28th September – International Safe Abortion Day

28th September – International Safe Abortion Day

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Women in Ireland campaigning for the right to choose and against austerity

To mark International Safe Abortion Day we are republishing the following article, written by a member of our sister party in Austria.

September 28th is International Safe Abortion Day. The date originates from the Campaña 28 Septiembre, a campaign launched in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1990 for the decriminalization of abortion. The Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights made September 28th an international day in 2011, and since then there have been actions around the world every year. In the past few years, the issue of abortion has become increasingly important again.

All the religious fundamentalists, the self-declared “prolife” activists and their co-thinkers in the governments – they were always there, but they seem to have gotten louder and more dangerous in the last years.

The facts: a dangerous situation for women

One out of three women will have an abortion in their lifetime – so it is “one of the most common medical procedures in the world” as Ruth Coppinger, Irish socialist, TD and Campaigner for Women’s rights, correctly says. But internationally, only a minority of states gives legal access to abortion. 25% of all women live in countries where abortion is banned and punished with prison or worse. 40% more live in countries where it is forbidden or only allowed in certain cases, or where access is difficult. And even where it is formally legal, in practice it is often difficult to get access and to get it affordably.

In Austria, a social democratic government made it legally possible to get an abortion in 1975 – but they did not take any steps to actually make sure that access is provided. The head doctor in a hospital can decide if abortions are provided – which means in practice, that hardly any hospital does. This includes public hospitals financed by state money and in those parts of Austria ruled by the Social Democrats. So the reality is that most women in Austria need to travel long distances and pay a lot of money to get an abortion.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 22 million unsafe abortions take place every year, more than half of all abortions worldwide. 47,000 to 60,000 women die every year from an unsafe abortion – one woman every seven minutes. Many of these women already have kids, leaving them without a mother, and often without a father, as well. It is estimated that 8.5 million women have long term health problems because of unsafe abortions. It is a fact that banning abortions increases the number of dead and injured women.

The deadly policy of the so called “pro-life” movement

The figures also show that there is no correlation between the number of children per women and access to abortion. In countries with very strict anti-abortion laws, like Malta and Poland, women have 1.38 and 1.29 children on average. Meanwhile, in Sweden and Norway, where abortion is legal but there is a better social situation for women like access to affordable childcare, women have 1.89 and 1.78 children on average.

But there is a correlation between the access to contraception and abortion. The better sex education is in schools, and the easier and cheaper access to contraception is, the smaller the number of unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions are. Austria, one of the few European countries where young and/or poor people have to pay the full price for contraception, has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies, according to experts. This shows the reactionary character of the so-called “pro-life” organizations in Austria: most of them are against sex education and contraception, as well. They stick to an ultra-conservative model of the family and see the role of women purely as giving birth to babies. They are not only linked to the churches and religious organizations, but also to the far-right and fascists. The frequently play down the Holocaust and use anti-Semitism. They argue for the need of more white Christian babies as opposed to refugees and (Muslim) immigrants. In the “pro-life” marches, fascists and Nazis not only take part, but physically attack pro-choice activists. In the US these radical anti-abortion activist not only threaten but actually kill the staff of clinics that provide abortions.

And these are not just some disturbed individuals. This is frequent and rooted in the reactionary character of the whole “pro-life” movement concept. The truth is the so-called “pro-life” movement, financed by churches, conservative and reactionary organizations, is responsible for unwanted pregnancies and for women dying from unsafe abortions. They are killers.

Why are they getting stronger?

If the “pro-life” forces were only some people carrying candles and crosses, they could be ignored. But they influence day-to-day politics. Under their influence, the US representatives at the UN Children’s Summit blocked all formulations that might be interpreted as accepting abortion for very young pregnant girls. In 2012 they registered a European Citizens’ Initiative “One of us” that collected nearly two million signatures in Europe. Their target was to stop EU funding for Planned Parenthood structures. The pressure was so strong that the EU stopped a planned decision of the EU-parliament for a European “right of abortion”. Such a decision would have helped millions of women in places like Poland, where abortion is de facto impossible, or in Malta, where abortion is denied even if the life of the woman is in danger.

Trump, in order to please ultra-conservatives voters, stopped funding for international organizations that help with contraception and dare to mention abortion as an option. This leaves millions of women in Africa and Asia without access to contraception, medical help or condoms to prevent AIDS. The question of abortion also shows how capitalism and its ideological base – although sometimes contradictory – is a barrier for the development of mankind.

In 1980, the first abortion pill was developed – a far easier and cheaper way for women to have an abortion, which can save the lives and health of hundreds of thousands of women, especially of those who have no access to doctors and clinics. But its acceptance and legalization took a very long time in a number of countries, even in those where abortion provided by a doctor is legal. In many countries access is still linked to seeing a doctor, which is unnecessary from a medical point of view. For reactionary forces controlling female bodies and enforcing the traditional family structure is in this case even stronger then the profit interests of the pharmaceutical industry, although it still makes its profit through women buying it illegally and therefore at a higher price.

The growing influence of these fundamentalists reflects economic, and following from this, political change. The traditional family is of extreme importance for the ruling capitalist system. Not only does it provide unpaid labour (mostly from women) but it also stabilizes the ruling system that is increasingly under pressure and questioned by millions of people worldwide. Under capitalism the ruling class generally gives the family the role of helping to reproduce the bourgeois state: producing the next generation of obedient, willing citizens and workers, as well as the model of authority and suppression.

Capitalist politicians are not necessarily all reactionary in relation to their view of women or the family. But the conservative backlash fits into their policy. The “family” is propagated in election campaigns, “women magazines” and the media – maybe sometimes in a more modern style but basically in its traditional form. The politicians cut funds for health, care and education. Women are driven out of the workforce. They once again increasingly have to do all the care work that is cut by neo-liberal policies without pay. If the so called “pro-life” fundamentalists strengthen the idea of the “traditional” family, then this gives the ideological support to the neoliberal policy. In Austria this is reflected by one of their slogans “Die Wirtschaft ist gesünder durch Vater, Mutter, Kinder” (“The economy is healthier with father, mother, and children”).

Worldwide resistance

Historically the struggle for women rights and the struggle of the workers movement cannot be separated. It is true, that a bourgeois women movement exists and was and is often dominant. But the main gains for women were won together, in times of revolution and intense class struggle.

The Russian Revolution in 1917 not only gave women the right to vote, but legalized abortion and made steps towards the socialization of housework (including child care). That these rights were later taken back shows once again the reactionary character of Stalinism. The legalization of abortion in many of the advanced capitalist countries in the 1970s as a result of second wave feminism cannot be isolated from the civil rights movement and an international revolutionary wave. The post war boom that brought millions of women in paid work and made them active parts of the labour movement and of the lively class struggle at that time.

Today again we see a new international wave of struggles by women against sexism and violence, and for women’s rights. Women have fought for their rights, and they have experienced their strength. For a few years we have seen mass protests in India against rape involving women from different ethnic and social backgrounds. In Latin America, “not one more” (“Ni una màs”) is the battle cry of women in several countries against the killing of women. In Poland and Ireland, masses of women have taken to the streets and fought for the right to abortion.

The timing of this new wave is no accident – it goes hand in hand with an increased rejection of capitalism and its family concept and with an increase of class struggle. These struggles are not “side” struggles of minor importance, but must be linked to the class struggle and anti-capitalist movements. The right of women to control their bodies is part of the struggle of humankind to liberate its bodies from capitalist exploitation.

The struggle of the Polish women against the government’s attempt to make abortion completely illegal (it is illegal in most cases already, and access is extremely difficult in the remaining cases) was magnificent – but it stopped at its highpoint and did not go further onto the offensive, demanding easier access to contraception and abortion. It did not organize the tens of thousands on the street but sent them home. This resulted in the government passing another attack on women’s rights – since June 2017, Polish women need a prescription to get the morning-after pill, which makes its use in most cases de facto impossible. Polish socialists have been arguing that the struggle for women rights needs to be organized and have democratic structures that involve supporters and activists in the debates and decisions on what demands to make and steps to take. Beyond this it needs a programme linking the struggle for the right of women’s self-determination over their bodies with the struggle against capitalism, a system that benefits from the suppression of women.

Socialists from the CWI are part of this struggle all over the world from Chile to Ireland, from Poland to India, from the USA to Austria. Several sections and groups of the CWI like in Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Quebec, Austria and other countries will be active on and around 28 September. We are participating in and organizing campaigns and activities, fighting for a socialist program that includes:

  • Free access to contraception and abortion.
  • A public health service that provides easy access to abortions in every region.
  • A public education system that provides sex education for all.
  • A public social system that provides free child care for all those who want to have children, as well as public housing and good jobs for all women so they can make decisions about having children without economic pressure.

If you agree join the fight for socialist change and to get rid of capitalism, fill in the form below!

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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!

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.

We need mass resistance to Trump and a new party of the 99%

We need mass resistance to Trump and a new party of the 99%

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Socialist Alternative have initiated mass protests across the United States

We are proud to publish the latest analysis from Socialist Alternative, our co-thinkers in the United States.

Last night (9 November), Socialist Alternative organised mass marches and rallies across the US as a first response to Trump’s election. Tens of thousands of people attended, at only hour’s notice.

We urge people to help share this article amongst family and friends, and if you agree to join the fight for a new type of society. The choice before us is clear. Get active in the movement for Socialism here in the UK and across the world. Click here or fill in the form at the end of the article.


We need mass resistance to Trump and a new party of the 99%

By Tom Crean and Philip Locker

People in the US and around the world awoke today to one of the most shocking political upsets in living memory with the election of Donald Trump as president. It was the culmination of an election cycle when ordinary Americans rose up against the political establishment and against the destructive effects of globalization and neo-liberalism. This was expressed both on the left, with the campaign of Bernie Sanders which galvanized millions for a “political revolution against the billionaire class,” and, in a distorted way, on the right with Trump’s campaign.

But Trump did not just run as the alleged defender of the “forgotten men and women” in working class communities. He also ran the most overtly bigoted and chauvinist campaign of a major party candidate in modern times. He created a space for white nationalists and open white supremacists to come out of their holes and try to reach disaffected white workers and youth. This is a very dangerous development.

However, we completely reject the notion – relentlessly pushed by liberal commentators, trying to deflect from the staggering failure of the Democratic Party – that the outcome demonstrates that the bulk of the white working class shares Trump’s racism and xenophobia. Clinton actually won the popular vote by a narrow margin. Trump only got 47.5% overall, with tens of millions of the poorest and most downtrodden Americans not voting.

Trump’s vote was first and foremost a vote against Clinton and the establishment; it was a vote for a “change agent” against a consummate representative of the corporate status quo. Many responded to his attacks on the “rigged system” and corporations who move jobs overseas.What was tragically missing was a clear choice on the left that could offer an alternative to the seduction of right populism.

Socialist Alternative stands with the millions of women who are disgusted by the election of an open misogynist and correctly see it as a step backward; with Latinos who fear that mass deportations of undocumented workers are about to ramp up to unprecedented levels; with Muslims and African Americans who fear that Trump’s hate speech will incite more violence and the growth of a far right force.

We immediately called protests in cities around the country to make it clear that working people and the oppressed must stand together and prepare to resist the attacks of the right. In the past 24 hours we have been inundated with requests for more information about our organization. We must start today to build a genuine political alternative for the 99% against both corporate dominated parties and the right so that in 2020 we will not go through this disaster again.

A Shock to the Ruling Class

It needs to be underlined that the outcome of this election was not just a shock to tens of millions of progressive workers, women, immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people but also – for quite different reasons – to the ruling elite of the United States.

The majority of the ruling class see Trump as temperamentally “unfit to govern.” It is certainly true that Trump’s bully boy approach of publicly humiliating opponents and reacting to every perceived slight with nasty twitter posts has more in common with “strongmen” dictators in “failed states.” Even George Bush was not as proudly ignorant of international affairs as Trump. The ruling class see a Trump presidency as potentially deeply damaging to the interests of US imperialism at a time when its global power is waning, particularly in the Middle East and Asia, challenged by Russia and especially by an increasingly assertive Chinese imperialism.

They strongly object to Trump’s vociferous rejection of free trade deals and the dominant capitalist economic doctrines of the past forty years. But the truth is that globalization is stalled. Its engine of trade has gone into partial reverse. The Trump vote has some parallels with the Brexit vote in Britain to leave the European Union earlier this year which also reflected a massive rejection of globalization and neo-liberalism by the British working class.

The ruling class also fear that Trump’s crude racism, xenophobia, and misogyny will provoke social upheaval in the US. In this they will certainly be proved right.

At a deeper level, perhaps the most shocking aspect of this outcome for the ruling elite – including the corporate executives and the political establishment and corporate media outlets who serve them – is that the way they have dominated politics in this country through the two party system is broken. In election cycle after election cycle, the primaries have been used to weed out candidates who are not acceptable to corporate interests. Then the electorate would be left with the choice of two “vetted” nominees. The corporate elite might strongly prefer one or the other but they could live with either. Ordinary people were then left with the choice of picking a “lesser evil” or voting for a third party candidate with no chance of winning.

All that changed in 2016. First Bernie Sanders raised $220 million dollars without taking a dime from corporate America and came very close to defeating Hillary in the rigged Democratic primary. Trump was also largely shunned by the Republican “donor class” and the last two Republican presidents and the most recent Republican nominee were very public in rejecting him.

The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost

It is still staggering that the outcome of the primaries left people with a choice between the two  most unpopular major party candidates of the modern era. Exit polling showed 61% of voters had an unfavorable view of Trump and 54% said the same about Clinton.

In the primaries, the Democratic National Committee did everything it could to stack the deck for the establishment’s chosen candidate, Hillary Clinton, against Sanders whom polls showed consistently doing much better against Trump. This speaks directly to the fact that a significant element of Trump’s eventual electorate was open to a genuine working class argument opposing the power of Wall Street and their free trade agenda while calling for a $15 minimum wage, free college, single payer healthcare and massive investment in green infrastructure. But the truth is that the Democratic leadership would rather lose than to be tied to a program that really spoke to the interests of working people and the poor.

Disgracefully most union leaders threw their support and millions of dollars behind Clinton in the primaries while an important section of trade unionists and several national unions backed Sanders. In this way, the labor leadership helped to prop up Wall Street’s candidate against a pro-working class challenge.

Clinton limped into the general election as a deeply damaged corporate candidate. What received the most attention in the media was the State Department email scandal. But the continuing Wikileaks revelations also confirmed in detail and underlined the picture that Sanders had painted in the primary: that Clinton was a servant of Wall Street who said one thing in private speeches to bankers who handed her millions and another in public.

Liberal apologists will seek to blame the white working class, Bernie supporters or even Jill Stein’s voters for the outcome. But as we have repeatedly pointed out the Democratic Party long ago abandoned even the pretense of defending working class interests. For decades they implemented or supported one neo-liberal measure after another: from “ending welfare as we know it,” expanding mass incarceration, pushing through NAFTA and repealing Glass Steagall under Bill Clinton to bailing out the banks while millions lost their homes under Obama.

After the 2008 and 2009 economic crash, the left gave Obama a pass. The Democrats controlled Congress and did little to help the working class in the worst crisis since the 1930s. This opened the door to the Tea Party to mobilize opposition to the bailout of Wall Street and anger at the politicians.

Under pressure from the 45% who supported Sanders in the primary, the Democrats adopted the most left platform at their convention in 40 years. But Clinton ran her campaign solidly focused on the message that Trump was an existential danger to the Republic and that “America was already great.” Hillary’s donors did not want her stressing issues like the minimum wage or ending college debt for fear of raising expectations among fired up working people. It could be argued that Hillary had no credibility as a progressive so what could she do? Well what she did was make Tim Kaine who supported TPP and bank deregulation her vice presidential candidate instead of someone like Elizabeth Warren. She refused to promise not to appoint a bunch of Goldman Sachs personnel to her administration. All of this was completely uninspiring to the millions of people hungry for real change.

It is therefore no surprise that Clinton was unable to enthuse greater voter turnout. Neither Trump nor Clinton got 50% of the vote. And while Clinton got a very slightly larger share of the popular vote than Trump, she got six million fewer votes than Obama in 2012 and fully ten million fewer than Obama in 2008. Meanwhile, Trump’s vote was actually a million votes lower than Romney’s!

As Jacobin pointed out: “Clinton won only 65 percent of Latino voters, compared to Obama’s 71 percent four years ago. She performed this poorly against a candidate who ran on a program of building a wall along America’s southern border, a candidate who kicked off his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists. Clinton won 34 percent of white women without college degrees. And she won just 54 percent of women overall, compared to Obama’s 55 percent in 2012. Clinton, of course, was running against a candidate who has gloated on film about grabbing women ‘by the pussy.’” Clinton also did not excite younger black voters, many of whom sat the election out. And she lost in white working class communities where Barack Obama won handily in both previous elections.

The Democratic establishment played a dangerous game in this election – and they lost. And it will be working people, communities of color, and women who bear the brunt of their failure.

Sanders Should Have Been on the Ballot

In the past few years we have seen a profound political polarization in the US with the growth of support among young people for socialism and Black Lives Matter while there is a growth of open xenophobia and racism among a minority of the population. But the overall trend in American society has been to the left, expressed in support for marriage equality, a higher minimum wage and taxing the rich. This election does not change that underlying reality but it clearly puts the right in the driver seat with control of the presidency, both houses of Congress and the bulk of state legislatures.

A large section of the white working class and middle class did indeed use this election to underline their utter rejection of the Democratic Party and also the establishment of the Republicans. In a distorted way, tens of millions were looking for a way to oppose the corporate elite. We cannot close our eyes to the growth in support among a minority for far right ideas but it is revealing, for example, that exit polls showed that 70% said undocumented immigrants “should be offered legal status” against 25% who said they should be deported.

This is why it is absolutely tragic that Bernie Sanders was not on the ballot yesterday. We urged him to run as an independent as early as September 2014 when he first raised the idea of a presidential campaign. When he decided to run within the Democratic Party primary we disagreed with accepting this framework but continued to engage with his supporters in a discussion about how to achieve his program and the need for a new party.

Our warnings about the consequences of supporting Hillary have been tragically borne out. If Sanders had continued to run all the way to November, as we and many others urged, his presence would have radically changed the character of the race. He would have almost certainly forced his way into the presidential debates and we would right now be discussing the immediate question of forming a new party of the 99% based on the many millions of votes he would have received. This is a massive opportunity missed.

Socialist Alternative supported Jill Stein of the Green Party who received just over one million votes because she also put forward a platform that substantively spoke to the interests of working people. Stein’s campaign had many limitations but, despite them, her vote in a small way indicates the massive potential that exists for the development of a mass left alternative.

A Presidency of Chaos and Struggle

The election of Donald Trump is a disaster which will have many negative consequences. But it is also a phase in the ongoing process of political and social upheaval in the US. Capitalism and its institutions are discredited as perhaps never before, a process that continued right through the end of the general election with the FBI interjecting itself into the political process and Trump relentless talking about the “rigged” political system.

There will inevitably be widespread despair in sections of the left and a feeling that all attempts to move society forward are useless. It is absolutely essential to push back against this mood. Real change as Bernie Sanders correctly pointed out comes from the bottom up, from mass movements in the workplaces and the streets.

Trump’s victory represents the “whip of counter-revolution.” There will be chaos and provocations which will impel millions into defensive action. This is why those who have been radicalized in the past period must redouble their efforts to build a real mass movement for change, independent of corporate control. The social movements of recent years and especially BLM show the potential.

But it also essential to see that Trump will inevitably disappoint his supporters. “Building a wall” will not create millions of good jobs to replace those lost to automation and trade deals. And though he talks about investing in 21st century infrastructure, he is also committed to even further massive tax breaks for billionaires like himself. A mass movement against Trump will need to appeal directly to the white working class and explain how we can create a future where all young people can have a decent future rather than trying to recreate the “American dream” by deepening racial division. Such a future can only be achieved with socialist policies.

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A response to Owen Jones on the US elections – the disastrous failure of lesser evilism

A response to Owen Jones on the US elections – the disastrous failure of lesser evilism

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Guardian journalist Owen Jones

Guardian journalist Owen Jones has today released a short film where he calls for a vote for Hillary Clinton in the forthcoming US presidential elections to stop Donald Trump. We do not agree with his approach and are proud to publish an article written by members of Socialist Alternative in the United States where the weaknesses of ‘lesser evilism’ are explained and a way forward outlined for ordinary people.

We welcome comments and opinions on the article.


THE DISASTROUS FAILURE OF LESSER EVILISM

  By Patrick Ayers and Ty Moore

With the presidential race entering the final lap, panic is setting in as Hillary Clinton fails to pull ahead of Donald Trump in the polls. In a viral video, an exasperated Clinton asks “why am I not 50 points ahead?” Even the mainstream media talking heads – including those who previously dismissed polls consistently showing Bernie outpacing Hillary against Trump – are recognizing the huge challenge of motivating working people to vote for an establishment, Wall Street candidate.

Originally published at CounterPunch.org.

The truth is, a majority of those planning to vote for Clinton will be holding their noses as they cast their ballots on November 8, motivated by fear of Donald Trump rather than positive support for Hillary. A Pew Research Foundation poll found that 55% of voters say they are “disgusted” with the presidential election, with only 12% saying they would be “excited” if Clinton won (CNN, 9/21/16). Even with the historic prospect of electing the first woman president, less than half of all women approve of Clinton (Washington Post, 8/31/16). Asked about the presidential debate, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick summed it up well: “It’s embarrassing… both are proven liars.”

As the Financial Times pointed out: “It is little short of astonishing that this close to midnight [Clinton] feels obliged to launch another drive to explain to voters why she wants to be president. What exactly was the past year about? Or the past decade? As the song says, ‘If you don’t know me by now …’” The problem is, the more voters learn about Clinton and her legacy of promoting an aggressive corporate agenda, the more they dislike her. The FT continues: “It should be no surprise that voters are sceptical of her honesty. If this is a contest over who is least unpopular, Mrs Clinton is capable of losing it” (9/18/16).

Liberal commentators have focused on Trump’s bigoted hard-core base which, while significant, remains a distinct minority of voters. Fatally missing from most liberal analysis  (and political strategy) is that the main fuel powering Trump’s campaign is popular rage at the corporate corruption of the political establishment. Clinton’s corporate campaign is incapable of tapping into this mass desire for change. Unfortunately, the failure of union and progressive leaders to offer an independent, anti-establishment challenge to Trump leaves the right-wing an open field to exploit the popular anger.

Even if Trump loses this election, the left’s subservience to the Democratic Party is paving the way for future, stronger Trumps. Polls show Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, remains the most popular politician in America, and it remains clear he would be a far stronger candidate against Trump than Clinton. But as the Democratic National Committee’s fierce backing of Clinton proved, the Democratic Party tops are more firmly committed to maintaining their alliance with Wall Street and big business than they are to defeating Trump and the right-wing.

Faced with the horrifying prospect of a Trump White House, it is understandable that millions of ordinary people who completely oppose Clinton’s Wall Street politics will nonetheless cast a vote for her on November 8th. At the same time, using popular opposition to Trump as a veil, most union and progressive leaders are arguing for a dangerous and self-defeating “lesser-evil” strategy that endlessly reduces our movements into pressure campaigns on the corporate controlled Democratic Party.

By spending hundreds of millions of dollars to whip up support for corporate Democrats, by bending social movement priorities around the singular goal of electing the Democratic Party, and by clinging to the false hope of one day “reclaiming” the Democratic Party from big business domination, the left is undermining its ability to defend people of color, women, immigrants, and working people generally from right-wing attacks.

Covering up for Clinton

“Unnerved” by strong polling numbers for third party candidates, the New York Times reports Clinton’s campaign and affiliated Democratic groups are “shifting their focus to those voters, many of them millennials, who recoil at Mr. Trump, her Republican opponent, but now favor the Libertarian nominee, Gary Johnson, or the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein” (9/15/16). A representative of Clinton’s Wall Street funded Super PAC reported: “We’ll be launching a multimillion-dollar digital campaign that talks about what’s at stake and how a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump.”

Enlisted to deliver the Super PAC’s focus-grouped messaging will be progressive politicians like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, alongside social movement and trade union leaders. Many readers will have already seen this sophisticated, multi-pronged campaign rolled out over their social media feeds. In private, most left leaders will acknowledge the corporate character of the Democratic Party, and some will even agree that a new left party is needed. Yet the whole logic of backing Hillary – of turning out the vote among the angry, betrayed, and disillusioned base of the Democratic Party – compels these leaders to argue against political independence and instead actively cover up for Clinton’s criminally corporate record.

For example, Clinton’s website profiles SEIU president Mary Kay Henry saying “Hillary Clinton has proven she will fight, deliver, and win for working families. SEIU members…are part of a growing movement to build a better future for their families, and Hillary Clinton will support and stand with them.”

Bernie Sanders himself, who won mass support for exposing Clinton’s deep corporate corruption, is a living demonstration of the corrosive logic of lesser evilism. Since Bernie started heaping praises on Clinton in order to turn out the vote against Trump, his credibility has waned and attendance at his rallies has dramatically dropped off. The once-enthusiastic movement behind Bernie is now largely confused, demoralized, and scattered, no longer able to act as a cohesive force pulling society leftward. The policy of covering up for the corporate character of the Democratic Party remains a central strategic failure of the unions and progressive leadership in America.

This strategy also paved the way for the Tea Party and their sweeping electoral victories in the 2010 elections for Congress and state legislatures. When Obama took power amid the 2008 financial crisis, his first act was to bail out the Wall Street banks. These banks showered him with campaign contributions as millions lost their homes. However the union and progressive leaders were fearful of embarrassing the Democrats. They failed to mobilize the enormous anger at Wall Street into a left opposition movement, leaving Tea Party Republicans an open field.

Wherever the left fails to organize a bold, fighting, working-class challenge to corporate politics-as-usual, popular rage at the failures of capitalism will be channeled behind right-wing “anti-establishment” figures like Trump. The more the left ties itself to the Democratic Party, the more left leaders undermine their own credibility by covering up for big business politicians, the more political space they create for Trump or other brands of right populist bigotry to flourish.

As Bernie Sanders demonstrated during the primaries, the most effective way to cut across support for Trump is to combine a full-throated denunciation of bigotry with a fighting, anti-establishment message to unite workers in common struggle against Wall Street and big business.

“Not the Year for a Protest Vote?”

Lecturing backers of Jill Stein’s Green Party presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders and others argue that “this is not the year for a protest vote.” While Donald Trump is in some ways a uniquely dangerous Republican nominee,  this is the same mantra we hear every four years. It’s a political race to the bottom that never ends. When exactly is the right year? 2020? 2024? 2040? In truth, since entering Congress, Bernie has always backed Democrats for president and argued against supporting independent left challengers.

Socialist Alternative gathered over 125,000 signatures urging Bernie to run all the way through November and use his massive base of support to build a new party for the 99%. But now that Sanders endorsed Clinton, we are urging a vote for Stein in all fifty states to register the strongest possible protest vote against racism and corporate politics, and to help popularize the need for independent politics.

To those left leaders who say they agree that the Democratic Party is hopelessly corrupted by corporate cash, but propose a “strategic” vote for Clinton “just this year,” we should ask: Why not at least urge a vote for Jill Stein in the majority of the country that are considered “safe states” like New York, where Clinton is up by 18%? Given the Electoral College system, the election will really be decided in a small number of swing states like Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

If their concern is purely blocking Trump from entering the White House, then such an approach would allow them to achieve that, while helping to lay the groundwork for a broad-based left political alternative. The left’s failure to back a strong left alternative, even in “safe states,” reveals that behind talk of “strategic” support for Clinton “this year,” there is no real strategy to break out of their dependence on the Democratic Party.

If the unions and the wider left organized a strong working class challenge to Clinton and Trump, they would be far more effective at peeling away Trump’s soft supporters, those who are not hardened bigots but rather working class people looking to “kick out the bums” overseeing our corrupt political establishment. We understand why people will vote for Clinton in swing states to block Trump. But Socialist Alternative is campaigning for Jill Stein throughout the country as the best way, in this period of heightened political debate, to strengthen support for what’s most needed: political independence for our movements and a new party of the 99%.

Movements & the Democratic Party

Some voices on the left, like the Democratic Socialists of America, argue  that under Democrats our social movements have more room to grow into offensive struggles, whereas under Republicans we are often forced onto the defensive. While there is a grain of truth to this, the argument is typically linked to the illusion that by backing corporate Democrats we get “a seat at the table” and from there can pull our political “allies” leftward from the inside.

What they ignore is how, today and throughout history, hitching our struggles to the Democratic Party – even its more liberal wing – actually undermines the strength of our movements. In a society so deeply divided along class lines, no political party can serve two masters. Clinton and the Democrats may give lip service to supporting the interests of workers, people of color, women, and LGBTQ people, but in the final analysis they serve their big business backers. In the end, the promise of a “seat at the table” turns out to be a tool for big business to co-opt our movement leaders and to tamp down our demands and expectations.

This false strategy is what led most union leaders to scandalously back Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party primary, even though Bernie Sanders could have won with solid labor backing. History is replete with examples of movement leaders amplifying the false promises of corporate Democrats, only to have their causes betrayed once the election is over. The hard lesson is this: no movement can navigate a path to serious victories without being crystal clear on who their friends and enemies are. The apparent logic of backing Democrats inevitably leads to confusion and betrayals.

Historically, what matters most in determining a movement’s success is not whether a Democrat is president, but the size and fighting capacity of the movement itself. Compare the presidency of Republican Richard Nixon to that of Democrat Bill Clinton. Nixon was one of the most conservative Republicans of his time, but under his administration, movements won the end to the Vietnam War, abortion rights, the expansion of civil rights and poverty-reducing programs and environmental and workplace regulations. Nixon was forced to grant significant concessions because there were millions of people in the streets and for fear that these movements would become even more radical.

Yet when Bill Clinton was elected in 1992 with the support of the AFL-CIO and most progressive leaders, there were no mass movements organized. Clinton delivered one of the most right wing agendas in living memory. Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, “ended welfare as we know it,” deregulated Wall Street, supported the anti-LGBTQ “Defense of Marriage Act,” and oversaw the curtailing of abortion rights and a doubling of the prison population.

The End of the “American Dream”

Many on the left talk about “reclaiming” the Democratic Party from big business, but it has never been a party for working people or the left. The Democrats were originally the party of slavery and Jim Crow and the party that brought the U.S. into the Vietnam War. Many paint Franklin D Roosevelt as a champion for workers, but the “New Deal” reforms were forced on his administration by mass strikes and protests, and FDR called out the national guard to suppress strikes more than any president in history. More recently, the Democrats united with the Republican establishment in 2008 to bail out Wall Street. The Democrats promoted the militarization of police departments across the US, “tough on crime” policies that doubled the prison population, while expanding NSA domestic spying and drone bombings.

Bernie Sanders has popularized the idea that the U.S. should be more like European countries that provide everyone with free higher education, childcare, paid family leave, and health care. He repeatedly pointed out how the U.S. was the only major country on the planet without a universal public healthcare system, but Bernie left out that we are also the only major country to have never established a viable mass workers party. All the gains won in Europe in the mid-twentieth century were the result of working people building their own mass socialist parties. The ruling class feared the potential of the mobilized, independent power of the working class to challenge the capitalist parties for control of society and demand fundamental change.

Yet, in the United States, the unions and progressives never succeeded in creating a mass independent party of our own and have instead supported the Democrats, a liberal big business party. This is not primarily because of some superior design of the U.S. political system.  Historically, the stability of the two party system was fundamentally rooted in the enormous and expanding economic strength of U.S. capitalism. Up through the 1980s, every American generation lived better than their parents, cutting across support for socialist ideas and providing a material basis for the “American Dream” for big sections of the working class.

However, the last two generations are living worse than their parents, only staying above water on the basis of an expanding debt burden. Since the 1980s, neo-liberal policies have hollowed out the American economy, producing unprecedented inequality, eroding the social safety net, and ushering in a new era of political upheaval.

Especially since the 2008 economic crisis, the “American Dream” has unravelled and opened up unprecedented space for building the socialist movement and launching a new mass party of the left. Capitalism is mired in an ongoing global crisis, and there is no prospect for a return to the previous era of generous social welfare states without mass struggle and a socialist transformation of society.

A New Party of the 99% Needed

That is the historic backdrop to the collapsing popular support for the American political establishment  and both capitalist parties. The meteoric rise of Bernie Sanders on the left and Donald Trump on the right reflects the anger and frustration of a society searching for a way forward as decaying U.S. capitalism proves itself incapable of resolving any of the fundamental problems we face. Whatever the results of the 2016 elections, the political instability and polarization we’ve seen this year will only increase, both in the U.S. and globally. This underscores both the historic opportunity, and the urgent need, for the left to build a new mass party of, by, and for working people. Because if the left continues to fail this challenge history places before us, the right will continue to strengthen its position, with terrible consequences.

Bernie Sanders’ historic campaign raised nearly $230 million from over two million ordinary people, with the average donation just $27. Calling himself a democratic socialist and framing his campaign as a “political revolution against the billionaire class,” Sanders won overwhelming support among young voters and established himself as the most popular politician in America. Even within the rigged Democratic Party primary, which skewed heavily toward older, wealthier party loyalists, Sanders won 46% of the delegates. These numbers demonstrate the immediate viability of launching a new mass party of the 99%, completely independent of corporate cash.

The outline for a new party could be created on the initiative of the more left-wing unions that backed  Bernie like the National Nurses United, and bring together activists from Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, Greens, socialists, and other leftward moving social movements. A starting point could be joining together through democratic conferences to discuss a plan for running independent candidates and debating a platform and structures for a new nationwide party.

To be effective, a genuine left party could not just limit itself to electoral initiatives. Change comes primarily through mass struggle and a new party should act as an organizing center for building movements and solidarity between various struggles. To demarcate it from the establishment parties, a new party should reject corporate cash and, like Kshama Sawant, its public representatives should take only the average wage of the working people they represent while donating the rest of their salary towards building social justice movements.

The voting base of the Democrats is far to the left of the party leadership. Even many working class Republican voters – and those who don’t feel they have anyone to vote for – could be drawn to a bold fighting program to take on the corrupted political establishment. The ruling establishment of both capitalist parties, seeking to cut across the vote of a new left party, would be under pressure to make concessions. Almost everywhere local government is completely controlled by just one of the two major parties, and a new party fighting for positions on city councils and state houses could make rapid gains.

We can’t afford more elections with the right-wing as the only political force capturing the anger in U.S. society. It is urgent we begin building a powerful new party of the 99%, uniting all the social movements in society into a common political challenge to corporate politicians and the right.

Fighting racism today

Fighting racism today

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American footballer Colin Kaepernick has protested against racism (Photo Mike Morebeck/Creative Commons)

The following article was written by Hugo Pierre of the Socialist Party. Hugo is also a member of the National Executive of the UNISON trade union representing black members (writing here in a personal capacity). We believe this article raises some key issues for those wanting to fight back against racism.


Fighting racism means fighting capitalism

Solidarity with Black Lives Matter

By Hugo Pierre, Socialist Party black and Asian group

The police killing spree in the United States has unleashed a mass movement.

As in the 1950s and 1960s with the civil rights movement, a new generation of black youth has been forced into action against racism. First in the belly of the beast – the US – but also other parts of the world, particularly the UK.

This movement is not limited to the narrow confines of police brutality. It has spread its wings to tackle all the political issues facing black people and oppressed racial groups. Some are drawing the conclusion that capitalism itself is the root of the problem.

The federal investigation into Ferguson Police Department following the police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown shines a spotlight on the real issues facing blacks in particular. In a city where 69% of the population is black, the investigation found a justice system riddled with institutionalised racism:

  • 93% of all arrests were black – and in 90% of these arrests, force was used
  • Black drivers made up 85% of all vehicles stopped, even though these searches revealed they were 25% less likely to be carrying anything illegal
  • 95% of those jailed for more than two days were black
  • Blacks were 68% less likely to have their case dismissed

But the findings also revealed a corrupt justice system that had become focused on bringing in income from fines. This income was necessary to maintain the whole justice system, as it had become commercialised through a succession of cuts and sell-offs.

For-profit justice

Meanwhile, a system operated where white people who faced fines would be let off by friends, acquaintances, neighbours – and even themselves – working in the court system. Racist emails, even by senior staff, were a matter of course.

This profit-driven approach had lethal consequences for Michael Brown. But the picture is repeated one way or another in police forces around the US. And a black US President and countless black city mayors have failed to take action against a for-profit justice system.

Jails are full of young black men. They are typecast because of petty misdemeanours in school, fallen foul of ‘zero tolerance’ policies. They end up being statistics in privatised US jails which have to meet their quotas to get government payments.

More young black men are in US jails than on US college campuses. Black communities are blighted by poverty, unemployment and de facto segregation. Growing filming of racist incidents shows how brutal police action is, as testified recently by the killing of Philando Castile in his car in front of his girlfriend and her young child.

Resistance

But black youth across the US have organised mass civil disobedience in response. The #BlackLivesMatter movement has acted as a lightning rod for the discontent and anger of the many. Demonstrations are now a feature following almost any police killing.

Protests in cities have shut down freeways, closed city centres. Some have been attacked by police. Some have led to uprisings against state forces. In Ferguson, the chief of police was forced to resign. But no officer responsible for killing unarmed black men or women has been found guilty of murder.

Rallies, demonstrations and direct action are not limited just to tackling police murders. And the outrage against police killings isn’t limited to the US.

Black Lives Matter demonstrations started in sympathy in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and other cities. Of course, black workers and youth in the UK have our own victims. The killings this year alone of Mzee Mohammed and Dalian Atkinson at the hands of British police have caused outrage.

These anti-racist campaigns have brought to the surface the often-hidden inequalities that face young black people: higher rates of unemployment, lower access to higher education, lower access to graduate jobs.

Figures released by the Trade Union Congress showed that London, often considered to be diverse and tolerant, had one of the highest gaps between black and white youth unemployment rates. This was not simply an issue of ‘skills mismatch’. When looking at workers with comparable qualifications, black youth could be two to three times more likely to be unemployed.

Studies by UK trade unions have also found that during the post-2007 ‘Great Recession’ and its mass shedding of jobs, black workers were more likely to face redundancy. Some local councils have sacked black workers five or six times as fast as their white workmates. Shamefully, there is little difference in the outcome for black workers whichever party controls the council.

The ‘Movement for Black Lives’ campaign in the US is drawing political conclusions.

This has come not long after the anti-establishment Occupy movement. It’s hot on the heels of the outline of a political campaign against the super-rich represented by self-described socialist Bernie Sanders’ presidential nomination campaign. Young people have lifted their sights.

Demands

The Movement for Black Lives has started to raise many political demands around which various campaign groups can organise political action. These include “an end to the war on black people”, “economic justice”, and investment in education and health rather than “the criminalising, caging and harming of black people”.

These are the beginnings of a programme for a political alternative. This is very welcome. But although it highlights many issues seriously, it also currently has some limitations.

The campaign’s platform recognises the fundamental right of workers to organise, and the need for collective action. There is criticism of the weakness of current US legislation which enshrines the right to organise, but then is toothless when employers refuse to allow workers to exercise that right. It notes the strength of unionised workers in raising the living standards of black people in both the public and private sectors.

Calling for tougher pro-union legislation, and the repeal of anti-union legislation, is right – but alone will not lead to a change in the situation.

The trade unions will be crucial in developing bold, campaigning organisations to bring workers of all races together to fight for rights at work, against discrimination, and against poverty pay and conditions. Especially in the US – but also in the UK – changing the rotten, pro-capitalist leadership of many of those unions, and widening union democracy, are crucial to this task.

The need to challenge the racist capitalist state will also be central to any successful programme. But simple reforms aimed at encouraging full participation in the current ‘democratic’ process will not lead to a fundamental shift in the balance of power from the super-rich 1% to the 99%. For that, we need to take economic power from the capitalists.

Anti-establishment

As in the 1960s, campaigns around voter registration could mobilise substantial numbers to engage. But voter dissatisfaction with both Clinton and Trump means these campaigns will have to break with establishment politics to make real headway.

The two successful Seattle City Council elections campaigns for Kshama Sawant, a member of the Socialist Party’s US co-thinkers Socialist Alternative, show what achievements are possible when workers have socialist representatives to back their campaigns.

Sawant helped win a $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle, the first major US city to adopt it. She plays a leading role in fighting poor housing conditions and anti-working class housing regulations. These are major gains, and have helped to inspire a new generation of black and white young people into political activity.

Corbyn

Similarly, in the UK, the campaign to keep Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party has given some political expression to the millions who want a fight against austerity. Some blacks have taken part, but many more will be wary at this stage, because of the right-wing Labour establishment blocking their participation.

Momentum, the ‘official’ Corbyn support group, must not fall into the traps Labour’s right wing has set. Blocking forces outside the Labour Party from getting involved, and backing down to establishment Labour politicians, will blunt or blot out the mobilising effect Corbynism could have.

In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, the mass civil rights movement was initiated by trade unionists and socialists. They enlisted the services of the churches and the broader community to help organise mass campaigns throughout the US.

The leaders that came through this movement were forced to change their views – and ended by groping towards the ideas of genuine socialism. Figures like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King started their political lives with a religious fervour, but were assassinated because they took the side of the working class.

Socialism

Malcolm X said “you can’t have capitalism without racism.” Martin Luther King said “There must be better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.” He was assassinated a day after marching with striking sanitation workers. The Black Panther Party correctly adopted the ideas of socialism – but unfortunately, without a thorough understanding of what it would take to achieve a socialist society.

Black youth have opened a new chapter of struggle against racism. New movements like Black Lives Matter could play a key role in bringing young people to participate in this essential struggle. The conditions they face will force them to fight to the end.

The lessons of previous movements will have to be learnt quickly. The key lesson is that the struggle to end racism is linked at every level to the struggle against the rule of an economic and political elite which relies on racism to justify exploitation and keep workers divided against each other. That means the struggle against racism must also be the struggle for a socialist society.

If you agree with us, we urge you to join the struggle

Coventry commemorates Nakba

Coventry commemorates Nakba 

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Flash mob organised by Coventry Friends of Palestine

Saturday afternoon saw  Coventry people come together to take part in a flash mob organised by Coventry Friends of Palestine, to commemorate the Nakba. The Nakba, or catastrophe, refers to the forced displacement and exile of the Palestinian people from their land following the creation of the state of Israel.

The event was part of week of action taking place across the UK and further afield, starting on Saturday 7th May and culminating on 15th May, the day on which the Palestinians officially commemorate.

Speakers included Andy Pettit from Stop the War Coalition, anti arms trade campaigner Paul McGowan, and Manal Timraz.

Members of Coventry Socialist Party supported this event, carrying the red banner of our international organisation, the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) and holding placards in English, Arabic and Hebrew of the Socialist Struggle Movement, our sister organisation in Israel-Palestine. We also distributed our Israel Palestine Bulletin which details the work of the CWI in the region.

With speeches, brilliant music and leaflets being distributed, the event made sure that the ongoing struggle of the Palestinian people does not go unrecognised. The establishment media and political parties are silent on this issue – therefore it falls to ordinary people across the world to build a movement in solidarity with the oppressed of the Middle East.

Coventry has a proud history of solidarity with the Palestinians, with big demonstrations organised against the attacks on Gaza, and ongoing events and actions to deepen that solidarity.

With the increase in settlement building in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza by the governments of Israel and Egypt, that solidarity will become even more vital and necessary. Coventry Socialist Party looks forward to continuing the solidarity and putting forward a programme and policies that we think can end the cycle of violence in the Middle East.

We are pleased to share this document from Socialist Struggle in Israel-Palestine that looks at the current situation, and also at our online resources page on this website

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