Communists and the Labour Party 2

NICK.HOLDEN at geo2.poptel.org.uk NICK.HOLDEN at geo2.poptel.org.uk
Sun Aug 11 14:35:02 MDT 1996


As Jim was saying:

> Whichever, the fact remains that the Labour Party is a party openly wedded
to
> capitalism, which has taken on much of the ideological baggage of
> Thatcherism, and which is not making the slightest commitment to reverse
the
> anti-working class measures implemented by successive Tory administrations
> over the past 17 years. All it promises is to preserve and improve
> capitalism.
>
> What does it mean to call for a vote for such a party in the present
> conditions? Above all, it means to call for a vote for the status quo.

It means you have lost faith in your class' ability to change the world.
Whereas to not "call for a vote for Labour", in the way you propose, means
you have lost faith in your ability to change the class.

I advocate neither route.

> Labour, both before Blair and now, is a social democratic party. If
elected
> to office, it will manage capitalism in the only way possible: in the
> interests of the capitalists. At time of boom, Labour might have been able
to
> offer reforms to the workers. But today? With mass unemployment, with
> declining competitiveness, British capitalism is in a very poor state
indeed.
> Blair as prime minister will be a social democrat presiding over
capitalism
> in crisis. And we know what that means.

If you're not using it n Thursday, could I borrow your crystal ball?

In general I think your predictions are probably not far wrong. But I am
interested in the future in order to see avenues for the class to exert its
own strength, build its confidence and develop its ability to alter the
outcome of events. Not simply to justify a political line.


> Blair in power will unleash attack after attack on the working class. He
will
> have to, whether he wants to or not, though it seems clear that he'd
relish
> the chance to show himself as a strong man. We all know that progressive
> reformism is not on the agenda. It is not even as if we can expect one
small
> step forward, or a little more elbow room in which to push forward our
> demands - he won't even repeal the anti-union laws which are in
contravention
> to even the ILO's standards. To call for a vote for Labour is to call for
a
> vote for a party which will be viciously anti-working class. It is very
> difficult to see how this can be justified. And in this respect it is
exactly
> the same if we are calling for a vote for Blair or a vote for Clinton.

Surely the lack of elbow room for Blair is a good thing. It avoids putting
people in a dilemma about choosing "the better or worse capitalist" - the
kind of thing comrades in the CPUSA seem to be having such trouble with.

To do anything but call for a vote for Labour is to advocate another Tory
term in office. That is ALSO advocating a vicious anti-working class
government. Not only that, but it is counterposing your political programme
to that of the working class - not developing them so that they can better
wage the class struggle, but disarming them against the Tories.

One of the likely outcomes of a Labour government is renewed confidence in
the class. The current wave of strikes and near-strikes (postal workers,
tube workers, some hospital staff, airline pilots, rail workers, etc) is
partly caused by expectation that the Tories will soon be defeated. Workers
need to remember that their strength can change the world. Changing the
government may seem like small beer to you, but the people I live and work
with, it means the world. They will not have the self-confidence to fight
for the real world, until they've
 won that first battle.

I would, of course, like to wake up tomorrow and find that the workers have
gone from utter defeat to revolutionary consciouness. But I doubt the
circulation of your paper is broad enough to acheive that. In fact, even if
it were, I doubt it would acheive it anyway because people's expectations
are so low they have no faith in themselves as political creatures - it
makes no difference what I think, they say when I talk to my neighbours
about politics.

You cannot sell these people the transitional programme, and expect to turn
them into revolutionaries.


> There is widespread discontent with Labour among the poorest sections of
the
> working class. This can and must be directed towards rebuilding a strong
> working class left. Scargill's SLP is already doing this in some areas.
But
> in other working class areas, most notably in East London, it is the
fascists
> who are beginning to pick up support among white workers. In the Isle of
> Dogs, they got elected. When they subsequently lost the seat, they did so
> despite an increase in their vote: they gained strength, even though they
> lost the election. In Canning Town they polled a third of the vote. These
are
> just two examples. They are posing as the real radicals - people who can
get
> things done, and who are not afraid to stand up to the system. In those
> areas, the status quo *is* the Labour Party, and it has nothing to offer
> workers. But while the fascists present themselves as the radical
alternative
> to Labour, most of the left chooses to continue to call for ... a vote for
> Labour.

It has to be said that since then the fascists' vote has dropped in East
London. However, the general charge is true - the far right are presenting
themselves as the radical alternative. Trouble is, by denouncing Labour and
calling for revolution, the far left essentially says, "Yes, Labour are
crap. There must be a revolution." Any worker who is frightened of
revolutionary politics will hear the first part, and decide, well if Labour
are crap, and this lot want to turn the East End into Petrograd, I'm going
to join the NF.


> One of the fascists' taunts to Anti-Fascist Action [the only left group
which
> implements a dual strategy of political *and* physical opposition to the
> fascists, AFA is a united front] that they are boot boys for the
> establishment. Most of the left in reality *are* precisely footsoldiers
for
> the establishment in working class areas as they turn out to do the hard
work
> of knocking on doors and persuading people to vote Labour once again.

In Leicester during a recent council by-election caused when two Tories
resigned their seats in protest at a land sale to build a mosque, we saw
this dual-strategy in action. The NF stood a candidate in the ensuing
by-election, and the LAFA group (Leicester Anti-Fascist Action) circulated a
leaflet saying, "Don't vote for the fascists". Essentially this meant saying
to working class people, it matters not whether you vote Labour or Tory, as
long as you don't vote NF. When challenged, AFA members said, "that's true -
it doesn't matter. Labour & Tory councillors are all the same" despite the
fact that Tory candidates were the very same councillors who had raised the
race issue in the first place, engineered the by-election and stood on the
platform of "No Mosque!"

Stunning, eh?

> Social democracy in power in conditions of crisis paves the way for the
> victory of open fascism. In this respect, as in many others, it is like
all
> mainstream bourgeois tendencies, be they conservative, liberal or
so-called
> socialist. But there is one important difference: the attacks on the
working
> class by the social democrats are carried out in the name of socialism.
Not

Not by Tony Blair, they won't be! The name of the game is fiscal
responsibility.

> only do they attack the working class, but they also in the process
discredit
> socialism further. This is why the fascists are beginning to gain ground
in
> areas which should be the reserve of progressive organisations.

"Reserve of progressive organisations"? No such place, comrade - we have to
fight for every worker, I'm afraid.


> It is time to face facts. Social democracy is politically the left wing of
> the bourgeoisie. When capitalism is in crisis, all bourgeois parties
attack
> the working class. Their methods sometimes differ. But the aim is always
the
> same: prop up the system and defend the ruling class. The deeper the
crisis,
> the, sharper the attacks. To the extent that the working class mounts and
> effective fight back, then social democracy is forced to do all it can to
> crush that resistance.
>
> Social democracy is not a moderate form of socialism, it is a virulent
form
> of anti-Communism.

Indeed. And it has control of the Labour movement in the UK. In fact, it
holds sway over 90% of the British working class.

Can you create another working class from somewhere, or do you have to
conduct a battle of ideas within the existing one?


> Now more than ever it is critical; that Communists break with Labour. We
need
> in deed as well as word to uphold the independence of the working class.
We
> need to drive a wedge between the workers and Labour, exploiting the
> divisions that have already been created. For most of the left in Britain,
on
> the contrary, the prime duty appears to be to seek to heal the divide, and
to
> turn the clock back. Nick, despite his claims to orthodoxy, is as guilty
on

Sorry? I didn't claim to be orthodox, just applying what I perceive as the
correct strategy on the basis of experience. I don't value orthodoxy or
quote-mongering for their own sake, but for what they can teach us about the
world and how to win it.

> this score as the leaders of the CPUSA. Worse, in fact, since at least
they
> are organised independently of the Democratic Party, whereas Nick is proud
of
> his membership of a bourgeois party.

Indeed. And proud to be fighting within the class. Do the CPUSA perceive the
Democrats to be part of the working class, then?

> For Communism

For communist struggle.

NickH



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