Floods, caused by a series of severe storms that battered the Northern British Isles this December, have brought the misery of repeated flooding to thousands, not just in the North of England but also in Scotland, and Ireland. They are one of a number of phenomena to hit the world this winter, including unseasonably mild weather on the East coast of North America, Western Europe and the North Pole; El Nino and flooding in South America, with the latter inundating 130,000 homes in Paraguay alone. Equally striking is the fact that the media are not passing it off as an ‘Act of God’ or a purely natural disaster, but apportioning blame to government policy on flood defences and considering the contribution of climate change. They do not, however, recognise the role of capitalism itself.
The brutal slaying of 130 people in Paris on 13 November 2015 was used to justify the stepping up of British imperialism’s involvement in the living hell that is Syria. Even as the massacre was taking place the faction of the ruling class in Britain that for some years has wanted to escalate military action against Islamic State was calling for the overturning of the 2013 parliamentary vote against the extension of British involvement in this campaign from Iraq to Syria. This cold-blooded manipulation of the revulsion at the Paris slaughter was whipped up into an almost hysterical campaign which culminated in Labour’s Hilary Benn’s speech comparing the fight against the “fascists” of IS to the Second World War. The subsequent vote to bomb IS in Syria was presented as Britain once again taking up its rightful place in the world as a moral force.
Militarism and war, central manifestations of capitalism for around a century now, have become synonymous with the decay of the economic system of capitalism and the necessity to overthrow it. War in this period, and into the future, is a central question for the working class.
The longer capitalism continues, the more it undermines the possibility of replacing it with a human society – a society based on solidarity and cooperation. But at the same time, every aspect of its descent into barbarism adds further proof that such a society is both necessary and possible. If the capitalist economy is in crisis because it can’t sell all the commodities it produces, if it can’t generate enough profit from its production, then we need a society where people produce not for the market and not for profit, but for need. If national economies are driven to plunder nature in order to outdo their rivals, or if the same nation states can only advance their interests through war and destruction, we need to replace competing national states with a unified world community. In short, we need communism.
2015 has seen the high profile mainstream film Suffragette, as well the announcement of a new biography of Sylvia Pankhurst. The article we’re reprinting here originally appeared in World Revolution in 1980. At that time, very little was written about the life and politics of Sylvia Pankhurst and her own writings were difficult to obtain. As the article notes, those books that did deal with Sylvia tended to leave a large and unexplained gap from 1914 to the early post-war years; in other words, the period of her break with the Suffragette movement and her internationalist opposition to the war, which led her to enthusiastically support the Bolsheviks in the Russian revolution and to call for soviet power in Britain.
We are publishing here a summary of the discussions that took place at our most recent public meeting. We would like to thank all comrades who attended for their contributions to the debates and to encourage both them and others who would like to take up any of the themes explored to do so on our forum or through direct correspondence with the ICC.
To lose one militant is a misfortune. To lose an entire section is a failure. We therefore owe it to ourselves, and to all those who identify with the tradition of the Communist Left, to examine this failure in a ruthlessly critical spirit, and to lay our conclusions before our readers.
Our comrade Bernadette died on Wednesday 7 October, after a long and painful illness: lung cancer.
The terror attacks in Paris bring the barbarity of imperialist war and the social decomposition of capitalist society, expressed in a morbid ideology worthy of Nazism, to the heart of the European proletariat. There is only one answer: "Proletarians of all lands, unite!"
An ex-member of the ICC, Devrim, who left some three years ago, has subsequently made a number of criticisms of our organisation. This article is our reply.