Mar 14 2020

THE LABOUR LEFT ALLIANCE AND ROYAL SOCIALISM

This letter by Steve Freeman is a reponse to a report by Stan Keable in Weekly Worker about the post-December 12th general election conference of  section of the Labour Left, who have become disillusioned with Momentum, John Lansman’s Corbyn fan club. Yet, as this letter shows the Labour Left Alliance retains  the weaknesses of Corbyn, his allies and Momentum when it comes to the existing UK state.

 

THE LABOUR LEFT ALLIANCE AND ROYAL SOCIALISM

 

As reported by Stan Keable in ‘A vision of royal socialism’ (Weekly Worker, February 27), the Labour Left Alliance conference was a significant event in the evolution of the Labour Left, which was revitalised by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in 2015. Stan reports that 130 delegates at the conference represented about 36 local and national Labour Left groups.

The Labour Left in England has long been ‘social-monarchist’ – or ‘old Labour’, as it was known under the reign of Tony Blair. Social monarchism is the programme based on the 1945 Labour government, which established a version of state capitalism with a ‘welfare state’ under the governance of the constitution of the crown-in-parliament, which Stan calls the “constitutional monarchist system”.

Brirish Left Corbyn’s social-monarchist programme was seen as a move towards ‘socialism’ by restoring some public ownership, the national health service, the welfare state, council housing and progressive taxation, etc. Social monarchism is the trade unionist politics of the British working class. Its aim is to bargain with the ruling class and the employers for better terms and conditions for the working class. Labour and the trade unions are thus two sides – political and economic – of a better social contract agreed within the framework of the constitution of the UK ruling class.

Momentum was launched as the support group for Corbyn’s social-monarchist programme, with Jon Lansman becoming its unelected monarch after his January 10th 2017 ‘bureaucratic coup’. Left social monarchists became increasingly disillusioned with him. This discontent was crystallised after he called for the expulsion of Chris Williamson MP. Over two years later the LLA is a potential alternative Momentum. Around 130 delegates arrived in Sheffield to launch the new organisation.

Left social monarchism has no republican democratic programme. It conceals its ‘democratic deficit’ by concentrating on or prioritising economic and social reforms. It is ‘republican’ only in a token way – as a long-term goal, when socialism is won. In the meantime, workers should bargain for social improvements and not seek political change.

A classic example of left social monarchism was in the motion from Cheltenham Labour Left, which called for a “socialist UK”. This was passed by 63 to 53 votes. It is not just that a socialist kingdom is a contradiction in terms. It shows the blind spot or lack of self-awareness of the English Labour Left. There is a complete absence or ignorance of the militant democratic republican politics of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Connolly, MacLean, etc.

Cheltenham Labour Left seems to consider the United Kingdom only as a geographical territory, which can be filled with capitalist or socialist policy content. The UK is a state and law through which the ruling class exercises its control over a given territory. In law it is an undemocratic union state, comprised of different nations. This is not the means through which the working class can socialise the economy.

A combined and uneven, democratic transformation – or democratic revolution – will not leave the current union undisturbed. The 2016 referendum on the European Union has already shown that Ireland and Scotland are on a different trajectory. English left social monarchists haven’t noticed this – much less drawn any political conclusions.

It is significant that of the 10 bullet points with which Stan sums up the political achievements of the Sheffield conference, nine were organisational and only one set a strategic political goal. This stated that the LLA stands for the “free movement of people”.

It seems that Labour Party Marxists played an important role in supporting the organisation of left social monarchists. Their aim was to win the Labour Party to communism, with the LLA as a vehicle for a united front of communists and left social monarchists. With this in mind the London LLA, under the influence of the Labour Party Marxists, proposed that communism should be the aim.

This is in the resolution from London LLA on aims and principles. This called for “opposition to capitalism, imperialism, racism and militarism and the ecological degradation of the planet … a commitment to socialism as the rule of the working class”. This would move towards full communism as “a stateless, classless, moneyless society”, carrying out the communist principle of “From each according to their abilities … etc”.

The communist programme from London LLA was voted down by about two-thirds to one-third of delegates. The influence of social monarchism runs deep in the Labour Left. Stan fails to mention that hidden within the London LLA aims was a democratic republican programme.

This calls for “achieving a democratic republic. The standing army, the monarchy, the House of Lords and the state sponsorship of the Church of England must go. We support a single-chamber parliament, proportional representation and annual elections”. Whilst this is supportable, it falls down badly in its implicit acceptance of English nationalism (i.e. Anglo-British nationalism).

England is by far the dominant nation in the British union. No revolutionary working class republican would ignore the right of Ireland, Scotland and Wales to self-determination. Neither would militant republicans give any support whatsoever to the anti-democratic Acts of Union. Supporting British unionism is the litmus test of English social chauvinism.

The conclusion from Sheffield must be that the Labour left is disorientated by Corbyn’s defeat but is still following the political programme of social monarchism. Counterposing the communist maximum programme to this simply lets Labour Left reformism off the hook. The immediate task is not about communism but taking the only road towards it through consistent working class democracy – which means winning the working class to the minimum republican programme.

 

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This was first posted in Weekly Worker:-

https://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/1289/letters/

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also see:-

Steve Freeman – The Left Unity Conference, 2018

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2018/07/18/left-unity-conference-20-6-18/

Allan Armstrong – The Impact of the December 12th Genera Election across the constituent parts of the UK

THE IMPACT OF THE DECEMBER 12TH GENERAL ELECTION ACROSS THE CONSTITUENT PARTS OF THE UK

Allan Armstrong – After Boris’s ‘Coup’, Let’s Fuk it – It’s the Constitution Stupid

http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2019/08/30/after-boriss-coup-lets-fuk-it-its-the-constitution-stupid/

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Oct 03 2018

THE IHRA AND APARTHEID ISRAEL

We are posting three pieces following the Labour Party’s adoption of the IHTA statement on Anti-Semitism. the first is by Moshe Machover, founder member of the socialist Matzpen Party in Israel, who successfully resisted  a joint Zionist and Labour Right attempt to have him expelled from the  Labour Party. The second is by a Shahd Abuslama, a Palestinian artist at Sheffield University. The third is a statement from Radical Independence Campaign’s Edinburgh branch.

 

1. WHY ISRAEL IS A RACIST STATE

Moshe Machover

That Israel is a racist state is a well-established fact. On July On July 19 2018, it enacted a quasi-constitutional nationality bill – ‘Basic law: Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people’ – which has been widely condemned as institutionalising discrimination against Israel’s non-Jewish citizens. As many have observed, this law merely codifies and formalises a reality that long predates it.(1) Continue reading “THE IHRA AND APARTHEID ISRAEL”

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Sep 11 2018

EDINBURGH OCTOBER 6th – A RALLYING CALL FOR THE LEFT

Allan Armstrong puts the case for building a Scottish-wide Left contingent on the ‘All Under One Banner’ march in Edinburgh on October 6th

 

EDINBURGH OCTOBER 6th – A RALLYING CALL FOR THE LEFT

 

35,000 in Glasgow, 10,000 in Inverness, 13,000 in Dumfries and 16,000 in Dundee – ‘All Under One Banner ‘ clearly represents something significant in Scottish politics. However it requires an examination of a wider politics going back to 2014 to appreciate the nature of this phenomenon.

A thwarted democratic revolution

If we look at the Indy Ref1 campaign we can see that it represented a democratic revolution, with 85% actually voting, following a registration drive which drew in 97% of the potential electorate. This was something unprecedented in UK politics. Continue reading “EDINBURGH OCTOBER 6th – A RALLYING CALL FOR THE LEFT”

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May 10 2018

LABOUR EXPEL LEADING ANTI-RACIST FROM PARTY TO APPEASE THE RIGHT

We are reposting this article by Tony Greenstein, writing on the sacrifice of an outstanding anti-racist, Marc Wadsworth for having dared to criticise a pro-Israel MP. 

CORBYN GROW A BACKBONE

Marc Wadswoth, leading anti-racist campaigner expelled form the Labour Party by the Right

Watching the uncritical acceptance by Jeremy Corbyn’s office of the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth is like watching someone slowly committing suicide oblivious to all offers of help. The inability of Corbyn to confront the pro-Israel lobby, which is so desperate to find ‘anti-Semitism’ that it creates a wholly artificial furore over a six-year old mural, is as bewildering as it is depressing. It is as if Corbyn’s ‘director of strategy and communications’, Seamus Milne, has a death wish.

The decision by the National Kangaroo Committee to expel longstanding black anti-racist activist, Marc Wadsworth, is shameful. The role of Corbyn’s office, which tried to get Marc to call off Labour Against the Witchhunt’s lobby of the hearing, to which Smeeth was accompanied by a parliamentary lynch mob, was cowardly. It does not seem to occur to Corbyn that those supporting Smeeth – eg, Wes Streeting, John Mann, Jess Phillips, Joan Ryan, Luciana Berger – are the same creatures that have dedicated themselves to overthrowing him. Continue reading “LABOUR EXPEL LEADING ANTI-RACIST FROM PARTY TO APPEASE THE RIGHT”

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Apr 22 2018

20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT

We are posting this article on the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement from Socialist Democracy (Ireland). 

 

CLINTON AND BLAIR CELEBRATE SUCCESS

20th Anniversary of Good Friday Agreement

 

Aren’t we still great

In some Roman societies of late antiquity, after a death the body would remain for a time in the family home.  It would be placed in a sarcophagus and treated as still present in the family.  A rich individual would have a funeral mask painted on the face of the sarcophagus and triumphs and achievements carved in bas-relief around the sides.  Both image and carvings would be enhanced to exaggerate the importance of the individual and his achievements. Continue reading “20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT”

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Aug 17 2017

A CRITIQUE OF JEREMY CORBYN AND BRITISH LEFT SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, Part 3

 

This is the third part of A Critique of Jeremy Corbyn and British Left Social Democracy, written by Allan Armstrong. The first part can be read at:- http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2017/08/09/a-critique-of-jeremy-corbyn-and-british-left-social-democracy/and the second part can be read at:- http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2017/08/11/a-critique-of-jeremy-corbyn-and-british-left-social-democracy-part-2/

 

3. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, OFFICIAL AND DISSIDENT COMMUNISM

AND A POLITICS BASED ON EMANCIPATION, LIBERATION AND SELF DETERMINATION

 

Contents of part 3

 a.     The limits placed on social democracy during a crisis of global capitalism

 b.     From revolutionary democratic social democracy to existing state-accommodating reformist social  democracy

 c.     A further shift in the meaning of social democracy; the brief emergence of an alternative revolutionary democratic communism; and the descent to state-backed official communism and dissident communism

 d.     Social democracy and official communism morph into social neo-liberalism

 e.     From social liberalism to populism

 

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a.     The limits placed on social democracy during a crisis of global capitalism

i.       We are living through a period of unprecedented global crisis – political, economic, social, and cultural. This means that ideas will be tested continuously. A democratic party based on the exploited and oppressed will have people from a whole number of tendencies – communist (as outlined in 2.f.iii), republican socialist, social democratic, movementist, green socialist, socialist feminist, environmental, etc. Continue reading “A CRITIQUE OF JEREMY CORBYN AND BRITISH LEFT SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, Part 3”

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Aug 09 2017

A CRITIQUE OF JEREMY CORBYN AND BRITISH LEFT SOCIAL DEMOCRACY

Socialists are now confronted with the unexpected rise of Jeremy Corbyn and the re-emergence of British Left social democracy. This first part of this article by Allan Armstrong will examine the significance of this and make a critical appraisal of their future prospects in the face of the current global multi-faceted political, economic, social, cultural and environmental crisis.

Contents of Part 1

   1.      From May 2007 to June 2017 – the SNP rules the social democratic roost in  Scotland.

   2.     The rise of Jeremy Corbyn and British Left social democracy

   3.     The prospects for Corbyn and British Left social democracy when handling economic and social issues

   4.    The limitations of Corbyn and British Left social democracy when dealing with matters of state

             A.  Brexit

             B. The National Question

a.  Conservative, liberal and unionist attempts to maintain the unity of the UK state since the nineteenth  century

               b.  Corbyn and the National Question in Ireland

               c.  Corbyn and the National Question in Scotland

               d.  Corbyn and the National Question in Wales

 

 

1. From May 2007 to June 2017 – the SNP rules the social democratic roost in Scotland

i.     Following the demise of New Labour and its successor, ‘One Nation’ Labour, the SNP has been the most effective upholder of social democracy in the UK. In 2007, the SNP won 363 council seats; 425 in 2012, and 431 in 2017. In 2007, the SNP won 47 MSPs; 69 in 2011; and 63 in 2016, (still easily the largest party at Holyrood). In 2010, the SNP won 6 MPs; 56 out of 59 in 2015, but fell back to 35 in 2017 (still having the largest number of MPs from Scotland by some way). Continue reading “A CRITIQUE OF JEREMY CORBYN AND BRITISH LEFT SOCIAL DEMOCRACY”

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Mar 29 2017

BEING ANTI-TRUMP ISN’T ENOUGH

David Broder, now a member of the editorial board of Historical Materialism, contibruted the Global Commune* events  organised in Edinburgh by the RCN in 2010.  David now lives in Italy and has written the following article about how socialists should relate to Trump, after the dismal experience of the Left’s response  in Italy to the rise and fall of Silvio Berlusconi. We would like to thank David and Bhaskar Sunkhara, editor of  the US magazine, Jacobin, for permission to  post this article, which is can also be found in the current issue 24 of Jacobin.

 

Berlusconi and Trump drink to a Left-free future

BEING ANTI-TRUMP ISN’T ENOUGH

Just months after the left seemed poised for a historic breakthrough, a shock national vote brought a dangerous reactionary to power. Smashing open the old party of the Right, the billionaire tycoon’s populism surfed a wave of anger against the corrupt elite that had long controlled the political center. Making government the stage for a permanent public performance, this curiously wealthy popular champion radically reshaped the country’s political life.
Continue reading “BEING ANTI-TRUMP ISN’T ENOUGH”

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Dec 03 2016

WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’?

Allan Armstrong, of the Campaign for a European Republican Socialist Party, draws some political conclusions from the online discussion (http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2016/11/20/from-farages-brexit-to-trumps-brexit-plus-plus-plus-and-on-to-madame-frexit/)  of the political situation in the UK in the aftermath of the Trump vote. 

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WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’? 

a) Brexit and the change in British ruling class thinking

Since the Brexit vote, the Tories, under Theresa May’s leadership, have been moving away from the recently shared politics of the majority of the British ruling class and mainstream British political parties. A central feature of these politics was based upon the globalised neo-liberal economics pushed by Margaret Thatcher, in the interests of a turbo-charged City of London. The City had really taken off after Nigel Lawson’s ‘Big Bang’ deregulation in 1983. Following New Labour’s 1996 election victory, they adopted the same unquestioning pro-City path. This was shown when Chancellor Gordon Brown abolished the few remaining government controls over the City’s operations. Under Tony Blair, Butskellism gave way to Blatcherism.
Continue reading “WHICH WAY NOW – ‘BREXIT’ OR ‘EX-BRIT’?”

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Aug 29 2016

THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE CONVENTION MARK 2 – ANOTHER COVER FOR THE SNP LEADERSHIP?

The Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) is to be relaunched in Glasgow on Sunday, September 18th. This body was first constituted on November 30th, 2005, on the initiative of the Scottish Socialist Party. The SNP gave its support, but then ensured that it was kept firmly at arm’s length whilst the party developed its own links with big business, and further accommodated to US and British imperial interests.

When the  SNP leadership eventually launched its own front campaign, ‘Yes Scotland’, in Edinburgh on 25th May 2012, the SIC took no part in this decision. For the SNP, the main purpose of SIC had been to tie up the Left and to prevent a republican alternative from emerging  – although the split that had occurred in the SSP certainly helped them in this endeavour.

Below we are republishing a pamphlet published in 2006 in response to the first SIC. This was produced by the RCN Platform in the SSP. The article anticipates some of the retreats the SNP went on to make to gain respectability, e.g. the climbdown over NATO.

Although today’s political situation is not the same as in 2005, there are still many things to be learned from this particular attempt to subordinate any independent class initiative to the political requirements of an SNP leadership, which represents the interests of a wannabe Scottish ruling class in the making.

th-1

 

 THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE CONVENTION –

COMMITTING THE SSP TO A NATIONALIST STRATEGY?

 

Introduction

The RCN has been pushing the SSP (and its predecessor the Scottish Socialist Alliance) to adopt a republican and internationalist strategy in Scotland since its inception. We initiated the 2005 SSP Conference motion, which was passed by a large majority of delegates.
Continue reading “THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE CONVENTION MARK 2 – ANOTHER COVER FOR THE SNP LEADERSHIP?”

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