This is the editorial from the current issue of Socialist Fight. The entire publication can be read here:
Jeremy Corbyn’s challenge for the leadership of the Labour Party has spooked the neo-liberal political elite that have dominated Labour since the days of Neil Kinnock. For the last two months Corbyn and his supporters have been patronised and ridiculed by all manner of Blarite and Brownite luminaries. Now the latest opinion poll has shown that he has the potential to win the leadership election outright with over 50% of the first preference votes, massively defeating Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper. The crypto-Tory, overtly Blairite candidate Liz Kendall is forecast to come last with a humiliating tally.
Labour’s neo-liberals are desperately trying to stave off humiliation by witchhunting those relatively few organised leftists formally outside Labour who have signed up to vote. But there is nothing they can do about the many tens of thousands of newly energised left-wingers joining Labour either as members or supporters who do not have any such affiliations. This is not entrism; this is a mass movement that Miliband and Collins did not expect when they abolished the special voting privileges of MPs and invited the public to sign up as supporters.
The outcome of the Greek referendum considerably exceeded the expectations of the SYRIZA-led coalition government that called it, as well as most observers. They were painted into a corner by their own conciliation of the neo-liberal leaders of Europe, faced with their humiliating ‘offer’ of a bailout in demand for further massive cuts in pensions and social benefits. The SYRIZA government was faced with what in effect was an attempt to force a recently-elected government out of office; Alexis Tsipras turned to the Greek working-class masses and asked for their backing.
Their courage in resisting the demands of the Troika far exceeds that of their left-reformist leadership. This was shown by the immediate aftermath of the 61% landslide victory of the ‘OXI’ (no) side, despite the NAI (yes) side having the backing of the entire privately-owned news media, with an avalanche of mendacious propaganda and disinformation. The no vote took place in the context of international blackmail, and the squeezing of Greek finances which has led to the closure of banks and a limit of €60 per day on withdrawals from ATMs, on top of the years of ‘financial waterboarding’ austerity and the severe impoverishment of much of the Greek population. This heroic defiance takes place in economic siege conditions whose clear aim is ‘regime change’. But in this case it backfired.
This is the leading article in Communist Explorations, no 2 (Spring-Summer 2015). It is partly adapted from an earlier article on the immediate post-election situation, but contains much newer analysis.
The anti-austerity demonstration on 20th June takes place after a historic defeat for the working class in the UK, which last May’s general election outcome represented. There has already been a beginning to social protest by youthful sections of the working class against the new Tory government. The 4000 strong London demonstration on May 9th, which was unsurprisingly pushed around by the cops, demonstrated that. The advent of a unalloyed Tory government, minus the discarded and destroyed Nick Clegg and his Lib Dems, whose project is to declare war against all of the remnants of social security and post-WWII gains of the working class that Thatcher failed to smash in her offensive in the 1980s, as well as against migrants and refugees, will force the working class to fight back.
Political resistance crystallising
It is imperative to resist the new Tory government both in terms of economic struggle and on the political level. Political resistance is even more crucial than merely ‘economic’ resistance, as without a political movement behind them that is capable of addressing all the problems of society and all ruling class political stratagems, and putting the political arguments for solidarity to the entire working class, economic struggles will likely be left isolated as they have been in the past.
The outcome of last Thursday’s general election victory represented an historic defeat for the working class in the UK. That seems like a startling statement, as it was only a parliamentary election after all, and the class struggle is not won by electioneering. That is a Marxist truism that is worth bearing in mind in most circumstances. But sometimes election results highlight trends on the ground in a very dramatic manner.
There has already been a beginning to social protest by youthful sections of the working class, against the new Tory government. The 4000 strong London demonstration on May 9th, which was unsurprisingly pushed around by the cops, demonstrated that. The advent of a unalloyed Tory government, minus the discarded and destroyed Nick Clegg and his Lib Dems, whose project is to declare war against all of the remnants of social security and post-WWII gains of the working class that Thatcher failed to smash in her offensive in the 1980s, as well as against migrants and refugees, will force the working class to fight back. But we had better be aware of the real significance of current events on the relationship of class forces, as part of preparing the working class on a wider level to resist.
The following leaflet was distributed at the ‘Reclaim Brixton’ event on 25 April
Ten years ago, the working class and oppressed of Tower Hamlets, including many of Muslim/South Asian migrant descent or background, struck an important political blow at imperialism and the Iraq War. They did this by electing George Galloway as MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in the 2005 General Election, for the left-wing anti-war RESPECT party.
That was very alarming to the rulers of this country, because Galloway had been expelled from Labour for taking a heroic position on the Iraq War, effectively calling for the Arab world to resist the Bush/Blair-led imperialist invasion by force.
The current General Election is taking place in conditions where British politics is in a state of more flux and fragmentation than not only in the lifetimes of those generations alive today, but also of previous generations. In some ways it is unprecedented: there are no apposite comparisons in the history of British capitalism. Both major parties, the Conservatives and Labour, are at such historically low levels of popularity that it is hard to imagine that either of them are likely to be able to achieve an overall majority in parliament even though we have an undemocratic first-past-the-post system that is biased to giving the party with a plurality of votes a crushing, undemocratic overall majority in parliament. It could not be absolutely ruled out that either party might just make it as a result of some event stampeding voters in either direction, but it is not something most people would like to take a bet on.
The new phenonemon represented by the SYRIZA/ANEL (Independent Greeks) coalition has not been theorised by the left as yet. The question of the coalition with the Independent Greeks is something of crucial importance, which has to be addressed theoretically and programatically.
My strong suspicion is that even those who are most enthusiastic about the politics of SYRIZA are uneasy about it. Various people have expressed real reservations about it, saying it is a bad sign, that it will not last long, etc, and they may well prove to be right about that. But no one has offered a theorisation of what is going on here.
Lets be very clear. This is a popular front government, and the situation is very dangerous. It could be just as dangerous as the Chilean Popular Unity experience for the working class. Though that is not certain; there are some complexities and differences also.
Socialists, communists and class conscious working class people should critically support the current election campaign of SYRIZA in Greece. We should, while not taking responsibility for the programme of a SYRIZA government, nevertheless support measures by such a government that are directed against the austerity directed from Brussels, Berlin and Paris, assuming such measures are enacted.
As is well known, a massive economic and political crisis led to two Greek national elections in 2012. The immediate issue was finally settled with an unstable coalition led by the main right-wing capitalist party, New Democracy (ND), supported by the main bourgeois-populist pseudo-socialist party, PASOK, and the right-wing splinter party from SYRIZA (or rather its immediate precursor) known as Democratic Left. That government enforced the Eurozone’s bail-out conditions, involving massive attacks on Greek workers’ wages and salaries, and what remains of welfare and public health provision, to the point that Greek society came close to ripping apart. There was a very dangerous and worrying growth of Golden Dawn, an outright fascist party that openly took its inspiration from Hitler’s National Socialists, together with a torrent of violence and racist terrorism against African and other migrants living in Greece.