Thread: Rebuilding the socialist politics in the UK

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  1. #1
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    Default Rebuilding the socialist politics in the UK

    As everyone on this website knows, sectarianism is basically the godawful curse of leftism that seems to afflict a large amount of what we want to do and try and press onwards with.

    My personal feelings regarding this are that the party leaders in the UK amongst groups like the SWP and SPEW passively encourage this, whether through aggressive critique of other groups with regards to things like how they washed their underpants in the Soviet Union (before underpants could get you sent to the gulag or prior to the collectivisation of elastic for waistband reinforcement and enhancement of the comfort of the genitalia of the proleteriat), hijacking of events or simple refusal to embrace methods such as working within unions, vilification of the far-right, things like No2EU and so on. I can't help but feel that this sort of psuedo-intellectual posturing is nothing more than egotistical wankery. I also find it somewhat depressing that of all the groups that there are in the UK that believe in workers unity, a lot of endorsement that i've heard during protests during talks with other socialists is basically under-selling other groups in order to prop their own organisation up. I've done this myself, and I regret it.

    So how do people feel that sectarianism can at least be countered in the UK?
    I'm not too familiar with the whole popular front concept that people sometimes bandy about here, but what i'd love to see one day would be a broad group of people with socialist and further left ideology unite despite differing methods and feelings on authoritarianism. To be in a party where everyone feels something is being achieved, be it through working and attempting to join in with union activity, to endorsing things that have recently occured in places like Bristol. Really this post was more of a venting on how screwed I feel we all are, but if other people have some views to put across please do so I can create some semblance of informed opinion.
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  3. #2
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    I hate to come across as a sectarian, but...

    There are reasons for the lack of cohesion among parties and groups (currents, tendencies) that claim the heritage of socialism. Some groups, such as the Stalinists, I wouldn't touch with someone else's barge-pole. Their theories are poisonous, I believe. Not just mistaken; actually massively harmful to the future of humanity. I would no more ally myself with Stalinists than I would knowingly drink concentrated sulphuric acid.

    Stalinists would conversely see my views on communism as being little different to anarchism, and so petty-bourgeois, idealistic, ultra-leftist, and equally they'd claim that my view was harmful to the glorious forward march of whaterver it is that's supposed to be marching forward and therefore objectively supporting capitalism.

    However, some groups seem to be opposed to each other over what seem to be fairly small reasons. The faction-fighting inside the Trotskyist millieu for instance seems to outsiders to be a storm in a teacup. The differences between different Trotskyist groups seem so insignificant it's a wonder they can't unite. On the other hand, I'm not bothered if they don't, because I don't think they have very much of any use to say anyway.

    I presume the same can be said for what probably look like similarly small differences among the free-access communists (left-communists, council communists, Bordegists, Luxemburgists, De Leonists, SPGBers, and other 'impossibilists'). And it may be true. It may be that there's common ground between all these groups, and indeed the internationalist anarchists. I certainly hope so, because it's among these groups that I see the answer lying. But there are differences between them that seem really important - the nature of the Russian Revolution, for instance. How we understand historical process, even. This means that the Bordegists will never co-operate with other Left Communists groups, and even the two main organisations of non-Bordegist Left Communism, the ICC and the ICT, find it very difficult to work together. As for the SPGB, well, they don't like the violent anti-democratic putschists of the pro-Bolsheviks, and the pro-Bolsheviks think the SPGB are Marxist Quakers. The Anarchists think all the 'Leninists' are going to line them up against the wall on day 2, the Marxist groups think the Anarchists are a threat to the working class's ability to successfully organise...
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  5. #3
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    The differences are too great between most groups. Although ISG and Socialist Resistance merged recently and I noticed a joint Respect-RCG meeting too.
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    The differences are too great between most groups. Although ISG and Socialist Resistance merged recently and I noticed a joint Respect-RCG meeting too.
    I disagree with this. While groups may differ with tendency. They easily can be combined together to form a sort of Unity that is to allow for Proletarian Politics above petty-Sectarianism. As the majority of Left Parties have the inevitable goal of Communism, if they're sincere that is, however the majority have a different way of gaining such a goal.

    1.) Marxist-Leninists: *Require a centralized Socialist State that is to transform into a Communist society.
    *Push forward a Leninist Vanguard Movement
    *Claim to be the logical continuation of Bolshevik thought.
    2.) Trotskyists: *Push forward a Democratic Centralized State that is to transform into a Communist Society.
    *Push forward a Leninist Vanguard Movement.
    *Claim to be logical continuation of Bolshevik thought.
    3.) Hoxhaists:
    *Are Marxist-Leninists
    *Uphold the contributions of Stalin and Hoxha.
    *Push forward a Socialist State that is inevitably to lead to a Communist Society
    4.) Maoists:
    *Push forward People's War in order to gain power of the State in order to declare a People's Republic.
    *Consider themselves the logical continuation of Marxist-Leninism.
    *Wish to found a state on the Principles of Mao.

    Most of the descriptions aren't complete, but as you can see Unity is indeed possible, not unity of the common variety but perhaps a United Party of sorts that allows for each wing to democratically push forward their own goal. For example: Capitalists have coalition governments with disagreeing political parties. While Maoism, Marxist-Leninism, Trotskyism and Hoxhaism effectively counter-act eachother and are against eachother what should be remembered is that this is no longer:

    1.) The 1930's Purges.
    2.) Most Marxist-Leninists, ETC don't wish to return to the purges.
    3.) Most advocate Democratic Centralism.

    In fact-- It would be in the best interest for the Proletariat if this senseless Sectarianism were to be overcome and if these parties were willing to act together for a Revolutionary Interest.

    We're at the moment, when it comes to these tendencies more of a permanent sort of unity for the Proletariat of the sort of the uniting of several parties from the split of the RSDLP whom were committed to the Revolution. However, such a unity will have to be made permanent in the sense that no longer can we allow for incidents that had occurred within the previous Working Class Movements that led to the disastrous case of Sectarianism that wasn't in the Proletarian Interest.

    Be it:

    1.) The suppression of Anarchists. (Anarchists can easily be needed for the Revolution and should be protected by any legitimate Vanguard Party to found Communist Economic Zones that represent the foundation of Communism itself.)
    2.) The suppression of Trotskyists. (Trotskyists should in our present society be allowed to push forward their own goal at Class Liberation, if the class liberation itself is legitimate and truly founded. As previously said, this is no longer the 1930's where J.V Stalin is in power or for that matter, this is no longer a situation in which we can miss the opportunity of contribution that Trotskyists may give. (Lenin's deciding reason in respecting Trotsky as a Revolutionary Figure was his utter brilliance, even though Lenin himself had disagreed with Trotsky at times.)
    3. Sectarianism against Marxist-Leninists. (Stalin ate babies and these type of arguments can't be accepted any longer as they don't contribute anything at all)

    Its really what has been necessary for quite some time.
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  8. #5
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    Punch New Labour MP's in the face till the party stops calling itself "socialist".
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    Marxist unity (and, if they want to be involved, anarchists too) can only possibly happen, I think, on a common Marxist programme; a document spelling out the objective tasks of what is necessary to go from here to the seizure of power of the working class and the transformation of society towards communism after that. There needs to be an acceptance of such a programme, not necessarily an agreement, as such a programme needs to be debated and tested against living experience.

    From such a programmatic approach does flow a minimum base of agreement though, a key set of principles without which you cannot work on the revolutionary project, or hold a pro-working class position even:
    - The formation of the working class as its own self-aware collective entity, independent from the bosses and the state.
    - Radical democracy, both as our projected future society as well as a principle within our movement today. It is not wrong to disagree, in fact quite the opposite. Controverse needs to happen in order for the movement to develop and politicise society, so let it happen openly.
    - Internationalism as there can't be a positive national solution to capitalism. In Europe we have to work towards a common party-movement across the EU.

    Incidentally, I do think the "Marxists-Leninists" and derivatives are going to have an issue with all three positions. But if they're willing to accept, I have no real issues being in one party with, for example, Maoists. As long as I have the right to openly disagree with whatever tactic, strategy or theory they have come up with, debate them on it and, tested against practical experiences, can win a majority in the party. Of course, they would have the same right to do so, as would anyone. This is what the workers movement is about: together forming our own collective politics.
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  12. #7
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    Originally Posted by Pragmatic-Punk
    whether through aggressive critique of other groups with regards to things like how they washed their underpants in the Soviet Union (before underpants could get you sent to the gulag or prior to the collectivisation of elastic for waistband reinforcement and enhancement of the comfort of the genitalia of the proleteriat)
    1. How can it be 'passive' if you say it is an 'aggressive critique'?
    2. Where have the SWP, for instance, ever done this?
    3. How is critique sectarianism?

    simple refusal to embrace methods such as working within unions, vilification of the far-right, things like No2EU and so on.
    1. What do you mean by 'villification of the far-right'? I would argue SWP and CWI have consistently been antifascist and anti-Nazi.

    2. Why in the hell should the left 'embrace' No2EU, with its horrible line on immigration?

    . To be in a party where everyone feels something is being achieved
    Why does there need to be a 'party' when groups can work within the united front?
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  14. #8
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    I'm an Autonomist Marxist, so I'm not a great believer in parties or the usefulness of trade unionism. However, I think there are a couple of realisations that the left in the UK needs to come to before we can progress. Two that spring to mind -

    1) Fuck nostalgia
    You might think you look great on a march with your massive Stalin or Lenin banner or whatever, but in fact it is massively counter-productive. Historical fact is actually sidelined here for public perception, so regardless of what you think of these 'great figures' of the past, you have to accept that most workers in Britain will not share the same views, and to most people it looks like an archaic and thus futile ideology. Celebrate mass-worker actions and results in your slogans and banners, not individual historical leaders. For a supposedly revolutionary contingent, there is a hell of a lot of 'tradition' within some lefist ranks.

    The reason the main political parties like the Tories do so well even now is because they reinvent their image. Of course, their ideology remains the same, but they have cleverly managed to convince people that they can offer something good, modern and fresh to society. We are the opposite of that: our image is not great yet in fact we really do have a fantastic solution to socio-economic problems.

    (I realise I may be in the minority here, I've debated this to death on MSN with Sentinel for instance, but I think it is the most crucial step we must take.)

    2) We probably won't see communism in our lifetimes
    I hope I'm wrong, but it seems to me that we can only lay the groundwork; educate workers and those sympathetic to the proletariat however we can, and educate kids etc. as well as demonstrating your commitment and passion with action and dissent, to set an example and to help widen the movement into a growing plexus that the state will find difficult to curb.

    With this in mind, sectarian arguments and division are reduced in their importance (though not absolutely negated) - this is something future generations can fight out. Right now, we need to present ourselves as a viable, realistic and powerful branch of society, and that can only be achieved by putting less emphasis on our doctrinal or ideological differences, and having at least the semblance of leftist solidarity, focusing on our shared beliefs regarding the innate unfairness of capitalism, the bourgeois state as a mechanism for class oppression and the rights of workers to be emancipated from wage slavery.

    Additionally, a personal belief of mine that relates back to my first point to some extent is that we should disencourage support of old doctrines like Leninism, Maoism, 'Stalinism' and such, and focus on more recent Marxist evaluations by the likes of Negri for instance, which takes into account the 'information society', globalisation and the decline of the nation-state, and focuses on autonomous proletarian organisation outside the grip of communist parties. If anyone is interested in this, I can provide you with some good online literature, most of which comes from Italy in the 60's and 70's.
    People think they have taken quite an extraordinarily bold step forward when they have rid themselves of belief in hereditary monarchy and swear by the democratic republic. In reality, however, the state is nothing but a machine for the oppression of one class by another, and indeed in the democratic republic no less than in the monarchy.
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    Why does there need to be a 'party' when groups can work within the united front?
    Well, the obvious answer is that trying to align the various far-left sects into a united front is like trying to herd cats, with each group acting more often than not to further its own presence rather than to foster any mass-movement. Frankly, if a mass revolutionary party is even viable, I don't even see it coming from that direction, but emerging on more reformist grounds and then developing a revolutionary tendency as experience of class struggle is gained.
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    Frankly, if a single mass party is even viable, I don't even see it coming from that direction, but emerging on more reformist grounds and then developing a revolutionary tendency as experience of class struggle is gained.
    I don't see that happening either really. In fact, things have tended to move the other way. The SPD started out as a Marxist party, but the rightwing (trade unionist bureaucratic layers and non-Marxist socialists) were allowed to take over. I hasten to add that I don't believe there is anything intrinsic in this process. The Bolsheviks for example, themselves very much part of the Marxist center, were able to carry society to revolution (which then eventually failed, but that's another story).

    I have yet to see an example of the opposite. Even Militant, arguably the strongest Trotskyist formation in the UK post-WW2 in the 1980's, was not able to pull that trick but instead was kicked out of the Labour party.
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    Internationalism as there can't be a positive national solution to capitalism. In Europe we have to work towards a common party-movement across the EU
    What does internationalism have to do with the EU, a bourgeois political institution? The EU means the strengthening of borders between European and non-European countries, combined with the imposition of neoliberal economic policies inside the member states. In human terms that means African immigrants drowning or being detained by immigration police as they desperately try to get across the Mediterranean sea in order to work in European countries, combined with privatization of welfare services. By calling for a "party-movement" (whatever that is - a term you've made up, apparently) along European lines you are giving recognition to a bourgeois political institution and dividing the workers of Europe from their class brothers in Africa and Asia. Any genuinely internationalist political formation - and I do not accept the Trotskyist fascination with party-building projects - will have to totally reject the Europhilia that you seem to have accepted.

    Incidentally, most people here seem to think that "sectarianism" is synonymous with vigorous critique and debate, and they reject it on that basis. That is not the meaning of sectarianism, and critique and debate should not be rejected in the name of a superficial kind of "left unity". When Stalinists sell out workers, they should be openly and repeatedly condemned, and too bad if that some so-called leftists condemn that as "sectarianism".
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    Internationalism is bankrupt.

    There are only two viable supra-national options, both to be pursued: transnationalism and worker-class pan-nationalism (like European continentalism).

    Re. the original topic at hand: establish a (Left) Chartist Party of (Great) Britain and affiliate it to the European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL). Union links should be established only with the World Federation of Trade Unions.
    "A new centrist project does not have to repeat these mistakes. Nobody in this topic is advocating a carbon copy of the Second International (which again was only partly centrist)." (Tjis, class-struggle anarchist)

    "A centrist strategy is based on patience, and building a movement or party or party-movement through deploying various instruments, which I think should include: workplace organising, housing struggles [...] and social services [...] and a range of other activities such as sports and culture. These are recruitment and retention tools that allow for a platform for political education." (Tim Cornelis, left-communist)
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    Internationalism is bankrupt.
    Fuck off, you vile hack.

    worker-class pan-nationalism
    "Worker" and "nationalism" are not words that should be put together.
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    I don't see that happening either really. In fact, things have tended to move the other way. The SPD started out as a Marxist party, but the rightwing (trade unionist bureaucratic layers and non-Marxist socialists) were allowed to take over. I hasten to add that I don't believe there is anything intrinsic in this process. The Bolsheviks for example, themselves very much part of the Marxist center, were able to carry society to revolution (which then eventually failed, but that's another story).

    I have yet to see an example of the opposite.
    I disagree. All the revolutionary Marxist organisations of the period 1917-21 began as sections of broader reformist parties, which split off when the tension between the revolutionary and reformist wings became too powerful - sometimes years in advance, as in Russia, but sometimes as late as the moment of insurrection, as in Finland. The process I describe was very much in evidence, it was simply insufficiently developed in many regions.

    Certainly, there's no less of an up-hill struggle convincing workers towards a revolutionary sect than towards a revolutionary tendency within a non-revolutionary movement or party, but without any of the benefits of an established place within the political presence of the working class and with all the added delights which that kind of political isolation so often brings.

    Even Militant, arguably the strongest Trotskyist formation in the UK post-WW2 in the 1980's, was not able to pull that trick but instead was kicked out of the Labour party.
    A sect does not cease to be a sect because it implants itself in a larger host. Militant did not represent the organic emergence of a revolutionary tendency, but, rather, the wholly artificial injection of revolutionary-minded individuals into a party which, by that point, wasn't even socialist in the proper sense of the word.
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    Fuck off, you vile hack.
    Bankruptcy of internationalism?

    "Worker" and "nationalism" are not words that should be put together.
    To paraphrase Marx and Engels:

    The proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the Pan-Nation, must constitute itself the Pan-Nation, it is so far, itself Pan-National, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word.
    "A new centrist project does not have to repeat these mistakes. Nobody in this topic is advocating a carbon copy of the Second International (which again was only partly centrist)." (Tjis, class-struggle anarchist)

    "A centrist strategy is based on patience, and building a movement or party or party-movement through deploying various instruments, which I think should include: workplace organising, housing struggles [...] and social services [...] and a range of other activities such as sports and culture. These are recruitment and retention tools that allow for a platform for political education." (Tim Cornelis, left-communist)
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    Rambling shit by some guy who makes up words and wrongly thinks he's a theoretical big-shot? Yup.

    To paraphrase Marx and Engels:

    The proletariat must first of all acquire political supremacy, must rise to be the leading class of the Pan-Nation, must constitute itself the Pan-Nation, it is so far, itself Pan-National, though not in the bourgeois sense of the word.
    WTF?! No, not "to paraphrase Marx and Engels", this is to come up with some Euro-nationalist bullshit and to attribute it to two people who actually made meaningful theoretical contributions and who actually deserve to be called socialist, unlike you and you vile combination of meaningless drivel and disgraceful chauvinism.
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    All the revolutionary Marxist organisations of the period 1917-21 began as sections of broader reformist parties, which split off when the tension between the revolutionary and reformist wings became too powerful - sometimes years in advance, as in Russia, but sometimes as late as the moment of insurrection, as in Finland. The process I describe was very much in evidence, it was simply insufficiently developed in many regions.

    Certainly, there's no less of an up-hill struggle convincing workers towards a revolutionary sect than towards a revolutionary tendency within a non-revolutionary movement or party, but without any of the benefits of an established place within the political presence of the working class and with all the added delights which that kind of political isolation so often brings.

    A sect does not cease to be a sect because it implants itself in a larger host. Militant did not represent the organic emergence of a revolutionary tendency, but, rather, the wholly artificial injection of revolutionary-minded individuals into a party which, by that point, wasn't even socialist in the proper sense of the word.
    Those splits only emerged during revolutionary periods.

    We're talking about organizing prior to a revolutionary period. There are bourgeois and petit-bourgeois labour parties. There are proletarian-not-necessarily-communist parties. There are communist worker sects.

    Until the early 1900s the pre-war SPD was a PNNC.
    "A new centrist project does not have to repeat these mistakes. Nobody in this topic is advocating a carbon copy of the Second International (which again was only partly centrist)." (Tjis, class-struggle anarchist)

    "A centrist strategy is based on patience, and building a movement or party or party-movement through deploying various instruments, which I think should include: workplace organising, housing struggles [...] and social services [...] and a range of other activities such as sports and culture. These are recruitment and retention tools that allow for a platform for political education." (Tim Cornelis, left-communist)
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    WTF?! No, not "to paraphrase Marx and Engels", this is to come up with some Euro-nationalist bullshit and to attribute it to two people who actually made meaningful theoretical contributions and who actually deserve to be called socialist, unlike you and you vile combination of meaningless drivel and disgraceful chauvinism.
    I'm not talking just about things like a Communist Party of the European Union. I'm talking about renewed unity in the former Soviet space, preferrably one based on Stalin's larger, unitary RSFSR proposal than on Lenin's federal USSR. I'm talking about "Gran Colombia" Bolivarianism (preferrably under Chavez-like leadership). I'm talking about unity for sub-Saharan Africa. I'm talking about a new working-class approach to pan-Arabism.
    "A new centrist project does not have to repeat these mistakes. Nobody in this topic is advocating a carbon copy of the Second International (which again was only partly centrist)." (Tjis, class-struggle anarchist)

    "A centrist strategy is based on patience, and building a movement or party or party-movement through deploying various instruments, which I think should include: workplace organising, housing struggles [...] and social services [...] and a range of other activities such as sports and culture. These are recruitment and retention tools that allow for a platform for political education." (Tim Cornelis, left-communist)
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    Originally Posted by DNZ
    I'm not talking just about things like a Communist Party of the European Union
    I don't see how any of what you just said is any reason to retract my comments or view you as anything other than a right-wing creep. Let's start with the basics, which you clearly lack - internationalism is not just a nice idea, or some kind of ideological position that springs from perceived moral imperatives, it is a direct expression of the material interests of the working class and humanity as a whole and more particularly it is an expression of the material preconditions fort he establishment of a socialist society. This means that socialism requires an advanced productive apparatus as its basis and that the nature of capitalist development and the emergence of a world-system characterized by relations of mutual dependency means that this productive apparatus exists only on a world scale rather than in a single country or in a single region - that is why a socialist revolution has to be international in scope and that is why internationalism is a duty incumbent on all revolutionary socialists. Your bizarre plans, which you've self-evidently cooked up at your computer, have nothing to do with the liberation of working people anywhere. Without a revolution that spreads throughout the world and take full advantage of the entire set of productive advances that have been make possible by capitalism, any socialist society will find itself faced with a condition of material scarcity and all the social conflicts and political dangers that would emerge from such a condition. Not only do your schemes fail to take note of the material basis for internationalism - what makes you think that a polity comprised of all the Arab states would be able to develop a socialist society? What about all the resources they happen to lack and underdevelopment in the Arab world? - the fact that you support "Chavez-like leadership" indicates that you have no faith in the ability of working people to manage their society in a collective and democratic way and that you would rather put your faith in petty-bourgeois demagogues. You have nothing to offer any socialist or any working person.

    Like I said, go back to the social-democratic chauvinist lair from whence you came.
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    Ugh, before this gets anymore off track, please mind this message by your friendly neighbourhood commie:

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