Only Socialist Internationalism can save the EU

Despite starting as a ‘Bosses Club’ the EU has also made possible some of the most remarkable success stories for working class internationalism in world history. The problem is that they stopped at the EU borders.

Because the creation of the European Union governing institutions meant there was an authority governing a large enough economic space to include many different nations, working class organisations like Trades Unions and Socialist parties had the opportunity to band together to force agreements affecting workers that would be enforced in several countries all at once. When else has this been possible to such an extent?

As capitalism is a global system, in which capitalists are able to shift their investments across borders at will, they can easily fire people in one country and hire workers in another where they can get away with paying them less. This is common knowledge, and is part of the reason that politicians are increasingly able to win working class support by appearing to oppose neo-liberal globalisation, which is increasingly being referred to as ‘Globalism’ or ‘Liberal Globalism’ in the United States.

It is easy to see why many people find Economic Nationalist ideas appealing in times like these. Economic Nationalists argue that governments should limit free trade across borders to make it harder for capitalists to shut down production in one place and move it to another. Nationalists typically want the Nation State to have more power over capitalists in their country, making sure they keep their wealth in the country so it can be taxed.

From a working class perspective, Economic Nationalism offers workers in one country protection from competition from workers in another, and so often goes hand in hand with different forms of cultural nationalism. Most people do have a sense of identity that includes feeling part of one group which others are excluded from, and this will probably never change.

But the question is not whether or workers in different countries appreciate one another’s cultures or not, but simply whether or not they recognise that they have common interests in working together to achieve certain political goals which will benefit them all. In Europe, enough workers did recognise this to achieve successes in the form of workers rights which all EU workers enjoy, environmental protections, health and safety standards and much else besides.

These workers did not have to give up their national identity and believe in some kind of ‘European’ identity instead. Some did, but the idea of ‘European’ identity seems to be more common among the middle classes who can actually afford to travel around all of Europe and appreciate cultural activities which are usually expensive. Trades unionists in Greece could still be proud of being Greek and perhaps even make derogatory jokes about Italians or others, while still being prepared to be in a mutually beneficial alliance.

The internationalist tradition in working class politics has a very long history, probably for as long as the working class as we now know it has existed. The Communist Manifesto of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels as far back as 1848 argued that workers of different countries ultimately shared the common goal of a global socialist world, but it did not call for elimination of national identities. The most successful Marxist movements have been the ones which have known how to use the language of national identity to spread their critique of capitalist political economy.

However, Nationalist ideas, such as being opposed to equal rights for immigrant workers, in favour of stronger borders for people, goods and capital, also have a long history in working class politics, and there have been far more Nationalist revolutions than Marxist-inspired Socialist ones.

What these two apparently opposing tendencies have in common is that they both oppose Globalisation – the process of ever increasing Free Trade of goods and capital across borders, which is promoted by the theories of Liberal (and liberal, or neoclassical) economics.

Nationalists would replace Free Trade across borders with controlled trade across borders, and a global Free Market with lots of different Nation States each with their own domestic market cut off from one another by protectionist walls. Internationalists would replace the global free market with a global controlled market, by creating global structures controlled by the working class to take authority over the whole capitalist system, bringing it to heel world-wide.

The Internationalist dream may at first glance seem to be much less realistic than the Nationalist one. To most Nationalists, the idea of global dictatorship of the proletariat sounds too much like a government of foreigners telling us what to do. But is the Nationalist dream of a world of National economies completely cut off from one another really any less of a fantasy?

The problem with the global system is that it is not under the control of any particular government or transnational structure. The World Trade Organisation is a list of rules for Nation States about how they must allow their borders to be open to one another, but it is not an organisation with the power to plan the global economy in such a way as to meet the needs of the global working class.

No such organisation exists, but if it did it would have far more power than the World Trade Organisation or any other transnational organisation, like the IMF or the World bank. It would have the power to shut down or punish any capitalist enterprise that disobeyed it, as the government of the Peoples Republic of China is able to do with the companies it allows to operate.

In China, the State is above Capital, which is why they claim they are not a capitalist country, unlike as the Western world and its client-states, where Capital certainly seems to have power over the State. In China, however, the working-class does not truly control the State democratically, as only the Communist party is allowed to run candidates for elections. The Chinese State is therefore controlled by the internal hierarchy of the Communist party, many of whom have become corrupted by capitalism and may work to transform China into a fully capitalist country if not held in check.

Is Labour is ever to have power over Capital, let alone to power to destroy it completely and create a world where social labour and it’s products are not valued in money terms but according to principles of fairness, it could only ever be on a global scale.

Nothing illustrates this better than the failures of National Socialism, or Socialist Nationalism, to achieve lasting results for working class people. Many times throughout history Nationalist regimes have taken power thinking they can outsmart global finance capital, and many times they have failed.

For a short time a Nationalist government, for example one taking power after a war of independence from a former European empire, might be able to create jobs and guarantee good living standards in their country by taking out loans or selling off natural resources. Usually though, they eventually get into so much debt, and face problems selling their goods thanks to cartel-like behaviours of already established players on the global economy, that they need to turn to the World Bank and IMF to help them out. These organisations then force them to restructure their economy in such a way as to fit it back into the globalisation project.

Today the global economy is more interconnected than ever and their are many industries which have supply chains reaching all the way around the world. Untangling this mess into lots of separate little economies is never going to happen. Building something above it to bring it under control for the sake of the majority of human beings and the environments they depend on is the only hope of stopping the devastation that globalisation brings.

The European Union, as one of the worlds most successful examples of a super-structure set up to govern a particular marketplace, including environmental and worker protection enforcement mechanisms within it, could be a step towards the socialist internationalist vision, but only if the battle of ideas within it is won by socialists.

At the moment the EU countries are controlled by Liberals and Nationalists, with the latter on the rise. Both of these ideologies’ visions for the future are impossible and bleak. The working classes of Europe’s only hopes are to stay united with one another while expanding their unity across the EU external borders to workers in other continents, with the eventual goal of a world in which Capital is brought under control by a global democratic superstructure with the interests of working people at its heart.

On the post-Brexit phenomenon of Anti-Capitalists joining the Labour party en masse

I write this as a committed anti-capitalist activist who has been active in various non-hierarchical, non-party-political groups for the past 8 and a half years. I never thought I would ever even consider joining any political party, let alone the Labour party – (which was after all the ruling party when I first committed myself to becoming an enemy of the State) – yet over the past few days I have considering doing just that.

At first I thought I was going mad, but then I posted some random thoughts on the irony of it all on my Facebook wall and was surprised to find that I was not alone. Of course, I knew that in in the past year many people in the anti-capitalist movement have joined the Jeremy Corbyn bandwagon, and that many had signed up as ‘supporters’ of the party in order to be able to vote for him in the leadership election. But now thousands of people are signing up and paying money to become full members, and many people who had avoided jumping on the bandwagon before are now putting aside their scepticism and joining in.

There is a simplistic anti-capitalist narrative being constructed, based on a confusion about the meaning of the word ‘Socialism’ which I feel slightly wary of, despite the fact I know it to be largely based on truth. There are many people joining the party despite not believing in this narrative, but who are also rejecting old anti-capitalist ideological reasons for not doing so, in favour of a ‘pragmatic’ approach.

I want to investigate all these arguments in this article: The ideological reason for joining Labour,  the pragmatic reason for joining Labour,the ideological reason for Not Joining Labour and critiques of all three of them. I will not discuss any pragmatic reason for not joining, because as far as I can see there is nothing to lose but the price of membership, of which the cheapest option is less than 2 pounds a month.

I hope this helps some people in the Anti-capitalist movement decide whether or not to join Labour, and how to conduct themselves within the party if they do choose to join.

The Ideological Reason for Joining Labour

The story goes that in the Good Old Days of our ancestors there existed a Socialist political party consisting of masses of workers organised into trade unions and which revolutionised British society half the way to ‘Socialism’ but didn’t manage to make it all the way there because of the Evil Tories.

Then one day the most Evil Tory of all, ‘Mrs T’ (No relation to Mr T), took over the country and dragged the political mainstream so far to the right that even the Labour party became no longer truly Socialist, being taken over by reptilian shape-shifting Evil Tories disguised as Labour party members, and all the true believers were exiled to the wilderness.

Neil Kinnock was the first of these, kicking out the Trotskyist Militant Tendency (who in this story are ‘revolutionary socialists’) and his successor Tony Blair, the most Evil Shape-Shifting Reptilian Overlord of all, actually changed the party’s constitution, abolishing Clause 4, which was (in this story) the ‘Socialist clause’.

But then, like the Morning Star rising at the break of dawn, Jeremy Corbyn emerged from the darkness to lead the way back to Socialism. Socialists would no longer be confined to tiny parties on the fringe of political life, but there will actually be a Socialist party that workers will be able to vote for and thus achieve Socialism in the UK via the ballot box.

Many anti-capitalists and other Leftists who support Corbyn believe that if he fails to remain the leader of the party then Labour will never have a leader with similar views to his ever again. It is claimed that the Parliamentary Labour Party’s Vote of No Confidence against him, which he lost 172 to 40, was the work of Evil Blairites, and that unless the left wing rallies behind him now, takes over all the Constituency Labour Parties and the National Executive Committee and then passes lots of democratic reforms at the party conference in September, the Right wing of the party will kick out the Left again like they did in the 1980s.

But, if Corbyn stays as leader long enough to pass his democratising reforms at the party conference, then the party will become a genuine Socialist party, democratically controlled by the grassroots, who will kick out the Right wing instead. Either way, the party will split, and the Left obviously prefer to have the Right be the ones wandering in the wilderness this time.

The Pragmatic Reasons for Joining Labour

Now, I am not saying that all anti-capitalists who are joining the Party are actually thinking along these lines. Many have said to be that they will join ‘tactically’ or ‘strategically’, and that they are not doing it because they think it will lead to Socialism, or that they see Jeremy Corbyn as some kind of Messiah, but simply because a Corbyn-led government seems like the lesser of 3 evils – the other two being an unelected Tory government or a Labour party led once again by Evil Shapeshifting Blairites.

Given that the next government will have to negotiate the UK’s future relationship with the rest of Europe, and that many decisions will be made which could potentially lead to disastrous consequences for workers and working class people if made by representatives of our class enemies, it is argued that it would simply be heartless for anyone who genuinely cares about the welfare of working class people to refuse to go along with this less of 3 evils for the sake of some kind of supposed Ideological purity.

The frontrunner of the Tory leadership race, Theresa May, has said she is in favour of scrapping the European Convention of Human rights  and has a long history of not only opposing immigration, but enforcing immigration law in very draconian ways during her time as Home Secretary.

The negotiations Britain will have with the EU will definitely affect the rights of millions of EU immigrants in one way or another. If the UK stays part of the European Economic Area but not part of the EU, like Norway, then ‘freedom of movement of labour’ will remain in some way, but precisely how is not certain. Leaving the European Convention of Human Rights will affect non-EU migrants as well, including many refugees who are often able to use the Convention to prevent themselves being deported.

So for people who oppose border controls and advocate solidarity among people of all nationalities, it is clear that Jeremy Corbyn, who has one of the best track records on refugee and migration policy of any MP, would be much more preferable than Theresa May.

Apart from immigration, many other causes dear to anti-capitalists hearts are up for grabs – equalities protection for Women, LGBTQ and Ethnic minority people in the workplace and in public services, and the vast majority of our environmental legislation

So for the same reason that many of us who actually oppose the EU as an undemocratic part of the capitalist super-structure nevertheless campaigned for a Remain vote in the referendum so that we could keep these limited protections and rights, obviously we want someone in power who will negotiate to keep as many of them as possible, which will not be a Tory or a Blairite.

The Ideological Reason For Not Joining the Labour Party

There is a long history of certain sections of the anti-capitalist movement refusing to participate in elections. The basic idea is that all systems of representative democracy are really just controlled behind the scenes by various capitalist interests, and that it is impossible to achieve any meaningful positive change for working class people by participating in them.

Left wing parties which seek to win elections are often viewed with suspicion by many anti-capitalists. People who want to reform the way capitalism works in a particular country to make it work better in the interests of working class people, are accused of ‘believing in capitalism’ and therefore dismissed. This can be witnessed in many anti-capitalists dismissal of the Green party as being ‘Green Capitalists’ for example.

This is a serious charge coming from people who define capitalism as inherently exploitative and violent. A picture is routinely portrayed of society as a pyramid in which the vast majority of people are at the bottom, suffering terribly from violence inflicted on them by people in the middle for the benefit of people at the top. With such an image of society it is easy to argue that it is meaningless to try and change the people at the top, because there will still be the same violence being meted out daily against the people on the bottom.

In this vision, the only true interest of the people at the bottom is revolution, to come about through a great world-wide insurrection leading to the direct seizure of the ‘means of production’ (fields, factories, workshops, communication and transport systems etc) by workers and working class people who will then use them to create a new socio-economic system to replace capitalism, in which decisions are made in ways consistent with direct democracy. This future society is sometimes referred to as ‘Communism’, sometimes ‘Anarchy’, sometimes ‘Socialism’, sometimes ‘the Ecological Society’, and often the word ‘libertarian’ is thrown in there as well for good measure.

For this to happen, lot’s of work needs to be done first of all, not least of which is the necessity to convince the vast majority of workers and working class people in the world that this is in fact what there true interests are and finding some way to organise such an insurrection.

Some people, calling themselves ‘insurrectionalists’ believe that the best way to go about this is to start the insurrection right now, as a minority of people, and to keep it going until everyone in the world joins in. This is the perspective of the kind of people who go out in the middle of the night to set off bombs in banks and other symbols of capitalism, or try to sabotage big ecological damaging structures, then come home and write poetic communiques about it to encourage other to want to do the same. You can see some of them on http://325.nostate.net/

Others believe in seeking to build mass non-violent social movements which are outside of the control of political parties until the working class of the world is organised enough and accustomed enough to the idea that achieving things through direct action is better than getting people elected to do them, that one day we will all be ready to start the final insurrection. This is the perspective of some Anarchist-Communist groups as well as Revolutionary Syndicalists like the IWW, who believe in fighting every-day workers’ battles in a militant way to build up the working class’s confidence until the One Big Strike some day in the future which will start the revolutionary insurrection.

Either way, the point is that anti-capitalists need to spend most of their time convincing people that political parties and voting are a waste of time and to put their faith in direct action, insurrection and the dream of the final anti-capitalist revolution instead. So those same anti-capitalists can not be seen to be participating in elections or political parties, or it would undermine their whole argument.

Working class people should not have ‘false hopes’ that capitalism can ever work in their interest, or in any leaders or political parties that say that it can, because this will mean they will continue to passively accept the violence inherent in the system instead of resisting and striking back against those responsible for the violence.

Critique of the Ideological Reason for Joining the Labour Party

The narrative I wrote towards the beginning of this piece was obviously quite tongue-in-cheek and you shouldn’t be surprised to read that I don’t agree with it. If you are really interested in this you should find someone who actually believes in it in order to get a fairer description of what they actually believe, which will not be hard for you as there are Leftist blogs all over the internet offering different versions of this narrative.

The main point I want to make is that there is a huge difference between the kind of ‘Socialism’ that the Labour party supposedly used to stand for and the kind of Socialism that the revolutionary socialists I described above are fighting for. It comes down to the question of whether workers should directly control the means of production, or whether a government supposedly representing them should. Clause 4 of the Party Manifesto, which Blair abolished, committed the Party to nationalising industry, not to giving it over to direct control by the people.

When a government ‘nationalises’ something, i.e. takes it over, some people have a tendency to call it ‘socialising it’ as if rather than belonging to the Nation State, it actually belongs to ‘society’. To equating the Nation State with ‘society’ is to follow the logic of Nationalist ideology, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Take for example the NHS. In your area are there ever any big assemblies or meetings where the neighbourhood gets together to vote on how your local hospital is going to be run? No, because it does not belong to you, or your neighbourhood, it belongs to the British Nation State, not British Society. It is nationalised, not socialised.

Anti-capitalists have long pointed out that a State which nationalises industry and banking can more accurately be called ‘State-Capitalist’ rather than Socialist. A state which owns factories, employs people, and gets into debt to invest in things it hopes will make it a financial profit to pay back the debt and run a budget surplus, is basically acting exactly like a massive corporation, just one with lots of soldiers working for it and a captive market of consumers.

Some Troskyists, and of course many Stalinists, would disagree with this and say that it is possible for a state that nationalises industry and banking can be socialist, if its a ‘workers state’ that has come about as a result of a popular revolution. It is hard to see how this argument could possibly apply in the case of a legitimate political party winning an election in a constitutional monarchy such as the UK.

Jeremy Corbyn wants to Nationalise the railways, and to make sure other things already nationalised don’t get privatised. For this he is called a Socialist, but it would be more accurate to call him a Nationalist. Many people in on the Left in Britain think this word means ‘racist’ and so would not call Jeremy Corbyn one. But many regimes around the world which have stood for State ownership of industry have been known as Nationalist rather than socialist, or sometimes both, though the term ‘National Socialist’ has especially bad connotations since the Nazis.

But look at what the Nazis actually did, aside from their genocidal and imperialist policies. They nationalised the central bank and used their power over it to promote economic recovery. They also nationalised various industries and were able to create jobs and social stability as a result. These are standard Leftist policies, and have also carried out by other horrible regimes from Stalinist Russia to modern day China. It does not make them good people.

In fact this is exactly the kind of thing that the revolutionaries such as the Insurrectionalists, Anarcho-Communists and Syndicalists are talking about – leaders and political parties creating false hope among the people to get themselves into power and continue to violently oppress the masses.

Under a Corbyn Government, wouldn’t people still get stopped and searched or killed in police custody? Wouldn’t people still get kicked out onto the street if they can’t pay their rent? Won’t baliffs, private security guards and other hired thugs still exist? Won’t overcrowded prisons still house thousands of people who never actually hurt anyone else, just took the wrong drugs or stole and committed fraud against people rich enough not to miss the money?

I am not comparing him to Hitler, just pointing out that the rule of a Nation State is ultimately based on it’s ability to monopolise violence within it’s territory, and that this always has terrible human consequences.

Critique of the Pragmatic Argument for Joining the Labour Party

Is Corbyn actually likely to win an election? The idea that he represents the ‘lesser of two (or three) evils’ is based on the assumption first of all that he has a realistic chance of winning. If he doesn’t, then wouldn’t it be more pragmatic to support a different Labour Party candidate, or even a Tory candidate, who is committed to keeping at least some of the things we like from the EU, even if not all of them?

One problem with that is that at time of writing this, the right wing of the Party have not chosen a candidate to challenge him yet, so we would have no-one to support in any case. But it is important to know that it is not only Blairites within the Parliamentary party who voted against Corbyn, but also people who are still to the left of the Neoliberal consensus but just aren’t quite as radical as Corbyn. Angela Eagle was one of them, and she was supposed to be the candidate they would put up against them but now for some reason they are hesitating.

When they finally do choose a candidate, we will be able to see from polling companies how well they do compared to Corbyn.

But even if Corbyn is the best choice, is it really a pragmatic use of our time to go to loads of boring Labour party meetings to get various Leftists elected to various committees, for the sake of what might or might not happen some time in the future, when right now racist attacks are on the rise?

Shouldn’t we put all our energy into community groups, anti-racist actions and other kinds of non-party political campaigning to be able to pressure whichever government takes power that they need to listen to what the people want from the EU negotiations? In short shouldn’t we worry about building up the strength of the working class to be able to impose it’s will on any government by building up the unions and other social movements?

Even if this building up the strength of the working class outside of the political parties never leads to a revolution, isn’t it still better anyway? If we put all our eggs in the basket of the Labour party, and then Labour loses an election anyway, won’t we have wasted our time when we could have been building fighting movements to force concessions out of the Tories? And wouldn’t we need those same fighting movements anyway even if Corbyn wins, to hold him to account and make sure he keeps his promises?

Critique of the Ideological Reasons For Not Joining Labour

As you might have guessed already, I have not fully made up my own mind on the pragmatism question, although I certainly have made clear that I thoroughly reject the Nationalist or State-Capitalist ideologies that masquerade as socialism and which have been the ideologies of the Labour party for it’s whole history, even in the Good Old Days.

For about 5 years I was fully convinced by the ideological arguments against voting or joining any party. After a couple of years of being just a generic anti-capitalist activist with no ideological commitment I eventually joined an Anarchist-Communist organisation and stayed in it for two years, by the end of which time I had become more convinced by the ideas of the Insurrectionalists. This carried on until my mental health improved and I was no longer constantly consumed with rage, and I joined the Revolutionary Syndicalist IWW, (the Industrial Workers of the World) becoming essentially committed to non-violent activism, but still accepting that violence is theoretically justified under certain conditions, such as in self defence against racist cops for example.

Over the past year, though, I have drifted even further away from my former insurrectionalist ideas and started to question the basic philosophical arguments underpinning the whole Anarchist/Syndicalist ideology. When David Cameron’s Tories won the election last year in 2015 I felt guilty for not having voted to stop him, and when the referendum was coming up I decided I would feel guilty if I didn’t campaign for a Remain vote if the overall vote ended up being to Leave.

In the end I did put in a fair amount of work-hours to campaigning for a Remain vote, and even sacrificed various opportunities to make money instead, meaning I have fallen even further into debt. I guess I don’t feel guilty, except that I could have started the process of campaigning a lot earlier.

Some friends and I came up with the idea for ‘Anti-Capitalists Against Brexit’ (ACAB) in late April, and if I had actually started working hard on it back then it might have built into a proper organisation by now instead of just being a blog and facebook group, or at least the blog and facebook group might have reached and influenced more people in the Anti-capitalist movement who were on the fence and mobilised them to actively campaign for a Remain vote, and this might have had a knock on effect in getting more people to vote Remain. Maybe we would have come up with a viral youtube video or something, who knows. There is not much point thinking about what might have been.

I still believe in the IWW vision of the working class getting gradually more and more organised, and winning more and more battles, until we get the confidence to one day finally abolish capitalism. Its an ideology I think almost anyone can get behind, because it means getting good things for the working class at every step of the way, even if we never reach the final destination. But now I am wondering if sometimes being part of a political party, and campaigning for one party to win over another can’t be part of that process.

If the point is to convince people that they should get off their arse and take action, opening their minds and hearts to the idea that having solidarity with others of all nationalities and industries is in all of our self-interest, and that if they do so then they will see rewards, well then we need to make sure that direct action and solidarity actually DO lead to rewards, or else we won’t convince anyone.

There are reasons why trades unionists over a hundred years ago became convinced that they needed a party in parliament to represent them: because government policy does affect how easy or hard it is to win union battles, and other social movement battles as well.

If there is a government in power that is more likely to capitulate to the unions and social movements, that will increase the people’s self confidence and belief in the power of direct action and solidarity, as long as the people remember that it was THEM who achieved the capitulation, not the good conscience of the capitulation themselves, who is in fact a State-Capitalist-Nationalist.

So should we try and get State-Capitalist-Nationalists in power even though we know they won’t achieve socialism, and that only the direct action and solidarity of the people can truly do that? I am personally coming to the conclusion that yes we should, and from attending a Bristol Momentum meeting last night full of other people saying very similar things, I feel more and more certain of it.

So yes, I say anti-capitalists should join the party, so long as we don’t kid ourselves about it. We need to have ‘one foot in and one foot out’ as someone from Momentum said last night, and never forget that it is direct action and solidarity of the people that really achieves things, and that all politicians are class enemies even if they call themselves socialists and are nice to refugees, even while we are campaigning to get them elected.

Choose a candidate you think will be a pushover for social movements and unions if they are elected, try and get them elected, then try and build up unions and social movements to push them over, and if we end up overthrowing the state and seizing the means of the production as a result of building up our strength and confidence so much, so much the better.

People are welcome and very encouraged to respond to this article with comments or by writing other articles responding to it, as long as they are civil, as I wrote this as much to inspire debate and critical thought as for any other reason, and am still open to having my mind changed myself

Raz O’Connor (still not yet quite a Labour Party member but probably to join soon)

1st of July 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Internationalists don’t even bother, of course Nationalists win

People blaming Corbyn for not pandering to anti-immigrant sentiment among some sections of the white working class miss the point. Instead, he should have done more to push a genuinely socialist message of working class people of different nationalities having more in common with one another than they do with the rich of their own countries.

It’s a basic idea, so basic that most leftists take it for granted that everyone already has heard that argument but the truth is many working class people don’t think like that because they are always encouraged to think the opposite way.

I feel the left wing intelligentsia in general is to blame for not acknowledging it’s the responsibility to educate that comes with the privilege of being educated. You get this weird and horrible paradox that many leftist middle class graduates actually hate working class people so much they can’t be bothered to even talk to them, let alone seriously try to argue their case in plain English, instead dismissing anyone who doesn’t respond to Marxist or liberal jargon as a hopeless case.

In Latin America I was always impressed at how the leftist activists I met from the universities always saw going into the shanty towns to do workshops and film showings as a normal practice, whereas the same idea never occurs to their equivalents here.

People often use the argument not to do it that it would be condescending or patronising, failing to see that being patronising and condescending is precisely why people like Boris and Farage and Trump succeed. There are ways of sharing the knowledge and insight you have without being condescending if you actually bother to try.

For more on this theme see my article More Ants With Honey

Raz O’Connor

The Left must unite, take to the streets and demand a general election ASAP

David Cameron has just announced that he will resign at some point in the next 3 or 4 months, before the Tory party conference in October, by which time he hopes the party will have chosen a new leader, and therefore a new Prime Minister. This is unacceptable.

After the splits in the left during the campaign, we must reunite as soon as possible and go on the offensive. A demand for a general election is both an incredibly reasonable one which it would be hard to imagine how the media could distort, as well as one the political class will be unlikely to want to agree to, which will reveal their true nature to the general public.

Cameron has given us a new timeline of three months in which to organise such a campaign. If we take to the streets, hang banners, camp outside, and do all the other things we know how to do to attract media attention, we can channel the rage that many of us may be feeling into a productive, positive cause, which is bound to pick up support from vast swathes of the population.

Even though around 17 million people have voted to Leave the EU, this does not mean that they want Boris Johnson or any other person appointed by the Tory party, which only has around 150,000 members, to be the Prime Minister at a time when the role of the Prime Minister will be incredibly important in defining precisely what the terms of Brexit will be.

Most importantly it was not clear in the question of the referendum whether or not the British people have voted to leave the EEC as well as the EU. If we are to leave the EEC, it will end the right to freedom of movement across EU borders for millions of people, as well as affecting a huge part of the UK’s trade policy.

Given how close the referendum was, it would be incredibly undemocratic and criminal for a Tory government led by Boris Johnson or anyone else of his ilk, to come to power without a mandate from a general election, and make such important decisions by themselves, when we know that they would prefer to leave the EEC, end freedom of movement and possibly fundamentally alter the economic relationship the UK has with the rest of the entire world.

If there was a general election in which the Labour party ran on a manifesto promise to stay in the EEC, keep all the workers rights, environmental protections and other benefits of EU membership, this would create opportunities for important public debate on these crucially important issues. Who knows, Corbyn might even win, which would certainly be the lesser of a great many potential evils.

So lets get together and start trying to build a new grassroots mass movement to demand democracy, even the awful, limited form of representative democracy we are supposedly have, and stop the country becoming a Tory dictatorship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Immediate Anti-Capitalist Response to Brexit

A few minutes ago I saw the news reported live on the BBC that the EU referendum has been won by the Leave campaign. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to start writing this. So it is an immediate Anti-capitalist response in that sense, but also in the sense that what I want to talk about is how the anti-capitalist movement should respond in the next few days.

It is important first of all to just accept that this has happened and not dwell on what might have been. The Left, including anti-capitalists, were divided during the campaign and we must not hold grudges against one another, nor should those of us who were for remain waste time in self pity, or in wondering whether or not things would have been different if we’d worked harder or whatever. That kind of thinking will get no-one anywhere.

First of all it is likely that very soon David Cameron will step down and a new Prime Minister will be chosen by the Conservative party without a popular vote. We should oppose this, even if we can not stop it. We must be united in denouncing any attack on democracy, especially as the faction of the Conservative party most likely to take over the government is one representing interests so contrary to those of the working class.

We should be out on the streets demanding that a general election be held, at the very least, if not a full scale overhaul of the entire political system. Even if this demand is not met, a visible and strong campaign around it will at least remind the general population of the undemocratic nature of any other method of choosing the next Prime Minister.

Beyond the question of a change of personnel in Government there are the many negotiations and changes to the law that will need to take place over the next two years at least. The Left, Unions and social movements will have many battles to fight, so we need to start getting as ready as possible right now, both emotionally and organisationally.

I suggest that everyone who reads this spends the weekend having as many positive, forward-looking conversations as possible with as many comrades as possible, and that we start to have meetings to organise practical tasks in the next one to two weeks.

That’s all I have to say for now. Stay Positive. The Struggle continues. All is not lost quite yet.

All Power To The People

Raz O’Connor

6.43pm, 24 June 2016

 

Why the headlines didn’t say: ‘Fascist Terrorist Assassinates Elected Politician’

That is what the headlines should have said when Jo Cox died. The man who killed her was a Fascist – that was clear from the fact he shouted the name of a prominent Fascist organisation – Britain First – as he shot her, and has since become even more clear.

It was also, clearly, an act of Terrorism. It was something done for a political purpose, and the tactic chosen was one intended to cause fear in the hope that this would achieve that political end.

It was also an Assassination- it was the targeting of a specific figure in the public eye who represented something that the killer wanted to see destroyed – white non-Muslim people having solidarity with Muslims of different skin colours or at the very least British Citizens having solidarity with non-British Citizens.

But the same media organisations that are usually happy to use the word ‘Terrorism’ as soon as possible if the suspect is believed to be Muslim, were very reluctant to use this word, or the word ‘Fascist’, or even the word ‘Assassination’.

In the British flawed ‘Representative’ democracy, the only way an ordinary citizen stands a chance of influencing the affairs of State is by writing to your MP or talking to them at a constituency surgery. Constituency surgeries are perhaps the greatest claim the British state has to actually being any kind of democracy at all, rather than the plutocratic oligarchy that it appears to be to the untrained eye.

It was precisely this event that was chosen as the seat of the attack by a man who does not believe in any kind of democracy whatsoever, to carry out the murder of an elected official. It may have been chosen simply because it was an event she was guaranteed to be at, but nonetheless the symbolism is powerful – this was an attack on democracy by anti-democratic forces.

Again, the same media organisations that normally love to use this kind of language utterly failed to do so. If a government far away chooses to allow it’s oil to be sold in a different currency to the US dollar, as Saddam Hussein and Colonel Ghadaffi  did, this is grounds for war to ‘protect democracy’, even though the US dollar is the property of the completely unelected Federal Reserve Bank, which even American citizens have no say over, let alone British ones.

So is the British army going to be sent to war against Britain First and other Fascist groups? It seems unlikely. Just the other week in Bristol I witnessed what must have been tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds being spent on policing and fences to allow a group of 14 Fascists to have access to one of the most popular parks in the city, safe from the hundreds of anti-fascists who gathered to oppose them.

Such things are very common. The British State allows Fascists to march regularly and is prepared to spend an awful lot of money to protect their ‘freedom of speech’ to do so, even though under Fascism the rights to freedom of speech and protest would not exist. We are often told that this is because of the State’s democratic liberal values – that they are so principled as to defend someone’s right to say something even if they disagree.

Yet under an Anarchist or Democratic Socialist system, there would be much greater democracy, much greater freedom of speech, and yet the Anarchist, Socialist and similar-minded movements in the UK are rarely given this expensive police protection (quite the reverse!) even when we are on the streets trying to ‘protect democracy’ from Fascists.

We also have the disadvantage that we do not have sympathetic newspapers being sold in every newsagent in the country, blasting out propaganda for us for free.

Imagine is for every news story attacking immigrants, people on benefits, squatters, travellers and Leftists there was a corresponding one attacking corrupt bureaucrats, violent police thugs, rapacious transnational corporations or bigoted lower-middle class racists.

Imagine if for every article suggesting we should scrap the human rights act and put more people in jail, there was one saying we should give people more rights and take more people out of jail.

Imagine if when an Anarchist smashed a bank window or dared to use self-defence against a cop trying to smack them in the face with a steel baton, the newspapers asked the public to be sympathetic to their mental state rather than immediately labelling them a terrorist or trouble-maker.

Of course, anyone performing any kind of act of violence is probably not in the best mental state. Of course, it is wise when someone attacks you or someone you care about to try to hold yourself back from immediately judging them as ‘evil’ or dehumanising them in some other way. It is difficult to do so, but it is wise, and through meditation and much reflecting on the ways in which deep down all humanity is one and the same, I believe it could be possible.

So I am not criticising the media for looking into the mental health of the Fascist Assassin and Terrorist. I am criticising them for not also calling him a Fascist, Assassin and Terrorist at the same time. It’s easy to write a sentence doing both, e.g. What mental health factors drive someone to become a Fascist Assassin and Terrorist? See, easy.

I am also criticising them for not applying the same sympathetic considerations in other cases of Terrorism. Do they consider Muslim Terrorists to be completely mentally stable?

The Terrorist who killed dozens of people in the club in Orlando was also suffering from mental health problems. It seemed he was attracted to men and was repressing it, possibly due to being brought up with homophobic beliefs, causing him to lash out against openly gay people. This is a common psychological phenomenon and the cause of much of the homophobic violence in the world.

A media organisation that wanted to help the public understand violence and how it could be avoided might want to invite it’s readers or viewers to consider such things.

However, a media organisation that actively wants to promote racial and religious hatred among white working class people in the Western world to encourage them to support imperialistic wars in the Muslim world and be indifferent to the human cost, might report any act of violence carried out by someone who may be Muslim in such a way as to dehumanise them (and their entire religion) to make them appear evil and worthy of death.

A media organisation seeing a white working class person with mental health problems whipped up into a violent frenzy through years of its own propaganda to the point where he assassinates an elected politician, might not want its readers to think about whether or not it was to blame in any way for it. It might therefore not use the same language it uses in the case of Muslim terrorists. It wouldn’t want other white working class people to stop and consider that it is not a good thing to be a Fascist, essentially.

Of course if media organisations were behaving like this, this could be considered a threat to democracy in itself. If instead of impartially and unbiasedly reporting on similar crimes in a similar way regardless of the ethnicity or religion of the suspect, they were in fact using a double standard and protecting the fascist movement while continuing to stir up hated against ethnic minorities to encourage more people to become fascists – it could be considered that these organisations were actually pro-Fascist ones themselves.

How lucky we are that instead of living in a plutocratic oligarchy with a strong and thriving Fascist subculture and media protected by the power of the State, we instead live in a liberal democracy where power rests with those who are elected by the people rather than whoever has access to a gun.

Boris Johnson, a charismatic right-wing populist leader who is obsessed with ancient Rome and who could become the most powerful man in the country without having to stand for election goes around speaking on podiums that say #TakeControl . Nothing fascist about that at all, is there?

Let us not be afraid though. Truly, that is letting the Terrorists win. Jo Cox stood for Britain remaining in the EU, for letting more refugees come in, and for Peace. Let us continue to fight for these things, knowing that by doing so we are acting out of love for all humanity, rather than fear for whoever the Fascist media say we should consider our enemies.

Let us also consider the mental state of other prominent Fascists, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, and not dehumanise them as they dehumanise others. Perhaps one day they will learn to be comfortable in their own skin and not feel they have to constantly make spectacles out of themselves to get attention.

Speaking of spectacles and being comfortable in your own skin, here is a video of some naked people, trying to inject some positivity back into the referendum campaigning after all the doom and gloom last week.

Stay positive, and never give up