The People's Assembly

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Jason Cortez
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Dec 21 2015 10:22
bastarx wrote:
Ghost Whistler wrote:
bastarx wrote:
Because trade unionism sells workers to capitalism.

Do you have anything to back this up?

Only reality. If that's not enough for you I don't have anything else to offer.

At least Chilli is pointing Ghost via links to some answers with a bit nuance. Your just being a bit of a dick here.

If I wanted to play that game Trade Unions do not SELL workers to capitalism, thats just stupid, they negioate between the workers and boosses a 'fair rate'of expliotation. But also some other stuff that workers have generally found quite helpful, but I guess they lack your insight and remain somehow idelogogically wedded to the unions.

Ghost Whistler
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Dec 21 2015 10:24
Auld-bod wrote:
This topic of 'leftism’ has cropped up on several threads.
I think it correct to describe most of the left as aiding capitalism (no matter what they imagine they’re doing), as their collaboration and reforms help ‘control’ - satisfy the immediate desires of the working class, so perpetuating the system.

As the only way to get rid of capitalism is through the class struggle of the working class, my criterion to judge who is on the right or left is to ask, ‘Do you believe you stand with the working class in the class war?’ Those on the left do, those on the right do not.

In the left set would contain some anarchists and assorted lefties.
On the right all the liberals (plenty of anarchists in this group), all the right wing careerists, etc. that the left is infested with, and naturally all conservatives.

Differentiating class war anarchists from the left serves only to mystify the basis of the struggle – the class war.

I’ve heard at SPGB meetings this, “We are not leftists. We are not on the left – we’re not on the right”. On one occasion a member of the public asked ‘Well where are you?” The member had the good grace to say, “Well, we’re probably from outer space!” Followed by a burst of laughter.

EDIT
Missed two words!

So the use of the words left and right were always intended to be in relation to capital?

Jason Cortez
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Dec 21 2015 10:36

No the terms Left and Right origanally refered to left and right of the French parliment.

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Noah Fence
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Dec 21 2015 12:02
Jason Cortez wrote:
Chilli Sauce wrote:
It was then I understood the term "the left wing of capital".

Chilli Sauce wrote:
I don't know, I've never heard it mentioned by anyone who wasn't already a lefty. I mean, I don't know, speak to your co-workers. See if any of them have heard of it, are supportive of it

This is classic LibCom

So which is is it folks, Worker or Libertarian Communist??

And if you reply 'both', maybe you could consider not using this type of schematic shift whenever you feel it is convient. Oh and maybe we could drop the 'workerist' reductionism as well why we are at it?

This is not a dig at Chilli, I hear this sort of thing all the time from lots of people on this board and in person.

Forgive me being dense but I don't really get what you're saying here. However, I am interested so if you could elucidate a little I'd be grateful. Thanks.

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fingers malone
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Dec 21 2015 12:25

This left wing of capital thing is a bit annoying.

Ok I was at the family Pre Christmas dinner. A friend was saying that the town in France where she lives has elected an FN mayor. Amongst other things he has done, she told us that the new mayor marched with loads of cops up to a house occupied by some Syrian families, with small children, and told them to get out, they were not wanted in the town. But a lot of people in the town are supporting the families and the mayor has so far not been able to kick them out of the building. My family all responded 'good on them' and similar.
I think this is connected to the fact that my family are all in one way or another 'on the left' and I also think of myself as 'on the left'. It's possible that right wing people might also be sympathetic because of a human response to small children being evicted in winter, and also people's beliefs are often not neat and tidy, but to me this response is consistent with some basic ideas about human need above property rights, all people being equal and bullying arsehole FN mayors being arseholes, which are ideas I associate with being on the left.

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fingers malone
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Dec 21 2015 12:31

Also not everyone who identifies as on the left is a card carrying, paper selling paid up party activist. Loads of people don't really do any political activity, or a very tiny amount, are not in political organisations, don't hang around with political people, and still definitely identify as left wing, because of ideas they strongly hold about how the world should be.

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Noah Fence
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Dec 21 2015 13:04

Fingers - I'm not disputing your experience but it doesn't add up with mine. I know plenty of people 'on the right' that are involved in altruistic activities and also that have ideas that at least tie up in a small way with my own - the reduction of police powers and the withdrawal of troops from other countries for example. They also support traditionally 'lefty' positions such as decent housing for all and help for the homeless.
So, in conclusion, the idea that those on the left of liberal democracy are somehow fairer minded or whatever is more misleading bollocks that take us down the blind alley to the voting booth.

Spikymike
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Dec 21 2015 13:24

Just picking up on fingers last comment, the point I made in my earlier post 25 (and in the other linked discussion about the Peoples Assembly) is still valid in terms of our analysis of capitalism and in relation to the material we produce in discussion with other politically minded fellow workers and relates to the function of organised left-wing politics - it does not imply that we get aggressive in every conversation we might have with others identifying as left wing - indeed some of my friends in the UK are not just casually left-wing but are active members of left-wing groups who none-the-less understand my disagreements with them and opposition to their political practice. Most of the time in the current low level of class struggle in the UK that opposition does not lead to any more significant practical opposition but of course it could in different circumstances and I could lose some friends in the process whilst hopefully gaining others.

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fingers malone
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Dec 21 2015 14:27

Hello Webby,
I'm not talking about left wing politicians or left wing parties though, in my whole life I've known exactly two people who had a minor elected political role, I'm just talking about left wing people.

And yes, I'm influenced by the fact that the only people in my family who are on the right are thoroughly and deeply nasty people in what they think, how they behave, how they treat people and so on, and yes I agree that this isn't everyone's experience.

I have also known left wing people who were complete arseholes as well.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 21 2015 15:00

Yeah, Jason, I've got to be honest, I didn't really understand that post either.

Regarding the term "left", of course lots of people who casually use the word or are in left-wing organisations are good people. And, on the surface, those left wing organisations - just like the trade unions - are fighting for worthwhile things. The reality is even that sometimes they achieve worthwhile things. That's doesn't mean that the function they fill within capitalism is inherently laudable or above a structural critique.

FWIW, I'd never use the term "the left wing of capital" with people outside of basically libcom. But given that there's a pretty high level of political agreement by most anyone who posts on libcom - I mean, we all basically accept the idea of state capitalism, no? - I think it's okay to use terms that have a deeper meaning on libcom than they would in a casual conversation.

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fingers malone
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Dec 21 2015 16:11

I do understand it, what I'm saying is that I don't agree with the term.

I'm not talking about the Parliamentary Labour Party. I don't know any MPs. I'm talking about people, whether I know them through work, family, joint political activity or whatever, who are left wing. Joint political activity not meaning doing electioneering for the Labour Party or for my union NEC, because I don't campaign for the Labour Party or the NEC. Rather meaning, eg, doing anti-workfare pickets or trying to stop tenants getting evicted.

A few of those people probably did have their eye on getting some kind of local power in the future and climbing some kind of political greasy pole but most, I sincerely believe, did not. Bearing in mind I still know a lot of those people twenty years later and so I can see what they went on to do.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 21 2015 16:26
Quote:
I do understand it, what I'm saying is that I don't agree with the term.

Fingers, I'm not sure whether this was directed at me. If it was, I'm wasn't trying to suggest you didn't understand the term. Sorry if it came across that way.

Anyway, i think there's a lot of talking cross-purposes on this thread. I mean, I don't think I have any fundamental disagreements with your last post. I just think think the "the Left" (as in the organized left) or "the left wing of capital" (as in the recuperative role of social democracy) can have a certain usefulness when talking amongst ourselves.

I think most of family and friends think I'm "left". I don't usually bother to correct them.

Ghost Whistler
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Dec 21 2015 16:37
bastarx wrote:
Ghost Whistler wrote:
bastarx wrote:
Because trade unionism sells workers to capitalism.

Do you have anything to back this up?

Only reality. If that's not enough for you I don't have anything else to offer.

checkable facts would be nice.

Jason Cortez
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Dec 22 2015 09:27
Chilli Sauce wrote:
I don't know, I've never heard it mentioned by anyone who wasn't already a lefty. I mean, I don't know, speak to your co-workers. See if any of them have heard of it, are supportive of it

Let's start with this, it seems on first reading to be straight forward enough advice. But is a completely fallious argument, as the value of any organisation or idea are not reducible to whether your co-workers have heard of it. I am pretty sure Chilli didn't make a judgement on the value of anarcho-syndalism on whether his co-workers had heard of it before (although i am sure he has suggested organising in a certain way in his workplace). Indeed he readily admits he wouldn't use 'left-wing of capital' with his co-workers, as it is a term that needs some explaining, for others to understand what you are trying to say.

So why does he make this statement? It is because it is based on a number of nested assumptions, which seem like 'common sense' to him (and many on this board, including me).
Let's unpack some of these, a critque of 'left wing' forms of organising: a belief that certain types of activity are 'a waste of time' because of this critque; that your ('apolitical') co-workers should be your focus not lefty politicos; that the workplace is the main site of struggle; that your co-workers wont have heard of certain organisations or be skepitcal of them as they remain unsullied (by the Left) by this distance;that the critque itself, which has been hard won and fought for, through expericence, reading and argument is not open to challenge expect within the already given parameters; tendency to universal and ahistorical usage of the 'critque' leading to a dogmatic responce.

I mean what if their co-workers had heard of the assemblies and were largely in favour, what then? I think they is a tendency for those who engage in 'politics' to forget that our critques come from moements in lived experience and reflections on this history. They represent always partial solutions to historical problems and the forms we use are legacies of this past, formed in a time and context which is no longer totally relevant.

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fingers malone
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Dec 22 2015 00:11

I agree wih Jason, also, some of my co workers are interested in Peoples Assembly and wanted me to go with them to a meeting, but I refused because I thought it would probably be boring. However I went to solfed federal conference even though I asked one of them to come with me but he said no as he thought it would be boring, but I went anyway.

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fingers malone
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Dec 22 2015 00:16

Also, I don't need to go to People's Assembly meetings as I live in a left wing neighbourhood of a big city and there is always loads of stuff going on. However for people in smaller towns who are trying to fight cuts to services and redundancies and so on, a lot of people went as they hoped they would meet people they could then work with. This didn't really work out for most of them, but it was a reasonable idea.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 22 2015 03:07
Quote:
the value of any organisation or idea are not reducible to whether your co-workers have heard of it

.

Jason, I think you're conflating things here. The question wasn't whether the People's Assembly was worthwhile because people have heard of it. It was whether the People's Assembly was, in GW's words, "quite popular" and with whom it was quite popular.

Given that, I've got to be honest, I don't feel like the rest of that post is particularly applicable - and it contains some pretty brazen assumptions - some arguably true, some definitely not - about my thinking and approach to organizing.

Jason Cortez
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Dec 22 2015 10:11
Chilli Sauce wrote:
At best, it channels working class discontent into useless social democratic demands. At worst, it's a shallow front for Leftists jockeying for power within the Labour Party.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
]s it a waste of time? Undoubtedly?

Chilli Sauce wrote:
Or is it just the same old lefties?

Chilli Sauce wrote:
My guess is they probably won't have heard of it. And - as part of a larger critique of political organizing - I'd say you're better off trying to organize with your workmates about real issues in the workplace than getting involved with (or trying to get them involved with) some lefty bullshit.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
What I'm not being dismissive of is normal working people,

These are the sort of statements I am basing my "brazen assumptions" on:
First the critque is stated; and then a value judgement based on the apirori critque and instrumental logic; then lefties as a singular identity; and then the workplace posisted as THE terrain of struggle; and to top it off "normal working people" a term worthy of any politician, as it is value ladened with notions of worth, wholesomeness and is a blank slate to be projected on.

Don't get me wrong, we are ALL guilty of this shorthand approach at times, but what struck me, was the OP appears to be asking a fairly straight forward question but was couched in a language which already suggested the poster knew this group were likely to be unpopular. And the responces were on the level dogmatic pronocement. This is an unhealthy aspect to 'politics' which we seem loath to acknowlegde, the 'echo chamber'.

Chilli, I guess we wont be able to go much further if you don't want to argue where and why my assmptions are wrong. Which is fair enough, I did single you out and make you the 'stand in'. It wasn't personal.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 22 2015 14:29

The thing is, though, I'm just not sure what's even being "debated" on this thread. That we shouldn't use shorthand explanations? That's they are good people who casually identify with being on the left? That the OP deserved a more thorough response?

I mean, is there anyone on this thread who thinks the People's Assembly is worthwhile? Apparently the OP doesn't even think that. And while some comments have been a bit snarky, it would seem to me the OP is capable of asking follow up questions if our responses are inadequate. As it stands now, the OP has basically ignored the more substantive responses when they've been offered.

Anyway, Jason, I still think you're doing some pretty serious projecting - with me as your stand-in or not. However you may feel about how I or anyone else has handled this thread, making apirori assumptions about how others feel about some pretty complicated workplace or political issues doesn't exactly make for fruitful discussion either.

I'll bow out at this point because I don't actually think there's much worthwhile discussion to be had.

Jason Cortez
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Dec 22 2015 15:46

Fair do's Chilli.
anyone else have a clue what I am talking about?

Ghost Whistler
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Dec 22 2015 15:52
fingers malone wrote:
Also, I don't need to go to People's Assembly meetings as I live in a left wing neighbourhood of a big city and there is always loads of stuff going on. However for people in smaller towns who are trying to fight cuts to services and redundancies and so on, a lot of people went as they hoped they would meet people they could then work with. This didn't really work out for most of them, but it was a reasonable idea.

perhaps you could have attended the PA meeting and spread the ethos of anarchism!

I'm not sure what to think at the moment. I think i need to read some more.

Spikymike
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Dec 22 2015 17:46

The primary activity of the 'Peoples Assembly' in it's local groups and as a national organisation seems to be the type of 'protest' or 'campaigning' politics aimed at trying to influence the existing apparatus of the state and in particular, either directly or indirectly, through the Labour Party, rather than the kind of more effective collective direct action that SolFed and others here might advocate. Having said that as fingers suggested in their post no 47 in the absence of any other local 'oppositional' network this might be a way to meet others in a similar social or work situation and make some initial links that could bear fruit later. Always better to go along to such networks politically prepared bearing in mind the cautions I and other have expressed about such left-wing organisations. I've attended a few 'protests' organised by various left-wing groups in my time where I've agreed with them but to be honest none of them had much chance of success being mostly a means of reinforcing our mutual oppositional stance.

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Ed
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Dec 22 2015 17:47

I thought that Jason's posts were pretty fair and I'm not a big fan of this 'left wing of capital' terminology as it seems to imply the only people doing good organising are the ultra-left (or workers 'unsullied' by politics) when in reality lots of people who might be members (or ex-members or supporters) of political groups we think are shite are often involved in decent organising..

I also think that "we're neither left-wing or right-wing" is the sort of thing that fascists say so I avoid it.. I'm left-wing, all my mates say so..

That said, i also think the thrust of Chilli's point is right; People's Assembly is essentially just another lefty group like the SWP or Solfed or whoever (though bigger than Solfed and less morally reprehensible than the SWP).. the point is whether you find their politics/activity inspiring..

I think that's a better way to pose the question: what does People's Assembly actually do to oppose austerity? Afaik (and I might be wrong), it seems they just organise demos (and meetings to organise demos), always saying "this is just the beginning of the fightback! We're organising another demo in six weeks time..."

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fingers malone
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Dec 22 2015 21:54
Ed wrote:
I thought that Jason's posts were pretty fair and I'm not a big fan of this 'left wing of capital' terminology as it seems to imply the only people doing good organising are the ultra-left (or workers 'unsullied' by politics) when in reality lots of people who might be members (or ex-members or supporters) of political groups we think are shite are often involved in decent organising..

This is what I felt, put much better than I did.

I've worked with many people who don't identify with anarchism and identify as left but are not authoritarian or heirachical in their actual practice. Lots of the workplace activity, stopping evictions and other things I've done alongside people who identify in one way or another as left and they have encouraged other people to speak up,made an effort to empower people who are not confident, organised direct action and I just feel it's unfair to call good people like that the left wing of capital.

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fingers malone
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Dec 22 2015 22:14
Ed wrote:

I think that's a better way to pose the question: what does People's Assembly actually do to oppose austerity?

I think your assessment is accurate, and I don't think that the People's Assembly is doing anything very useful, however a lot of people hoped that they could be places where people from different struggles could meet each other, or where people looking to fight austerity could come together and meet each other. I believe that's what my workmates were hoping for when they went. The really sad thing is that we are not able to organise this ourselves on a scale that would work for people.

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Noah Fence
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Dec 22 2015 22:45

I still think this idea of the left being more generally good guys or something is a bum steer. Most of the lefties I know are blinkered, narrow minded and totally dismissive of basically anything other than Corbyn's Labour. When do you guys that cut these people some slack ever do the same for right leaning people? This attitude is incongruous to anarchism in my view. I won't bore you with the details but I can give plenty of examples of those on the right doing good stuff within the framework of capitalism but it seems to me that it's almost taboo to even suggest such a thing.
Put simply, this is what I'm hearing - lefties are mostly good guys that are mislead but all Tories are bastards. It's hypocritical bullshit.

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fingers malone
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Dec 22 2015 22:50
Ghost Whistler wrote:
[
perhaps you could have attended the PA meeting and spread the ethos of anarchism!

I didn't go as I imagined it would be too much top table speeches and not enough talking to each other. However I thought that going and trying to change things, without knowing anyone or having done any work to organise the event, probably wouldn't work.
The trouble is that we do need something where we can connect with a lot of other people. Many struggles I have been in suffered from isolation.

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Auld-bod
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Dec 23 2015 09:57

Some years ago a top tory politician publicly claimed that the left were envious selfish people who never contributed to voluntary work or charities. There was an explosion of indignation from the Labour Party citing many examples of lefties being do-gooders.

Seems to me helping people is a way to make yourself feel good. On the other hand within capitalism everything is very measured, or as Billie Holiday put it: ‘You can help yourself but don’t take too much’.

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fingers malone
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Dec 23 2015 10:28
Webby wrote:
Most of the lefties I know are blinkered, narrow minded and totally dismissive of basically anything other than Corbyn's Labour. When do you guys that cut these people some slack ever do the same for right leaning people?

Well, I would find people like that pretty annoying too.

I'm not dismissing your experience, my experience is different, that doesn't mean either of us is wrong. I've organised in a tenants struggle with right wing people actually. My experience wasn't very good. If you've had a different experience, fair enough.

Spikymike
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Dec 23 2015 11:55

I think some of you would find aspects of common ground in what I said in my later posts here but the fact remains that the terminology of the 'left wing of capital' is still a pretty good description of the political and economic programmes advocated, supported and promoted by most left-wing groups across the world - from soft versions of social democracy to hard-line stalinism. In the context of the UK, oppositional tendencies tend to see themselves and are seen by others as 'left-wing' but the same was not always the experience of those living under falsely named socialist and communist regimes. We need to relate to and adapt our strategies to our local experiences but be informed by our analysis and understanding of the realities of our class experience of global capitalism, and be aware that to-days friends in the everyday class struggle can be tomorrows enemies as circumstances change.