Dare to struggle, dare to win
No. 2 September 2016
BREXIT: DOES IT MATTER?
The major mainstream political event In Britain during 2016 has been the EU Referendum and its aftermath. A narrow majority of those voting (52%) were for leaving the EU. Many of the people voting to leave were working class, especially people living in parts of Britain particularly negatively affected by the financial crisis of 2008. The truth is that many of them were influenced in their choice by nationalist and racist sentiments, wanting “to get back control over our own affairs” and preventing “too many immigrants entering the country”. Also many people voted to leave as a way of expressing no confidence in all of the mainstream politicians.
Let there be no mistake. The great majority of us never had “had control over our own affairs”. The British system of parliamentary “democracy” is and always has been a fraud. It does not give the working class and middle strata real power to determine our lives. Rather this political system serves the interests of the tiny minority of immensely rich capitalists who own and control the economy – people like Richard Branson. This was so before Britain joined the European Union and remained so afterwards. The EU is a continental wide club of rich men and women deciding on political and economic policies which serve them and not the great majority. If Britain leaves the EU the British section of the same exploiting gang of parasites will continue to oppress and exploit us – unless we do something about it.
One thing is for sure. If we allow ourselves to be distracted and divided by the racism which was shamelessly peddled by Nigel Farage, “Boris” Johnson and their ilk during the EU campaign then we will be helpless in the face of our capitalist oppressors. It’s not migrant workers from Europe and elsewhere which are the cause of our problems. It’s capitalist bosses and their politician servants who hold down and reduce earnings, impose exploitative and insecure contracts of employment and curtail trade union rights which are our real problem. We’ll only successfully resist this assault if we stand together. Workers of the world unite!
The leaders of the Remain campaign warned of dire economic consequences if Britain left the EU while the Leave campaign spoke of glorious times to come if Britain leaves. Now it is clear that the Tory Government led by Theresa May will do its utmost to make sure that Britain does not really leave the EU because this is what the majority of the British ruling class want, especially the financiers in the City of London. Stay or go the future for the great majority of people in Britain does not look bright with business as usual for capitalism. Hopes that a Corbyn-led Labour Government will sort out things for us are illusory. We must begin to mount serious challenges to the onerous rule of capital. We must start hitting the enemy where it hurts.
People in Britain know that capitalism is no good but few can see a way forward to a better society. It is essential to generate interest in and attachment to revolutionary Marxism in Britain. To achieve this aim we are spreading knowledge of the revolutionary outlook of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism among the working class and middle strata in Britain.
LABOUR PARTY IMPLODES
The British Labour Party is now heading for implosion. A schism has developed between the great majority of Labour MP’s (Pink Tories) and the mass of the membership. Labour MP’s are refusing to support the elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn instead of opting for the relatively unknown corporate pharma lobbyist and former supporter of NHS privatisation Owen Smith.
The first contender against Corbyn, Blairite Angela Eagle, was forced out of the contest which she had instigated because Blairism is so thoroughly discredited. Tainted by the legacy of Blair’s administration, Eagle’s position was untenable. The challenge to Corbyn’s leadership also occurred at the time the Chilcot Enquiry Report on the Iraq War was due to be published making the contest a convenient distraction.
Many old and new members of the Labour Party who have rejoined or joined for the first time have placed hope in the leadership of Corbyn to deliver social and economic change. These people are under the illusion that the era of social democracy can be revived. This is an impossible dream and ignores many negative aspects of post World War Two social democracy such as the oppression of developing nations by countries such as Britain. The post-war conditions which allowed social democratic consensus in the West are long gone. The social and economic havoc unleashed over the globe is not due to a few bad politicians implementing neoliberal policies on purpose as John McDonnell (Corbyn’s Number 2 and Shadow Chancellor) would like to claim. It is the fundamental nature of capitalist imperialism, its ‘normal’ condition.
Many people can now see that the economic growth which the Tories parrot about is indeed growth but for a small number of rich capitalists. Corbyn and McDonnell’s pretence to be able to change capitalism for the better is being exposed daily by their inability to change the political structure of the Labour Party or the Westminster Parliament. The Labour Party machine along with the British state and media barons have now turned on the Corbyn-McDonnell team and Party members with all its ferocity. This exposes the fundamental contradiction inherent in Britain between the capitalists and workers. The Labour MPs stand with billionaire tax exile Richard Branson in attacking Corbyn at every opportunity.
In reality the Westminster politicians represent the interests of a small gang of rich capitalists and have no real intention of challenging their power and the wealth they control. Also these politicians have no real intention of challenging their spending cuts and drive to war. They may scapegoat some of the more blatant such as Philip Green but it is not one individual capitalist but the whole system that must go for the sake of all of the people. This contradiction between the representatives of the rich and ordinary Corbyn supporters in Labour will only result in a fundamental split (public or not) and the political oblivion of social democracy in Britain.
The passing of Labour should not be mourned though. More than ever Labour is sewing illusions in parliamentary reform and trying to deflect the working class and progressives away from real struggle. Those who have joined the Labour Party seeking a genuine desire for progress and fundamental change in society will be forced in the process of the Party’s demise to look elsewhere for political guidance which will help them to understand and grasp how capitalist society must be overthrown. Anyone who understands that this system must go needs to understand that it can only be overthrown through violent revolution. It cannot be changed any other way.
All communists and progressives should be prepared for the fallout from Labour’s implosion and work to politicise those sections of the people who will be smacked in the face by the reality that Labour cannot really change anything. We need to build total opposition to this system of exploitation, destruction, alienation and oppression. Forward with the class struggle!
GET ORGANISED AND FIGHT BACK!
Despite the new Trade Union Act, which places even more restrictions on workers defending their pay and conditions, some employees are managing to win victories. The cleaners at 100 Wood Street offices in the City of London have won their dispute over pay and conditions after holding a sixty-one day strike. All of the workers are migrants and are organised in alternative trade union United Voices of the World. The same union has been organising the low-paid cleaners at Topshop which is owned by billionaire pension fund thief Philip Greed.
This shows that it is possible to get organised and take effective industrial action, something the large mainstream trade unions seem incapable of doing. Many firms, for example B & Q, are trying to avoid the small pay rises necessitated by the new Government minimum wage regulations by dodges such as cutting overtime rates, etc.. Unions such as USDAW seem incapable of taking any effective action to combat these measures to lower wages. The truth is that the very well-paid full-time officials in such unions don’t want trouble. They want to avoid getting involved in any serious industrial action which might threaten their comfortable positions.
It is possible to defy the anti-trade union laws. Surprisingly, the Prison Officers’ Association have been breaking many of the regulations in current labour laws for years and getting away with it! In the junior doctors’ dispute the restrictions on picketing were ignored by these BMA members but the State took no action. Even while sticking within the straightjacket of the current anti-trade union laws it is still possible to take some effective action as has been shown by transport workers in RMT and ASLEF.
What the leaders of the mainstream trade unions such as UNITE, UNISON and GMB want is for a future Labour Government to bring in laws which legally enforce collective bargaining procedures. At first sight this seems like it would be a good thing. But if we look back to the nineteen seventies when a Labour government brought in similar measures it shifted power from ordinary trade union members to the full-time officials. The capitalist state will only make any concessions on restrictions on trade unions if it is faced with a serious challenge from below, from millions of ordinary employees taking militant actions to defend their pay and conditions.
FIGHT TO SAVE THE NHS
The Government’s rundown of the National Health Service is reaching a critical point. It is trying to operate on about two thirds of the level of funding of health systems in comparable Western European countries. The latest move by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to further dismantle the NHS is the Sustainability and Transformation Plans. These involve further cutbacks in local health services so as to save money. Across the country we are seeing reductions in Accident and Emergency services with closures and partial closures of services. More people are having to take lengthy and time-consuming journeys to receive life-saving treatment—and more people will die as a result.
One reason for these A & E closures is that Hospital Trusts are having difficulties in recruiting doctors to work at nights and weekends under the terms of the contracts being offered. Already the junior doctors have taken a series of strikes in rejection of unfair contracts demanding excessive and patient-endangering hours of work. Further industrial action is planned. This is the sort of militant action by people inside the NHS and outside that is necessary to stop May and Hunt’s plan to destroy the NHS and replace it with a second-rate, privatised health care system.
Direct action is the way forward. We should in person directly confront, challenge and disrupt Hospital Boards, Healthcare Trust Boards and Clinical Commissioning Groups who are the willing agents of the destruction of the NHS. If we don’t kick them, they won’t fall!
SUPPORT THE JUNIOR DOCTORS!
COMMEMORATE THE CHINESE CULTURAL REVOLUTION!
May 2016 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the tumultuous Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China launched in 1966 by the Chinese Communist Party under the leadership of Mao Tse-tung. This was an incredibly important movement which took China further down the path towards Communism than any other socialist country had been.
The victory of the oppressed Chinese people led by the Communist Party in 1949 had led to the rapid development of their society. However they experienced problems which had also occurred in the USSR in the building of socialism. Mao and some of his co-thinkers had come to realise that despite the socialisation of production, collectivisation of agriculture and economic planning, capitalist relations and methods had not been eradicated in China but were in fact gaining ground and threatening to take over as had occurred in the USSR.
Not only was this due to the inevitable survival of small scale capitalist enterprises, individuals and habits, but it also came from the promotion of capitalist ideas and values within the Communist Party itself. Mao had said that everyone is a product of the class society they grew up in and therefore there is always some degree of these ideas remaining and festering. The role of revolutionaries is to struggle against them using criticism and self-criticism and expose those in authority taking the capitalist road and struggle against them. The arts, theatre, literature, music, customs and habits of a society are as important as the economic base in forming the relations of society and if they do not coincide with the new property relations then a transformation back to capitalism could take place as had happened in the USSR and Yugoslavia.
The Cultural Revolution began in education because the Chinese education system had been modelled on Soviet and Western education systems which enforced and encouraged hierarchy, obedience and competition which would create a fertile ground for capitalism. Students who wanted to take society forward to develop socialism toward communism took the first bold moves to oppose the old order of things. At Peking University the students and sympathetic teachers went on strike, exposed the teachers and Party members who were taking the capitalist road and seeking privileges. They expressed political debate through big character posters. Mao and the Party Central Committee fully endorsed their rebellion and the revolution soon gripped the whole of China.
In the process of the struggle the youth formed themselves into Red Guards. As well as carrying out class struggle the Red Guards organised the study of the revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism. In 1967 the old Party authority in Shanghai was overthrown by the genuine revolutionaries and a new Revolutionary Committee was formed with the participation of workers, soldiers and students of the city. Mass democracy and debate were organised and intellectuals and scientists were sent to the rural areas to teach peasants about technology and medicine and peasants went to the cities to teach urban dwellers about farming methods.
The Cultural Revolution was a great moment of liberation. However after ten years the capitalist readers made a comeback in China and they regained authority. Indeed Mao had warned his closest allies that the reactionaries were on the verge of taking power a year before he died. Under leading capitalist roader Den Xiaoping China rapidly went along the road of capitalist restoration and from being the most equal society in the world in1976 it now has vast inequality and is dominated by billionaires. Today the Chinese authorities have been attempting to prevent celebrations for the anniversary. The struggle for communism had been lost on this occasion but this is only temporary even is it is a setback measured in decades.
We must carefully study both the successes and failures of the Chinese Cultural Revolution so that in future as revolutionary breakthroughs occur we can more successfully push ahead with the struggle for socialist transformation.
Long Live the Memory of the Cultural Revolution!
A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.
WORKERS AND OPPRESSED PEOPLE OF ALL
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