In this year of Jubilee and celebration of monarchy, a lot will be said about allegiance – allegiance to Queen and country. It slips off the tongue quite readily but carries a heavy message. Allegiance is a powerful emotional attachment to a cause or person or place and experiencing and expressing this deeply felt emotional bond seems to be a very human need. It feels good at the level of the individual and even better when with others who share the same allegiance. For socialists and communists simply to mock and berate people for having those feelings is a misguided approach which alienates our own class from left politics. We need to have a more sophisticated approach based on an understanding and acknowledgement of human emotional development and needs. We need to
start from where people are. This isn’t to advocate reformism or liberalism or to support nationalism. It’s to stand alongside folk, acknowledge the powerful feelings that they have and then debate with them as to how best to use this
We’re up against state, corporate and right wing political machinery that does appeal to folk’s emotional make-up. They study and use the emotional and psychological against us: to ensure a steady supply of cannon-fodder for the armed forces; to persuade us to buy the latest whatever; to whip up support for the BNP. Our feelings are constantly subverted and manipulated by the elite and the powerful to meet their own ends, to maintain their own power. Thus, we on the left need to look at
the emotional and our emotional development as a legitimate site of class struggle – without diluting our revolutionary socialist convictions. As socialists we need to highlight and to emphasise that capitalists take
the emotional seriously. In fact it’s necessary for them to manipulate us emotionally so that we will accept our economic exploitation. Allegiance is a powerful emotional weapon that’s used against us. Within our class our aim as socialists is to bring about a realignment of that allegiance so that it becomes a positive force. We need to feel it and use it consciously for our own good, for our own class.
I was very pleased to be able to obtain your latest publication at Word Power. However, I was surprised that you decided to change the title. Communism is the only system that can hope to liberate humanity and republics are a vital stage on the road to emancipation. I preferred the previous title.
I can sympathise with your attitude regarding past difficulties involving Stalin, Pol Pot etc, but I still consider it necessary to promote greater objectivity. It must be remembered that right opportunism, ultra-left utopianism and Trotskyist syndicalism could not have been established in the circumstances. This paved the way for the Stalin line, which dominated revolutionary ideology, even beyond Hungry ’56. International revolution failed all over Europe between 1918 – 1938 and no one could have foreseen a Maoist victory even as late as 1945!
Stalin’s state controlled apparatus, establishing as it did a party bureaucracy, was bound to succeed despite Trotsky’s correct view that it would inevitably become counter-revolutionary. As for Pol Pot, he cannot be understood without reference to the fascist puppet Lon Nol and the saturation bombing of the whole region.
I am also concerned to promote organically viable production, which sees an end to capitalist methods in farming and transport. If the car is to survive it must be collectivised after massive reduction. It must be a state controlled vehicle serving isolated workers, nurses, doctors, etc. It must never, ever again fall into private hands.
As regards, farming we have to save Polish (etc.) methods from annihilation by the EEC and learn how to farm organically all over again. We must develop holistic medicine to a level now seen in China as regards acupuncture and herbs. This will mean applying homoeopathy on a scale never seen before. Their
patentised vaccines, minerals and plants can replace the toxic poisons pedalled for profit by capitalist controlled phoney science.
An Avid Reader
Do I detect a
Little Scotland trend in the Scottish Socialist Voice’s coverage? I submitted this short article on an important victory in the struggle against casualisation. It wasn’t printed. Although won in England, this victory is important for all UK workers, particularly in the building industry. More recently, despite the good coverage given to the Glasgow Housing Anti-Privatisation campaign, there was nothing about the campaign in Birmingham. Certainly the Glasgow vote against was very impressive considering the odds we were up against. However, the Birmingham tenants won! Surely our internationalism can extend to England, especially when we can take heart from their successes.
A Victory Against Casualisation
At a time when increasing numbers have been forced into temporary contract work over the last decade, it is a real boost to hear of a significant victory against casual labour. Even better this victory has been won in the building industry, which has long suffered under this iniquitous system. The construction employers’ neglect of pensions, sickness and holiday pay is more than matched by callous acceptance of the industrial slaughter on their unsafe sites. Between April 2000 and March 2001 alone there were 128 building worker deaths.
On January 15th, four carpenters from Northampton finally won holiday pay they were entitled to under the European Working Time Directive. They had fought for 22 months in the face of employer intimidation and the threat of the blacklist.
Byrnes Brothers, a shuttering contractor, went to great lengths to resist the men’s claims. Behind such small sub-contractors lie many large construction companies who resort to cowboy and also gangster operators, the better to avoid any real responsibility on the sites. Therefore it was not surprising that when Byrnes Brothers lost at the Industrial Tribunal last January, they should put in an appeal. They only backed down from this last September, but held up payment until further negotiations last week.
However, almost as many obstacles were put in place by the UCATT full time officials. They managed to whittle down the original 24 claimants to four. Significantly, these four Irish and Scottish carpenters were from the Northampton UCATT branch, where the rank and file Building Workers Group have been campaigning for years. The branch was not going to be fobbed off easily. The men also had the backing of the lay London and South Eastern Regional UCATT Council.
This is a significant victory. It means that European Employment Law is now enshrined in British law. Hundreds of thousands of
self employed building workers are now legally entitled to holiday pay. However, this won’t be given automatically, but will have to be fought for. The key message of the victory already gained is for members not to depend on full-timer officials but rely on their own self organisation.
The way is now open for a campaign to end the massive casualisation in the building industry. The Building Worker Group also intend to move on to direct action to stop the killings on the sites.