Coventry joins worldwide protests against Trump inauguration

Coventry joins worldwide protests against Trump inauguration

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Coventry protest against Donald Trump

A protest was held in Coventry tonight as part of international demonstrations against the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the United States.

Thousands of protest events are taking place around the world, including many in the United States itself. Working class people are standing together in solidarity against the agenda of Trump which seeks to divide ordinary people.

Earlier in the day Socialist Students at Warwick University initiated a protest as part of joint action between Socialist Students in the UK and USA, along with our comrades of the Sindicato de Estudiates (Students Union) in Spain and CEDEP (Committee for the Defence of Public Education) in Mexico.

Speakers from UNISON, NUT, Coventry TUC, Momentum and the Socialist Party all spoke in support of the growing global movement against Trump. Socialists also outlined how the record of Obama and the Democrats in office helped pave the way for a Trump victory whilst pointing out that Hillary Clinton was the favoured candidate of Wall Street and the 1 per cent.

We need to fight not only Trump but the system that created him. The way to beat Trump and his ilk is through socialist policies that can challenge the rule of the capitalist system that sees 8 people own as much wealth as half the world’s population.

Solidarity from Coventry to all those joining the movement against Trump and capitalism!

Eight billionaires own as much wealth as half the planet – the real face of capitalism

Eight billionaires own as much wealth as half the planet – the real face of capitalism

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Poster produced by the Socialist Party in Ireland

A report published by Oxfam today has once again laid bare the growing gap between the richest and poorest people in the world. Just eight billionaires own the same amount as the poorest half of the world’s population – that’s 3.6 billion people.

Even the capitalists are starting to realise that growing inequality represents a threat to their system. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report for 2017 placed inequality at the top of the list of threats facing society. But despite this realisation, under capitalism the wealth of the super-rich and the gap between “them and us” will inevitably continue to grow. Even during the financial crisis Britain’s billionaires doubled their wealth between 2009 and 2015!

Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring says that this shocking inequality shows that “our economics is broken”, and argued for “a more human economy”. But the system isn’t broken – capitalism is designed to make the rich richer, and it’s doing that perfectly. This report lays out the problem clearly – but its proposed reforms don’t address the fundamental issue of who controls the wealth in society. Workers create the wealth in society, but the super-rich keep it – to change this system we need to take the wealth off the 1%, and fight for a socialist system that will mean we can plan the world’s resources for the majority of people!

Are you angry at inequality? Do you want to join us in fighting the system that creates it? Fill in the form below!

 

Today in history – the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht

Today in history – the murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht

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Karl and Rosa

On this day (15th Jan) in 1919 the two main leaders of the revolutionary movement in Germany, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, were murdered. We are pleased to republish this article by Peter Taaffe written on the 90th anniversary of their deaths. If we are to successfully change society then we need to study previous socialist movements to understand the lessons for today. We honour Karl and Rosa, like all of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in trying to get rid of this capitalist system which offers us nothing but war, poverty and destruction.


90th anniversary of murder of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht

On 15 January 1919, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, the finest brains of the German working class and its most heroic figures, were brutally murdered by the bloodthirsty, defeated German military, backed to the hilt by the cowardly social-democratic leaders Noske and Scheidemann. On this important anniversary, it is vital to look at Luxemburg’s inspirational, revolutionary legacy.

Their murders, carried out by the soldier Otto Runge, were decisive in the defeat of the German revolution but were also indissolubly linked to the victory of Hitler and the Nazis 14 years later. Wilhelm Canaris, the naval officer who assisted the escape of one of Rosa’s murderers, 20 years later was to command the Abwehr, German military intelligence, under the Nazis. Other luminaries of the Nazi regime were similarly ‘blooded’ at this time for the future murderous activities in their own country and throughout Europe. Von Faupel, the officer who, at the time, tricked the delegates to the recently-formed workers and soldiers’ councils, 20 years later was Hitler’s ambassador to Franco’s Spain. The political power behind the throne to better-known generals was Major Kurt von Schleicher, who became German Chancellor in 1932 and a gateman for Hitler and the Nazis. But if the German revolution had triumphed then history would not, in all probability, have known these figures or the horrors of fascism. Rosa Luxemburg, as a top leader and theoretician of Marxism, could have played a crucial, not to say decisive, role in subsequent events up to 1923 and the victory of the revolution if she had not been cruelly cut down.

Karl Liebknecht is correctly bracketed with Luxemburg as the heroic mass figure who stood out against the German war machine and symbolised to the troops in the blood-soaked trenches, not just Germans but French and others, as an indefatigable, working-class, internationalist opponent of the First World War. His famous call – “The main enemy is at home” – caught the mood, particularly as the mountain of corpses rose during the war.

But Rosa Luxemburg, on this anniversary, deserves special attention because of the colossal contribution she made to the understanding of Marxist ideas, theory and their application to the real movement of the working class. Many have attacked Rosa Luxemburg for her ‘false methods’, particularly her alleged lack of understanding of the need for a ‘revolutionary party’ and organisation. Among them were Stalin and Stalinists in the past. Others claim Rosa Luxemburg as their own because of her emphasis on the ‘spontaneous role of the working class’ that seems to correspond to an ‘anti-party mood’, particularly amongst the younger generation, which is, in turn, a product of the feeling of revulsion at the bureaucratic heritage of Stalinism and its echoes in the ex-social democratic parties. But an all-sided analysis of Rosa Luxemburg’s ideas, taking into account the historical situation in which her ideas matured and developed, demonstrates that the claims of both of these camps are false.

She made mistakes: “Show me someone who never makes a mistake and I will show you a fool.” Yet here is a body of work of which, read even today almost 100 years later, is fresh and relevant – particularly when contrasted to the stale ideas of the tops of the ‘modern’ labour movement. They can enlighten us particularly the new generation who are moving towards socialist and Marxist ideas. For instance, her pamphlet ‘Reform and Revolution’ is not just a simple exposition of the general ideas of Marxism counterposed to reformist, incremental changes to effect socialist change. It was written in opposition to the main theoretician of ‘revisionism’, Eduard Bernstein. Like the labour and trade union leaders to day – although he was originally a Marxist, indeed a friend of the co-founder of scientific socialism, Friedrich Engels – Bernstein under the pressure of the boom of the late 1890s and first part of the 20th century, attempted to ‘revise’ the ideas of Marxism, which would in effect have nullified them. His famous aphorism, “The movement is everything, the final goal nothing,” represented an attempt to reconcile the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) with what was an expanding capitalism at that stage.

Rosa Luxemburg, as had Lenin and Trotsky, not only refuted Bernstein’s ideas but in an incisive analysis adds to our understanding of capitalism then, and to some extent today, the relationship between reform and revolution (which should not be counterposed to each other from a Marxist point of view) and many other issues. She wrote: “What proves best the falseness of Bernstein’s theory is that it is in the countries having the greatest development of the famous “means of adaptation” – credit, perfected communications and trusts – that the last crisis (1907-1908) was most violent.” Shades of today’s world economic crisis, particularly as it affects the most debt-soaked economies of the US and Britain?

Social democracy supports the war

Moreover, Luxemburg was amongst the very few who recognised the ideological atrophy of German social democracy prior to the First World War. This culminated in the catastrophe of the SPD deputies in the Reichstag (parliament) – with the original single exception of Karl Liebknecht – voting for war credits for German imperialism. The leaders of the SPD, along with the trade union leaders, had become accustomed to compromise and negotiations within the framework of rising capitalism. This meant that the prospects for socialism, specifically the socialist revolution, were relegated to the mists of time in their consciousness.

This was reinforced by the growth in the weight of the SPD within German society. It was virtually “a state within a state”, with over one million members in 1914, 90 daily newspapers, 267 full-time journalists and 3,000 manual and clerical workers, managers, commercial directors and representatives. In addition it had over 110 deputies in the Reichstag and 220 deputies in the various Landtags (state parliaments) as well as almost 3,000 elected municipal councillors. Apart from in 1907, the SPD seemed to progress remorselessly in electoral contests. There were at least 15,000 full-time officials under the sway of the SPD in the trade unions. This was, in the words of Ruth Fischer, a future leader of the Communist Party of Germany, a “way of life… The individual worker lived in his party, the party penetrated into the workers’ everyday habits. His ideas, his reactions, his attitudes, were formed out of the integration of his personal and his collective.” This represented both a strength and a weakness. A strength because the increasing power of the working class was reflected in the SPD and the unions. But this was combined with the smothering of this very power, an underestimation by the SPD leaders, indeed a growing hostility to the revolutionary possibilities which would inevitability break out at some future date.

Rosa Luxemburg increasingly came into collision with the SPD machine, whose stultifying conservative effect she contrasted to the social explosions in the first Russian revolution of 1905-07. Luxemburg was a real internationalist; a participant in the revolutionary movement in three countries. Originally a Pole, she was a founder of the Social Democratic party of the Kingdom of Poland (SDKP), in the Russian movement as a participant in the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) and a naturalised German and prominent member of the SPD. She contrasted the flair and energy from below in Russia, witnessed at first hand, to the weight the increasingly bureaucratic machine of the party and unions in Germany, which could prove to be a colossal obstacle to the working class taking power, she argued, in the event of a revolutionary eruption.

In this sense, she was more farsighted even than Lenin, who passionately absorbed in Russian affairs and who saw the SPD as the ‘model’ for all the parties of the Second International, and its leaders, such as Kautsky, as teachers. Trotsky pointed out: “Lenin considered Kautsky as his teacher and stressed this everywhere he could. In Lenin’s work of that period and for a number of years following, one does not find a trace of criticism in principle directed against the Bebel-Kautsky tendency.” Indeed, Lenin thought that Luxemburg’s increasing criticisms of Kautsky and the SPD leadership were somewhat exaggerated. In fact, in his famous work, ‘Two Tactics of Russian Social Democracy” of 1905, Lenin wrote: “When and where did I ever call the revolutionism of Bebel and Kautsky ‘opportunism’? … When and where have there been brought to light differences between me, on the one hand, and Bebel and Kautsky on the other? … The complete unanimity of international revolutionary Social Democracy on all major questions of programme and tactics is a most incontrovertible fact.”

Lenin recognised that there would be opportunist trends within mass parties of the working class but he compared the Mensheviks in Russia not with Kautskyism but with the right-wing revisionism of Bernstein. That lasted right up to the German social democrats’ infamous vote in favour of war credits on 4 August 1914. With the initial exception of Liebknecht and later Otto Rühle, they were the only two out of 110 SPD deputies who voted against. Indeed, when Lenin was presented with an issue of the SPD paper, ‘Vorwärts’, supporting war credits, he first of all considered it a ‘forgery’ of the German military general staff. Rosa Luxemburg was not so unprepared, as she had been involved in a protracted struggle, not just with the right-wing SPD leaders but also with the ‘left’ and ‘centrist’ elements, like Kautsky.

Trotsky also, in his famous book, ‘Results and Prospects’ (1906), in which the Theory of the Permanent Revolution was first outlined, did have a perception of what could take place: “The European Socialist Parties, particularly the largest of them, the German Social-Democratic Party, have developed their conservatism in proportion as the great masses have embraced socialism and the more these masses have become organized and disciplined… Social Democracy as an organization embodying the political experience of the proletariat may at a certain moment become a direct obstacle to open conflict between the workers and bourgeois reaction.” In his autobiography, ‘My Life’, Trotsky subsequently wrote: “I did not expect the official leaders of the International, in case of war, to prove themselves capable of serious revolutionary initiative. At the same time, I could not even admit the idea that the Social Democracy would simply cower on its belly before a nationalist militarism.”

Spontaneous mass action

It was these factors, the immense power of the social democracy, on the one side, and the inertia of its top-heavy bureaucracy in the face of looming sharp changes in the situation in Germany and Europe, on the other side, which led to one of Luxemburg’s best-known works, ‘The Mass Strike’ (1906). This was a summing up of the first Russian revolution from which Luxemburg drew both political and organisational conclusions. It is a profoundly interesting analysis of the role of the masses as the driving force, of their ‘spontaneous’ character in the process of revolution. In emphasising the independent movement and will of the working class against “the line and march of officialdom”, she was undoubtedly correct in a broad historical sense.

Indeed, many revolutions have been made in the teeth of opposition and even sabotage of the leaders of the workers’ own organisations. This was seen in the revolutionary events of 1936 in Spain. While the workers of Madrid initially demonstrated for arms and their socialist leaders refused to supply them, the workers of Barcelona – freed from the inhibitions towards ‘leaders’ – rose ‘spontaneously and smashed Franco’s forces within 48 hours. This ignited a social revolution which swept through Catalonia and Aragon to the gates of Madrid, with four fifths of Spain initially in the hands of the working class. In Chile in 1973, on the other hand, where the working class listened to their leadership and remained in the factories as Pinochet announced his coup, the most militant workers were systematically rounded up and slaughtered.

We also saw, without a ‘by-your-leave’ to their leaders, a spontaneous revolutionary explosion in France in 1968 when 10 million workers occupied factories for a month. The leaders of the French Communist Party and the ‘Socialist’ Federation, rather than seeking victory through a revolutionary programme of workers’ councils and a workers and farmers’ government, lent all their efforts to derailing this magnificent movement. Similarly, in Portugal, in 1974, a revolution not only swept away the Caetano dictatorship but meant that, in its first period, an absolute majority of votes to those standing in elections under a socialist or communist banner. This led in 1975 to the expropriation of the majority of industry. The Times (London) declared that “capitalism is dead in Portugal”. This proved not to be so, unfortunately, because the initiatives from below by the working class, and the opportunities they generated, were squandered. This was because there was no coherent and sufficiently influential mass party and leadership capable of drawing all the threads together and establishing a democratic workers’ state. These examples show that the spontaneous movement of the working class is not sufficient in itself to guarantee victory in a brutal struggle against capitalism.

The ‘spontaneous’ character of the German revolution was evident in November 1918. This spontaneous eruption of the masses, moreover, flew in the face of everything that the social-democratic leaders wanted or desired. Even the creation before this of the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD), which came from a split in the SPD in 1917, arose not from any conscious policy of its leaders – including Kautsky and Rudolf Hilferding, as well as the arch-revisionist Bernstein. It developed because of the indignation and revolt of the working class at the SPD’s executive throttling within the party of all objections and resistance to their policy on the war. This split was neither prepared nor desired by these ‘oppositionists’. Nevertheless, they took with them 120,000 members and a number of newspapers.

The general strike

Connected to Rosa Luxemburg’s emphasis on ‘spontaneity’ was the issue of the general strike. Basing herself on the mass strikes of the Russian revolution, she nevertheless adopted a certain passive and fatalistic approach on this issue. To some extent, this later affected the leaders of the Communist Party (KPD) after her death. Rosa Luxemburg correctly emphasised that a revolution could not be made artificially, outside of a maturing of the objective circumstances that allowed this possibility.

However, the role of what Marxists describe as the ‘subjective factor’, a mass party, far-sighted leadership, etc, is crucial in transforming a revolutionary situation into a successful revolution. So is timing, as the opportunity for a successful social overturn can last for a short time. If the opportunity is lost, it may not recur for a long time, and the working class can suffer a defeat. Therefore, at a crucial time, a definite timeframe, a correct leadership, can help the working class to take power. Such was the role of the Bolsheviks in the 1917 Russian revolution.

The opposite was the case in 1923 in Germany. The opportunity of following the example of the Bolsheviks was posed but lost because of the hesitation of the KPD leaders, who were supported in this wrong policy by, among others, Stalin. This was partly conditioned by historical experience until then, in which ‘partial general strike action’ featured in the struggles of the working class in the decades prior to the First World War. In this period, there were instances where governments took fright at the general strike at its very outset, without provoking the masses to open class conflict, and made concessions. This was the situation following the Belgian general strike in 1893, called by the Belgian Labour Party with 300,000 workers participating, including left-wing Catholic groups. A general strike, on a much bigger scale, took place in Russia, in October 1905, on which Rosa Luxemburg comments. Under the pressure of the strike, the Tsarist regime made constitutional ‘concessions’ in 1905.

The situation following the First World War – a period of revolution and counter-revolution – was entirely different to this, with the general strike posing more sharply the question of power. The issue of the general strike is of exceptional importance for Marxists. We do not have a fetish about the general strike. In some instances, it is an inappropriate weapon; at the time of General Lavr Kornilov’s march against Petrograd in August 1917, neither the Bolsheviks nor the soviets (workers’ councils) thought of declaring a general strike. On the contrary, the railway workers continued to work so that could transport the opponents of Kornilov and derail his forces. Workers in the factories continued to work too, except those who had left to fight Kornilov. At the time of the October revolution, in 1917, there was again no talk of a general strike. The Bolsheviks enjoyed mass support and under those conditions calling a general strike would have weakened them and not the capitalist enemy. On the railways, in the factories and offices, the workers assisted the uprising to overthrow capitalism and establish a democratic workers’ state.

In today’s era, a general strike, ‘generally’, is an ‘either-or’ issue where an alternative workers’ government is implicit in the situation. In the 1926 general strike in Britain, the issue of power was posed, where ‘dual power’ existed for nine days. In 1968, in France, the biggest general strike in history posed the question of power but for the reasons explained above, the working class did not seize it.

The German revolution of 1918-1924 also witnessed general strikes and partial attempts in this direction. The Kapp putsch in March 1920, when the director of agriculture of Prussia, who represented the Junkers and highly-placed imperial civil servants, took power with the support of the generals, was met with one of the most complete general strikes in history. Like France in 1968, the government “could not get a single poster printed” as the working class paralysed the government and the state. This putsch lasted for a grand total of 100 hours! Yet even with this stunning display of the power of the working class, it did not lead to a socialist overturn, precisely because of the absence of a mass party and leadership capable of mobilising the masses and establishing an alternative democratic workers’ state. In fact, the erstwhile followers of Luxemburg in the newly-formed Communist Party made ultra-left mistakes in not initially supporting and strengthening the mass actions against Kapp.

The role of a revolutionary party

The issue of leadership and the need for a party is central to an estimation of Rosa Luxemburg’s life and work. It would be entirely one-sided to accuse her, as has been attempted by some critics of both her and Trotsky, of ‘underestimating’ the need for a revolutionary party. Indeed, her whole life within the SPD was bent towards rescuing the revolutionary kernel within this organisation from reformism and centrism. Moreover, she herself built up a very ‘rigid, independent organisation’, that is a party, with her co-worker Leo Jogiches in Poland. However, her revulsion at the ossified character of the SPD and its ‘centralism’ meant that she did, on occasion, ‘bend the stick too far’ the other way. She was critical of Lenin’s attempt to create in Russia a democratic party but one that was ‘centralised’.

On the split between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks, Luxembourg she was a ‘conciliator’ in her approach, as was Trotsky (shown in his participation in the ‘August bloc’). She sought unity between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in Russia. But after the Bolsheviks had won four fifths of the organised workers in Russia by 1912 a formal split took place between them and the Mensheviks. Lenin understood before others that the Mensheviks were not prepared for a struggle going beyond the framework of Russian landlordism and capitalism. Lenin’s approach was vindicated in the Russian revolution, with the Mensheviks ending up on the other side of the barricades. Following the 1917 Russian revolution, Rosa Luxemburg did come close to Bolshevism subsequently and became part of its international trend, as did Trotsky.

The main charge that can be made against Luxemburg, however, is that she did not sufficiently organise a clearly delineated trend against both the right of the SPD and the centrists of Kautsky. There were some criticisms both at the time and later that suggested that Luxemburg and her ‘Sparticist’ followers should have immediately split with the SPD leaders, certainly following their betrayal at the outset of the First World War. Indeed Lenin, as soon as he was convinced of the betrayal of social democracy – including the ‘renegade Kautsky’ – called for an immediate split, accompanying this with a call for a new, Third International. A political ‘split’ was undoubtedly required, both from the right and ‘left’ SPD. Rosa did this, characterising the social democracy as a “rotten corpse”.

The organisational conclusion from this was of a tactical rather than a principled character. Moreover, hindsight is wonderful when dealing with real historical problems. Rosa Luxemburg confronted a different objective situation to that facing the Bolsheviks in Russia. Spending most of their history in the underground, with a relatively smaller organisation of cadres, the Bolsheviks necessarily acquired a high degree of ‘centralisation’, without, at the same time, abandoning very strong democratic procedures. There was also the tumultuous history of the Marxist and workers’ movement in Russia, conditioned by the experience of the struggle against Narodya Volya (People’s Will), the ideas of terrorism, the 1905 and 1917 revolutions, the split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, the first world war, etc. Rosa Luxemburg confronted an entirely different situation, as a minority, and somewhat isolated in a ‘legal’ mass party with all the attributes described above.

Although she was a naturalised German citizen, Luxemburg was considered an ‘outsider’, particularly when she came into conflict with the SPD leadership. Indeed, despite this, Luxemburg’s courage and fortitude shines through when one reads the speeches and criticisms that she made of the party leadership over years. She criticised the “clinging mists of parliamentary cretinism”, what would be called “electoralism” at the present time. She even lacerated August Bebel, the ‘centrist’ party leader who increasingly “could only hear with his right ear”. At one stage, accompanied by Clara Zetkin, she said to Bebel: “Yes, you can write our epitaph: ‘Here lie the last two men of German social democracy’.” She castigated the SPD’s trailing after middle-class leaders in an excellent aphorism appropriate to those who support coalitionism today. She wrote that it was necessary “to act on progressives and possibly even liberals, than to act with them”.

But a vital element of Marxism, in developing political influence through a firm organisation or a party, was not sufficiently developed by Rosa Luxemburg or her supporters. This does not have to take the form necessarily, on all occasions, of a separate ‘party’. But a firmly-organised nucleus is essential in preparing for the future. This, Luxemburg did not achieve, which was to have serious consequences later with the outbreak of the German revolution. Rosa Luxemburg and Leo Jogiches correctly opposed “premature splits”. Luxemburg wrote: “It was always possible to walk out of small sects or small coteries, and, if one does not want to stay there, to apply oneself to building new sects and new coteries. But it is only an irresponsible daydream to want to liberate the whole mass of the working class from the very weighty and dangerous yoke of the bourgeoisie by a simple ‘walk out’.”

Working in mass organisations

Such an approach is entirely justified when a long-term strategy is pursued by Marxists within mass parties. Such was the approach of Militant, now the Socialist Party, when it worked successfully within the Labour Party, in the 1980s, in Britain. Militant established perhaps the most powerful position for Trotskyists, in Western Europe at least, probably since the development of the international Left Opposition.

But such an approach – justified at one historical period – can be a monumental error at another, when conditions change and particularly when abrupt revolutionary breaks are posed. Rosa Luxemburg and Jogiches could not be faulted for seeking to organise within the social democracy for as long as possible and, for that matter, the USPD later. Indeed, Lenin, in his eagerness to create mass communist parties in the aftermath of the Russian revolution, was sometimes a little impatient and premature in his suggestions for splitting from social-democratic organisations. He proposed a rapid split of the communists from the French Socialist Party in 1920 but changed his mind after Alfred Rosmer, in Moscow during that year, suggested that the Marxists would need more time to bring over the majority to the stand of the Communist (Third) International.

Even Lenin, while proposing a split from the Second International and the formation of the Third International, following the August 1914 debacle, was even prepared to amend his position if events did not work out as he envisaged. For instance, on the issue of the Third International he wrote: “The immediate future will show whether conditions have already ripened for the formation of a new, Marxist International… If they have not, it will show that a more or less prolonged evolution is needed for this purging. In that case, our Party will be the extreme opposition within the old International – until a base is formed in different countries for an international working men’s association that stands on the basis of revolutionary Marxism.” When the floodgates of revolution were thrown open in February 1917 in Russia, and the masses poured onto the political arena, even the Bolsheviks – despite their previous history – had about 1% support in the soviets, and 4% by April 1917.

The real weakness of Luxemburg and Jogiches was not that they refused to split but that in the entire preceding historical period they were not organised as a clearly-defined trend in social democracy preparing for the revolutionary outbursts upon which the whole of Rosa Luxemburg’s work for more than 10 years was based. The same charge – only with more justification – could be levelled at those left and even Marxist currents that work or have worked in broad formations, sometimes in new parties. They have invariably been indistinguishable politically from the reformist or centrist leaders. This was the case in Italy in the PRC where the Mandelites (now organised outside in Sinistra Critica) were supporters of the ‘majority’ of Bertinotti until they were ejected and then left the party. The SWP’s German organisation (Linksruck, now Marx 21) pursues a similar policy within Die Linke (the Left party) today as the left boot of the party and consequently will not gain substantially.

Luxemburg politically did not act like this but she did not draw all the organisational conclusions, as had Lenin, in preparing a steeled cadre, a framework for a future mass organisation, in preparation for the convulsive events that subsequently developed in Germany. It was this aspect that Lenin subjected to criticism in his comments on Rosa Luxemburg’s’ Junius’ pamphlet, published in 1915. Lenin conceded that this was a “splendid Marxist work” although he argued against confusing opposition to the First World War, which was imperialist in character, and legitimate wars of national liberation. But Lenin, while praising Luxemburg’s pamphlet, also comments that it “conjures up in our mind the picture of a lone man [he did not know Rosa was the author] who has no comrades in an illegal organisation accustomed to thinking out revolutionary slogans to their conclusion and systematically educating the masses in their spirit”.

Here lie some of the differences between Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg. Lenin systematically trained and organised the best workers in Russia in implacable opposition to capitalism and its shadows in the labour movement. This necessarily involved clearly organising a grouping, ‘faction’ – one that was organised as well as based on firm political principles. Lenin organised for future battles, including the revolution.

Rosa Luxemburg was an important figure in all the congresses of the Second International and generally carried the votes of the Polish Social Democratic party in exile. She was also a member of the International Socialist Bureau. However, as Pierre Broué points out: “She was never able to establish within the SPD either a permanent platform based on the support of a newspaper or a journal or a stable audience wider than a handful of friends and supporters around her.”

The growing opposition to the war, however, widened the circle of support and contacts for Luxemburg and the Sparticist group. Trotsky sums up her dilemma: “The most that can be said is that in her historical-philosophical evaluation of the labour movement, the preparatory selection of the vanguard, in comparison with the mass actions that were to be expected, fell too short with Rosa; whereas Lenin – without consoling himself with the miracles of future actions – took the advanced workers and constantly and tirelessly welded them together into firm nuclei, illegally or legally, in the mass organisations or underground, by means of a sharply defined programme.” However, Luxemburg did begin after the revolution of November 1918 her “ardent labour” of assembling such a cadre.

A programme for workers’ democracy

Moreover, Luxemburg posed very clearly the ideological tasks: “The choice today is not between democracy and dictatorship. The question which history has placed on the agenda is: bourgeois democracy or socialist democracy for the dictatorship of the proletariat is democracy in a socialist sense of the term. The dictatorship of the proletariat does not mean bombs, putsches, riots or ‘anarchy’ that the agents of capitalism claim.” This is an answer to those who seek to distort the idea of Karl Marx when he spoke about the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, which in today’s terms, as Luxemburg pointed out, means workers’ democracy. Because of its connotations with Stalinism however, Marxists today, in trying to reach the best workers, do not use language which can give a false idea of what they intend for the future. This, unfortunately, includes the term ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, which can be construed as connected to Stalinism. The same idea is expressed in our call for a socialist, planned economy, organised on the basis of workers’ democracy.

The German revolution not only overthrew the Kaiser but posed the germ of a workers government through the institution of a network of workers and sailors’ councils on the lines of the Russian revolution. A period of dual power was initiated and the capitalists were compelled to give important concessions to the masses such as the eight-hour day. But the social-democratic leaders like Gustav Noske and Philipp Scheidemann conspired with the capitalists and the reactionary scum in the Freikorps (predecessors of the fascists) to take their revenge. General Wilhelm Groener, who led the German army, admitted later on: “The officer corps could only cooperate with a government which undertook the struggle against Bolshevism … Ebert [the social-democrat leader] had made his mind up on this … We made an alliance against Bolshevism … There existed no other party which had enough influence upon the masses to enable the re-establishment of a governmental power with the help of the army.” Gradually, concessions to the workers were undermined and a vitriolic campaign against the ‘Bolshevik terror’, chaos, the Jews, and particularly, “bloody Rosa” was unleashed. Bodies like the Anti-Bolshevik League organised its own intelligence service and set up, in its founder’s words, an “active anti-communist counter-espionage organisation”.

In opposition to the slogan ‘All power to the soviets’ – the slogan of the Russian revolution – the reaction led by Noske’s Social Democrats mobilised behind the idea of “All power to the people”. This was their means of undermining the German ‘soviets’. A ‘constituent assembly’ was posed as an alternative to Luxemburg and Liebknecht’s ideas of a national council of soviets to initiate a workers and farmers’ government. Unfortunately, the muddled centrist lefts, whose party grew enormously as the social-democratic leaders lost support, let slip the opportunity to create an all-Germany council movement.

The discontent of the masses was reflected in the January 1919 uprising. Such stages are reached in all revolutions when the working class sees its gains snatched back by the capitalists and comes out onto the streets; the Russian workers in the July Days of 1917 and the May Days in Catalonia in 1937 during the Spanish revolution. The events of the German revolution were dealt with in Socialism Today (Issue 123, November 2008) and The Socialist (Issue 555, 4 November 2008).

The July Days in Russia developed four months after the February revolution whereas in Germany the uprising took place a mere two months after the revolutionary overturn of November 1918. This itself is an indication of the speed of events that developed in Germany at this stage. Given the isolation of Berlin from the rest of the country at that stage, a setback or a defeat was inevitable. But this became all the greater for the working class with the murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. It was as if both Lenin and Trotsky had been assassinated in Russia in July 1917. This would have removed the two leaders whose ideas and political guidance led to the success of the October revolution. Lenin – extremely modest on a personal level – was quite aware of his own vital political role and took steps, by going into hiding in Finland, to avoid falling into the hands of the counter-revolution.

Despite the urging of those like Paul Levi to leave Berlin, both Luxemburg and Liebknecht remained in the city, with the terrible consequences that followed. There is no doubt that Luxemburg’s sure political experience would have been a powerful factor in avoiding some of the mistakes – particularly ultra-left ones – which were subsequently made in the development of the German revolution. In the convulsive events of 1923 in particular, Rosa Luxemburg with her keen instinct for the mass movement and ability to change with circumstances, would probably not have made the mistake made by Heinrich Brandler and the leadership of the KPD, when they let slip what was one of the most favourable opportunities in history to make a working-class revolution and change the course of world history.

Luxemburg and Liebknecht are in the pantheon of the Marxists greats. For her theoretical contribution alone, Rosa Luxemburg deserves to stand alongside Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky. Those who try and picture her as a critic of the Bolsheviks and the Russian revolution are entirely false. She hailed the work of Lenin and Trotsky. Her book written in prison in 1918 – in which she criticised the Bolshevik regime – was a product of isolation, which she was persuaded not to publish and did not pursue later when released from prison. Yet still in her most erroneous work she wrote of the Russian revolution and the Bolsheviks: “Everything that a party could offer of courage, revolutionary farsightedness, and consistency in a historic hour, Lenin, Trotsky and the other comrades have given in good measure… Their October uprising was not only the actual salvation of the Russian revolution; it was also the salvation of the honour of international socialism”. Only malicious enemies of the heroic traditions of the Bolshevik party circulated this material after her death in an attempt to divide Luxemburg from Lenin, Trotsky, the Bolsheviks and the great work of the Russian revolution.

Luxemburg made mistakes on the issue of the independence of Poland. She was also wrong on the difference between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks (even in July 1914 supporting the opportunists who stood for the ‘unity’ between them) and, as Lenin pointed out, also on the economic ‘theory of accumulation’. But also in the words of Lenin, “In spite of her mistakes she was – and remains for us – an eagle”. So should say the best workers and young people today who have occasion to study her works in preparation for the struggle for socialism.

Five years since the passing of Rob Windsor

Five years since the passing of Rob Windsor

Rob speaking at the Day X student demo with Lenny

Today marks five years since the untimely passing of Socialist Party member and Coventry councillor Rob Windsor (1964-2012). The following tribute was written by Lenny Shail.

Rob was a well known stalwart of Militant and the Socialist Party who played a leading role in innumerable campaigns over the years, not least the monumental anti-Poll Tax campaign which helped to organise millions of people to defeat the tax and Thatcher. He was also an elected Socialist Party Councillor in St Michael’s ward in Coventry, a position he used with fellow Socialist Councillors Dave Nellist and Karen McKay to advance the interests of ordinary people in Coventry and further afield.

I was 18 when I first met Rob at a Socialist Party meeting in Hillfields, not really sure what exactly I had joined or what I was meant to do. Rob came darting over to me at the end to talk to me, he had just come back from the Isle of Wight where he had been supporting striking Vestas workers. I was amazed by his stories of what he had got up to and how he had been sleeping on a roundabout down there!

Rob speaking at Vestas in the Isle of Wight

Rob always took the time to talk and discuss with anyone who showed an interest in fighting for the working class or who was new to the Socialist Party. I was lucky to spend many hours – if not days! – pounding the streets of St Michaels and other working class areas of Coventry with Rob, and throughout 2009 and 2010 we built towards the 2010 general election and fought for Rob’s seat in the local election.

Rob led by example to the many new young members getting active at that time. While Rob was a tireless fighter for any improvement in the lives of working class people, however basic, he would always strive to raise and link any fight to need for a socialist change of society. I remember knocking doors and building for local public meetings on parking schemes, hospital parking charges and local service closures while in between doors Rob would be rabbiting on to me and other young comrades about Trotsky’s role in the struggle to defend the Russian Revolution after 1917 .

Rob had a tremendous talent to explain and convince anyone of of even the most complex of socialist ideas. Be it a strike, local community meeting, a complex international situation – Rob always seemed to know what had to be said and what needed to be done. At the many rallies, meetings, hustings he demonstrated to us young socialists coming through how to raise and make the ideas of socialist revolution as simple as clicking your fingers. I remember at one hustings he was asked if he was religious or believed in God. Rob’s answer was that he “believed in working class people, coming together in their millions to fight for a world run in their interests and needs”. Rob always hammered this confidence and potential in the working class to us “younguns” at the time and always pushed and encouraged us to speak ourselves rather than just leave it to him at any event.

As a fresh, energetic young activist working with Rob and others week in week out was always fun with some amazing laughs and experiences, but when needed to he would also be extremely detailed and serious. In his last few years despite his health affecting his ability to contribute to the day to day struggles, Rob still did whatever he could to help and especially to to assist me and other young comrades who were starting to play more leading roles and organising stuff ourselves.

Rob holding aloft unpaid Poll Tax bills outside the Council House!

In Autumn 2010 a huge student movement swept across Britain in response to the tripling of student fees and cut of EMA. In early October at Warwick Uni, on the day the Browne Review which announced the proposal was released, we took a punt and organised the first protest anywhere in country – no one knew at that stage how big the movement would become! I was nervous as hell, having never organised anything like it before. Rob rocked up out of the blue, having got out of work to come down and help us out. He gave us a blistering speech on the megaphone as he always did but it was the time he took to speak and advise us on what we should put forward, slogans and demands that made such an impression. Over the course of the next couple months, every week there was some sort of protest or demo we organised, at Warwick, Cov Uni and City College. Rob was at all of them, to help us out and back us up, but looking back it was clear he was also excited himself to see a whole new generation of fighters coming through and into activity. He was quite happy to stand back and just watch us get on with the job with his advice – but it was his contribution at the magnificent school student walkout we organised in Coventry on Day X, the day the vote went through parliament, that I pretty much base every talk or speech I do on!

We led a march of around 200 students through the City Centre and to Speakers Corner outside the Council House. The energy and excitement was nothing like we had experienced and we were sort of making it up as we went along, not knowing if anyone would even show up beforehand! After a few speeches from some of the students and the Socialist Students organisers, we passed the megaphone to Rob who I think gave us all goosebumps with his praise for what all those who had walked out had done and how we had “exploded onto the scene of history” and taken the first steps in the struggle to transform the world along socialist lines.

Rob was a reluctant leader, but his ability and talent to understand complex law and theories, to inspire and explain pushed him to the front of any meeting or protest. He was a great mate and mentor, but he could do your head in sometimes with his timing skills and ability to somehow crumple any paperwork you gave him!

He was a tremendous class fighter, Marxist and revolutionary who put fighting against the exploitation of others ahead of himself, someone who did all he could to inspire, develop and train a new generation of working class fighters and Marxists; ready, as Rob often put it, for the “mighty and bigger battles to come”.

Click here for an obituary written by Dave Griffiths, who worked with Rob for over 25 years.

If you would like to make a donation to the Socialist Party in memory of Rob, please click here.

Rob was a longstanding member of the Socialist Party. To find out more or join us please fill in the form below. 

Coventry Socialists campaign to defend the NHS as Red Cross warns of ‘humanitarian crisis’

Coventry Socialists campaign to defend the NHS as Red Cross warns of ‘humanitarian crisis’

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Campaigning to defend the NHS

Coventry Socialist Party were out on the streets for the first time in 2017, campaigning to defend the NHS against cuts and privatisation as the Red Cross warned of a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in our health service.

Once again people who stopped at our campaign stall talked about the pressure the NHS is under, and many told us about how angry they were with the car parking costs at Walsgrave with one woman explaining that she faced a £50 fine because she hadn’t been able to afford to pay the charges when visiting a relative.

The NHS is at breaking point and according to a report in the ‘i’ newspaper “overflowing A&E departments shut their doors to patients more than 140 times in December and the NHS comes under increasing pressure.”

The current situation makes the national demonstration in London on 4th March even more important; there will be transport from Coventry so make sure you are on it! Fill in the form below to book your place or for more information.

The Tories are trying to take away our NHS and open it up further for private companies to profit from illness. We need to stop them!

It’s Fat Cat Wednesday!

It’s Fat Cat Wednesday!

Image result for fat cat banker

A Fat Cat Capitalist

Today has been named “Fat Cat Wednesday” by the High Pay Centre, who say that by midday today chief executives will already have been paid more than an “average” UK worker.

This highlights the gross inequality of wages in the UK. In fact for many workers the contrast between their pay and their bosses is even starker – the High Pay Centre based this calculation on an average wage of £28,200, a wage that people on zero-hour contracts and in low paid jobs can only dream of.

It is a disgrace that in less than two days super-rich bosses have made more than millions of UK workers – and this kind of inequality will continue and get worse under capitalism. The Socialist Party fights for decent jobs and a £10 an hour minimum wage – and we also fight to replace this obscene capitalist system with a socialist society, for the millions not the millionaires.

Do you want to fight the fat cats? Fill in the form below!

2017: Upheaval and fightback will continue

2017: Upheaval and fightback will continue

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Enormous show of strength against the cuts from 2011

We publish below an article written by Peter Taaffe of the Socialist Party and the Committee for a Workers’ International setting out what 2017 will bring and the political situation we are facing.


2017: Upheaval and fightback will continue

2016 was the year when the pent-up anger of the masses worldwide finally spilled over in a series of political earthquakes – a delayed reaction to the devastating world economic crisis of 2007-08. And tremors are still being felt, with serious aftershocks – if not new earthquakes – expected in 2017.

The changed situation was dramatically illustrated by Brexit, with repercussions not just in Europe but worldwide. At bottom, this reflected a working class revolt against the austerity programme both of the British Tory government and the predatory capitalist EU.

The Socialist Party has consistently opposed the capitalist, imperialist EU from its origins and therefore called for a Leave vote in the referendum, along with the transport workers’ union the RMT and many others.

Moreover, it was striking that those who had suffered under the iron heel of the EU – the Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian workers – hailed Brexit, which they saw as striking a decisive blow against their mortal enemies, the gang of EU robber capitalists.

Fight the right

We also fought against the corrosive nationalism of Ukip and other reactionary forces who attempted to seize hold of Brexit as a means of dividing workers against one another. We will stay implacably opposed to the neoliberal EU while at the same time proposing a class and socialist alternative: no to the EU, yes to a socialist confederation of Europe.

It is no exaggeration to say that the leave vote resounded throughout the world. How dare the ignorant untutored masses defy their rulers, reasoned an army of capitalist comentators!

The leave vote upended the Tory cabinet and Cameron was soon consigned to history. Absolute turmoil has ensued, which continues into 2017, plunging the Tory party under Theresa May into an endemic crisis. The capitalist media constantly harps on the split within Labour but from the medium and long-term perspectives, the divisions within the Tory party are much more serious.

A schism within the Tory party, like that over the Corn Laws in the first half of the nineteenth century, is entirely possible. This saw the Tory party out of power for generations.

In Italy, Renzi has followed Cameron, after a stunning 60% to 40% rejection of his own undemocratic referendum, which sought to consolidate his austerity regime.

But the far right in Europe is still on the march, having been given a lift by the victory of Trump in the US presidential elections. Although the Austrian far right failed to win the re-run presidential election.

It is not even excluded that at a certain stage some countries – Austria, France, the Netherlands and possibly also Italy – could repeat the successes of the far right in Eastern Europe, participating in right-wing coalition governments.

Failure

It is the transparent failure of right-wing social democracy in Spain, Greece, Portugal and Britain – trapped within the framework of diseased capitalism and consequently presiding over savage cuts, eye watering poverty, mass unemployment etc – which has provided this opportunity for the right to emerge and threaten past conquests of the working class.

They believe that they have been given a huge comfort blanket by the victory of Donald Trump in the US elections. There are even some on the left who believe that a ‘festival of reaction’ will follow.

Nothing of the kind is likely or possible. Without in any way minimising the threat from the right – which should be fought – the relationship of class forces is still decisively in favour of the working class and its organisations, although weakened. The fascists could not successfully use today the methods of Hitler or Mussolini, the mobilisation of mass middle class forces to terrorise and atomise the working class.

Coming to power – even partially sharing power in a right-wing, conservative government – would act like a crack of thunder to awaken the working class and particularly the youth into ferocious resistance to such governments and the measures that they would undertake.

Witness the marvellous resistance of Polish women to the attempt to restrict abortion rights. Other powerful mass women’s movements have developed in Ireland against strict abortion laws, in Argentina against vile attacks on women, and in Turkey against attempts to legitimise rape.

Look also at the mass resistance that erupted against Trump’s fraudulent victory in cities in the US, in some cases led by our co-thinkers in Socialist Alternative. It is expected that mass demonstrations in the US and worldwide will take place on 20 January at Trump’s inauguration. This is just a little payment on account for the mass working class resistance he is likely to encounter in the next years.

Moreover, such right-wing governments with far-right participation would pave the way for a massive swing towards the left among the working class, which would be reflected in the labour movement. This will act to further discredit the right-wing social democrats, who through their failure have paved the way for the right’s re-emergence.

The truth is class radicalisation overwhelmingly predominates worldwide. This was shown in the 180 million Indian workers who demonstrated their power in a mighty general strike against the right-wing Modi regime in September 2016.

Unprecedented mass movements have also a broken out in South Korea, which are likely to force the president out on corruption charges.

Middle East

Of course, this has to be balanced against the horrific intractable crisis in the Middle East with its countless victims – a monument to the endless horrors to which humankind will suffer on the basis of outmoded capitalism.

The war in Syria has lasted longer than World War One, and moreover there is an element of that situation in the present conflict with its mutual slaughter. Leon Trotsky remarked in relation to the pre-1914 Balkan war: “Our descendants… will spread their hands in horror when they learn from history books about the methods by which capitalist peoples settled their disputes.”

If nothing else, the Syrian war has demonstrated beyond all doubt that none of the capitalist powers – the US, Russia, the European Union – can provide a solution to the myriad national conflicts within the region.

Indeed, imperialism in all its guises – British, French, US – is the author of the present divisive patchwork divide-and-rule tactics on a massive scale, undemocratically stitched together when these imperialist powers were forced to retreat from direct domination of the region in the post-1945 situation.

A representative of the British spy agency MI6 recently appeared on British television and had the effrontery to quote from the Roman historian Tacitus – “You create a desolation and call it peace” – while attacking Putin’s Russia! If so, then Putin learnt well in the school of the British ruling class and MI6. They were the first to pursue a bloody divide-and-rule policy, to carve out their empire upon which the ‘sun would never set’.

Only the decisive intervention of the working class and poor in the Middle East region through a programme of class unity and socialism on the basis of a democratic confederation can put an end to this horror once and for all. The first step towards this would be the development of an independent political voice for the masses.

But in the meantime the catastrophic situation which has beset all countries in the Middle East will continue. The alleged coup in Turkey has led to an even bigger and more effective right-wing counter-coup led by Turkish President Erdogan himself. Over 100,000 public sector workers have been dismissed; there has been a clampdown on the media and suppression of democratic rights. Only by determined struggle, and a vision of a new humane, socialist society, will the forces of the right be pushed back.

Donald Trump

Nowhere is that more necessary than in the US following the victory of the right-wing demagogic populist Donald Trump, who lied and cheated his way to power by pretending to champion the ‘working class’. Nothing could be further from the truth.

He lacks any real ‘legitimacy’ for his right-wing programme. While he won the Electoral College, he was decisively beaten in the ‘popular vote’ by 2.6 million, receiving fewer votes even than the last defeated Republican presidential candidates Romney and McCain, and George W Bush when he won.

Within a matter of weeks – and without being installed yet as president – he has shredded most of his promises. His proposed government, true to form, is stuffed with billionaires, representative not of ‘Main Street’ but of Wall Street, which he denounced during the election campaign.

He is recruiting heavily from Goldman Sachs, which after the crash of 2007-08 was described by Rolling Stone magazine as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”. Its tentacles are poised to try and further strangle working people in the cause of Trump’s pro-big business agenda.

The trade unions face a massive challenge as he seeks to emulate Ronald Reagan in rolling out so-called ‘right to work’ legislation to weaken them. He will seek to reward Wall Street sharks who supported him by ruthless measures like privatisation and sackings, particularly of public sector workers.

Infrastructure and jobs

He hopes to soften the blatant pro-billionaire agenda by borrowing from capitalist economist Keynes with a promise to increase government spending of at least $1 trillion on the US’s collapsing infrastructure.

However, as welcome as any new jobs would be in restoring the confidence of the US working class to fight back against the bosses and providing the unemployed with work, nevertheless these would not replace the high paid secure jobs which have been lost in the massive deindustrialisation of the US.

An estimated 70,000 factories in the US disappeared during this process, never to return on the basis of capitalism. Since 2010 something like 15 million new jobs were generated in the US but these have been overwhelmingly low paid and insecure, many the equivalent of the hated zero-hour contracts in Britain.

Moreover, the US is already saddled with colossal debt – government, corporate and personal – which is the main reason why enfeebled US and world capitalism has been able to still stagger on.

But will even a Republican congress ratify big increases in public spending, without any overall economic growth and ratcheting up even more debt? Top US tax expert and Congressman Ken Brady has declared: “The greatest threat to our prosperity long term is our growing national debt.”

On the basis of capitalism, particularly the parasitic kind which Trump represents, a return to a ‘golden age’ when today appeared to be better than yesterday, and tomorrow would certainly be better, is over. The 60% of the US population who now consider themselves worse off than before signifies this.

Bernie Sanders

Hence the explosive developments in the US with the rise of the Bernie Sanders movement. Sanders’ call for a political revolution drew mass support from discontented workers and young people and in turn terrified the pro-capitalist Democratic Party establishment.

When he was denied victory in the primaries by the manoeuvres of the pro-Clinton Democratic establishment, Bernie made a big mistake in not taking to the open road and establishing a new party. He had successfully appealed to the same impoverished and discontented layers of workers and young people to whom Trump was also pitching his message.

If he had stood for the presidency, then if not beating Trump, he would have at least attracted sufficient support to have allowed for the possibility of Hillary Clinton coming to power. This would have been the ideal scenario for the prospects of the further political awakening of the American working class and the youth.

A Clinton Democrat administration, which would have been tested to destruction – much as the Liberal Party in Britain was at the turn of the 20th century – could have created the base for the emergence of a new mass workers’ party. Given the economic catastrophe of US capitalism and the desperation of the masses for an alternative, a new mass movement for socialism would have taken shape.

The election of Trump – the whip of counter-revolution – will not halt but ultimately spur on this process. There are features present in the current situation reminiscent of the explosive years in the 1960s and 70s. Socialism is an idea which has already captured the imagination of the new generation of workers and young people.

Socialism in the US

‘Trotsky in New York 1917’ – part of the avalanche of new books in preparation for the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution this year – while inaccurate about Trotsky’s real political views, nevertheless provides valuable insights about the powerful attraction for the American masses of socialism and its leading international figures then.

We are informed that “at least six New York newspapers with more than half a million readers would announce Trotsky’s arrival in the city. Three put the story on the front page.” There was a vibrant socialist movement and Eugene Debs had stood as a Socialist Party candidate in every presidential election since 1900, receiving over one million votes in 1912, the equivalent of six million today.

Those traditions will be revived, alongside those of the monumental class battles of the 1930s. American capitalism’s colossal wealth and power allowed it to soften class relations in the post-1945 situation. Its relative economic decline has now sharpened these divisions, which will be further deepened by Trump.

And this will develop with American speed and elan. The success of our US co-thinkers, with the spectacular growth of Socialist Alternative and the election of the first socialist councillor in 100 years in Seattle – Kshama Sawant – is a measure of the changes wrought in the heartland of world capitalism.

As is the success of the school student union in Spain, which chalked up a big national victory against the PP government – the first in five years – when it successfully mobilised two million school students in a national strike which compelled the government to withdraw its attacks on education.

The political force behind this victory, the Spanish Marxist organisation Izquierda Revolucionaria, is in the process of linking up with the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), which represents a great strengthening of the genuine forces of Marxism internationally. This will undoubtedly act as a magnet for other Marxist forces to come together with us to confront capitalism and its agents within the workers’ movement.

Warnings

Never has this been more necessary. Even the representatives of the capitalist system, like Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, have warned the class they represent of the inherent dangers arising from the current crisis. Carney warned of the worst crisis for over 100 years with the UK “suffering its first lost decade since the 1860s”, when Karl Marx was alive.

He repeatedly referred to the sense of insecurity and frustrations with global trade and technology, which has favoured “the superstar and the lucky… But what of the frustrated and frightened?” He denounced “inequality” as well as the banks who had been, according to him working in a “heads I win, tails you lose bubble”.

Its intent was to warn the bosses who Carney represents of the incendiary economic and social situation in Britain which threatens to blow the system apart. And the examples which he uses are damning indictments of British capitalism, as well as an indication of further seismic events to come.

More than a fifth of the UK’s population – almost 14 million people – is below the official yardstick for calculating poverty, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. That includes 4.8 million adults and 2.6 million children in poverty despite living in a working family. The numbers in this category grew by over a million in the last decade, symbolising the inexorable impoverishment of broad swathes of the British people.

Stories now creep into the press of how those who come from the middle class can now rapidly sink into a desperate situation. From having a job, to no job, therefore no income, then being incapable of paying the rent and ultimately ending up on the streets. The wheel of progress has gone into rapid reverse towards barbarism, with some homeless people now found to be living in caves in Wales!

Jeremy Corbyn and Labour

It was these conditions – arising from the complete failure of traditional ‘social democracy’ trapped within the framework of outmoded capitalism to provide an answer – which lit the flame of populist revolt symbolised in Britain through the mass movement gathered around Jeremy Corbyn. And yet 18 months after this – and with the crushing defeat of two right-wing Blairite coups – his campaign has now stalled. Jeremy himself seems to be missing in action. Why?

Because a policy of ‘peaceful coexistence’ during a civil war, which has existed in the Labour Party and the labour movement from the very first day that Jeremy was elected, has been adopted by his closest supporters in the leadership of Momentum. It is potentially fatal for his leadership prospects and the mass anti-austerity movement around him. This has been successfully urged on him by his closest advisers in Momentum.

There is an element of dual power in the Labour Party at the moment. The right controls the Parliamentary Labour Party – mainly the unreconstructed Labour right, who display their opposition and contempt for Corbyn and his allies on a daily basis.

These ‘Labour’ MPs are unmistakably in the camp of the bosses. This was illustrated by Chris Evans, MP for Islwyn – one of the poorest constituencies in South Wales – seeing himself as the ‘voice’ of the parasitic hedge funds rather than the working class, and proposing a parliamentary liaison committee with these City of London creatures.

This right-wing MP is prepared to get into bed with the financial spivs, who create nothing and who treat factories and workplaces as ‘assets’ that can be gambled away on the stock exchange. They are the sworn enemy of working people and yet this alleged representative of the workers of South Wales seeks the participation of corrupt, parasitic swindlers who are shunned by even ‘respectable’ capitalists.

This shows just how politically corrupt large swathes of the Parliamentary Labour Party are – the sooner they are driven out the better. The Labour right have played for time, while the left has dithered and refused to conduct a real struggle, therefore playing into the hands of the right.

This is particularly the role of the leaders of Momentum. They refused to consistently support the one measure that would have mobilised hundreds of thousands of left-leaning workers and youth who joined the Labour Party in great enthusiasm to complete the Corbyn revolution: namely, subjecting right-wing MPs to reselection.

The Socialist Party has offered to further this process, to join the Labour Party on the basis of a political and organisational reconfiguration, leading to a federal form of party. Jon Lansman, the leader of Momentum, unceremoniously refused to support this, while showing touching sensitivity to the right. His tactics have blown up in his face, with Momentum torn apart over forms of organisation.

There have been no systematic protests at the arbitrary and bureaucratic denial of access to its ranks or that of the Labour Party.

Our request for readmission of 75 supporters of the Socialist Party previously expelled has met a brick wall. This while the right have ruthlessly used their position on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Labour Party to consolidate their grip.

Unresolved civil war

The right have a clear plan to expel and marginalise all those on the left who pose a threat to their continued rule. The left under the baton of Momentum’s leadership – organisationally and politically inept – have allowed the right to make a comeback.

All of this could have been avoided if clear direction had been given from the beginning to the hundreds of thousands who rallied enthusiastically to Corbyn’s anti-austerity programme and clearly demonstrated the desire to drive the Blairite right out of the Labour Party. The response of Momentum’s leadership was to rule out any such political ‘confrontation’ with the right.

The Labour Party is still composed of two incompatible parties in one. The right from the beginning showed they were absolutely unreconciled to Corbyn’s leadership and would overthrow him at the first opportunity. That still remains their goal.

The civil war which has existed from the beginning of Corbyn’s accession to the leadership remains unresolved. The right, having failed to remove him in an open coup and afraid of leaving the Labour Party in the hands of the left, have fallen back on a ‘creeping coup’. The tactics consist of a war of attrition, constantly seeking to discredit Jeremy and John McDonnell, and marginalising and excluding their supporters.

Blind alley

There is nevertheless everything to play for in 2017. Capitalism is a blind alley, incapable of taking society substantially forward. All of those parties who accept the system will ultimately fall under the wheels of history.

The movement around Jeremy represents a determined attempt to throw off the outmoded shell of Blairite pro-market, pro-capitalist forces and take to a more radical, socialist road.

The Socialist Party, together with the CWI, will do everything in its power to assist workers and young people to attain the goal of a mass, socialist party fighting for a socialist society in Britain and the world.