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Left Reformism

Cooking the Books: The Magic Money Tree

In the leaders' debate on BBC1 on 31 May, the Tory substitute, Amber Rudd, kept on accusing the Labour Party of relying on a 'Magic Money Tree' to conjure up the money to finance their election promises. She was repeating a Tory mantra designed to get people to believe that Labour's attractive reforms were impossible as there was no money there to pay for them.

In fact, there is plenty of money there, in the form of accumulated profits which, in theory, a government could tax or borrow. It's just that the Tories are against this as they want to protect profits (or want to spend it on vital things for capitalism like weapons of war). But, more importantly, to overdo this would disrupt the workings of the capitalist economic system.

A Painful History

As the capitalist system developed, causing the steady decline of the independent handworker and the replacement of manual labour by machinery, the effects on those who worked for a living were so severe that their struggles inevitably centred around wages and conditions. Battles with the employers resulted in the formation of trade unions, while struggles for political elbow-room culminated in political reform movements such as Chartism. The working class were joined by disaffected groups such as small traders and producers, who were sinking to ruin. Some workers may have hankered for a return to the handicraft production of the past, others harboured vague co-operative “socialist" notions, but there was little conscious recognition of the need to bring the powerful new forces of production into the common 'ownership of all society. Workers’ fierce struggles were rooted in the antagonism of interest between capital and labour.

Book Review: 'The German Greens - A Social and Political Profile'

Green politics in Germany

'The German Greens: A Social and Political Profile', by Werner Hülsberg, Verso. £9.95

For anyone who has been following the press reports about the on-going debate in the German Green Party between the realos and the fundis, this book will fill in the background. Writing as a Trotskyite infiltrator into the Greens (yes, super-opportunists that they are, they get into any movement of size and influence). Hülsberg begins by describing the social and political conditions in West Germany since the war from which the Greens emerged as a political party at national level as recently, it should be recalled, as 1980.

The ‘Democratic Socialism’ of Bernie Sanders

To a socialist Senator Bernie Sanders is far and away the least distasteful of the current contenders for the American presidency. He seems decent and sincere. Although he is running in the Democratic Party primaries, he has a long history as an independent politician, starting with his election in 1981 as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont. He is not corrupt – that is, beholden to specific capitalist interests in the way that Hillary Clinton (like Obama) is beholden to Wall Street or the Bushes were to Big Oil. And despite efforts of interviewers from the corporate media to get him to comment on the latest petty scandal he talks seriously about serious social issues of vital concern to working people – growing inequality of wealth, poverty, unemployment, healthcare, education, decaying infrastructure, the environment, climate change.

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