Sydney Class Struggle Discussion Forum - September Meeting

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N. Rossi
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Sep 17 2009 08:11
Sydney Class Struggle Discussion Forum - September Meeting

Who we are: The Sydney Class Struggle Discussion Forum is an open coming together of workers, students and unemployed persons from different backgrounds and class struggle political tendencies. It is a meeting place open to all who wish to discuss and debate political questions from radical perspectives in a fraternal atmosphere.

The goal of the Sydney Class Struggle Discussion Forum is the political clarification of its participants. The discussions of the group thus seek to analyse current struggles of the working class, draw out and reappropriate the historical lessons of the revolutionary workers’ movement and to develop a revolutionary perspective to address the challenges facing the working class and humanity as a whole, against exploitation, oppression and the entire capitalist system.

Details for next meeting:

Topic: Reform, Parliament and Social Democracy: Obstacles or Aides?
Where: Humanist House, 10 Shepherd St, Chippendale (just off Broadway; short walk from Central station)
When: Sunday, 27/09/09, 2pm
Additional information: Meeting will begin with a series of short presentations, followed by a couple hours of open discussion. Prepared presentations (5-10mins) welcome.

All welcome! Come along to join in the discussion or just listen in.

For more information please visit: csdf.wordpress.com
For questions, comments or anything else, please contact: class_struggle[at]googlegroups.com

N. Rossi
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Joined: 29-01-09
Sep 25 2009 04:54

*Bump*

Meeting this weekend. Come along and join in!

N. Rossi
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Oct 10 2009 23:43

For anyone interested, here are minutes for the meeting. Sorry about the delay. Details for next meeting will be posted up shortly.

Topic: Reform, Parliament and Social Democracy: Obstacles or Aides?

Date: 27/09/09

Attendees:
DC
GM
JJ
NR

Minutes:

GM: What is social democracy? For Aufheben “social democracy, in all its variants, can be considered as the representation of the working class as labour within capital and the bourgeois state - politically through social democratic parties, and economically through trades unions” (‘Social Democracy: No Future?’, Aufheben 7, 1998).

NR: Definitions are helpful as a common basis for discussion. Need to distinguish between social democracy, reformism and the various tactics of parliamentary and electoral participation and support, since they are often considered synonymous when they are not.

GM: In the 19th Century communists and reformists of all stripes were able to participate together in mass social democratic parties? What happened which changed this situation?

JJ: In Australia is there a reformist party? ALP has been turned into neo-liberal advocate. Is it a reformist party? What about the Greens?

GM: The fundamental change has been the transition from capitalism as an ascendant mode of production to a decadent one. Formerly social democracy had a purpose for the bourgeoisie; it was in harmony with the development of capitalism in the 19th Century.

NR: Saying this, it is important to remember that social democracy was at this time very much still a workers’ movement. The social democratic parties where mass organisations, and as with the unions, organs fought for and giving vitality by the working class.

GM: In turn, it is also important not to confuse class composition of a movement with it’s social relations, i.e. the class nature of the movement.
Today, unlike in the 19th Century permanent mass organisations of the working class are no longer on the agenda.

DC: The process of incorporation of social democracy into the bourgeois state and alienation from the working class was an ongoing process. See for example the legitimacy of the SPD and the unions by the Imperial German state.

GM: Agreed. The context of ascendant capitalism and the domination of ruling class ideology had their effects on social democracy during the 19th Century. For example, the historic betrayal of the SPD with the outbreak of WWI had its roots in German imperialism and national consolidation.

NR: Agreed, also. Another example would be the roots of gradualism and revisionism within the social democratic movement had their material basis in what seemed to be the continual and un-ending expansion of capitalism and its ability to concede reform to the proletariat. WWI, however, must be regarded as a qualitative turning point.
(Coming back to question previous raised by JJ) The ALP today is not a reformist party in any meaningful sense.

DC: The ALP was has never so since its formation. Custodians of the ALP advocate its status as a party of the workers with a rich social democratic tradition. This is a myth. The craft unions had a role in the formation of the ALP but it has never been a representative of the working class, nor has it delivered real and meaningful reforms. Curtin and 1944 Referendum was the last time labour attempted any large scale nationalisation plan, which itself is no way towards socialism.
Does social democracy exist in the present? What does it mean? Where does the question of social democracy fit?

GM/NR/JJ: Contributions on the ideologically mystifying nature of social democracy and the electoral circus.

NR: So far we have discussed social democracy, what about the tactical question of the use of parliament and elections.

GM: Revolutionaries elected to parliament must necessary become part of the system. Kautsky (the ‘pope of Marxism’) as example.

JJ: Wasn’t it Luxemburg who made the point about the need to ‘walk the line’ between capitulationism and conspiratorialism.
The notion of ‘representative democracy’ itself shows its true nature, contrasted with direct democracy.

GM: Another fault in the logic of ‘revolutionary parliamentarism’ and agitational parliamentary/entryist work is that propaganda does not create class consciousness. The case for revolution is not an argument won by logic. It is the material conditions, the balance of class forces, which will do this. Is the context of Australia (namely, relative prosperity) ill suited to the formation of such consciousness?

NR: Important to note that poverty does not create consciousness any more than propaganda.

GM: It is changes in the material conditions which most importantly provoke radical shifts of class consciousness.

NR: On this subject it is also worth considering the social and historical context of class struggle in Australia. A subject touched on last meeting. The lack of a radical history (when compared with Europe for example) and where it does exist, an organic break of revolutionaries and the class with it.

DC: Contribution on the Australian workers’ movement, factors such as geographic isolation and the erosion of Australian industrial and manufacturing base as factors.
How will workers’ struggles develop in the not-too-distant future? What are the perspectives for this?

JJ: We are supposedly on the way out of the crisis with Australia avoiding the worst. How much longer will the crisis last?

GM: Way out of the crisis has been at major cost to the ruling class. ‘The bill’ will have to be paid at one time or another.

NR: Important to remember even with the passing of this phase of open crisis, which we are not out of, the crisis is a permanent one.
Also, when talking of recovery, it is essential to ask “Recovery for whom?”

GM: During capitalism’s ascendency crises were able to stimulate growth in form of recovery at the expense of bankruptcy for unprofitable firms. Today wide scale bankruptcy’s are not on the agenda in the same way, see the massive state capitalist stimuli and recovery plans involving massive state expenditure and indebtedness particularly in rescuing various firms set for bankruptcy.
Like WWII followed the Great Depression, will the solution to this crisis be another world war?

NR: Inter-imperialist war is the logical conclusion for capitalism in crisis. However, the conditions for a world war do not exist at present, namely the existence of significant military blocs and the defeat of the proletariat.

GM: Is the formation of new blocs already underway?

DC: Yes and no. In the case of the EU, the divisive interests of the national capitals is preventing this.

NR: Even if this is the case, the question of whether the bourgeoisie can launch another world war will depend on the state of the class struggle and the ability of the working class to respond.

GM: The bourgeoisie does not just wake up one morning and agree to go to war with each other when the conditions of class struggle suit it.

DC: Relation between China and US is of major importance. Can the blocs be reformed? The EU presents itself as a potential bloc, as does China, Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, Iran.
Back to the question of class responses to the crisis; what kinds of movements can arise in response to it?

NR: Ultimately this is a question only the working class can itself answer.

GM: A system is put into question when it fails. Propaganda won’t do, only changes in material conditions will give rise to the kind of class response we are looking at.

Discussion ended on this note, with DC having to leave.

no1
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Joined: 3-12-07
Oct 11 2009 00:01

thanks for posting the minutes!

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Steven.
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Oct 11 2009 02:27

Yeah, it's interesting to read about this sort of thing happening across the other side of the world - cheers!