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Opposition Statement to LRC Affiliation: ‘No Support for Labour – No Support for the LRC’

December 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Reproduced from Communist Students.

At a Communist Students’ Exec meeting on the 13th of December, a decision was made to affiliate to the Labour Representation Committee (LRC).

The driving force behind this was Ben Lewis of the Provisional Central Committee of the CPGB, which has recently adopted a set of theses on the Labour Party.[1] Some points of which would get support within the ranks of the LRC, for example the democratisation of the Labour Party.[2] Crucially important though for the issue at hand is the dangerous conception of a permanent united front between Communists and the Labour Party contained within these theses. Where the CPGB’s contradictory perspective of simultaneously organising a political force independent of social democracy and at the same time trying to transform the Labour Party into a “real party of labour” and putting the Labour Party into office in order to expose its leadership, is made.

The LRC was set up in 2004 to act as a pressure group within the Labour Party; It now boasts 150 affiliated organisations, including six unions and 1,000 members. It is clear by the noises that it makes that it seeks to “rebuild” the Party.[3] The LRC is committed to “restore (sic) the operation of a fully democratic Labour Party”, “encourage people to rejoin Labour” and the “election of a Labour Government”.[4] Membership is barred to all those who belong to a party which stands candidates against the Labour Party.[5] Communist Students should not support any of these aims and by joining the LRC and accepting its constitution we are not helping to win workers away from social democracy but doing the opposite – implying that there is something worthwhile at the root of left-labourism and reinforcing its politics. Worse still, we are contributing to the socialist cover that the LRC provides.

Those who support affiliation argue that Marxists should use the LRC to argue for communist politics, as they have attempted previously.[6] This is a typical position taken by the Weekly Worker, that of an orientation towards ‘the left’. Those present at LRC conference will either be members of various socialist groups or similarly committed followers of social democracy. While it is necessary to win people away from such politics – it is idealist to think this can be achieved through work within the LRC because it fails to understand that its membership corresponds to particular ideas and consciousness that expresses the politics of a certain section of the labour bureaucracy.

In response to our opposition to LRC affiliation we are characterised as taking a sectarian position, not wanting our revolutionary credentials to become muddied by mixing with the dirty reformists of the LRC. However, this treats affiliation and engagement with LRC members as mutually exclusive. The LRC members who are most likely to be won to Marxism are those whom we shall meet on demonstrations or work with in anti-cuts groups, LRC affiliation does not affect our contact with these layers.

The CPGB thesis implies that the labour left wing is an ally.[7] This is an error, LRC councillors in London have already admitted that they will by implementing the cuts agenda. This clearly shows that the Labour left wing is not an ally in the struggle against all cuts.

For a group of such meagre resources, affiliation to the LRC sends out a message about our priorities and orientation. The LRC makes up some of the working class, but not all of it. Our immediate aims should be do engage with our peers and work colleagues, newly politicised students on demonstrations and workers on picket lines. Affiliation to the LRC is at best a distraction from this struggle.

Signed
Mark Harrison (CS Exec)
Ronan McNabb (CS Manchester)
Sebastian Osthoff (CS Manchester)
James O’Leary (CS Manchester)

Notes

1. ‘Draft theses on the Labour Party’

2. Ibid, point 18.

3. D. Lewis, ‘Good start made’

4. ‘Labour Representation Committee Rules and Constitution’

5. Ibid.

6. At the founding conference of the Socialist Youth Network (youth section of the LRC) CS was able to pass a motion calling for ‘open borders’.

7. ‘Draft theses’, point 24.

Exit of the ‘marxist faction’ from Solidarity

December 12, 2010 4 comments

Taken from A.O, ‘Political Consequences of A Philosophical Illusion’, Solidarity: For Workers’ Power, Vol. 7, No. 6 (April 22 1973), pp. 19-20
Around 1973 ‘Solidarity’ seemed to suddenly develop the habit of publishing reports of their meetings, one of the first in this series contained the following account of the ‘marxist faction’ of the group jettisoning themselves. If my dissertation research is correct this group left ‘Solidarity’ calling themselves ‘Council Communism’ before meeting the group in France mentioned below and becoming what we now know as the British section of the International Communist Current.
The extract mentions that this group has existed for some months, although there was no mention of this fact in any previous editions of the journal. Further, the group is only mentioned again once in passing in the January 1974 issue of the journal.

… The meeting started with a discussion on classes and class struggle in modern society, and went on the discuss, in this light, the difference between meaningful and sterile activity. In the middle of this discussion three members of London SOLIDARITY and one member of the Oxford Group jointly left the meeting in a demonstrative manner, having made statements and distributed a pile of voluminous documents dealing with their political disagreements. These members had constituted themselves as a marxist faction and had acted as a group within the group for some months. Their main differences concerned our critique of Marx’s views on history, economics and social struggles, and our attitude to such matters as the ‘objective’ basis for and meaning of revolution and socialism.

Those who left expressed strong disagreement with two pamphlets yet to be published (Cardan’s ‘Revolution Re-affirmed‘ and our new pamphlet on Vietnam) and with two older texts (namely ‘History and Revolution‘ and ‘Modern capitalism and Revolution‘.
As the latter had been published and widely distributed long before they had joined the group, one might conclude that they had perhaps discovered these critiques after joining the group, they had gone to the wrong shop, and bought the wrong goods – although the goods had been clearly labelled. Alternatively, they had entered a group with whose politics they disagreed, hoping to win over some of its members.
The contribution of these comrades proved very different from what they had intended. The whole period of discussing marxism with them in fact deepened and strengthened our critique of marxism. One could almost say that the chapter of struggling to liberate oneself from the grip of Marx’s views on philosophy, history, society, economics and politics is, for the time being, over for SOLIDARITY (london). The marxist faction, while rejecting our critique of Marx and our positive ideas which flowed from it, had never clarified its own politics in positive terms (for instance in relation to ‘war’ or to ‘the slump). It seems as if this brand of marxism is still (desperately?) holding on to the idea of an ‘objective basis’ for revolution, but that it has partly replaced the idea of the inevitability of a Third World War* – if capitalism is not overthrown by a social revolution before hand.
Both these views are alien to us and we are glad that those who uphold them will no longer disseminate them in the name of SOLIDARITY, but under a name of their own. In its hectoring style, nit-picking content and systematic misrepresentation, their document epitomises everything in the trad left that SOLIDARITY was formed to transcend…

…* One of our marxists (J.M) recently advocated the publication in Solidarity of a leaflet (with which he said he agreed) produced by the French Group Revolution Internationale. This stated that the ‘India-Pakistan war demonstrated the gravity of the crisis of the capitalist world – a crisis which tends to push it towards a new generalised war. As the Spanish war in 1936 in relation to the Second World War, the India-Pakistan war can be today a rehearsal of a new world-wide massacre’.

Solidarity spoof exam paper

December 6, 2010 1 comment

Taken from ‘LSE: a question of degree’ by Bob Dent.
Click image for PDF or read text below.

 

UNIVERSITY OF LONDON

B.Sc. (Unemployment) Examination 1972

PART II

COMMON SENSE

Monday 24th May, 2.30 to 2.45

Answer FOUR questions, at least TWO of which are on the paper

1. ‘If a question is worth doing, it can’t be done in forty minutes. If it can be done in forty minutes, then it’s not worth doing,’ Consider.

2. Either (a) Assess the contribution of Victor Serge and Margaret Mead to education theory* or (b) ‘In examiners’ hands students cease to be historical actors in their own right.’ Discuss.

3. How valid is the concept of failure?

4. What evidence does recent survey research provide regarding the reasons why a paper would be considered a first at one university and a faliure at another?

5. ‘Education is the opiate of the middle classes’. Compare and contrast this concept to the one of ‘equal opportunity in education’: which of these two concepts can better explain present conditions?

6. What do you understand by the term ‘understand’?

7. ‘The seeds of Fascism are to be found, not in the organisation of force but in the organisation of the school’. Discuss with reference to the works of Wilhelm Reich.

8. How far does the fact that one never sees an examination paper after one has written it contribute to the interest of the activity?

9. Discuss the role of creativity in the examination room.

10. Who determines the syllabus? To what extent can one satisfactorily answer this question at either the local or the national level? Discuss with reference to any one socio-economic system.

11. ‘Success is a nineteenth century invention’. Discuss.

12. Outline the functionalist nature of present education. Why is knowledge of the functional nature of education not conductive to the control and manipulation of students?

13. When did you first realise that you were superior to 96% of the rest of the population?

 

* Neither Victor Serge nor Margaret Mead ever went to school.