May 11 2015

AFTER MAY 7th

Emancipation & Liberation will be posting a series of responses to the new political situation after May 7th. The first comes from World to Win.

 

WHY WE MUST BREAK THROUGH TO REAL DEMOCRACY 

The Tory election victory cannot disguise the continuing break-up of the political-state system of rule and will actually hasten it. Over 75% of the UK electorate is unrepresented in any meaningful way while Scotland’s anti-austerity aspirations are blocked.

What appears as a shock result belies a deep-going process of transformation, opening a period of political volatility of rising demands for rights that test and will break the limits of parliamentary democracy. Although turn-out was up slightly, a third of voters stayed at home, feeling that their votes counted for little.

A system that produces a dominant government which has the backing of under a quarter of those entitled to vote is democratic in name only. Safe to say, however, the mainstream parties have no intention of changing this.

Why would they? The skewed voting system is but an expression of one-sided state rule that speaks predominantly for corporate and financial power. The markets are happy with Thursday’s outcome – and that’s what counts in reality.

Demands for voting reform will only intensify the constitutional impasse, therefore, as they will fall on deaf ears. Yet the system is fracturing and fragmenting before our eyes. Dependent for the last 70 years on the two-party, my-turn-your turn arrangement for legitimacy, it can no longer do so. That has been broken by Labour’s demise, perhaps irrevocably.

The historic wipe-out of Labour in Scotland makes it difficult to see them ousting the SNP from working-class constituencies any time soon. This is the pay-back for Ed Miliband’s crass alliance with the Tories to thwart self-determination in the referendum, the patronising, right-wing nature of Labour in Scotland and the party’s identification with the Westminster political elite.

Miliband’s dismissive description of the anti-austerity tide sweeping Scotland as a “wave of nationalism” showed precisely where his party stood in the election – for continuing cuts, for nuclear weapons and for an outdated political union dependent on Westminster.

This more than any demonising of Miliband by the right-wing press cost Labour. While the SNP distinguished themselves from Labour and Tories by being anti-austerity, Labour was identified with the Tories. In England, many inner-city areas had turn-outs of under 60%; in Scotland, some constituencies produced a turn-out of over 80% and a 20-year old student defeated Douglas Alexander, the so-called architect of Labour’s disastrous campaign.

Add in the planned redrawing of constituency boundaries in favour of Tory-voting areas and the rise of Ukip in areas like the North-east – they finished a strong second in 120 seats nationally – and the future is bleak for Labour.

The appeal of the right-wing populist Ukip is to voters betrayed by Labour, which accounts for most of the party’s nearly 4 million votes (giving them just one seat). A million people also voted Green in anti-establishment, anti-austerity defiance.

The fact that Labour is unlikely to be able to form a majority government in the near future, if ever again, is therefore an integral part of the growing constitutional crisis. It calls into question the whole doctrine of parliamentary politics as the only route we can pursue to seek change.

Corporate-driven globalisation has for at least three decades if not longer denied social democratic reformism the space to operate. The Blairites recognised this and created pro-market New Labour. Under Miliband, a halfway-house of total confusion took over.

Vague policies based on creating a “responsible capitalism” through state intervention and regulation had little appeal or substance. Aligning themselves with Tory budget cuts and a public sector pay freeze revealed Labour as a pale imitation of the Tories.

This proved decisive in allowing the reactionary Tories to triumph at the polls. Voters concluded that it was better to vote for the real thing. In England, the Tories’ share of the vote was an astonishing 41% and Labour ended up with almost 100 fewer parliamentary seats than Cameron after its worst election performance since 1987.

Part of the responsibility for the Tory victory should also be laid at the doors of the trade union bureaucracy of the major unions, Unite, Unison and the GMB. They financed the campaign to elect Miliband as Labour leader in exchange for which they abandoned anything but token resistance to Tory cuts and attacks on pensions.

Miliband gave them nothing in exchange – no commitment to repeal the anti-union laws or abandon Tory spending cuts. Yet the union leaders kept their heads down and sustained the illusion that Miliband and Labour was the answer. What a waste of resources. Union members should demand their organisations join others in withdrawing from Labour and spend their money on alternative means of political representation.

The Conservative win reflects the misleading appearance of an improving economy, whose “recovery” is funded by record and increasing levels of public and private debt. Renewed global recession is on the horizon, having been postponed by gargantuan inventions of new credit by the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan among others.

Against this background, austerity will continue and deepen in every part of the UK. Resistance to this is centred in Scotland, where its voters placed their hopes and aspirations in the anti-austerity stance of the SNP.

The SNP is, however, riding the tiger of Scotland’s May 7 Revolution and as a party of business will not be able to resist austerity and spending cuts. And the Tories are planning to cut financial support to Scotland in exchange for further devolution of powers from Westminster as promised after the referendum. Stand by for the green light to the frackers once Scotland’s own elections are out of the way next year.

The outcome of the election brings the questions of democracy and power to the fore in every nation in Britain. Only the Greens raised this issue, otherwise who is in charge and who has the power was never spoken about. That’s why Miliband was rightly seen as hollow.

The Tories’ plan for a referendum on the European Union will use nationalism to avoid this question and we should say now that there can be no real democracy so long as corporate and financial power holds sway. It’s not Brussels or London that’s decisive but on whose behalf decisions are made.

To resist austerity and deep spending cuts, the renewal of Trident, the onslaught of fracking, the continuing marketisation of the NHS and the attack on human rights now planned, we cannot depend on others to do our fighting for us in Parliament.

As we cannot even achieve modest reforms through Parliament, then a more direct form of democracy, that provides people with real power, is the way forward. Let’s move beyond a system that is no longer representative to one that gives control over resources and decision making to ordinary people and their communities.

Who will defend people from austerity and who will look to fix this broken system? Who will look to replace the corporatocracy that resumes control at Westminster after the inconvenience of an election? People everywhere in UK can only do it for themselves.

That’s the importance of developing the Assemblies for Democracy into a movement that can help facilitate and inspire a transition to a real democracy. A network of Assemblies throughout the UK can lead to a citizens’ assembly on the constitution, for example, which Occupy Democracy and others are campaigning for.

An unrepresentative Parliament imposing the demands of the financial markets on the 75% who didn’t vote for the government has no authority or real legitimacy. We need to take our democratic achievements into a new era, where social rights like replacing corporations with co-operative ownership are enshrined in a people’s constitution. That’s the big lesson of the 2015 general election.

A World to Win editors

9 May 2015

This was first posted at:-

http://www.aworldtowin.net/blog/why-we-must-break-through-to-a-real-democracy.html

 

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May 11 2015

‘NONE OF THE ABOVE’ AND ‘ABANDON THE MIND-FORG’D MANACLES’

Jim Slaven of the James Connolly Society in None of the Above calls upon socialists and republicans to have a closer look at the nature and record of the SNP. This was first posted at:- http://107cowgate.com/2015/05/05/none-of-the-above/

Murdo Ritchie (RCN ) in his Abandon the Mind-forg’d Manacles offers an alternative analysis of the rise of the SNP.

 

1. NONE OF THE ABOVE

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None of the above? This is the question I’ve been asking myself for the last few weeks. Or perhaps more accurately for the last few years. Having never been a member of a political party, I’m what pollsters call a floating voter. Granted, as someone who has been a political activist for nearly 30 years, I might not be the stereotypical floating voter but nonetheless I have no tribal loyalty to any political party.
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May 07 2015

ANTI-UNIONISM AND THE WORKING CLASS IN ENGLAND

As we predicted, the impact of Scotland’s ‘democratic revolution’ has become central to the Westminster General Election (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/03/16/the-left-in-the-uk-the-2015-general-election-campaign-and-the-wider-impact-of-scotlands-democratic-revolution/), and hence to the longer term existence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Socialists in England, standing under the banner of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition or the Left Unity Party, have largely ignored this issue. In contrast, Steve Freeman, who is standing as a Republican Socialist and Anti-Unionist candidate in Bermonsey & Old Southwark has emphasised the importance of  anti-unionism, and a break from the anti-democratic UK and its Westminster politics, as the best way of uniting the working class  in England, Scotland,Wales and Ireland. Steve states his case below.

 

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Anti-unionism and the working class in England

  1. The working class movement in the UK is facing a new situation which opened since the Scottish referendum in September 2014. The Scottish referendum campaign led to 97% voter registration and 85% voter participation. The campaign produced an unprecedented wave of canvassing, public meetings, street stalls and on-line discussions. Together these marked the beginning of a ‘democratic revolution’ not only for the people of Scotland, but potentially for the peoples in England, Wales and Ireland too.
  2. Continue reading “ANTI-UNIONISM AND THE WORKING CLASS IN ENGLAND”

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May 04 2015

KAGARLITSKY, THE WAR AND POLITICAL CORRUPTION

Last year at the beginning of the latest phase of the crisis in Ukraine, we posted two differing views of the situation (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/03/07/ukraine-a-statement-from-awukiev/). Since then, one of the two writers, Boris Kargalitsky has moved decisively into the Russian chauvinist camp. Below we are posting a critique of Kargalitsky’s politics. 

 

KAGARLITSKY, THE WAR AND POLITICAL CORRUPTION

A Critique of the ‘Red Putinist’

 A person of influence on the thinking the western left on Ukraine has been the Russian writer Boris Kagarlitsky Director of the Institute of Globalization and Social Movements.  Whilst the pro-war views of the Moscow based Kagarlitsky have been accepted without criticism in some quarters – in contrast the views of actual members of the Ukrainian labour movement on Ukraine have been given no such level of recognition.  Published below exclusively by the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign is an important critique of the ‘Red Putinist’ Kagarlitsky from Nihilist Ukrainian left-wing website and activist network.

Boris Kagarlitsky in a company of Russian fascists: Aleksey Belyaev-Gintovt (prominent member of Aleksandr Dugin’s International Eurasian Movement), Yevgeniy Zhilin (militant extreme right Oplot group), Konstantin Krylov (far right “Russian Social Movement – Russia”) and Yegor Kholmogorov.

 

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May 01 2015

MAY DAY GREETINGS

In the run-up to the General Election next Thursday, this year Emancipation & Liberation is devoting its annual May Day Greetings to  messages of support from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England for Steve Freeman who is standing as republican socialist candidate on an ‘internationalism form below’ in Bermondsey & Old Southwark (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfuPJcSwc6c and https://youtu.be/WuSFclgQ7BU).

 

 

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Bernadette McAliskey (Ireland)

“Hi Steve, you have my support. You cannot submerge the key issue of self-determination and a radical alternative for Scotland, with its implications for advancing the cause of English working class in a Left Unity analysis that describes that question as ‘narrow nationalism’. The likelihood of their candidate being elected to Westminster but for your intervention in the election is a bit delusional given the archaic election process for Westminster, but even if it were true Republican Socialists would be supporting a candidate who denies the legitimacy of our position and insults us into the bargain.
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Apr 20 2015

LIVING THE PEACE PROCESS IN REVERSE

The following extract is taken from an article by Robbie McVeigh, entitled Living the peace process in reverse: racist violence and British nationalism in Northern Ireland, in the current issue of Race & Class (Volume 56, April-June 2015, no. 4).

Virtually the whole of the Left has ignored the broader implications of the new pan-unionist alliance (UKIP, Tory Right and Ulster unionists and loyalists), which is challenging the current British ruling class ‘New Unionist’ ‘devolution-all-round’ and Peace Process settlement from the Right. Robbie McVeigh, however, makes specific reference to the new political situation created in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum. In doing this he is connecting to the arguments made on this blog that have highlighted this. He specifically points to the history of British ruling class sponsorship of  such reactionary forces, pointing out, not only several historical precedents, but the current collusion between the security forces in Northern Ireland and racist and bigoted unionism and loyalism, including its paramiltary manifestations.

This extract is followed by links to other articles on this blog making similar connections.

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LIVING THE PEACE PROCESS IN REVERSE

Robbie McVeigh

Robbie McVeigh

 

“It is important to remember that loyalism is a core component of British nationalism. This is an assessment of loyalism as a historical political formation, both as part of the politics of the British in Ireland and also of Britishness itself. It is anti-democratic ,racist, authoritarian populism. Moreover, it isn’t simply something belonging to the most reactionary elements of the Protestant working class in Northern Ireland, it is a British phenomenon. In other words, it isn’t rooted in the most lumpen elements of loyalist paramilitarism – although these provide useful allies – but in the most developed forms of British nationalism. Its genealogy can be traced to Randolph Churchill, with his cynical strategy of ‘playing the Orange Card’, through Lord Claude Hamilton to Enoch Powell; from the Curragh Mutiny to the Ulster Workers’ Strike. When the British Establishment rejects the consequences of formal democracy, this is what it looks like: a toxic cocktail of racism, sectarianism, anti-Catholicism, unionism, jingoism, militarism and paramilitarism.
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Apr 20 2015

REPUBLICANISM AND DEMOCRACY

Allan Armstrong (RCN) was invited to speak on Republicanism and Democracy  at the Assembly for Democracy event in Glasgow on Saturday, April 11th. He gave an update of the talk at the first Radical Independence Conference in Glasgow in November 2012 (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2012/11/15/genuine-self-determination-means-acting-as-republicans-now/

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Allan Armstrong speaking at the Glasgow Assembly for Democracy

 

Most of the discussions today we have been having today have been about bringing democracy into our own campaigns and developing an opposition to the ongoing British ruling class offensive.

However, as one contributor to the debate has already said, ‘democracy’ is one of the most promiscuous terms to be found in politics. Indeed, the British ruling class likes to claim that “Westminster is the mother of parliaments”, with the implication that it represents a deeply rooted democratic tradition. So it is worth taking a closer look at this Westminster, based on the political notion of the ‘Crown in parliament’.
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Apr 13 2015

ANTI-WATER CHARGES CAMPAIGN: FROM PROTEST TO ELECTIONS

Our blog has been chronicling developments in one of the most important socio-economic struggles in these islands since the Anti-Poll Tax campaign (see http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/03/27/sinn-fein-under-pressure-from-irish-workers/http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2015/03/01/water-charges-independent-mobilisation-new-state-repression/ and http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/12/16/defying-water-charges-in-ireland/).

The Irish government is attempting to collect specific water charges from the Irish people (water is already paid for out of general taxation), preparatory to privatising Irish water in line with Troika imposed austerity demands. The massive grassroots Anti-Water Charges campaign in Ireland has destabilised the current Fine Gael/Labour coalition government.

 Until the recent massive show of opposition, Sinn Fein and the trade union bureaucrats were opposed to a campaign of non-payment and non-collection. The following article examines not only the role of the trade union bureaucracy and Sinn Fein, but the illusions being created by some on the Left, in the possibility that these two forces might create a Left Irish government, which can end the water charges, whilst ignoring their cooperation in setting up Irish Water in the first place.

This article by J.M. Thorn of Socialist Democracy (Ireland) addresses the current situation.

 

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ANTI-WATER CHARGES CAMPAIGN: FROM PROTESTS TO ELECTIONS

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The 21st March anti-water charges demonstration in Dublin is clear evidence of the continued widespread opposition to the establishment of Irish Water and the imposition of charges.
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Apr 09 2015

BLACKLISTED

Brian Higgins, a much blacklisted building worker and Secretary of the rank and file Building Workers Group, reviews Blacklisted, The Secret War between Big Business and Union Activists, by David Smith and Phil Chamberlain.

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This much needed book is a powerful and always compelling expose. It is sometimes moving with first hand accounts by the victims of the extremely sinister blacklisting conspiracy conducted by multi national building employers and others against organised labour in the construction industry.

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Apr 03 2015

THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP – THE TTIP OF THE PACIFIC

Cynthia Phinney of Labor Notes (USA) writes on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which she dubs the “NAFTA of the Pacific”. However, we in Europe will also be able to recognise it as the ‘TTIP of the Pacific’.

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SHOWDOWN NEARS ON FAST TRACKING OF THE BIGGEST FREE TRADE DEAL YET 

This spring the battle is coming to a head over several threatened trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a “NAFTA of the Pacific.”

President Obama announced in this year’s State of the Union address that he would ask Congress to grant him fast-track authority for trade agreements with Asia and Europe. The announcement unleashed a torrent of lobbying in favor of Obama’s request, and galvanized fair trade activists against it.

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