UK Political Parties

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cosgrove's picture
cosgrove
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Jul 16 2016 14:50
UK Political Parties

Newbie question. What, if any, UK political parties - not pressure groups, think tanks, etc. - might be to a greater or lesser extent compatible with libcom?

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Jul 16 2016 15:27

Hey Cosgrave, the short answer is none.

Maybe have a quick read of the libcom introduction to the state for the basic arguments about why:

http://libcom.org/library/state-introduction

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Jul 16 2016 16:29

Thanks very much, Chilli Sauce, that's an interesting piece.

If there is, let's call it, zero compatibility, how might advocates of libcom describe the various UK parties on the left (CPB, CPGB (ML), SWP, etc.) that do exist? Are there significant differences?

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Chilli Sauce
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Jul 16 2016 16:58

Um, not really, they're all hierarchical and authoritarian.

At best, they attempt to channel class struggle into their particular political aims - be it the TUC bureaucracy, their own weird little front groups, of shoring up support for the Labour Party. Not to mention, all of them jostling for domination within whatever broad left coalition they enter.

In any case, they limit the ability of the working class to actively and independently act in its own self-interest.

That said, there are some solid militants within those organizations but, organizationally, they're all a dead end.

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Jul 16 2016 20:03

The Socialist Party of Great Britain (SPGB) is libcom and stands for elections. Some libcom members disagree that it is libcom but the SPGB is non-hierarchical and not authoritarian unlike the left wing parties. Maybe Class War could be considered libcom too and they have once stood for election. Socialist Studies would probably contest elections too.
There is an Anarchist myth that libcom groups all share the anarchist conception of the state and never stand for elections but its just not true.

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Chilli Sauce
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Jul 16 2016 20:39
Quote:
There is an Anarchist myth that libcom groups all share the anarchist conception of the state and never stand for elections but its just not true.

So, this is very much a minority position. As while the SPGB members I've met have all been lovely folks, their engagement in electoralism is regularly criticized by folks involved in most of the UK's organized anarchist currents.

As for Class War, they were rightfully raked over the coals for their electoral shenanigans.

Serge Forward's picture
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Jul 16 2016 21:11
Chilli Sauce wrote:
As for Class War, they were rightfully raked over the coals for their electoral shenanigans.

And shit politics. The SPGB on the other hand have much better politics but, as the parliamentary wing of the anarchist movement, their practice is also shite.

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Jul 16 2016 21:16

Come on, you're jesting surely? They're not anarchists any more than Leninists who share their desire to capture the state, just by different methods.

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Jul 16 2016 22:24

Libcom is a broader term than Anarchist, the latter are almost always abstentionist when it comes to state elections. Libcom includes anyone seeking a stateless classless society and seeking to do this non hierarchically not led by a party or group. So including the SPGB but not Leninists.

radicalgraffiti
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Jul 16 2016 22:26

trying to take over the state with your party is not really "non hierarchically not led by a party or group"

Serge Forward's picture
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Jul 16 2016 22:38

They want to use parliamentary means to dismantle the state, so... that's pretty close to some kind of parliamentary road to anarchism, libertarian socialism or whatever you want to call it.

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Jul 16 2016 22:58

This is my comment from an old thread, but it does show how 'libertarian communist' the SPGB's program - which they've proudly never swerved from - really is;

Quote:
Quote:
"6. That as the machinery of government, including the armed forces of the nation, exists only to conserve the monopoly by the capitalist class of the wealth taken from the workers, the working class must organize consciously and politically for the conquest of the powers of government, national and local, in order that this machinery, including these forces, may be converted from an instrument of oppression into the agent of emancipation and the overthrow of privilege, aristocratic and plutocratic."
[...]
"It is dangerous and futile to follow those who support violence by workers against the armed force of the state. Violent revolution has sometimes meant different faces in the capitalist class, always meant dead workers, and never meant the liberation of the working class. Unless workers organize consciously and politically and take control over the state machinery, including its armed forces, the state will be ensured a bloody victory." http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/gbodop.html
In their ‘A-Z of Marxism’, on Bakunin they say;
"In his Conspectus of Bakunin’s ‘Statism and Anarchy’ (1874), Marx argued that, so long as a class of capitalists exist, the working class must make use of the state (‘the general means of coercion’) to dispossess them of the means of production. This would be the most effective way of changing society because it minimises any potential for violence. With a socialist working class in control of the states through their use of their socialist parties, international capitalism can be replaced by world socialism. It is of course a great irony that anarchists should condemn this proposed course of action as potentially authoritarian, given their recipe for bloody civil war by waging violence against the state. In this respect they are closer to the Leninists than they might realise." http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/AZ.html
Later, in the A-Z on ‘the State’ they explain that democratic conquest of the state means that eventually;
"the state and its machinery of government will have no place in a socialist society".

Standard 19c social democratic reasoning. That all looks like statism to me, in contrast to a libertarian communist position. I think it's partly cos they operate mainly on a philosophical/propagandist basis and so don't piss libcom activists off like the Trots do that they are found more tolerable. But their stated goals in their As & Ps are typical 19c Marxist statism, albeit of a more pacifist variety.
The definition of libertarian communists rests largely on the necessity of distinguishing themselves historically from parliamentarian and statist socialists, both of which the SPGB remain. All else is bollox and opportunist distortion for attempting to gain greater acceptance. The anarchists and lib coms of the era when these distinctions were defined as oppositions (as well as the SPGBers of the time) I imagine wouldn’t know whether to laugh or weep at the present attempts at fudging.
https://libcom.org/forums/general/your-impressions-london-anarchist-book...

If SPGB feel closer to libertarians I doubt that's gonna worry anyone but trying to ignore or distort the meaning of terms and their historical origins in real and enduring differences just looks either ignorant or dishonest and lacking in integrity.

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Jul 17 2016 12:47

Considering their comments on anarchism I quoted above, eg, "given their recipe for bloody civil war by waging violence against the state... they are closer to the Leninists than they might realise" - it's also strange that they now insist they're its "parliamentary wing". This is not just hair-splitting; the SPGB like to lecture on what is and isn't 'real' Marxism but are happy to distort the history of libertarian communism by claiming their party statism is easily compatible. And credible definitions of anti-statism also seem to be under increasing attack by 'anarchists' supporting national liberation rackets/PKK/Corbyn etc.

Quote:
“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. ― George Orwell, Politics and the English Language
http://libcom.org/library/politics-and-english-language-george-orwell

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Jul 17 2016 14:07

Steady on Red... that was me who said they were the "parliamentary wing" for a laugh and I'm far from being an SPGBer.

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Jul 17 2016 16:10

I know Serge, I should get out more... but an actual SPGber has said it on here before now, though there's obviously opposing views in SPGB over this, as seen on this thread;

Quote:
"I don't recall us ever describing ourselves as the "Parliamentary wing of the anarchist movement", and it wouldn't be true, we're not anarchists."

"I'm definitely not one of those members who see ourselves as being the Parliamentary wing of the Anarchist Movement. I shudder at the very thought." http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/events-and-announcements/anarch...

While another SPGBer is quoted there as having said on libcom;

Quote:
"Perhaps the Thin Red Line will also now have to address the need for some form of unity and finally accept the SPGB as the parliamentary political wing of anarchism." - jjohnstone
https://libcom.org/forums/announcements/left-unity-impossible-dream-0509...

slothjabber
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Jul 17 2016 17:56

When regular controversies erupt about whether the CWO, ICC, SPGB and other groups claiming the political heritage of Marx, should be allowed to have stalls at the Anarchist Bookfair, and sometimes even whether they should be posting on LibCom at all, it's useful to have a basic definition of 'libertarian communism'.

I seem to remember the last time we went through this, it was decided that the CWO and ICC were libertarian communist (even though they'd reject the term) because they didn't see the role of the revolutionary organisation as being one of taking state power.

Doesn't actually apply to the SPGB though.

And of course different definitions of 'libertarian communism' surely exist. But that was the main criterion being used here I think.

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klas batalo
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Jul 21 2016 03:36

could that be the same qualifier for the term "anti-state communist" ???

also don't ICT and ICC think some form of semi-state will exist. i've always been confused if they think it will exist, or if they think it should exist.

slothjabber
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Jul 21 2016 06:41

'should'?

Neither believes that states exist as a matter of will.

Despite the fact that some Anarchists seem to think that you can 'abolish' states willy-nilly, the perspective of the ICC and ICT is that states will exist as long as classes exist and you can no more do away with classes in one territory than you do away with capitalism in one territory.

It's a state of a different kind though, a state where the ruling class is a majority not a minority, which has never happened before, and it exists to organise production and defend the revolutionary gains in the liberated territory (including putting down those who want to go back to the status quo ante bellum).

So yeah, because they don't believe in 'socialism in one country', states necessarily will exist in the revolutionary period.