Facts For Working People: More Union Support to Open AIFLD Files

Solidarity to North American (Canada and the U.S) and Mexican Seafarers and Ford Factory Worker Trade Unionists seeking justice from their own unions. International Solidarity always https://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.co.uk/2017/12/more-union-support-to-open-aifld-files.html?spref=fb&m=1

Open letter to Jeremy Corbyn

I’ve sent the following open letter to Jeremy Corbyn (leader@labour.org.uk) following watching his televised leadership debate with my m.p., Owen Smith, on the Victoria Show on the BBC. I’ll wait and see if I get a reply from his office…..
Governments can be toppled
Hi Jeremy,
I’m writing to you as a long standing, independent socialist living in Pontypridd, your leadership challenger, Owen Smith’s constituency, to express my total frustration with the role of the Labour Party in implementing austerity, cuts, war and divide and rule within the working class both in the South Wales valleys and throughout the U.K. and to explain to you how whilst I admire your integrity, honesty and determination to stand up to the undemocratic plotting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, I remain very concerned about your strategy of pursuing unity with the right in your party. I also want to explain some of my own political history, my very serious reservations about the limits and dangers of representational politics and why I believe parliament is designed to maintain capitalist rule and can not be reformed to represent workers’ interests.
I watched the debate between yourself and Owen Smith on the Victoria show with exasperation. Although I am not, never have been and almost certainly never will be a member of Labour, the fact that the right-wing challenger comes from my town encapsulates why the Labour Party never appealed to me in the first place. Indeed, I’ve never even voted Labour. For decades and decades, the Labour Party, alongside its many supporters in the trade union bureaucracy, has provided the main career path for opportunist social climbers keen to avoid actual work and desperate to get on the money laden path of corporate financed political office, whilst ensuring the so-called labour movement does the government and employers bidding by stopping trade unionists, students and community campaigners taking any effective action against the endless attacks on our rights, living standards and communities, services and workplaces.
As a trade unionist with 15 years of experience in Unison, PCS, UCU and Unison again, my experience has been that the Labour Party in the trade unions has been the main barrier to any effective trade union action, instead preaching ‘partnership’ with the bosses. This has happened in my own workplace, a further education college in Cardiff, for example, where the college has been effectively privatised and turned into a ‘corporation’, leading to massively worsening of workers’ rights and a sub standard, expensive service for mainly working class students – a policy overseen and implemented by the ruling Labour government in Wales. So excuse me if I don’t believe that either Owen Smith or indeed ANY of Welsh Labour’s elected m.p.s, A.M.S or councillors are ‘socialist’ – and in the latter case, whether they claim to support you or not
. Labour Grassroots in Wales is not a left-wing organisation and some of the main ‘left’ leaders in it have actually implemented austerity and cuts throughout Wales. Smith may be from Pontypridd and now claims to be socialist but it’s not where you’re from that matters, it where you are now and what you have been doing with your life and Smith is an egotist utterly indifferent to the incredible poverty, mass unemployment and all round suffering that is the unbearable norm for the overwhelming majority of Valleys residents. Smith was incredible in his absolute dishonesty in that and no doubt all the other debates so far. I was struck by the talent and articulate anger of new members like the woman in the debate who expressed her shock and horror at the deceptive manoeuvring and desperate mud slinging of the Labour bureaucracy in effectively witch hunting Corbyn supporters, denying them a say in the party’s structures, miscasting them absurdly as ‘Trots’ and ‘cult members’ and worst of all, charging £25 – which for most of us out here in the real world is a lot of money – for the right to vote in the leadership contest.
However I’m very concerned that activists like this – rightly angry now they are learning in practice what the Labour Party is really about – are going to have their hopes that Labour can be ‘won back’ under your leadership cruelly dashed, so long as you insist on perpetuating the myth that Labour ever was a real socialist party in the first place (it never was and the betrayal dates back until at least 1914 when the Second International abandoned international class struggle to support their ‘own’ ruling class during WW1), understate the inevitable capitalist state opposition to any attempts to introduce increase in corporate taxation, decommission Trident and reverse austerity and the domination of the markets and above all attempt to achieve reconciliation between corporate sponsored politicians and business ‘leaders’ and working class socialists – a reconciliation which is impossible to achieve. The right wing in the party understand this but unfortunately you are reluctant to draw this conclusion which risks compromise, betrayal and ultimately defeat YET AGAIN for our class.
I believe that you and your supporters have a responsibility to not just your new members but to the entire movement to prepare the working class for the inevitable capitalist opposition to your policies – which by themselves are inspired by the capitalist supporting economist Keynes and are not socialist – and explain that capitalism can not be made nicer. Capitalism is production for profit and workers produce that wealth but we are robbed of it by the expropriators, many of whom sit very comfortably indeed in that wholly undemocratic institution the House of Lords as well as the so called ‘Commons’ which of course is anything but for ‘commoners’.
Just like Syriza in Greece, I’m very worried that even if you do succeed in staying on as leader until 2020 (which still means nearly four more years of hell for the working class), any Labour government under your leadership would attempt to ‘negotiate’ behind closed doors with dictatorial institutions such as the E.U., the I.M.F. and World Bank etc. thereby leading to yet more sell outs. I’m disappointed that your socialist in name supporters maintain these illusions despite knowing better. So long as the class are told to stay passive and rely on parliamentary representation by ‘leaders’ who are characteristically motivated mainly by ego, narrow self-interest and status (I except that you’re an honourable exception, but your rarity in parliament only illustrates the general and real character of politicians), the harder the task is to give the masses the confidence that we can take mass action to fundamentally change society in our collective interests.
I come from the generation which lost the right to free education; Tony Blair was elected when I was 17 and one of the first acts of Labour in power was to scrap the student grant and introduce tuition fees – my year at university was the first year to pay fees. Needless to say, I was and still am furious about this and when I decided to get involved in the campaign to scrap fees at Swansea University, there was no way I was going anywhere near the party which betrayed my generation and concentrated on praising Thatcher and the right of rich people to get obscenely wealthier again – the enemies of socialism. Instead I joined the Socialist Party – mainly because they were NOT the Labour Party and instead were organising resistance to the government’s anti-working class policies. Although I left the Socialist Party in 2013, frustrated and angry at their own lack of internal democracy and inability to practise what they preach – above all, women’s rights – I’d rather eat my own hand than join the same party as Tony Blair, arch war criminal and red Tory. For all the problems of The Socialist Party, the Labour Party, as the long term ‘second eleven’ of the ruling class and so called ‘party of government’ has actual blood on its hands and is responsible for far greater acts of betrayal than any delusional cult masquerading as a revolutionary party can muster.
Whilst I respect that you have rebelled against your party many times in parliament, I’m still angry at Labour’s murderous legacy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Libya and Syria. Likewise I’m horrified by the Labour Party’s role in promoting the worst divide and rule policies – British nationalism, racism, Islamophobia and the demonisation and the deliberate starvation of unemployed workers and their families. As a virtual lone rebel, you could not stop any of these policies because the Labour Party was co-opted, neutralised and made part of the establishment nearly a century ago – yet I’m meant to join this delusional, myopic fantasy that the very party that is as equally responsible as the Tories for all the seemingly endless setbacks and defeats our class have suffered during this time – not least the defeat of the Miners’ Strike of 84/85 – is somehow going to become a real workers’ party even though the entire constitution and organisational structures of the party are precisely designed to ensure that never ever happens.
Therefore, if you are serious and sincere in your efforts, it is essential that you seek the re-selection of all the Labour m.p.s and effectively re-found the party on an entirely new basis. The fact that you and Momentum have ruled this out should serve as a major warning to all the socialists and soft leftie types currently inspired by you that yet more disappointment and betrayal is ahead. No one likes a nay-sayer but unfortunately the truth has nothing but contempt for people’s wishful thinking. Jeremy you’re a good man and all that and obviously I prefer you to the contemptible Smith, but your evident talent, courage and leadership are in danger of being smashed so long as you keep trying to revive a parliamentary party which in reality is a dead end for the working class. Break from the war mongers, the corporations which fund Labour and the parliamentary careerists and use your platform to launch a new and real working class socialist organisation dedicated to building genuine internationalism and struggle on a clear anti-capitalist program.
All the best,
SaraGovernments can be toppled

It’s time to act

cyanImage: Anti-fascists chasing the fash out of Cardiff, autumn 2014 (photo by Sa Kollantai)

We live in hyper-real times where we are so distracted by our little ‘black mirrors’ that we spend more time absorbed by our screens than actually interacting with each other. It’s a common sight to see people carelessly cross the road whilst staring at their screens, whilst small children are addicted to gaming and sea-side crowds go for the augmented reality of Pokémon GO, rather than deriving pleasure simply from interacting with and directly experiencing the nature and company right in front of them. ‘Reality’ alone is no longer enough, and it is the same advances in corporate owned and controlled technology which allows us to at least partially detach ourselves from our immediate sensory experiences and each other that is the same alienating, socially disconnected technology consciously used by war generals, politicians, corporations and state forces at large to wage war, sell pointless products, discipline workers, spread fear and division and spy on us all. No wonder we want to escape and substitute electronic connection for the real thing in a world of heightened despair, horror and economic, social and existential mass suffering with a future that is increasingly bleak, so long as we remain isolated, divided, distracted and fearful – as our rulers like us. Mass shootings across the world appear a daily occurrence, whilst the last month has had a year’s worth of political events packed in it including the attempted coup in Turkey. There is a collective anxiety and mood of despair and passivity which only mass, united action could potentially cut across – if only the left can get its act together, with no signs of this anytime soon.

It’s a post- Brexit world where the U.K. now has one of the most right-wing governments in decades and the whole official narrative about immigration is far to the right, with certain so-called hard left parties fundamentally misreading the result as a ‘victory’ for the working class when it is in fact a defeat and unwilling to vocally defend non-British born workers and indeed anyone perceived to be not white and / or British enough by racists. This is not to say that everyone who voted to leave is racist, far from it, but  it is a recognition that for the overwhelming majority of people, there was no ‘Lexit’ – the socialist left  was barely heard, let alone in a position to lead the Out campaign on a principled internationalist and class conscious basis. The ‘hard’ left’s frequent minimisation of the increased confidence of the nationalistic right and the growth of vocalised racism is disturbing and unfortunately reflects the white bias of so-called ‘revolutionary’ parties such as the Socialist Party, for example, which somehow manages to ignore the obvious fact  that non-British born workers and their families are part of the working class too and potentially are some of the  most determined class fighters against austerity, racism and class exploitation. Instead the SP, perhaps inadvertently, reinforces state racism by arguing that people have ‘legitimate’ concerns about immigration, rather than defend immigrants and refugees and their right to remain here on the basis of rejecting the divide and rule tactics of the ruling class. This is a massive mistake for both moral and political reasons: we have a duty to defend and mobilise the most oppressed of our class and it is essential that we do so if any mass movement against the whole economic and political system is ever going to be built.

It’s vital that we attempt to fill the void which exists politically in Britain and in many countries around the world and take an organisational lead to stop the fascists filling it, without handing over that potential  working class opposition to a Labour Party which is trapped by the parliamentary paradigm and the right-wing, openly pro capitalist bureaucracy which inevitably ignores the democratic will of its own members and the wider working class and stops at nothing in order to deceive, disorient and undermine any attempt by the Corbynistas to introduce even mildly pro-worker policies.

Corbyn is a sacrificial lamb of the movement. It’s as if the class needs to  experience him fail to achieve socialism through parliament  before any lessons can be learned about the need for a genuine working class organisation to emerge and mean time everything is getting worse. Of course it is completely understandable why anyone in their mind prefers the principled but naive, anti-war leftie Corbyn to Machiavellian careerists such as Owen Smith – the m.p. for my own constituency, Pontypridd, where going without food, joblessness, insecure housing and no welfare state in practice is the oppressive reality, as it is in all working class areas – but, and this is the but which slams us all in the face – this is the long-term  and direct result of decades of misrule, incompetence, indifference and savage cuts at the hands of Labour, as well as Plaid Cymru. The Labour Party in Wales is a right-wing organisation. It is not acceptable to blame the Tory government for funding cuts – your party has implemented it. Despite the honest and sincere claims of new members of the Labour Party here that Labour Grassroots in Wales is a left-wing organisation, the leaders of WLG have implemented austerity at both national and local level and have and are actively holding back strike action  and genuinely democratically controlled anti-austerity campaigns because they want to keep their priviledged, well-paid full-time lifestyles, satisfy their own egos and maintain cosy relationships with employers in-tact and persist with worshipping politicians who claim to be left-wing but are only interested in their careers and hijacking protests to boost their media profiles and votes.

I’m not prepared to join a party which passes cuts budgets and privatisation and includes Blairites and other right-wing, pro-big business supporters. I’m proudly not just anti-cuts, but anti-capitalist full stop. As I have explained elsewhere on my blog, the Labour Party, not least through its domineering control of many of the major unions, still represents the biggest barrier to an effective, extra parliamentary working class fight back and I remain very skeptical about both Corbyn and Momentum. I do not think the Labour Party is the answer and I’m convinced that so long as Corbyn attempts to appease the right, rule out re-selection of m.p.s and attempt to maintain ‘unity’ with the parliamentary Labour Party (whilst at the same time it is very clear that the right will happily crush the party in order to destroy the left) is a doomed strategy as the interests of a self-interested ‘party of government’ (read a party willing to administer capitalism and maintain the status quo) is not reconcilable with the objective interests of the working class and poor.

Therefore whilst I am prepared to critically but fraternally work alongside Corbyn supporters in the wider labour movement against austerity and right wingers like the detestable, austerity supporting and corporate funded Owen Smith, and whilst I respect the genuineness of many new rank and file Labour members, particularly socialist leaning ones, I can’t join or endorse a party I think is part of the problem and not the solution.

It is also the case that it is not just the Labour Party and the Socialist Party (and their rivals in the Socialist Workers Party) which deserve criticism. The so called Marxist / anarchist left as a whole and the soft left around The People’s Assembly etc. are out of touch with the working class people they imagine they are leading / going to lead, with one or two honourable exceptions. The existing left uses an exclusive, obscure and alienating intellectual vocabulary which only reflects this total disconnection from the poorest and most oppressed sections of the class, including up here in the Valleys. Cardiff  offers a sanctuary to pseudo-intellectual types who prefer pretentious poetry readings, feeling important with over-paid, right wing union officials in wine bars  and flattering the egos of shallow ‘celebrity’ protesters (Charlotte Church, anyone?) and hanging out in self perpetuating social clubs to actually trying to relate to and connect with the poorest and most oppressed  workers and the unemployed, many of whom voted to leave the E.U. and rightly see the Labour Party as the establishment. Online especially, there is too much intellectual snobbery and point scoring from the comfort of the lonely sofa, with no genuine attempt to reach a common understanding and unity around a potentially joint programme of action. Egos dominate, cults replace cults and it all becomes a power struggle with deference always given to mainly self-appointed ‘leaders’  and celebrities (think John Rees et al at a national scale, but there are numerous competitors) and endless attempts at socialist groupings which disintegrate and squabble into tiny nothingness. There is a lack of maturity or sense of responsibility, with too many hard left activists (be they Trotskyists, anarcho communists, syndicalists, entryists etc.) too busy seeking comfort in their cliques denouncing everybody else, rather than making the effort to interact with working class people with all their prejudices, weird beliefs and confused ideas.

There are no prophets of socialism. Those of us who are activists do not have all their answers and we have, if anything, more to learn than anybody else about how to build real mass, anti-capitalist struggle if that is ever to become more than a nice fantasy in our heads. The mood in working class areas like mine is one of anger and a feeling that people can’t take much more –  if it can be channeled in the right direction on the basis of community organizing  independent working class protest action and internationalism by real socialists, anarchists, communists etc., rather than just providing left cover for a party as responsible as the Tories for working class suffering, then I genuinely believe that the far-right can be cut across and real grassroots, community and workplace based organisation can begin to expose not only the Blairites and the Labour Party machine and how and why parliament is a dead-end, we can more importantly start to get off our knees and find dignity in solidarity and struggle. The question is, when is this going to happen? I’m ready if you are.

Sara, 27/07/16