For those not fortunate to have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth and happy with the status quo, who want to see change, the task of finding a political home is no mean feat. For many the answer is obvious enough. It may be a simple ”Leave the EU” or “Get the Tories out”. But for many workers, Corbyn and his Labour Party represent the way out.
Indeed, Corbyn is painted by the billionaire and state-owned media alike as a man of the left, the far left even, a self-confessed Marxist, fan of “Marxist economics” and long term opponent of the Labour right which led the discredited New Labour project away from its traditional (if false) image as a friend of the working class. Multifarious, apparently radical, groups urge support for Corbyn as a step towards the classless society that we too want in order to replace the present unequal society which is ever more divided between haves and have-nots; Socialist this and Workers that all advocate with greater or less caution, however critically, a vote for Corbyn-led Labour.
We do not share this enthusiasm, critical or otherwise. For us in the ICT, Labour undermines support for the emergence of a real socialist party in the working class which would advocate revolution; the abolition of capitalism and its class divisions.
Anyone with a little effort can find the reality of Labour’s record. Most Labourites supported WWI whilst its unions suspended all strikes during the war; Labour sabotaged the 1926 general strike, imposed the hated Means Test in the 30s cutting benefits to the unemployed, used troops to break strikes on multiple occasions post WWII, and when the crisis returned after the boom of the sixties, Labour was brought back to power to try to sell the cuts to the working class who would have none of it. Labour then found itself out of power as the Thatcher project’s cruelty was unleashed. During the miners’ strike of 84/85 Kinnock and the TUC refused to support strikers and refused to instruct workers not to cross picket lines. Supporting the neo-liberal agenda they thus quashed a major opponent, inflicting enormous suffering on communities which never recovered. Under Blair, New Labour emerged as an openly nationalist and capitalist party, abandoning Clause 4 (Clause 4 was adopted in 1918 out of fear of the revolutionary upsurge of 1917, it only called for nationalisation of key features of the capitalist economy, not its overthrow).
With both New Labour and the Tory parties singing the praises of neo-liberal capitalist globalisation and overseeing the inch by inch erosion of working class conditions, the victims of the process eventually have rallied around Jeremy Corbyn who seems to be saying something different.
But Corbyn, and all the leftist hangers on – the Morning Star, a whole spectrum of Trotskyist outfits, even some anarchists – are selling a deception, a dangerous illusion. The fantasy that capitalism can be reformed for the benefit of the majority. Hope for the hopeless. This reformed capitalism, they say, can serve as a stepping stone to further gains, all the way to socialism which will be an easy leap once the groundwork has been laid by radical reforms.
This is obvious nonsense. Not only is this not what we are being promised in the new Labour Manifesto (the times when social democracy offered both a “minimum” and a “maximum” programme are long gone), it ignores the actual state of capitalism which has nothing in common with the days when serious reform could be granted to the working class, albeit to prevent revolution rather than a step to a post-capitalist society. Capitalism today is not attacking the conditions of the majority and transferring ever more wealth to a tiny minority because the wrong party sits in parliament or its equivalents worldwide. It is doing so because that is the only way capitalism can maintain profitability, the only way it can squeeze enough profits to carry on functioning. The capitalist system of competition between economic entities ensures that workers are able to process ever more materials via improved technology, machinery, robots, computers. The end result is that an ever-greater share of capital invested pays for factors of production other than paying workers. But since there is no source of profit other than those acquired by the exploitation of labour (i.e. the value of wages is far less than the value the worker adds, hence the possibility of profit) the rate of profit is constantly being pressured down and capitalists compensate this at least in part by exploiting workers more. This includes paying less tax for the various services and benefits workers won in the past as well as holding down wages.
The reality is not that capitalism can be directed to serving the community in general, but that its survival depends on an ever-greater attack on workers’ conditions and even that will not be enough to keep the system going. It has no answer to a climate crisis which it created and which is becoming ever more critical. Meanwhile, around the world, the great powers are ever more aggressively confronting their rivals, threatening more war.
Workers cannot emulate the capitalist class. It came to power through a lengthy process of building economic power under the previous regime, the feudal regime of aristocrats, monarchy and peasants. The working class can do nothing of the sort. Its fate rises and falls with the capitalist cycle and that has now entered the phase of crisis with no solution (outside of the devastation of another round of generalised imperialist war which would likely mean extinction). The working class can only come to power by an understanding of its general situation as a global class (class consciousness) and creating an alternative social organisation based on its own independent bodies to supersede capitalism’s economic and political structures.
An essential tool in that process is an international revolutionary party which is not a government in waiting and does not act as a false guide, channelling workers into capitalism’s electoral charades, fostering illusions in a brighter, better day under capitalism if only the “good people” provide the window dressing in the parliamentary charade. Creating that revolutionary party, a global organisation independent of capitalism, is our goal. We have to free ourselves from the illusions that the capitalist system can be reformed for the benefit of the majority. The reality is not gradual improvement, that “things can only get better” if only we rally around Corbyn or equivalent figures home or abroad. The reality is either humanity takes down capitalism, or capitalism takes down humanity, with no better day this side of an international working class revolution.
The reality is either
The reality is either humanity takes down capitalism, or capitalism takes down humanity, with no better day this side of an international working class revolution.
Why do Humanity need another
Why do Humanity need another 'party' in which to be entrapped? Education is the key to freedom and to the revolution so badly needed.
The article states: “For us
The article states: “For us in the ICT, Labour undermines support for the emergence of a real socialist party in the working class “
Having read this piece, I was expecting a response like Vindicta’s. I struggle to understand why the ICT insist on talking about ‘the party’ when it’s clear most folk have entrenched ideas of what the term means, either determined by its use in ‘democracy’ or by Leninist/Trot/Stalinist usage. It’s not enough for the ICT to continually say “Yeah, but we dont mean it that way …..” - it’s clear they don’t when you read their work, so why use the term? If, as I believe, they are talking about a future International then call it that - there would be a lot less of a Pavlovian reaction.
We tend to use the terms
We tend to use the terms Party, International, or simply Revolutionary/Political Organisation, interchangeably.
It's true many already have "entrenched ideas of what the term means", however the same applies to communism and socialism. Sooner or later all revolutionary ideas get (mis)appropriated by the left of capital. It's an uphill battle and it would be no clearer if we just avoided contested terminology. Best we can do is keep explaining what we mean.
Towards that end, our newest Aurora conveniently includes a brief article on this very conundrum. It will be up soon on our website and libcom.
Not too sure many on this
Not too sure many on this site get too upset about words like 'communism' or 'socialism' whereas 'party' .....
"Best we can do is keep explaining what we mean" seems unnecessary intransigence. Vocabulary isnt set in stone: personally I wish the ICT would stop talking about the 'bourgeoisie' and 'proletariat', archaisms that have little or no meaning to most of our class today, whereas 'workers and bosses', or 'working class and ruling class'...... But you're quite right about the new Aurora's article which both explains what the ICT's position is, AND talks of the need for an international 'political organisation,' while avoiding the term 'party'..
Actually, in our publications
Actually, in our publications for intervention among the class we tend to avoid archaisms. In Aurora we don't use the terms "'bourgeoisie and proletariat" (unless they slip through the net!) opting instead for, like you say, "workers and bosses", or "working class and ruling class". Another recent example is our Deliveroo leaflet. And nor are they used in this article, in fact. So agreed there.
That may be the case on libcom, but it's not the case among the general populace for whom words like communism/socialism are definitely tainted by the legacy of Stalinism and Social Democracy - and probably more so than the word party!
Quote: Capitalism today is
Do businesses/rich really have their hands as tied as this suggests, where any wage increase or taxes would cause firms to go bankrupt? Taxing businesses and the rich, the 1%, seems to be an essential part of the Corbyn-Sanders crowds' strategy. Looking at the labour manifesto they seem to see productivity increases, contrary to the above, as enriching a capitalist minority (increased unproductive capitaliast consumption), when instead productivity increases could benefit workers (higher wages and reduced hours). Increasing organic composition (increasing productivity) and decling rate of profit seems at odds with leftists who say increasing productivity could deliver reduced working hours with same/more pay because more profits are being made. Are these demands by labour not possible? Curious about thoughts on this.
From the work section in the labour manifesto:
Quote: Labour will tackle
Yup, that’s what leftists claim: vote for us and we’ll create a fairer capitalism. For them, ‘productivity increases’ rather than being, as Marx saw it, increases in exploitation, become some sort of neutral social pie that with the right oversight can be shared out more equably. Labour claim “ we will reduce average full-time weekly working hours to 32 across the economy, with no loss of pay, funded by productivity increases”. Capitalist productivity depends on the relationship between capital (plant, machinery, software etc) and workers. Labour’s claim that they’ll decrease workers’ exploitation (by shortening the working week for the same wages, and restoring some of the lost social wage) means their putative productivity increase will come from capital investment . Where will this capital investment come from? We live in a global capitalist economy, the money markets that governments must borrow from are global. They invest when they see the possibility of safe returns, which is why there’s a global lack of productive investment today, why the globe is awash with cash, why there’s massive global asset inflation (from stock market prices wholly detached from rational valuation to the explosion in property prices).
So far, despite many times of
So far, despite many times of asking, the only evidence provided to suggest Labour will create meaningful and lasting benefits for the working class is the Corbyn, McDonnell or their manifesto say so. That’s it. The evidence to the contrary, both historical and contemporary, is pretty overwhelming. Why then do liberals in their various guises, and even anarchists ffs, feel the need to be so fucking evangelical and start hurling accusations of privilege at anyone that is an abstainer, posits the reasons that voting Labour could actually bring disadvantages to the working class, or even questions the credibility of such claims as ‘we will end austerity within 100 days of being elected’? It’s a moronic as it is tedious.
It’s also hilarious how they blame the Tories for EVERYTHING, including the actions of the last Labour government!!!
Pretty sure spending more on
Pretty sure spending more on wages than on tech in the workplace would be a decline in productivity since more labour time would be required and more value embodied in every product. Other businesses selling the same product could undercut and outcompete them, with the tech they invested in, by producing more in the same time with less value distributed among every finished product (unless as mentioned in the manifesto they protect these "good businesses" from the "bad ones", which is unlikely to happen now I guess).
Are there any good marxist critiques of wealth redistribution, or responses to people who say taxing Bezos or Gates or forcing them to increase wages would solve workers' economic problems?