In 2014 we published an article on the fast food workers’ struggles in the USA, ‘Capitalist astro-turfing finds its way to the trade unions’, () by a comrade in the USA who appeared to share our view of the trade unions as organs of capitalist control. Subsequently the comrade has revised his view of the trade union question and has asked us to debate this with him. The following response, written by a close sympathiser, is an initial contribution to a discussion which we think is a central one for revolutionaries.
If you were to ask a high school student about the Russian revolution of 1917, most likely she would reply that it was a Bolshevik coup which, despite the good intentions of its protagonists, ended up in a nightmare: the Soviet dictatorship, the Gulag, etc.
And if you to ask her what happened on 15 May 2011, it’s possible that the response would be that it was a movement for ‘real democracy’ and that it was very closely linked to the Podemos political party.
Anyone who is looking for the truth will not be satisfied with such simplistic answers, which have nothing to do with what really happened, stuffed as they are with the ‘common sense’ views promoted by the deformed education we are subjected to and the brow beating of the ‘means of communication’. In short, by the dominant ideology of this society.
In the twilight of ancient Rome, the madness of emperors was more the rule than the exception. In the days after Trump's election victory, it could be hard to tell whether we were in 2016 or in Ancient Rome.
As the 2016 US Presidential campaign approaches its crescendo, the media promises us this election might be the most important in US History. The bombastic billionaire Donald J. Trump, representing the Republican Party, and the much berated former First Lady and Democratic Senator from New York Hillary Rodham Clinton face one another in a dramatic showdown amid a media spectacle designed to convince the populace of the absolute importance of participating in the electoral process even when neither candidate is a source of great inspiration.
What are the basic question posed by racism, xenophobia, sexism and homophobia, by all these social behaviours which reveal human alienation and which can go as far as murder. How does one explain such an unleashing of social violence; how do you understand these prejudices which seem to come from a bygone age of superstition? How, faced with these types of problems, do you guard against the ideological thinking that the bourgeois system abundantly spreads around in order to mask reality and accentuate the divisions which weaken its historic enemy, the class of proletarians?
We are publishing here a critique of the article ‘Towards a communist electoral strategy’ which recently appeared on the website of the Communist League of Tampa (in Florida, USA). We have already published previous correspondence between ourselves and the CLT, in which we welcomed their recognition of the necessity for a world communist party, while also highlighting some of the key differences between our Current and the CLT regarding the conception of the ‘mass party’, the question of whether the communist party takes power, and the relevance of the old social democratic programmes to the communist project today. With the publication of the article ‘Towards a communist electoral strategy’ by Donald Parkinson, these differences seem to have widened, or at least become clearer. A comparable process seems to be underway in the relationship between the Tampa group and its Miami affiliate, which has now changed its name to the Workers’ Offensive Group and has adopted a statement of positions which are much more in line with those of the communist left. At the same time, the Miami group has declared that it wants to maintain the discussion with the group in Tampa. We support this decision and want the discussion between ourselves and Tampa to continue as well: hence the present contribution, which we hope will stimulate a response from the Tampa group and others.
In response to the austerity demanded by the capitalist crisis, the proliferation of imperialist wars, terrorism on the streets, and the dismal prospects offered by the continuation of capitalism, there is much dissatisfaction. This discontent can be expressed in many ways, not embracing any solutions but expressing unhappiness with a reality that’s not understood. The rise of UKIP in the UK, Donald Trump in the US, as well as other examples of right-wing populism, can be seen as one form of expression of such discontent. But it’s not just right-wing populism that people have turned to. Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, Bernie Sanders in the US have all offered a ‘new radicalism’ on the Left. It’s in this context that we can begin to appreciate the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.
This critique was originally posted on our online forum. Because of the importance of the issues raised, both the for the ICC and the wider communist movement, we decided to reply on a more formal basis.
One of the fears about workers in very precarious casual jobs, with a large proportion of immigrants among them, is that they will not be able to struggle, and so will be nothing but a competitive pressure to lower wages. Firms such as Uber and Deliveroo like to claim their workers are self-employed (so not getting minimum wage, holiday or sick leave). The recent strike at Deliveroo, which spread to UberEats drivers, has answered both questions. They are most definitely part of the working class, and most definitely able to struggle to defend themselves.
Politicians of left and right have condemned the increased xenophobic abuse and physical attacks on immigrants since the referendum, and indeed do not want the tensions in society to explode in ways that disrupt the exploitation of the working class. They may also recognise the role of referendum propaganda in encouraging the increase in these attacks. But they will never acknowledge the extent to which their capitalist system and their state are responsible for the very attitudes which feed xenophobic and racist populism. It is the nation state that defines who is a citizen, or subject, and who is an outsider, an illegal, or to be accepted on sufferance provided their work is needed and sent away afterwards, which encourages immigration when labour is scare, and turns away refugees when it is not wanted.