Forwarded from Anthony Brain (SSP)
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun May 25 06:18:36 MDT 2003
There is obviously an important radicalisation in Scotland.
This is partly reflected in the SSP gaining a 100,000 votes in the Scottish
Assembly elections. Revolutionaries are sensitvie and orientate to the
radicalisation of tens of thousands of Workers' and Middle Class elements.
They also see the limitations of the political leadereship leading it.
The SSP is not a Revolutionary Party and claims not to be. It at least
Centrist if not a left Reformist Party. Two obvious problems with the
Sheridan leadership is clear. One flows from their concillation to Unionism
in the North of Ireland where they have links with Billy Hutchininson. This
concillation to Unionism is often camaflaged in Ultra-Left Economism with
them saying :"Neither Green or Orange but Workers' unity1".
The Sheridan leaderships' position on the North of Ireland flows from the
Millitant group they were in. That position of Millitant (which the
Socialist Party in England and Wales carries forward and Socilaist Appeal
does on the national question on Ireland but as far I know does not have
links with Unionist politicans) broke from Lenin and Trotsky's attitude to
oppressed nationalities exploited by Imperialism.
Lenin realised at the turn of the 20th Century that a Socialist revolution
in a multi-national country like Russia required the Working Class to
champion the struggle of oppressed nationalities against Tsarism. Trotsky
agreed with Lenin on this and incorportaed that analysis when he developed
his theory of Permanent Revolution. Trotsky argued from 1906 onwards (when
he first formulated the theory of Permanent Revolution as being applicable
to Russia) that the Working Class had to have specific demands for
oppressed nationalities in the Russian Empire if they were going to win
them over to a Socialist Revolution against Capitalism. Trotsky correctly
stated that it was the Working Class who could lead the struggle against
national oppression of the Russian Aristocracy and Bourgeoisie because they
were only ones who had the class interest to end all forms of oppression.
In 1914 all the sections of the Second International (except for the
Russian and Italian sections) supported different Imperialist alliances
after June 28th 1914, which soon escalated into World War I. The Bolsheviks
analysed that this degeneration of the Second International was caused by
an Aristocracy of Labour and Bureaucracy, that Imperialism had brought off
due to recieving considerable privliges. Lenin struggled from 1907 to 1914
for the Second International to unconditiinally support the struggle of the
Colonial Masses against Imperialist rule.
The Comintern attempted to learn the lessons of the Second International's
degeneration in August 1914 and the October 1917 Russian Socialist
Revolution. They made it a condition of membership for every section and
individidual to unconditionally support the Colonial Revolution against
Imperialism. It was only after Trotsky extended the theory of Permanent
Revolution to all Third World countries after the defeat of the 1925-27
Chinese Revolution. What Trotsky argued would be the attitude of
Revolutionaries to the struggles of oppressed nationalities in the lead
upto the October 1917 Russian Revolution, applied to all Third World countries.
In the late 1930s Trotsky argued for the American SWP to support Black
self-organisation as a way of getting the Black Working and Middle Class to
fight against their racial oppression. By Revolutionaries playing a key
role in this process they would get a hearing among the most oppressed
elements of the Black Working Class, and would encourage them to link up
with White Workers' who supported their struggle against Racism. Trotsky
correctly argued that was one of the main ways of forging Working Class
unity by winning the confidence of the most oppressed Black Workers' by
showing thnm effective ways of challenging racial oppression. Trotsky was
for the SWP to be really hard with White Working Class members of the SWP
who wouldn't fight for this policy in the American Workers' movement. This
is where Trotsky famously said :"Any compromise with the anti-Black
chauvinism of White Workers' would finish any Revolutionary".
What's happened in the North of Ireland is the classical ploy of British
Imperialism to give prilviges to sections of the population (the
Unionists), who then have a material interest in maintaining British
Imperialist rule against those exploited Nationalist Workers' who see their
interests best advanced through unifying with the rest of Ireland. The
attitude of Revolutionaries is to support the struggle by Nationalist
Workers to reunify Ireland which would weaken British Imperialism and if
Workers' play a leading role there is a chance of incipient Socialist
Revolution developing. They don't write off Unionist Workers' but aim to
win them over to the strategy of strugguling for a reunified Ireland. As
British Imperialism is economically declining in the North of Ireland,the
Unionist Workers' are losing some of their privliges. This could lead to a
reevaluation among them, realising that they would have more to gain in
terms of living standards through a reunified Ireland.
Lenin and Trotsky if alive now would be scathing about the Sheridan's
leadership attitude to the North of Ireland. They would have pointed out
that you don't concillate to privliged elements like the Unionists who have
material interests in maintaining British Imperialist rule. Sherdian's
links with Hutchinson reminds me of Trotsky's quotes on not adapting to the
White Workers' Racism. Lenin and Trotsky would also point out you can't
paper over divisions within the Working Class through abstract calls for
unity, but you have to bring that unity about by winning the Protestant
Workers' over to supporting the struggle for a reunified Ireland.
Opportunists always snear Revolutionaries saying things what I've said in
the last two paragraphs are unrealisable and that class unity can only be
forged around economistic issues. I don't underestimate the difficulties in
winning over Protestant Workers' over to the cause of the Nationalist
Workers' but I think it will happen at some point out of self-preservation.
The economic decline of British Imperilaism will bring this about.
Revolutionarties base their programme on the objective contradictions that
Capitalism faces in the North of Ireland and includes in that programme
strategic steps leading to a Socialist Revolution. Trotsky argued that was
the purpose of the Transitional Programme. He argued against Shactman in
1938 that the Transitioanl Programme had to be based on objective
contradictions of World Capitalism and a strategy leading towards Workers'
power, not on the present level of consciounsess among Workers' in
different counties. As Trotsky said in 1938 it is a characteristic of
Opportunism to base your programme on the consciousness of Workers' at a
Any Leninist knows revolutions can sometimes take years and even decades to
unfold. The period we are moving into now in my opinion is the most
revolutionary in the history of Humanity due to the depth of the Capialist
crisis, and the inevitable mass resistance by the Working Class and
oppressed against the onslaught of Capital. Without revolutionary
leadership the Working Class will suffer defeats which in the medium to
long-term could mean the coming to power of Fascism in one or more of the
more Imperialist countries, or could lead to the outbreak of World War III
with humanity being destroyed by thermo-nuclear war. Revolutionaries
knowing what to deal in this explosive period of history can complete the
World Socialist Revolution. The international anti-War movement is already
impacting on the North of Ireland, with sizeable protests in Belfast
against the American-British Imperialist War on Iraq. Other international
developments to the left will also influence the Workers' in the North of
The Sheridan leadership's abstentionist position on defending the
Nationalist communities in the North of Ireland against Unionist attacks
has implications for Scotland. This morning on BBC teletext I've read in
Scotland that 4/5ths of attacks on religious people is carried out by
Unionists against Catholics. 20% of these attacks by Unionists in the west
of Scotland involve phsyical assaults on Catholics. What programme does the
SSP have to defending Catholics against Unionists? An abstentionist line on
the North of Ireland impacts on Scotland.
The next big problem with the Sherdian leadership is their lack of
poilitical class orientation. This is reflected in them considering forming
a coalition government with the Bourgeois Nationalist SNP. This didn't
happen becuase the SNP's vote declined and actually lost seats in the
Scottish Assembly elections. If there had been attempts by the Sheridan
leadership to form a coalition government with the SNP there would have
been a major internal crisis in the SSP.
The Sheridan's leadership's lack of a political class orientation is also
reflected in not knowing how to orientate to the Labour Party (LP)
properly. One of the big problems on the British Far Left is their
ultra-left attitude to the LP. There are some groups or individuals who go
as far as saying that Blair has transformed the LP into a Bourgeois Party.
This is wrong even from the point of view of the law of idenity in Formal
Logic.because it is Trade Union Bureaucracy, not the Bourgeoisie who
control and fund the LP.
From A Dialectical Materialist point of view the theory that the LP is a
Bourgeois Party is even more wrong. It is true that Blarism represents
something new in that his Bourgeois Faction are attempting to convert the
LP into a Bourgeois Party. That is the Blariite aim but achieving it is
another thing. The cornerstone of Dialectical Materialism is that there are
contradictory forces at work in any process. That is true also of the LP.
There are Social Democrats who are fighting the Blairites against creeping
Privatisation of the NHS such as Foundation Hospitals. All the signs is
that the LP is heading for a split between the Blarities and Social
Democrats. Revolutionaries should be intervening in that battle so they
gain the maxinum influence for Trotskyism. There will never be a Socialist
Revolution in Britain unless Revolutionaies break millions of Workers from
Reformism. Blarism is finished in terms of creditablity in the Working
Class, but Reformism isn't. In other words Workers' have illusions in the
Dobsons, Corbyns etc
Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org
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