference which was lost at this time was the recognition of the true nature of the state; the state was created alongside the emergence of Class exploitative society, for the ruling class of any such society the state is the armed wing, the protector, and the enforcer of its rule. Class society and the state are inseparable; one cannot remove the one and maintain the existence of the other.
When Marx, himself a member of this new class of intellectuals, found himself in conflict within the first International with the supporters of Bakunin, who despite their many faults, at least understood the nature of the state, he found support from the leaders of 'state socialism', Jaures, Liebknecht, Lassalle etc. Who, after Marx's death, collaborated with the aging Engels to determine the character of 'Marxian' socialism as a socialism which was wedded to the state as the instrument of transformation.
In most of Western Europe the state and capital accommodated and assisted in the growth of the EMC, but in Tsarist Russia the backward and entrenched powerful aristocracy which controlled the autocratic regime of the Tsar, whilst recognising the necessity of modernising their economy to be able to compete in the inter imperialist great game, were terrified of the threat to their power that the democratic reforms that accompanied the expansion of industrial capitalism in the west. Thus, although the educational establishments necessary to provide the state with its new bureaucracy and industry with its new managers were being created throughout Russia, the autocracy viewed their alumni with fear and distrust, preferring to rely on the old aristocratic feudal bureaucratic state structure, and import industry from France and Britain.
Excluded almost in their entirety from their place within Russian society, the, would be, EMC constituted a new, volatile, class, unique to Russia; the intelligencia, that became synonymous with revolutionary opposition to Tsarism. Various intellectuals advocated various solutions; Populism, Anarchism and agrarian social utopianism etc. And various strategies; peaceful agitation, communalism, terrorism, but it was Marxism that came to dominate the politics of the radicalised intelligencia. The promise of a combative and young Russian working class spearheading the struggle against Tsarism (with of course a intellectual leadership) appealed to many of the intelligencia who had grown tired of sacrificing itself in struggle against the cops and Cossacks, or trying to galvanise the peasantry into conflict with the state (the peasants who were never slow to take up their cudgels and torches in their own interest whenever the local aristos showed weakness, were far less willing to do so in the interests of what they recognised as a separate class).
How these Marxists wanted to try to relate to the Russian working class was the cause of the great schism in Russian Marxism, both Mensheviks and Bolsheviks were convinced of the necessity of their leadership, but Lenin was determined that no challenge to the intelligencia's control of the party.
The socialist movements which dominated working class politics throughout the twentieth century were thus not the expression of the interests of the working class, but instead were a manifestation of the political aspirations of sections of the educated Managerial class.
The Russian anarchist Machajski identified the class nature of bolshevism (http://www.geocities.com/cordobakaf/cont.html), but did not extend the analysis beyond the borders of the Russian empire. The success of the revolution meant that clones of Lenin's party sprang up all over the world, monopolising and dominating the revolutionary movement for 80 years.
Bolshevist state centralism represented the rule of the Educated Managerial Class in its purest form, but was a part of a world-wide trend as the increasingly complex interaction between sate and capital concentrated more power into the hands of the EMC. Fascism, Nazism, corporatism and even Roosevelt's New Deal all were differing versions of increased EMC power in the face of the global economic crisis (as described in James Burnham's Managerial Revolution.).
The Russian experience confirmed Bakunin's dictum; "We are convinced that freedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice, and that Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality." That if one seeks to destroy capitalism whilst retaining the State, one does not gain freedom but replaces one set of tyrants for another.
But what of the social democratic experience?
Social democracy experienced its 'golden age' in the aftermath of World War two; the tasks of both rebuilding Capital and redirecting it on a more harmonious relationship between state and private Bureaucracy was beyond what could be achieved without extensive direct state involvement in Capitalist accumulation. The reforms achieved in this period made a real difference in the lives of the working class, in housing, health, and education, however the true benefits of these reforms were overwhelmingly the EMC.
Within the socialist democratic parties there has always been a constant conflict between the organised working class who provide the bulk of these parties electoral supporters and a fair number of members, and the EMC who made up the parties leadership and ideological driving force, this struggle was never as it has been portrayed by Trotskyite agitators one of a simple left/ right = working class/ middle class dichotomy, many times 'left wing' activity was undertaken by the EMC against, and in opposition to, Working Class interests within the party.
The Leninists resolved this tension between the working class base of their organisation and its EMC leadership by creating the 'professional revolutionary' and the organisational theory of 'democratic Centralism' which excluded the workers from any influence whatsoever in the Leninist party.
Despite all the propaganda against the pro-capitalist policies of social democracy, it was within social democracy that workers had more influence and a voice; the nature of social democracy in seeking to find an accommodation with capitalism encouraged those elements of the working class which sought better conditions within capitalism and further isolate those who would strangle it.
The massive expansion of higher education in the 1950s and 60s was deeply connected to the need of the modern state for more and more educated graduates to fulfil minor managerial roles in the policing and regimenting of an increasingly surveillance society.
The growth of this lower educated managerial Class has been observable in the growth of white collar trades unionism and a radicalised 'new left', which marked both the Bennite left of the labour party in the 1980's, and the neo Trotskyites of todays Leninite left. These groups were identified by both an adherence to abstract principles completely divorced from any real relevance to their own declared audience, the working class; for example an anti imperialist pose which champions any butcher of workers abroad on the proviso that they be in temporary opposition to our own ruling class, and a inability to relate in even the simplest way with the working class in their own communities- witness their total incapacity to respond to the growth of support for BNP fascism amongst some workers. With The shrill shrieks of 'Nazi' and waving of lollipops, combined with calls for state bans and police action alongside the thrill of being able to finally put down the 'Chavs' who steadfastly refuse to follow the leadership of the party cadres, after all the only supporters of the BNP are the 'scum off the estates', The would be patricians of these socialist parties display their ultimate satisfaction with the status quo, with only one small alteration, they should be in charge.
Yesterday, as self satisfied Eco toffs and their trot hangers on sauntered smugly through the streets of London, in Athens real class anger erupted in Fire after the murder of a sixteen year by the police.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Statement: libel action brought by Johanna Kaschke
AS IS being reported widely across the leftwing blogosphere, I am currently being sued for libel by Johanna Kaschke, a Conservative Party activist based in Tower Hamlets. In light of the considerable publicity, let me state the following for the record.
This case centres on whether or not Ms Kaschke - filmed in May in the company of London mayor Boris Johnson - can fairly be said to have been ‘linked’ to the ultraleftist Baader Meinhof terrorist gang in her youth in seventies Germany.
Ms Kaschke admits arrest on suspicion of terrorism in 1975, and spending two months or so thereafter in custody. As I made clear in the article complained of, she was in 1977 paid compensation for false imprisonment, and has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Despite her contention otherwise, I have at no time accused her of being a ‘hardline terrorist’, or indeed a terrorist of any stripe.
As recently as last year, Ms Kaschke put herself forward for the Labour nomination for the winnable seat of Bethnal Green & Bow. After receiving just one vote, she defected to the Respect party of George Galloway, quickly left to join one of Britain’s multiple Communist Parties, adhered again to Labour and then switched to the Tories; she now overtly advocates political positions that place her on the hard right of the legitimate Conservative spectrum. Rarely can ideological peregrinations have been so comprehensive in such a short space of time.
In addition to her action against me, I know for sure that Ms Kaschke is also suing Labourhome founder Alex Hilton, Labour-supporting blogger John Grey,and leading German news magazine Der Spiegel. She has settled out of court with Private Eye, and I also reliably understand that she earlier this year lost a substantial sum in costs in a failed action against the Labour Party. In addition, she is seeking judicial review against a decision on her right to legal aid made by the Legal Services Commission.
Being a journalist, I have had sufficient professional training to put forward a defence of justification and/or fair comment, and I furthermore contend that the doctrine of ‘bane and antidote’ applies, in that her side of the story was properly set out. I admit to breach of copyright in using a photograph from her website, and will shortly make an offer of settlement, based on National Union of Journalists rates for photographers.
Novel points of law raised by the claimant include the issue of whether her inability to carry out decorative work in her abode can legitimately form part of an action for aggravated damages in defmation, and whether accurately listing her past affiliations is tantamount to denial of her right to freedom of association under the European Human Rights Act. Both interpretations seem to me frankly quixotic, although that is naturally for the court to decide.
Evidence includes a copy of Ms Kaschke’s arrest warrant, stating that she had access to a storage area in which were kept imitation firearms, gas masks and car number plates, and a letter written by a lawyer on her behalf, admitting that she put on a benefit concert for Rote Hilfe, an entirely lawful organisation that raised money to fund legal fees for Baader Meinhof defendants accused in the German courts. Ms Kaschke contests the claims contained in her arrest warrant.
I am happy to make copies of these documents - and ample other supporting material, most of which attracts qualified privilege and is thus immune from action for defamation - available to journalists who may wish to cover this story. Incidentally, application under Germany’s Freedom of Information legislation for further details concerning Ms Kaschke’s arrest will shortly be made.
Comments left on the original post form part of the action, something that in itself raises important issues for freedom of speech on the internet. One of the grounds on which this action is being brought is a remark in this blog’s comments box that describes Ms Kaschke as ‘one cherry short of a Schwarzwalderkirschtorte’. The merit of this designation is now entirely a matter for the court; however, such deliberations can scarcely be considered the optimal use of judicial time.
As most blogging aficionados will realise, such a lighthearted and jocular insult is nothing compared to the anarchic mêlée of a controversial thread in full flight. Everyone - regardless of political affiliation - who values the right to express an opinion online in vernacular English should support all of the bloggers involved in this blizzard of writs.
Congratulations are due to top Tory blogger Iain Dale, who has come down against his fellow Conservative Ms Kaschke in support of Alex Hilton. Heartfelt thanks also go to another prominent Tory, who has offered me concrete support in all this on principled libertarian grounds. All will be revealed if push comes to shove, but it is already clear that this woman does not have the backing of the better elements of her own party.
The next directions hearing is on January 27th next year, at which point I will apply to have the action joined with the action against Alex and John. If this matter comes to court, it is likely to prove one of the more colourful defamation claims of 2009. In the meantime, feel free to publicise this matter, on the basis of the uncontested facts set out in this post