The International significance of Labour’s Disaster; Corbyn’s Failure of Leadership

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18/12/2019 by socialistfight

The bourgeoise is fully aware of the rise of Bonapartist and plain fascist dictatorships throughout the world. It is time for those who consider themselves Marxists and Trotskyists to understand fully its implications. The failure of working class parties to fight capitalism has demoralized the working class, as it suffers attacks on its unions and standard of living worldwide. The backward sections of the workers are turning to right-wing and outright fascist parties for solutions. Donald Trump, who declared he wanted “Brexit plus, plus, plus” in the US won the votes of racist workers in the Rust Belt states from Central New York through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and parts of Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

This is a classic phenomenon. The working class and its parties must find a way to fight it and win. Denials and excuses bring paralysis and can only bring historical defeats, as they did in the inglorious Third Period in Germany between 1928 and 1933 when Stalin insisted revolution was imminent and all other parties were fascists. They said the working class parties were social fascists.

As Marxists we say that the fate of the working class depends on its leadership. We recognise the class as an internationalist one and consequently its class consciousness is directly tied to the fate of the class as a whole. A victory in one country is a global victory, a defeat in one country is a global defeat. The great historical examples of this is the October 25 Revolution in 1917 in Russia, which gave such hope to the working class and oppressed in all corners of the planet.

And its opposite; Hitler’s defeat of the German working class on January 30, 1933, the strongest and best organised working class in the world at the time, which directly led to the great slaughter of WWII. On both occasions leadership was everything, the Russian Bolsheviks under Lenin and Trotsky secured the great revolution, the German communist led by Stalin’s man Ernst Thälmann, allowed Hitler to take power without firing a shot.

The existing leaders of the working class, both right and left, are bureaucrats who have everywhere accommodated to capitalism itself and pursue only their own careers and pension pots. It was Corbyn’s abject reformist capitulation to the capitalist establishment that lost the British general election of 12th December and not those who sought the internationalist socialist road to revolution by remaining in the EU.

The excuse of waiting for a Labour government no longer applies; that is a distant prospect now.

The Inspiration of Gilets Jaunes

We must take inspiration from the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) of France, [1] and the global fightback it sparked from Algeria to Sudan and now more recently to countries like Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and Haiti.

Added to the unyielding struggles of the Palestinian masses in Gaza and the West Bank which is an ongoing inspiration to the working class, poor and oppressed of the planet. The working class have begun to realise that they must organise to fight for their own rights and future now, that no one will do it for them.

The importance of the French events cannot be overemphasised. When the working class in a small or semi-colonial country wins a partial victory over imperialism a great problem presents itself. Sanctions, if not direct intervention, mass bombings by the USAF or EU air forces or invasion or attacks by proxy forces looms. The history of post WWII is a tale of just such wars as told so well by William Blum in his books Killing Hope and Rogue State. Here are some quotes from the latter:

“For more than 70 years, the United States convinced much of the world that … it somehow needed the United States to save it from communist darkness. “Just buy our weapons,” said Washington, “let our military and our corporations roam freely across your land and give us veto power over who your leaders will be, and we’ll protect you.”

“Between 1945 and 2005 the United States has attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes. In the process, the U.S. caused the end of life for several million people and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair.”

“No matter how paranoid or conspiracy-minded you are, what the government is actually doing is worse than you imagine.”

“There have also been cases where the United States, while (perhaps) not interfering in the election process, was, however, involved in overthrowing a democratically-elected government, such as in Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954, the Congo 1960, Ecuador 1961, Bolivia 1964, Greece 1967, and Fiji 1987.”

This history, of necessity, limits the aspirations and the struggles of the oppressed in the Global South. This hesitation was clearly visible in Algeria and Sudan, the first countries to rebel against imperialism’s puppets, inspired by the Gilets Jaunes. But when a major imperialist power like France is threatened from below by its own working class, the backs of the workers everywhere straighten, their heads rise up and hope is rekindled that the monster that is global imperialism can be slain.

And we assert here an iron law of the class struggle: the monster can only finally be slain at its head, only the U.S., British, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, i.e. the metropolitan imperialist working class, can ultimately slay this monster.

Imperialism can reverse partial victories as in Tunisia and Egypt in the Arab Spring of 2011.

But it took more than 70 years to finally overthrow the last gains of the working class in the USSR, degenerate though it was since 1928. And those of us who lived through May-June 1968 in France know what an inspiration it was to see that great imperialist power visibly rocking on its heels under the impact of the revolutionary onslaught of the working class and to see de Gaulle fleeing to the French Army on the Rhein, convinced imperialist France was about to fall to the socialist revolution.

The uprising by the Gilets Jaunes, the Yellow Vests, that began on 17 November 2018, was an elementary upsurge from the bottom of French society and its quickly spread internationally and now it has returned home again now at a higher level of struggle. Now the Gilet Jaunes are inspiring the organised trade union strike wave sweeping France, and directly threatening those conservative bureaucracies. [2]

When Marcon announced the tax increase in the price of petrol, hypocritically in the name of curbing CO 2 emissions, there was an immediate understanding amongst those marginalised rural workers most effected that the existing leadership of the organised working class intended to do absolutely nothing about this and their only hope was to do it themselves. It worked, the attempts of the far right to subvert the movement failed and every weekend they fought.

Marcon was forced to cancel the planned tax in a few weeks but every weekend for several months the Gilets Jaunes rallied and fought the state and the conservative trade union, Socialist party and Communist bureaucracies on every issue of their own oppression. And now the initiative for these strikes is from the bottom, the French trade unions are slipping out of the control of their bureaucracies – now they must begin the struggle to replace those leaders with new militant ones.

The other element that indicates a revived militancy of the oppressed and the working class is the Climate Change youth and Extinction Rebellion global protests. They were internationalists from the start and understood that Agreements in Paris and everywhere else amongst capitalist states would produce nothing. The UN Climate Summit (COP25) ended on Sunday 15 December in Madrid with no deal on carbon markets, postponed until next year in Glasgow.

The Paris accord established the common goal of avoiding a temperature increase of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. So far, the world is on course for a 3 – to 4 – degree Celsius rise, with potentially dramatic consequences for many countries, including rising sea levels and fiercer storms. Environmental groups and activists accused the world’s richer countries of showing little commitment to seriously tackling climate change. The fight must come from below and must be on the streets.

Class consciousness

However, we insist that class consciousness, the class for itself subjectively and not just objectively in itself, does not develop in the minds of individual workers divorced from their social relations; the class consciousness of the working class is primarily lodged in its own organisations. That is the trade unions and reformist, Stalinist, centrist and revolutionary parties and groups vying for leadership of the class. The Marxist method is dialectical materialism and the application of this method to the class struggle is the Transitional Method (TM). This can only operate effectively within the practice of the United Front (UF). That is, we must learn how to defend strategic principles whilst utilising all the flexile tactics necessary to build the revolutionary party and advance the struggles of the class towards the goal of the socialist revaluation.

The Gilets Jaunes and Extension Rebellion cannot substitute for that fight. We must turn them towards the working class organisations to raise their own level of class consciousness and that of the militant ranks of the trade unions and workers’ political organisations they engage with but flexibly, as Trotsky explains in the Transitional Programme:

“Therefore, the sections of the Fourth International should always strive not only to renew the top leadership of the trade unions, boldly and resolutely in critical moments advancing new militant leaders in place of routine functionaries and careerists, but also to create in all possible instances independent militant organizations corresponding more closely to the tasks of mass struggle against bourgeois society; and, if necessary, not flinching even in the face of a direct break with the conservative apparatus of the trade unions. If it be criminal to turn one’s back on mass organizations for the sake of fostering sectarian factions, it is no less so passively to tolerate subordination of the revolutionary mass movement to the control of openly reactionary or disguised conservative (*progressive”) bureaucratic cliques. Trade unions are not ends in themselves; they are but means along the road to proletarian revolution.”

Corbyn: A Man of Straw

We reject with contempt the claim that Labour should have adopted an all-out Brexit position to win back Brexit supporting workers in the North of England and South Wales. The notion being that if Labour pitched its propaganda further right than the right wing Tory Boris Johnson, become more English nationalist than far rightist Brexit party man Nigel Farage and love the fascist Tommy Robinson then the backward workers will vote for Labour again.

This is pathetic electoralism; if Labour was to stoop as low as Tony Blair again all will be well. Thatcher praised Blair as her proudest achievement. This is an opportunistic view: tell the workers what they want to hear, support the nationalist backwardness within the working class and you win the election. One might also ask, in this case, why does the working class need a Labour party with the Tories’ politics?

Those former Labour supports who voted for Brexit and who now voted Tory and blamed immigrants were at best semi-racist, some of whom came back in 2017 because of hope he would fight capitalism and not just immigrants. By 12th December it was very clear he would do no such thing. English nationalism is poison to the workers’ movement, but racist workers can be won back because theirs is a mood and not a hardened reaction. As Trotsky says, “there are revolutionary masses, there are passive masses and there are reactionary masses. The same masses are reactionary at one point and revolutionary at another.” Everything depends on the leadership of the class in times of crisis.

The Brexit vote of the Northern and South Wales was racist and blamed the immigrants not capitalism. The so-called Lexit campaign was ideologically led by the Stalinists of the CPB Morning Star and is based on the theories of capitalism in a single country leading to socialism in a single country via the parliamentary road to socialism as in the 1951 British road to socialism penned by Joseph Stalin himself. Corbyn’s abject capitulation to the capitalist establishment lost the election.

He capitulated on Brexit, on antisemitism, on Ireland’s right to self-determination (no border down the Irish sea where it should be), on immigration controls and British imperialism itself. An Opinium poll shows that of the entre electorate 43% saw Corbyn as the problem, only 17% cited Brexit and 12% the economy. Of course, Corbyn was the problem because of his pusillanimous stance on Brexit, anti-Semitism and everything else on which he grovelled to the establishment. He grovelled and apologised for every element of leftism that won him the leadership in the first place.

He showed great determination to protect his Blairite MPs, opposing and defeating moves at two conferences to impose mandatory reselection on all his MPs. He grovelled to right wing MPs like Margaret Hodge who was not expelled or even disciplined for saying to him, “You’re a fucking anti-Semite and a racist,” on 17 July 2018. He strongly defended Tom Watson who did everything as deputy leader to destroy him. In contrast, he acquiesced to the victimisation, suspension and expulsion of his strongest supporters; he knifed Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Chris Williamson and numerous others, including this writer. You must conclude he was far more opposed to the strongest of his own supporters than he was to capitalism itself.

Brexit will hurt the working class in England and Europe. It will stop the free movement of commodities between Europe and England and raise the prices of these commodities. Even more importantly, it will curtail free movement of workers between Europe and England and curtail solidarity actions between the workers in Europe and England. Brexit encourages nationalism in England and Europe, and it fosters the growth of fascism in both side, which is already happening; that is, Brexit through nationalism subordinates the working class to capitalism.

Reactionary nationalism is growing throughout Europe. Our task is to explain to workers that the bosses will benefit from it while the workers will be screwed. All those that peddle the nationalism of Brexit betray the working class.

Scotland and the north of Ireland may break but on what political basis? The SNP is a monarchist party, expelled their republicans many years ago. In Ireland Sinn Fein has said it is willing to discuss a united Ireland under the British commonwealth. But on 7th December a statue was unveiled in Finglas to Liam Mellows, the greatest of the internationalist republican socialists who was executed by the Free Staters on 8 December 1922. His great speech in the Dáil treaty debates, the fleshpots of empire reads as fresh today as the day he spoke it. [3] And Finglas is in the heart of the Dublin working class. There lies the hope for the future of the revolution.

The Disastrous 2019 Conference
The 2019 Labour party conference was very disappointing because the main concern of Corbyn and the leadership was to keep the membership in check. These were obviously younger and far more leftist than last year; an increasing number of CLPs have fallen to the left. And they were expressing the push from the mass of the working class as its vanguard. But Corbyn again and again blocked with the Trade Union bureaucracy and the right wing of his own party to frustrate that push, just as Tony Blair had done.
Labour was determined to keep all the Thatcherite anti-union laws so they can be wielded against a resurgent working class when that log jam is inevitably broken. The Manifesto only promised to repeal the 2016 Trade union Act, leaving 7 major Thatcherite anti-union Acts on the statue book. Likewise, on immigration controls, a Labour government will certainly not implement the excellent socialist internationalist resolution passed this year. Diane Abbot assures us that the party still backs a workplace visa system.
On 21 September, to assure the Labour party leaders before the start of their conference, The Guardian’s Andy Beckett, headlined, “Even bankers are starting to think Corbyn might be the safe choice now” and the subhead assured us, “Faced with the Tories’ no-deal extremism and a glaring crisis in capitalism, the financial establishment is losing its fear of a radical Labour government,”

Anti-Semitism

A crucial element in the legitimising of the anti-Semitism onslaught on Labour and Corbyn was the controversary over the East London Freedom for Humanity mural. A controversy began over it in 2012 and then even the Jewish Chronicle only suggested them that it has “undertones of anti-Semitism”. i.e. you could think that if that was what you wanted to think. But by early 2018 it had become appallingly and obviously anti-Semitic according to the entire mass media because Jeremy Corbyn had defended the right of the artist Kalen Ockerman – alias ‘Mear One’ – to his mural against threats of the local council to obliterate it. This made Corbyn an antisemite and he apologised for that. Jewish blogger Martin Odoni defended the mural here:

“It is not anti-Semitic. No, I am perfectly serious, it really is not. Now, if a Jew wishes to argue with me about that, they are welcome to bring it on – the comments section is below … I am a Jew , and I have experienced the sharp end of real anti-Semitism first hand. I know the genuine article when I see it, and I also know a false alarm about anti-Semitism when I see it too …. The mural is not anti-Semitic, and this is why.
“The rich men portrayed in the mural sitting around the Monopoly gameboard include the Rothschilds , the Rockefellers , the Warburgs and the Morgans . The Rothschilds and the Warburgs are indeed Jews. But the others are not . They are portrayed in exactly the same light as the Warburgs and the Rothschilds, but this is not because of their ethnicity, but because they are all banking magnates . Their portrayal is not anti-Semitic, it is anti-plutocratic.
“The pyramid in the background is often assumed to embody the legendary ‘Illuminati’, which is often thought to be an undercover world-controlling movement dominated by Jews. But again, this is not correct. The pyramid actually symbolises Freemasonry, and the widely-held (and possibly correct) suspicion that Freemasons often give each other un-earned ‘foot-ups’ up the hierarchy. Freemasonry is not a Jewish movement. What astounds me is that the people who are steadfast in their certainty that the mural is anti-Semitic seem so confident that they know more about it than the person who bloody painted it in the first place! So much so, they never even thought to find out what the artist had to say.”

The disgraceful capitulation of Corbyn yet again to the Zionist lobby over Peter Gregson’s banner at the conference is another clear signal of subordination to the masters of life; the whole capitalist establishment. [4] Even the police at a high level did not judge it to be antisemitic, just fair comment. Corbyn issued a statement that it was, capitulating yet again to the Zionist lobby and encouraging the racist Zionist thugs who attacked the banner.

Trump: Pro Zionist and anti-semitic

Snopes [5] reported the Donald Trump issued an executive order on Dec. 11, 2019, that targets protest movements on college campuses known as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) rallies against the Israeli government over its treatment of Palestinians. It’s an order that that some say could redefine Judaism as a nationality in certain contexts.

Some Jewish leaders raised concerns over its implications for the Jewish community, namely that it could result in defining being Jewish as a nationality. For example, Rabbi Hara Person, the chief executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, said the order feels “dangerous,” telling the Times. “I’ve heard people say this feels like the first step toward us wearing yellow stars.”

Indeed, White House adviser Jared Kushner (who is also Trump’s son-in-law) defended the executive order in an op-ed for The New York Times, saying “The Remembrance Alliance definition makes clear what our administration has stated publicly and on the record: Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.”

The Modern Infantile Disorder

Some on the far left took the infantile disorder that Lenin criticised so well in his book on Left Wing Communism in 1920. Those who insisted that they would NOT vote Labour in 2019, which included the International Communist Current, (Italian Bordigists) the Revolutionary Communist Group and the World Socialist Website/Social Equality Party and the Communist League party (Barbsite/US SWP). The Workers Revolutionary Party also took an ultra leftist position, however they did call for a vote for Labour.

Here are Lenin and Trotsky explaining the methodology of communism to those suffering from the infantile disorder that Lenin identified in his famous book in 1920. Lenin and Trotsky thought very differently on vote Labour. In 1920 and 1936 they applied the United Front and Transitional method to fight reformism, not simple denunciation. Or, as Trotsky put it in the article cited below:

“It is argued that the Labour Party already stands exposed by its past deeds in power and its present reactionary platform. For example, by its decision at Brighton. For us – yes! But not for the masses, the eight million who voted Labour. It is a great danger for revolutionists to attach too much importance to conference decisions. We use such evidence in our propaganda – but it cannot be presented beyond the power of our own press. One cannot shout louder than the strength of his own throat.”
Lenin Left Wing Communism 1920:
“It is true that the Hendersons, the Clyneses, the MacDonalds and the Snowdens are hopelessly reactionary. It is equally true that they want to assume power (though they would prefer a coalition with the bourgeoisie), that they want to “rule” along the old bourgeois lines, and that when they are in power they will certainly behave like the Scheidemanns and Noskes. All that is true. But it does not at all follow that to support them means treachery to the revolution; what does follow is that, in the interests of the revolution, working-class revolutionaries should give these gentlemen a certain amount of parliamentary support.”

Trotsky: Once Again: The ILP, An Interview, (1936)

“QUESTION – Was the ILP correct in running as many candidates as possible in the recent General Elections, even at the risk of splitting the vote?
ANSWER – Yes. It would have been foolish for the ILP to have sacrificed its political program in the interests of so-called unity, to allow the Labour Party to monopolize the platform, as the Communist party did. We do not know our strength unless we test it. There is always a risk of splitting, and of losing deposits but such risks must be taken. Otherwise we boycott ourselves.
QUESTION – Was the ILP correct in refusing critical support to Labour Party candidates who advocated military sanctions?
ANSWER – No. Economic sanctions, if real, lead to military sanctions, to war. The ILP itself has been saying this. It should have given critical support to all Labour party candidates i.e., where the ILP itself was not contesting. In the New Leader I read that your London Division agreed to support only anti-sanctionist Labour Party candidates. This too is incorrect. The Labour Party should have been critically supported not because it was for or against sanctions but because it represented the working class masses.”

We always remember with Karl Liebknecht that the main enemy in war and conflicts is ALWAYS at home in an imperialist country. We are left remainers in this ongoing political and constitutional crisis. Everything that increases the confidence of the working class and its vanguard in the Labour party ranks and its confidence in its own strength and ability to confront and defeat capitalism itself is good. Everything that seeks, like the Labour party leadership now, to put them back in their boxes by bureaucratic manoeuvres and to use them only as a stage army to get Labour elected the better to manage capitalism, is dangerously wrong.

Notes

[1]Around France with the Yellow Vests Sat. 15th December 2018, https://socialistfight.com/2018/12/16/around-france-with-the-yellow-vests-sat-15th/

[2] The Gilets Jaunes spirit penetrated the most conscious sectors of the French strikers, https://socialistfight.com/2019/12/15/the-gilets-jaunes-spirit-penetrated-the-most-conscious-sectors-of-the-french-strikers/ https://socialistfight.com/2019/12/15/december-5-pension-strikes-in-lyon/ https://socialistfight.com/2019/12/15/days-of-struggle-against-pensions-counter-reform-in-france/

[3] Liam Mellows’ Famous Fleshpots of Empire Speech January 4th, 1922: “You may talk about your constitution in Canada, your united South Africa or Commonwealth of Australia, but the British Empire to me does not mean that. It means to me that terrible thing that has spread its tentacles all over the earth that has crushed the lives out of people and exploited its own when it could not exploit anybody else. That British Empire is the thing that has crushed this country, yet we are told that we are going into it now with our heads up. We are going into the British Empire now to participate in the Empire’s shame even though we do not actually commit the act, to participate in the shame and the crucifixion of India and the degradation of Egypt. Is that what the Irish people fought for freedom for? We are told damn principles. Aye, if Ireland was fighting for nothing only to become as most of the other rich countries of the world have become, this fight should never have been entered upon. We hoped to make this country something the world should be proud of, and we did not enter into the fight to make this country as the other countries, where its word was not its bond, and where a treaty was something to be struggled for. That was not the ideal that inspired men in this cause in every age, and it is not the ideal which inspires us to-day. https://socialistfight.com/2015/11/06/liam-mellowes-famous-fleshpots-of-empire-speech-january-4th-1922/

[4] Carlos Latuff’s twitter reply to Corbyn in Septemver 2019: “No, Mr. @jeremycorbyn that banner was not disgusting. Disgusting is: – how the #Israel Lobby™ weaponize anti-Semitism to silence critics. – how you bowed down to your detractors and ordered removal of a banner with a @Mondoweiss cartoon I made in defense of you! Shame on you!”  https://socialistfight.com/2019/10/06/peter-gregson-and-that-banner-the-letters/

[5] Bethania Palma, published 13 December 2019, Did President Trump Redefine Judaism as a Nationality? An executive order signed by Trump could have big consequences for institutions of higher learning. https://www.snopes.com/news/2019/12/13/trump-executive-order-judaism/

Results of the far left on 12 Dec. 2019 Workers Revolutionary Party Camberwell and Peckham, Joshua Ogunleye: 127
Ealing and Southall, Hassan Zulkifal: 170
Hackney South & Shoreditch, Jonty Leff, 111
Kensington, Scott Dore: 28
Tottenham, Frank Sweeney: 88
Hard Brexiteers, Vote Labour but ….. Social Equality Party (ICFI WSWS David North) Sheffield Central, Chris Marsden: 88
Holborn & St Pancras, Thomas Scripts: 37
Manchester Central, Denis Leech: 107
Neutral on Brexit/ Remain, Do not vote Labour! Communist League Party (US SWP, Jack Barnes) Tottenham, Jonathan Silberman: 42
Wythenshawe & Sale East, Caroline Bellamy: 58
Hard Brexiteers, Do not vote Labour.
Jonathan Silberman: “But Corbyn has associated with Holocaust deniers and defended an anti-Semitic mural that depicted Jews conspiring to control the world on the backs of exploited and oppressed. He has described as “comrades” and “friends” leaders of Hamas, an organization that advocates the killing of Jews and the destruction of Israel. He has participated in a commemoration of the terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He protects Labour Party leaders who have slandered Jews.”
What a pathetic scab!

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