July 12, 2011 at 8:16 pm #86276AnonymousInactiveHch wrote:Transitional Demands – they are just a way of putting the theory of socialism into concrete terms that can be understood by workers. The SPGB uses language that few understand and has a rather abstract view of socialism, which makes it sound like science fiction. If nationalising the means of production under democratic control ‘sounds silly’ then that is precisely an example of the childish, dogmatic SPGB approach I’ve been talking about.
I am not an academic and I am not the smartest with highbrow arguments, so bear with me. I am a working family man and SPGB member. I work hard in manual trades, swear a lot and drink beer. I read what I can and understand or try to, what I read and couple this with what I see and experience. I also speak as I find.The sentence I highlighted is the kind of thing that makes me so angry though. Why do you assume the ‘working man’ (something I assume you’re not by the way you speak of this mythical creature so abstractly) is a dumb ox to be led or pushed by yourself or others? So many of the left, the SWP, Militant etc have this insulting, derisory view that the man in the street is so stupid he needs to be guided and pushed like a cow into the right path. Join the union, smash the state, fight the cuts, down with this, up with that. Balls.I can think for myself thank you. And I also don’t like the assumption that not only are people dumb but that they cannot remember stuff. I recall the days when Militant ‘ran’ Liverpool city council and ended up sacking its staff. I remember the ‘Red Ken’ days of the GLC and the disasters that befell the employees. I remember the Poll Tax ‘struggle’ – an angry mob that had all of the left fighting like dogs to lead it when really, despite Militant’s preposterous claims to the contrary, it was been pushed along by people angry at the Tax rather than ‘led’ by anyone. And where did that end by the way? The state simply changed the name of the rates to Council Tax and imposed massive increases, so those reforms didn’t last long did they and where was Militant then? I don’t recall a mass ‘fightback’ by those brave revolutionaries against the Council Tax……perhaps they are still planning it?!I joined the SPGB precisley because they use a language that DOES make sense and does not assume to treat me like an idiot – no screaming SMASH THE TORIES! headline here followed by dumbed-down political comment and a coupon asking for cash (Fighting Fund! – my does the left like it’s exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Additionally there is genunine democracy within the Party unlike Militant/SWP et al, whereby movement in the Party only seems to work when your face fits.In short despite the replies it seems you dislike the SPGB and either cannot or will not read and think through the replies you have been given, which is sad. Read some of the more detailed replies above again, think about the arguments in a more balanced way and come back, but please don’t keep referring to the ‘working man’ like I am not here or too stupid to read. It’s insulting.July 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm #86277
Well I thought this thread was dead but it’s alive and kicking. In answer to your points:
1. Dumb ox – I don’t think the working class is a dumb ox. I think this class is productive, artistic, creative etc etc. Far more than other classes, such as the bourgoisie or peasantry. The working class is pragmatic and so you must speak to them is concrete, not abstract terms. That’s all I’m saying. The SPGB talks in curious ways, such as ‘abolish money’ or ‘abolish the wages system’ (which Cameron & Co seem to be succesfully doing without the SPGB!), which is certainly the long-term goal but to raise such slogans now, flies over heads of everyone. And you and I know that on day-1 of the revolution, the abolition of money will not happen. However, to have the demand of ‘a living wage, publicly owned and democratically controlled house building program or hospital building program, is far more understandable and of course must be communicated with the message that this can only be achieved when the means of production are taken over.
2. Yes I am working class, maybe a lumpen element, as I was made redundant at christmas after 20 years with the same company and unable to find a job.
3. ‘Smash the State’ does anyone on the left shout this claim? Anarchists maybe but I’m no anarchist. I don’t even think the likes of the ultra-left SWP use this term but I wouldn’t put it past them.
4. Liverpool Council of the 1980s never sacked it’s workforce. You’re falling for the propaganda put out by the likes of Murdoch on that one. They fought back against Thatcher demanding resources and had mass support within Merseyside. To lump Ken Livingstone with them is oh so wrong. It was the likes of Ken in London and Blunkett in Sheffield who ducked out of the fight that left Liverpool all on it’s own to be crushed with expulsion and personal sequestration of the socialist councillors personal property. They deserve your applause, not condemnation. Militant or now the Socialist Party still campaign against Council Taxes in favour of a more progressive method and opposes ALL cuts to services.
5. Militant/Socialist Party is a democratic party and insists it’s councellors and MPs only took/take only an average workers’ wage with legitimate, audited expences. This was carried out in practice by MPs Dave Nellist, Pat Wall and Terry Fields, who were all expelled from Labour for advocating socialism. I don’t think the SPGB has that as a policy but correct me if I’m wrong. The SPGB does not hold the monopoly on democracy. It is very arrogant of you to think it does and all other socialist groups are not democratic. Some are democratic but I agree some do not practice internal democracy. In fact I would say the Socialist Party is MORE democratic than the SPGB, insisting on the Right of Recall, allowing factions with access to party resources when there is a disagreement on policy. The SPGB would not allow that, would they? Disagreement on policy or joining the armed forces would result in expulsion. So workers in uniform are lepers in your book, which is quite ridiculous.
6. Use of exclamation marks is not confined to the Left – see SPGB replies above!July 14, 2011 at 7:37 pm #86278AnonymousInactiveHch wrote:Well I thought this thread was dead but it’s alive and kicking. In answer to your points:1. Dumb ox – I don’t think the working class is a dumb ox.
You clearly do from you arguments below…Quote:I think this class is productive, artistic, creative etc etc. Far more than other classes, such as the bourgoisie or peasantry. The working class is pragmatic and so you must speak to them is concrete, not abstract terms. That’s all I’m saying.
It is YOU who are constantly refering to our class as ‘they’, ‘them’ etc which kinda puts you apart. Why not ‘we’ and ‘us’ if you consider yourself one?Quote:The SPGB talks in curious ways, such as ‘abolish money’ or ‘abolish the wages system’ (which Cameron & Co seem to be succesfully doing without the SPGB!), which is certainly the long-term goal but to raise such slogans now, flies over heads of everyone.
Not really – it is of absolute clarity and not really curious at all. It is THE goal and how I have always understood socialism to be – something no other party says.Quote:And you and I know that on day-1 of the revolution, the abolition of money will not happen.
Why not?Quote:However, to have the demand of ‘a living wage, publicly owned and democratically controlled house building program or hospital building program, is far more understandable and of course must be communicated with the message that this can only be achieved when the means of production are taken over.
So going back to the dumb ox syndrome again. You must think that people are too stupid to grasp a society based on equality and free access without money? You think they need to be teased and coaxed with demands that will never have any chance of success and obviously think that the same people are even stupider not to see that as well? Think about yourself – would you rather have to work the same hours for a ‘living wage’ in essentially the same crappy society and conditions or would you rather sweep the rotten lot away and not have to work other than in comradeship for the betterment of mankind? To give what you can and take what you need to paraphrase? Or are you saying the best, the very best you can hope for and work for is a slightly different version of the same shit we currently have? This is the dishonesty which puts me off SWP/Militant and the left of that ilk. State your aims and work towards them openly. No front organisation (YRE/ANL for example), no ‘transitional demands’ that cannot ever be met. It detracts from the basics of convincing people of the benefits of a socialist society. It can also dissapoint, alienate and confuse those you are trying to win over and eventually discredits the word socialism as it becomes associated with unrealistic demands and failures of practice which is counter-productive. Reforms will ALWAYS be re-gained by the capitalist class at some point.Quote:2. Yes I am working class, maybe a lumpen element, as I was made redundant at christmas after 20 years with the same company and unable to find a job.3. ‘Smash the State’ does anyone on the left shout this claim? Anarchists maybe but I’m no anarchist. I don’t even think the likes of the ultra-left SWP use this term but I wouldn’t put it past them.
Whoopie! More in-fighting and pedantry.Quote:4. Liverpool Council of the 1980s never sacked it’s workforce. You’re falling for the propaganda put out by the likes of Murdoch on that one. They fought back against Thatcher demanding resources and had mass support within Merseyside. To lump Ken Livingstone with them is oh so wrong. It was the likes of Ken in London and Blunkett in Sheffield who ducked out of the fight that left Liverpool all on it’s own to be crushed with expulsion and personal sequestration of the socialist councillors personal property. They deserve your applause, not condemnation. Militant or now the Socialist Party still campaign against Council Taxes in favour of a more progressive method and opposes ALL cuts to services.
So you’re saying that they never issued 90-day notices to their employees during the fight about budgets? Perhaps I should have bene more specific and said they issued the redundancy notices rather than sacked, my error. The fact is that happened and those workers had months of worry about their individual futures. Militant has to take responsibility for playing with those people’s lives while pretending to be revolutionaries in a ‘fight’ doomed to failure from the very start. The very fact which underlines what we have been saying in previous posts – reformism doesn’t work. Militant wasted its time trying to make capitlaism better instead of working to destroy it and replace it with genuine socialism. And I am horrified that Militant is now working towards a more progressive method of taxation?! Why not No Tax, No Money?!Quote:5. Militant/Socialist Party is a democratic party and insists it’s councellors and MPs only took/take only an average workers’ wage with legitimate, audited expences. This was carried out in practice by MPs Dave Nellist, Pat Wall and Terry Fields, who were all expelled from Labour for advocating socialism. I don’t think the SPGB has that as a policy but correct me if I’m wrong. The SPGB does not hold the monopoly on democracy. It is very arrogant of you to think it does and all other socialist groups are not democratic. Some are democratic but I agree some do not practice internal democracy. In fact I would say the Socialist Party is MORE democratic than the SPGB, insisting on the Right of Recall, allowing factions with access to party resources when there is a disagreement on policy. The SPGB would not allow that, would they? Disagreement on policy or joining the armed forces would result in expulsion. So workers in uniform are lepers in your book, which is quite ridiculous.
I said I speak as I find. I did not say that we hold a monopoly on anything, I said I felt this party from my experience is far more democratic in principal and practice than others. I find it odd you use the expulsions from Labour as an example when Militant is quite good as expulsions themselves – even the Ted Grant was thrown out for disagreement eventually. If you agree that some do not practice internal democracy now, then what hope for a socialist future?Quote:6. Use of exclamation marks is not confined to the Left – see SPGB replies above!
!!!!!!!!NOTE FROM ADMIN: Quote markers edited for ease of readingJuly 15, 2011 at 3:55 am #86279
“joining the armed forces would result in expulsion. So workers in uniform are lepers in your book, which is quite ridiculous.”Such a position as treating soldiers as lepers would be ridiculous but yes you are correct. Membership of the military and membership of the SPGB is viewed as incompatable. We do not send workers off to battle with party cards to kill other workers with party cards.The SPGB case is that the military have much the same attitudes as other workers since they are conditioned by the same economical , social and historical forces operating in society. Eventually, the world’s workers, will respond to capitalism’s inhumanities to the extent that they understand and desire the socialist alternative. Then socialist ideas will be just as prevalent in the minds of soldiers.They will be for the revolution, not against it. When socialist ideas begin to spread among the working class it is most unlikely that those in uniform will remain unaffected. When a majority of workers generally are socialists, so will most of their fellow workers in the police and armed forces be too.We also have a proscription against those holding religious beliefs from joining the SPGB. We do not deny that they may be socialists but that the SPGB is an organisation for Marxist materialists.July 15, 2011 at 10:32 am #86280
1. Grammar – critising me for referring to the working class as ‘they’, ‘them’ really is quibbling over semantics. Scientific socialism is an objective philosophy, so such words are consistent with that approach, used by Marx, Engles, Lenin, Trotsky etc, the first two of which you embrace.
2. Goal – the goal of socialism must be expressed in concrete terms. Isn’t a house/hospital/school building program, living wage, food and water for the starving, full employment/work, sustainable environment etc all goals of socialism, which can only be achieved with workers running and taking over society in their interests? Transitional Demands pose this question about what can be only be achieved when workers take power into their hands and run society. Otherwise such demands are merely reformist proposals, which could not be achieved under capitalism.
3. Liverpool 1980s – was not ‘playing with peoples lives’ or ‘doomed to failure’. It was a start and a beacon for the working class to gain confidence to fight ruling class interests. And they did. Why it failed? Reformists, careerists and those like yourselves who fell for and repeat the lies peddled by the political class and the capitalist media. You mock, dismiss and even oppose the workers struggle, represented by the Liverpool socialist councilors. All of who were democratically selected and elected. Your attitude is arrogant and you should have been involved and supported these workers representatives. But you choose to stand aside and fall in with the condemnation of the capitalist media. By your friends……….
4. Workers in Uniform – you have a strange attitude, which is pacifist and unrealistic. And why draw the line at banning soldiers? There are many workers who have occupations that cause death or lead to outcomes against workers interests but they are allowed to be SPGB members e.g. armament workers, MOD civil servants, civil servants in Job Centres who disallow benefits, balifs and debt collectors etc. These workers are allowed to be SPGBers but their work harms their class, so by your logic they should not be allowed to join. I would say that ‘come the time’, workers in uniform with their knowledge and skills would be needed to help oppose the violent reaction by the ruling class and their hirelings. In fact they should be encouraged to be part of the socialist movement.
I would also say your ban on solders joining the socialist movement is very hypocritical when the SPGB has allowed capitalists to be ordinary members and even sit on your Executive Committee.July 15, 2011 at 2:41 pm #86281AnonymousInactive
1. You’re not Marx or Engles. I don’t think they’d class themselves as working class either. I just find the language of talking about our class as off-putting the same as when career politicians keep on referring to the ‘ordinary people’ like they are below them, unmentionables. 2. The goal of socialsim is expressed in concrete terms alread, and perfectly understandable – the total eradication of the capitalist system and its replacement with a wageless, moneyless socialist society based on mutual respect, co-operation and free access. It does not need ‘transitional demands’ or flowering up or dumbing down. Its a very basic aim: the system sucks, change it to socialism! I DON’T WANT a living wage, I don’t want any damn wages!! I want a Socialist society free from money. Why is that so hard for you to get? Why do you think those you talk to won’t undertsand it either and need to be led via a series of unattanable tinkerings with the current system? The last line you state “Otherwise such demands are merely reformist proposals, which could not be achieved under capitalism.” – well, er, exactly. 3. I really don’t understand your line of argument here. You acknowledge that the Liverpool council under Militant was a failure and yet you accuse me of being reformist and careerist based on what evidence I just don’t know – I have not to my knowledge even met you. I am not repeating anything, these are merely the conclusions I have drawn for myself. Arrogant? I think the assumption that I am unable to read, discover and form an opinion of my own without being that being disregarded as following the media as perhaps a little arrogant. As for it being a beacon to the working classes to fight back – was it? If it was, it didn’t last long so maybe this vanguard party thing isn’t the right idea? The masses did not follow did they? I still say the Militant experiment , granted in hindsight, was a mistake and hasn’t really pushed the ideas of socialism forward. In fact, and again something argued as I understand, by the SPGB (correct me if I am wrong!), that this kind of action can actually be more damaging as those involved go away with the wrong understanding and impression of socialism and socialists in particular. 4. I think this has been answered but I don’t see how being a pacifist is being unrealistic nor do I see any problem with not recruiting amongst the armed forces for the reasons stated previously. And there is a world of difference between a civil servant in the Job Centre and a trained, armed soldier.In summary I am not sure where else this discussion can go. You seem adamant that you are correct, that the views of other parties, notably Militant, are more in line with your own than ours, and it seems clear that you do not accept the counter arguments put forward to you. Nor have you taken time to fully digest the information given it would appear (and further available on our website) which covers many of the topics you have raised.July 16, 2011 at 8:22 am #86282
The question of the military and membership of the Party is one that we have not taken lightly, considering the fact that the Party has had to face two world wars with members being forced by law into the army. None as far as i know were expelled, but resigned voluntarily but many members refused to don the uniform and applied to be conscientous objectors and ended up in jail or labour camps.Our opposition to conscription in 1938.http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/pdf/sac.pdfI think there were those who were influenced by Rosa Luxemburg’s anti-militarism with her scathing re-phrase of Marx/Engels: “Workers of all lands, unite in peace and cut one another’s throats in war!”You indeed present part of the party case for the capture of the state machine when you state “workers in uniform with their knowledge and skills would be needed to help oppose the violent reaction by the ruling class and their hirelings.” as you can see from our Declarion of Principles No. 6http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/gbodop.htmlThe contradictions tho remain with SPEW and its support of the 1982 Falkland War [albeit under the direction of a Labour government].i won’t comment on Liverpool WIKIPEDIA has a full analysisLiverpool’s adoption of a deficit budget for 1985/86 meant that the council quickly ran short of money. By September it was apparent that without a new source of funds, the council would be insolvent in December; as an employer it was therefore obliged to issue 90-day redundancy notices to its entire workforce. After this decision was announced on 6 September, the council’s joint shop stewards called for an indefinite strike,and also occupied council buildings and prevented the council from holding a meeting to formally vote to issue the redundancy notices.The national leaderships of the trade unions attempted to restrain their local branches from going ahead with the strike, and when NALGO members voted against the strike by 7,284 to 8,152, it was called off. The redundancy notices were issued on 27 September, together with a letter from the council’s leader and deputy leader (John Hamilton and Derek Hatton) explaining that there was no intention to make any employee redundant but that the notices were a legal requirement. With time running out, the council had to hire taxis to distribute the notices.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rate-capping_rebellionExcept to ask what did happen to Derek Hatton?July 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm #86283AnonymousInactive
He is a now a capitalist and employer as well as media luvvie: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/fameandfortune/3129837/Fame-and-Fortune-Derek-Hatton-the-militant-capitalist.html That’s only one view and I don’t want to be accused of swallowing right wing media lies, etc, etc.July 17, 2011 at 11:53 am #86284
Bit rich having a go because Hatton left the socialist movement to pursue a business career, whereas the SPGB allows capitalists to be members! Haven’t SPGB members left you for other pastures? You pick on Hatton and disregard those Liverpool Councillors who lost their personal wealth because of their principled stand against Thatcher. So easy to sit back in your socialist armchair and critise those who fight back, when as Marxists you should offer critical support.
And you are scraping the bottom of the barrel about Militant/Socialist Party supporting the Falklands war, which it didn’t. Never let the facts get in the way of an argument, eh? That is another reason the Labour Party expelled Militant because of their socialist views and actions. I must say that the level of debate has fallen within the SPGB, going by its simplistic views, untruths and regurgitation of capitalist propaganda. Militant/Socialist Party take exactly the same position on capitalist wars as you do, be it currently Libya, Iraq, Ireland etc etc: workers must take an independent position and oppose such slaughter. Again you look for division between yourselves and the Socialist Party when there is none. This is why the SPGB has never attracted workers support and is in its protracted death agony.July 17, 2011 at 6:46 pm #86285AnonymousInactive
HCH, I am really not sure if you are arguing point based on any principle or just plain arguing, but it doesn’t make much sense: With regards to Hatton, Alan said he wondered where he was now, and I told him. Fact: he is a businessman and employer. Fact: he is a media seeking individual. No-one is ‘having a go’ merely stating the truth and if you are the socialist you say you are, you must agree that Mr Hatton so far as our movement is concerenced is a bit of a turn coat and offers no genuine contribution to the current socialist cause, or is that not the case? And I don’t think I/We should offer critical support to those pursuing ideas which ultimately are doomed to utter faiilure and detract from the main task of converting people to the ideas of socialism, as explained in previous posts which I don’t think you are reading to the end to be honest. Regards the Falklands war and SPEW.Alan said “The contradictions tho remain with SPEW and its support of the 1982 Falkland War [albeit under the direction of a Labour government].” This was EXACTLY the Militant position at the time, another fact – so why is this considered a scraping of the barrel? Our views and Militant’s views were expressed clearly then and are the same now, i.e. different approaches to the Falklands conflict and both available to read and compare via the archives of the Socialist Standard (SPGB ) and Socialism Today (Militant/SPEW).And our position on war is clear and has been stated and you have argued against it saying it is pacifist and unrealistic, yet here you say we have the same views on wars. Which is it, different or the same? The SPGB opposes ALL wars, full stop. Does Militant or does it oppose all wars with exceptions? Tell me, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts – is Militant opposed to ALL war at ALL times in ALL circumstances?And yes, in prinicple I agree with you. We all stand for the abolition of capitalism, for the dawn of a socialist, co-operative society based on undertsanding, goodwill and freedom for all men. But how to get there? This is where the debate is. As it stands, the SPGB has a clear set of principles which have been stated on every paper, pamhlet and writings since its inception in 1904. It has held a clear analisys based on the principles and continues to do so. For the most part we feel that these arguments have held their own and been proven over time to be correct, albeit without acheiving the final goal. Militant, a far more fluid organisation operates on different principles, often changing I might add, to suit circumstances, and despite this has also not acheived the end goal. So there we maybe called even in our failure. To paraphrase/butcher a quote by Oscar Wilde: ‘we are comrades divided by a common goal!’The level of debate has not fallen, but to be fair the level is governed by the protaganists and if you consistently argue your own party line without reading the replies that are given, the debate is effectively finished and slugging propoganda is bought in. It is also easier to debate one topic at a time rather than jumping from one to the other, so if there is a specific issue with the SPGB you wish to discuss, start a new thread and stick to that issue until is is debated out. Mostly this debate reminds me of a quote that “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”.July 18, 2011 at 4:23 am #86286
HCH said “Militant/Socialist Party supporting the Falklands war, which it didn’t. Never let the facts get in the way of an argument, eh?”Militant International Review No22, June 1982: “…The labour movement should be mobilised to force a general election to open the way for the return of a Labour government to implement socialist policies at home and abroad. Victory of a socialist government in Britain would immediately transform the situation in relation to the Falklands. The junta would no longer be able to claim to be fighting British imperialism … A Labour government could not just abandon the Falklanders and let Galtieri get on with it. But it would continue the war on socialist lines…”I think that is a clear indication that under a Labour Government Militant would have supported the war against Argentine over the Falklands which was what i originally posted, was it not. I was stating fact.Reprinted here at http://www.socialismtoday.org/108/falklands.html July 18, 2011 at 4:59 pm #86287
Thank you for your replies:
1. Hatton – just like SPGB members have left the movement, as I said, so did Hatton. Your point is? Like capitalist members of the SPGB, Hatton has joined that class (or trying to). The difference is he would not be welcome back, as he’s in the wrong class, whereas SPGB members who are capitalists ARE surprisingly welcome within your ‘proletarian’ party! Square that circle.
2. Falklands – even with your selective editing you can see opposition to the war. Many pages of the Militant newspaper had headlines against the war, as you know.The quote poses the question that if (and it’s a big one to being theoretical) the Labour Party adopted socialism and Britain changed to a socialist based economy and political system, then the Argentinian invasion would be of a different character – a captalist country invading a socialist one. In that theoretical case, armed defence would be justified. Just as if the SPGB’s ideas won over populations here and abroad, socialism introduced and then attacked by capitalist countries, you would support armed defence, especially as you claim not to be pacifists.July 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm #86288AnonymousInactive
I think this ‘debate’ has reached it’s natural conclusion unless anyone else has anything to add?HCH, as I said before best really to read some of the replies given to your criticisms and to read our writings online. I for one welcome debate but it is best conducted on a particular point of interest rather than a broad range of them with no particular flow, and to have them discussed to a conclusion.At the moment I feel people have been replying to your criticisms of SPGB policy and principle which is being ignored and the responses are simply saying Militant/SWP/Trotsky are right. If you are adamant of that, then I don’t see the point of the discussion unless you were hoping to recruit members from the SPGB in Militant?All the SPGB writings are available online and I am sure you will be welcome to any meetings if you want to find out more.July 19, 2011 at 4:04 am #86289
HCH said [of Derek Hatton] “The difference is he would not be welcome back, as he’s in the wrong class”Poor old Engels, as he, too, would not be eligible for membership of SPEW. Yet you reproach the SPGB for its membership criteria.As the later re-print article admitted, the SPEW position on the Falklands was abstract. Yet in earlier posts you accuse the SPGB propaganda of being too abstract.The same article states that “Marxists have always given support to national struggles against imperialism.” That has never been the SPGB position. We have not supported a national bourgeoisie and share much the same view as Rosa Luxemburg. See http://www.worldsocialism.org/articles/luxemburg_and_the_national.phpPersonally, and not speaking for the SPGB, i always thought that if it was not for the Junta’s need to have a war to divert Argentinan workers from struggling against them , they could have easily have taken de facto control of the Falklands through the stock exchange by buying Coalite , the owners of the Falkland Islands Company and for all practical purposes the real owners of the islands.
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