A Future That Works

A Future That Works
NO2aTory/Liberal coalition - Vote with your feet for an alternative to a neo-liberal economy and neo-conservative state Yes2aLeftFront and a Red/Green Left Alliance

Tuesday, 27 December 2011


It’s more critical that the Left apply theory and practices than in the 1930’s or the world of 2025 could be more Orwellian than many could imagine.


  1. Capitalism’s golden age v a lost 30 years – great infographic


    looks a bit like a long wave!


  2. This certainly means abandoning some of the tactics and strategies that applied in the mid-20th century when communists, socialists and social-democrats had a degree of protection and flexibility offered by the existence of the Soviet Union. It could be argued we have to return to the strategies and tactics of a similar political and economic era (ref. graph NYT2). If 2007/8 equates to 1929 on the Kondratiev economic cycle then we could now be in a period equivalent to 1931 and the great depression which lasted at least until the start of the Second World War and technically it lasted until 1949. We have a long way to go before this crisis ends even on the basis of it being the normal economic cycle of capitalism.

  3. The case for socialism is just as valid as it was seventy or eighty years ago. In the 1930’s many on the left expected capitalism to collapse and revolution to bring about the triumph of socialism, greatly underestimating the ability of the capitalist classes to adapt and use nationalist politics and fascist governments to their own ends. In Germany the SPD underestimated the fascists and I suspect reactionary capitalist propagandists will make full use of nationalist feelings again as the crisis and IMF/ECB austerity bites.

  4. Some of the strategies and tactics of the 1930’s should be copied and taken on board. The French popular front which saw communist revolutionaries and socialist reformists working together were quite successful and there is a strong case for similar tactics again in forming left alliances to defeat centre-right conservative/liberal coalitions.

  5. This is obviously less viable in Britain under FPTP than it is in Europe where PR is the electoral practice.

  6. In the immediate future how do we put socialism/social-democracy back on the agenda at the national, regional and international level, where are the trigger points at which political and economic pressure can best be applied? I think I’ve got to accept Jon’s analyses that the CPB are so far from his or my view that they may as well be on another planet. As I’ve said before I think we need another left party like we need a hole in the head, but if the CPB aren’t going to provide the political party structure then where do we go from here? The SP are equally as anti-Europe and the AGS are too small a political organization although they could be the British group best suited to becoming the basis for developing an EL party in Britain. They would no doubt need the support and financial help of the left parties of the EL and GUE/NGL and it could be years before they could be a real player politically.

  7. This is why I view the CPB’s position as a catastrophe in the current economic crisis when there is a real need for a British Marxist party in the fightback against forces of national, regional and global capital. As Jon points out our personal interpretations of the Soviet Union’s successes and failures in the 20th century are not helpful to the current class struggle in the 21st century against international finance capital. Like Josip Tito, I draw a distinction between Marxism and Leninism as a theory of capitalism and how to approach building socialism that is separate from Stalinism. Tito argued for ‘‘a workers front’’ and opposed left/right factions in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, Tito was also a committed internationalist, he came from a less academic background than Lenin as an instrument maker, shop steward and full time union official in Zagreb and then Croatia before leading the only other successful socialist revolution in Europe to that which Lenin led in Russia, as an engineer I guess that’s why I identify with his practical approach and analysis.

  8. I still think the best strategy for the left in Britain is to ally itself with the European Left led by Pierre Laurent national secretary of the French Communist Party and on a practical level support the French and German communist and socialist petition for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and the amendments instigated by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy which impose IMF and ECB austerity rules and make the recession/depression worse. The British Left have to take the fight to Strasbourg and Brussels as well as Westminster and as there isn’t a British Left party prepared to do this it will fall on union leaders like Len McCluskey of Unite to take on the political role that should be the job of Ed Miliband and Rob Griffiths. This is where I see the CPB leadership failing to grasp not just the theoretical nature but the practical response required of a Marxist and Leninist party. Ed Miliband’s excuse is he has no theoretical base as a product of neo-liberal new-labourism other than to oppose the Euro-sceptic right of the Tory party and therefore basically support Merkel, Sarkozy and the diktats of the IMF and global finance capital.

  9. it could be another twenty years before any significant upturn in any economic long wave cycle that’s assuming growth of the levels required according David Harvey to generate an upturn are possible to sustain another Keynesian social-democratic phase of capitalism on a global scale, which would this time include the developing nations of India, China and possibly Africa. This is why I believe it’s very possible we are in the final stage of capitalism as envisaged by Lenin and Luxemburg, like Lenin and Luxemburg, I would argue the progressive phase of capitalism that Marx wrote about has passed. It was the golden age of welfare capitalism enjoyed between 1945 and 1975 in the developed western democracy’s built on the imperialist relationship with the underdeveloped and developing world.

  10. It’s my view therefore that based on the economic arguments of David Harvey and the ecological arguments of John Bellamy Foster and Joel Kovel that social-democratic welfare capitalism isn’t an option. Defending the material and democratic gains of the Keynesian period of welfare capitalism can prevent the capitalist classes from solving the systemic crisis of capitalism in their class interest and hopefully preventing human society descending into the barbarism envisaged by Lenin and Luxemburg. If the alternatives are barbarism or socialism on a global scale with perpetual wars over resources such as we have seen in Iraqi, Afghanistan Libya and possibly Iran. Then however difficult coordinating a united left front of British, European and Scandinavian communist and socialist groups may be it’s a project that Marxist and non-Marxists on the left of politics in the developed bourgeois democracies of the European Union should be perusing.

  11. Whilst there are differences between the EL group of communist and socialist parties and the GUE/NGL parliamentary group with individual parties taking a European or nationalist Eurosceptic position they do form a block of left parties. The Finish Green Left Vasemmistoliitto, communist party of Greece Kommunistiko Komma Elladas take a similar anti-integrationist line but are members of the GUE/NGL European parliamentary group. In my view the French communist party Parti Communiste Francais and German left party Die Linke take the most useful line proposing united action to oppose the neo-liberal/neo-conservative direction that the EU has persuade since the Maastricht Treaty.

    Most of the PES group of parties like our own Labour Party have moved increasingly to the right accepting the neo-liberal/neo-conservative consensus and abandoning social-democracy/socialism as a reformist project that belong to the 20th century but no longer achievable in the globalized political economy of the 21st century. This is of course the Blair/Brown/Mandelson settlement which declared we are all Thatcherites now, and a reversal of the Macmillan/Butler settlement which declared in the 1950’s we are all social-democrats now. I personally cannot see why the two left groups haven’t amalgamated into one unified group, but there is obviously a complicated history. On the one hand some of the Scandinavian Left-Green parties are wary of the left parties from the former communist states and the Greek Communists are wary of the more pro-European parties in the EL. So whilst they see the necessity to be in the GUE/NGL parliamentary group chose not to affiliate to the EL group.

    On a national level the German Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, (SPD) may form alliances with the left party Die Linke and the French Parti Socialiste (PS) may form an alliance with the Parti Communiste Français, (PCF) they are ideologically different. The SPD and PS are non-Marxist parties, whereas Die Linke and PCF are Marxist parties. It’s also true that in the European parliament at Strasburg the PES and GUE/NGL groups can vote together against the Conservative and Liberal blocs and against the new treaty. As the conservative and liberal parties have a majority over the social-democratic, socialist and communist parties obviously they cannot prevent neo-liberal/neo-conservative legislation. Whilst the EL and GUE/NGL form the smaller group in the Strasburg parliament they represent the real alternative to the neo-liberal/neo-conservative consensus in the European Union.

  12. Whilst Die Linke and the Parti Communiste Françaismay may appear to be following the practices of social-democratic reform and the SPD are now like Labour following the practices of the neo-liberal settlement. I would argue from a Marxian perspective by defending the post-war social-democratic settlement and the bargaining power of labour against capital which therefore reduces the level of exploitation and profit rate along with maintaining the social bundle paid to the sick, disabled and unemployed Marxist parties prevent the capitalist classes from solving the realization and fiscal crisis that has occurred due to the discrepancy between planned and achievable growth.

    How that plays out with regard to Marxist revolutionary strategies after the First World War in Russia or the Second World War in Yugoslavia as against the reformist strategy perused after 1945, I cannot predict. But its seams the best strategy the Marxist Left can pursue in practice based on a Marxist analysis of the nature of the economic and financial crisis that has occurred since 2007. It’s a strategy that is based on Marxist theory and practice and is therefore different from the mere defensive actions and retreat seen by the social-democratic parties such as the Labour Party or the SPD and PS parties of Britain, German and France have pursued over the last couple of decades. There is no guarantee that it will work, but it’s a plan and it’s a plan that the Communist Party of Britain could adopt by joining forces with the European Left Group.

  13. Meaningless platitudes or leadership and original insight into the class struggle

    Forward in unity, not backward in defeat

    ‘‘Only working-class unity, backed by a broad section of public opinion, bears the potential to turn back this massive ruling class offensive’’

    ‘‘Faced with the ravages of monopoly capitalism, what all workers and their families need in Britain is hope and confidence in a political alternative to the current unelected, illegitimate regime’’

    ‘‘Maximum discussion should take place in order to achieve the maximum unity in action’’

    ‘‘Smashing this government's austerity and privatisation programme would contribute to the struggle across Europe against EU diktats designed to bail out the banks’’

    (Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain)


    The euro's demise won't be a picnic for workers

    ‘‘Re-establishing national currencies would reduce centralism and devolve some economic power back to nation-states, but could also create problems’’

    ‘‘Small independent national parliaments are unlikely to be able to effectively control the power of international finance capital with or without the euro’’

    ‘‘With or without the euro finance capital will always seek to increase the economic exploitation of the mass of working people’’

    The euro's demise, if it happens, won't necessarily boost democratic accountability one bit.

    (Jamie Lang, Letters Morning Star)


  14. Which offers meaningless platitudes or leadership and which insight into the class struggle?

  15. What’s needed are people of character and charisma not bureaucrats who just iterate platitudes.


  16. If the social-democratic and socialist project is to be revived and move from a defensive retreat allowing the social, political and economic gains of the 20th century to be eroded at varying rates under either conservative, liberal and social-democratic parties the EL and GUE/NGL groups offer the best chance of this, which was why I hoped the CPB, SP and AGS alliance would go for that option in the last European election and why I was dismayed at the choice of No2EU, which I see as a dead-end leading only to the continued advance of the neo-liberal/neo-conservative project either within or outside of the European Union. Правда or not, It did lead me to suspect that some of the CPB, SP and possibly Bob Crow's RMT were actually special branch or MI5 agents.

  17. Ed M has betrayed the unions and left that supported and voted for him, he was always a lightweight politician with little backbone. Posing as centre-left to get the union votes whilst adhering to centre-right ideology, no surprises there. How do the unions and labour activists reclaim the Labour Party, maybe it’s not possible, maybe it’s time to call it a day. But if that is truly the case then where is the credible Left alliance of parties in Britain, the SP would like to see themselves as the new mass party of labour, the CPB see themselves as the true revolutionary party whilst supporting Labour as the mass party of labour and the AGS are so small that they don’t really count at all, then we have the ultra-left SWP and numerous other small groups, parties etc. The Morning Star and CPB will in the end just advocate coming out of the EU as though that will miraculously lead to socialism in Britain, we know the reality is it could lead to the breakup of the British Union and the dominance of the far-right in England. Wales and Scotland would probably negotiate their own membership of the EU with the Republic of Ireland, not a pretty thought for the left in England, well done CPB and SP, played right into the hands of Cameron, Clegg, Miliband’s and Copper.

  18. I guess we are where we were in 1997 with three neo-liberal/neo-conservative parties of government. What do those who wish for a decent civilized society do? In the elections they try to vote for whichever party or coalition of parties they perceive as the least obnoxious or they don’t vote at all, then what. Support the union movements defensive struggles at the economic level, but what about a political offensive to coincide with the defensive economic struggle. It’s the classic dilemma of socialists, particularly Marxists who see the ultimate weakness with the reformist road to socialism as compared with the revolutionary road. Britain its European and Scandinavian Left parties are at a historical cross roads, one road leads to the reformist route the other the revolutionary route.

    It may be that balancing the two options has been closed down to socialists and social-democrats as a result of neo-liberal/neo-conservative global governance. If this is the case then the broad left will be forced to re-evaluate 20th century political history and the consequences of both the revolutionary and reformist failures and why capitalism triumphed. Either way socialism is no longer an option in one country and only an international road to socialism can succeed against the forces of international finance capital and global governance, whether it’s a revolutionary or reformist road and whether the two can be combined as a joint strategy between the bourgeois democracies of the developed world and autocracies of the developing world. It may be that in Britain we have witnessed the end of the reformist road, if so where does that leave socialism and social-democracy.

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  20. Where is the Labour Party now heading?

    I think Len McCluskey and the other leaders of the British labour movement are correct in asking what difference has Ed Miliband made. Reclaiming the Labour Party for social-democracy never mind socialism is looking increasingly difficult if possible at all, what should the labour movement leadership do?

    Maybe it’s time to ask the membership that pay the political levy if they want to continue funding the Labour Party or whether it’s time to break with the party and fund union sponsored MP’s and MEP’s and possible look at alternatives and use their influence on the CPB and SP as Bob Crow and the RMT have done.

    As Len McCluskey attended the Europe Against Austerity Conference with Pierre Laurent, President, European Left group, Sevim Dagdelen MP for DieLinke and chaired by Left-Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn maybe it’s time to seriously look at funding party candidates under the European United Left/Nordic Green Left Group ticket rather than the Labour Party/PES parties of European Social-Democrats.



  21. Unions slam Labour's cuts capitulation

    ‘‘Blairite reheats do not serve working people, and will not serve our country either’’


    Our unity will deliver justice

    ‘‘Capitulation to the politics of austerity and despair is not fairness. It is an admission that the government in this country sees its job as one of stitching together capitalism, however broken it may be………And for anyone hit in some way by welfare job or wage cuts, where can they go for an alternative?’’


    (Len McCluskey Morning Star 17/01/2012)


  22. Terry Eagleton to former IMF economist Nouriel Roubini has said ‘‘Karl Marx was right’’ Marx argued that capitalism would eventually destroy itself. The philosopher John Gray says Marx was right in predicting that capitalism would eventually undermine the middle-class lifestyle, thus descending ever more of us (the 99%) into wage slavery. What Marx understood was that that it’s about ‘‘class struggle’’ as we look into the vortex of recession.

    Each new crisis takes the capitalist system which extracts ‘‘surplus value’’ in the form of profit from the people who actually produce it nearer to its final end. But he also said that there is no limit that capitalism won't cross, no social bond it won't break, and no bounds to its ‘‘ingenuity’’ in making a buck from other peoples' misfortune.

  23. ''An International does not mean sitting at the same table and having hypocritical and pettifogging resolutions written by people who think that genuine internationalism consists in German socialists justifying the German bourgeoisie’s call to shoot down French workers, and in French socialists justifying the French bourgeoisie’ call to shoot down German workers in the name of the 'defence of the fatherland'! The International consists in the coming together (first ideologically, then in due time organisationally as well) of people who, in these grave days, are capable of defending socialist internationalism in deed, i.e., of mustering their forces and 'being the next to shoot' at the governments and the ruling classes of their own respective 'fatherlands'.'' (V I Lenin, Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Vol. 21, p94-101)

  24. ''Three currents exist in international socialism: (1) the chauvinists, who are consistently pursuing a policy of opportunism; (2) the consistent opponents of opportunism, who in all countries have already begun to make themselves heard (the opportunists have routed most of them, but 'defeated armies learn fast'), and are capable of conducting revolutionary work directed towards civil war; (3) confused and vacillating people, who at present are following in the wake of the opportunists and are causing the proletariat most harm by their hypocritical attempts to justify opportunism, something that they do almost scientifically and using the Marxist (sic!) method.'' (V I Lenin, Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Vol. 21, p94-101)

  25. Lenin argued that nationalist and chauvinistic patriotism isn’t the correct Marxist strategy unlike the developing nations which in included Eastern and Southern Europe. (Lenin’s Collected Works Vol. 23 p38 cited in N Harding, Lenin’s Political Thought Vol. 2 p65, 66)

    Lenin was arguing that where capitalism hasn’t consolidated itself internally by destroying feudalism, national liberation movement are an appropriate political and economic part of the strategy towards socialism, defending native cultures and freedom from exploitation by the developed nation states of capitalist imperialism. What Lenin was arguing was (is) that in the developed nation states national unity should be replaced by class unity. (Lenin’s Collected Works Vol. 23 p59 cited in N Harding, Lenin’s Political Thought Vol. 2 p67)

    The reactionary ethos of capitalism becomes (has become) manifest in both the developing and developed nation states in the highest stage of capitalism as 'foreign and home policy as imperialism strives towards violations of democracy and towards reaction'. (Lenin’s Collected Works Vol. 23 p43 cited in N Harding, Lenin’s Political Thought Vol. 2 p67)

  26. He who wishes to be useful must be able to 'sift through' the material-dialectics as to 'which stand for opportunism and treachery'. There are compromises and its necessary to analyse which are evolving internationalism. (''Left Wing'' Communism An Infantile Disorder by Vladimir Lenin, Communist Party, Pelican Press London 1920, p23) According to Lenin ''to refuse co-operation and compromise with possible allies_is not this an infinitely laughable thing'' and ''to go sometimes in zig-zags, sometimes retracting… sometimes giving up the course once selected and trying others'' (Lenin pp52-53) Marxism is a theory of dialectical-materialism not a dogma, the purpose is to be able to deduce tactics which raise and not lower the level of class-consciousness. ((''Left Wing'' Communism An Infantile Disorder by Vladimir Lenin, Communist Party, Pelican Press London, 1920 pp53-54)

  27. As a basic rule, practices which move in the direction of class-consciousness and internationalism are theoretically correct practices. Those which move in the direction of social-chauvinism and towards nationalism fall into the category opportunist left-communism. Lenin wrote ''it is not sufficient…..to renounce the crying absurdities on 'national-bolshevism' which has talked itself into a bloc with the bourgeoisie…one must understand those tactics to be fundamentally wrong''. (Lenin p56) Lenin’s argument was Marxists must evaluate all the economic, political and social forces nationally and internationally. His overriding assessment and conclusion was that capitalism is an international force and therefore socialism has to be international rather than national in its theory and practices.

  28. ‘‘It is not sufficient….to renounce the crying absurdities on 'national-bolshevism' which has talked itself into a bloc with...bourgeoisie…one must understand those tactics to be fundamentally wrong'' (Lenin p56) Lenin agues Marxists must evaluate all the forces ''It is for communists to build up the forces which will overthrow the social-patriots'' (Lenin p64) ''mistakes on the part of the left-communists are now all the more dangerous'' (Lenin p66) ''British communists must…unite all their four parties and groups (all of them very weak, some very, very weak…)''. (Lenin p66)

    Lenin saw social-chauvinism and left-doctrinarianism as a fundamental problem holding back the class struggle. He argued that there isn’t a single model of practices and tactics applicable to all nation states, that’s the fundamental error of left-doctrinarism. (Lenin pp71-72) Lenin argued that the transition from bourgeois democracy to a proletarian revolution cannot be achieved by the vanguard party alone. He said propaganda and agitation alone isn’t enough. This was true in both the developed and developing world. (Lenin p73)

  29. Lenin acknowledged the differences between nation states culturally and in levels of development, but saw the general crisis of capitalism as a result of the contradictions that result from a system based on creating surplus-value for profit as opposed to a system based on use-value to satisfy human needs.

    He argued that those Marxists and I add Marxist-Leninists who follow national-bolshevism and sectarian dogma show themselves to be ''un-dialectic'' and ''incapable of reckoning with the rapid changes'' so ''they continue to repeat the simple, and at first glance self-evident truth once learned by rote''.

    The mistakes of left-communists must he argued be corrected, the idea that there is only one road to socialism and ''not admit manoeuvres, co-operation, compromise is a mistake which is….in fact has brought and is bringing the most serious harm'' to the cause of socialism. (''Left Wing'' Communism An Infantile Disorder by Vladimir Lenin, Communist Party, Pelican Press London, 1920, p81)

  30. In Britain Marxists need to work with social-democrats and socialist inside the Labour Party, also at this historic and geographic stage of the dynamics of globalized (imperialist) monopoly finance capital the priority work of the Marxist vanguard is to build a Left Front of the AGS, CPB, SP and SWP like the CAP, GU, PCF, PG and PCOF in France. And that this should like the Front de Gauche be a part of the EL and GUE/NGL led by Pierre Laurent national secretary of the Parti Communiste Français and Gabi Zimmer of Die Linke.


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