ALB

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  • in reply to: The ‘Occupy’ movement #86445
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I already did, but he seems to be advocating violence whereas I would have thought that non-violence would be a better tactic for the Occupy Movement.  At one point he criticises those who say that the police are part of the 99%, but don’t we say “All Coppers are Workers” (even if some are also Bastards)?

    ALB
    Keymaster

    Christopher Hitchens was a member of the “International Socialists” (IS) from 1966 to 1976. This wasn’t the worst of the Trotskyist groups (after all, they did recognise Russia to be a form of state capitalism). When he joined, IS was even flirting with the non-Leninist views of Rosa Luxemburg. After May 1968 , which Tony Cliff analysed as failing because of a lack of a vanguard party, Cliff decided that his organisation needing “Leninization”. Which happened, culminating in the foundation in 1977 of the SWP as a classic Leninist vanguard party. After ceasing to be a Trotskyist Hitchens seems to have still retained a soft spot for Luxemburg as in this book review dating from June this year. But his support for the US invasion of Iraq ruined his reputation with the ex-Trotskyist left, as that other ex-Trotskyist Tariq Ali explained on the BBC the other day.

    in reply to: Committee for Marxist Revival #87218
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Not another 4th International. That makes 58 varieties now.

    ALB
    Keymaster

    There was a comment by a Party member on Hitchens on Richard Dawkins’s site in 2008 here. Not very charitable for an obituary but then by all accounts Hitchens wasn’t in to being charitable.As to King Jong II, what can we say other than that he is being succeeded by his son King Jong III (and that he was guilty of dragging the name of socialism through the mud in support of the dynastic state-capitalist dictatorship in North Korea)?

    in reply to: Prejudiced Court Judgement #87209
    ALB
    Keymaster
    PaulB wrote:
    I’ve got a copy of a 2008 volume Law at Work, produced by the Labour Research Department. According to that, the 2003 regulations cover discrimination on grounds of religion and belief, where the definition is ‘any religion, religious belief, or similar philosophical belief’. I take it that political views aren’t covered by this, as they would not count as ‘similar’.

    That seems precisely to have been the issue: to what extent can a political view be regarded as a “philosophical belief”. It all seems to have started from the case of a man called Nicholson who had a bee in his bonnet about climate change. That the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere has largely been caused by human activity is a fact rather than a belief, but the Tribunal got round this by arguing that the “moral” conclusion that Nicholson derived from this (that he should do everything he could to reduce his and everybody else’s “carbon footprint”) was and so he won his case.Compensation culture lawyers then rushed in and ever since Employment Tribunals have been trying to close the opening. Another rejected case is that of a 9/11 Truther who lost. He was more fortunate than the Trotskyists as his views were denounced only as “absurd” rather than “repugnant”.I don’t think we would want our views to be described as a “philosophical belief” similar to religion, would we (except perhaps to win a court case)? Surely, our case is based on scientific facts not belief.

    in reply to: The ‘Occupy’ movement #86440
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Three of us braved temperatures of 3-4 degrees to complete the Party’s commitment to have a stall at Occupy St Pauls for the six weeks up till Xmas. We didn’t stay for long but still did the usual leafleting and had the usual discussions. Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn was announced as speaking somewhere but we couldn’t find him.  We noticed that the the walls had been cleared of all their posters and that empty tents had been removed. An occupier explained that this had been done as a concession to the church authorities to help restore a sense of normality to the area.  Pity really even if some of the posters were barking mad, eg those supporting David Icke, as well as all variety of conspiracy and currency crank theories. A couple of ours were up there too.The civil action by the City authorities to remove the camp is being heard tomorrow at the Royal Courts of Justice. Listen to the news to see what happens.

    in reply to: People before Profit #87202
    ALB
    Keymaster

    People Before Profit’s assessment of their result can be found on their site. Also there are various videos of George Hallam’s contributions at hustings meetings. This is something we could do of course and might be a reason for contesting appropriate by-elections again.. The technical quality is not very good except for him on the economic crisis and who he is. The political quality reveals him to be a common or garden reformist, advocating for instance municipal banks to help local businesses and a revival of the old Giro Bank. The good thing is that he doesn’t mention socialism or claim to be a socialist. It’s a pity others such as the TUSC, Militant and the SWP don’t do the same, ie propose their reforms without claiming to be socialists.

    in reply to: Prejudiced Court Judgement #87206
    ALB
    Keymaster
    SussexSocialist wrote:
    I don’t understand how any court can rule that an entirely legal and legtimate view point can be described officially as ‘repugnant’,

    Unfortunately, the “principle” of “repugnancy” is now well incorporated into English legislation and jurispridence. The Tribunal decided that it was “able to apply a narrow construction to the regulations to take account of accepted mores of society such as repugnance” and went on to rule that any employer can sack with impunity anybody whose views “society” considers “repugnant”.This all goes back to the bigoted Catholic judge Lord Devlin who introduced this concept. Here’s how his wikipedia entry describes his approach:

    Quote:
    After the Wolfenden report in 1957, Devlin argued in support of James Fitzjames Stephen that popular morality should be allowed to influence lawmaking, and that even private acts should be subject to legal sanction if they were held to be morally unacceptable by the “reasonable man”, in order to preserve the moral fabric of society (Devlin’s “reasonable man” was one who held commonly accepted views, not necessarily derived from reason as such). H. L. A. Hart supported the report’s opposing view (derived from John Stuart Mill) that the law had no business interfering with private acts that harmed nobody. Devlin’s argument was expanded in his 1965 book The Enforcement of Morals. As a result of his famous debate with Devlin on the role of the criminal law in enforcing moral norms, Hart wrote Law, Liberty and Morality (1963) and The Morality of the Criminal Law (1965).Devlin argued that a society’s existence depends on the maintenance of shared political and moral values. Violation of the shared morality loosens one of the bonds that hold a society together, and thereby threatens it with disintegration. Devlin proposed a public morality that, in certain situations, would override matters of personal or private judgment.He argued that because an attack on “society’s constitutive morality” would threaten society with disintegration, such acts could not be free from public scrutiny and sanction on the basis that they were purely private acts. In Devlin’s view, homosexual acts were a threat to society’s morality. In short, he maintained that legal intervention was essential to ensure both individual and collective survival, and to prevent social disintegration due to a loss of social cohesion.Devlin believed that “the limits of tolerance” are reached when the feelings of the ordinary person towards a particular form of conduct reaches a certain intensity of “intolerance, indignation and disgust”. If, for example, it is the genuine feeling of society that homosexuality is “a vice so abominable that its mere presence is an offence”, then society may eradicate it.

    Fortunately he was opposed by other Establishment figures and he didn’t get his way on this particular point. But the concept that people’s ideas and behaviour can be discriminated against on the grounds of being “repugnant” to “society” did get through. It is something that the Christian Right could build on if ever they were to gain more than the marginal influence they now have.In this respect the Christian People’s Alliance is politically active in Kingston in South West London where they contest local by-elections and the general election. No doubt we’ll come up against them in  the Greater London Assembly elections next year. They are even part of the Kingston Anti Cuts Group and supported the 30 November public service strike. In a recent local by-election in Kingston they got 7% of the vote. On the other side of London, in Newham, they’ve got three councillors.So, we do have to deal with them and their arguments.

    in reply to: People before Profit #87201
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Well, at least he beat the “Bus-Pass Elvis Party”. I don’t know whether or not he’ll be pleased with the result. We would be if it was us, I suppose, knowing that there were up to a 100 people in that area who had deliberately voted for a classless, stateless, moneyless, wageless world, and we’d go out and try to make contact with them. But he said he was  “more concerned with practical actions to tackle some very real problems”. 0.55% doesn’t seem a very strong base from which to achieve something practical, even if it is par for the course for the percentage of votes Trotskyist and similar candidates get these days.Rather worrying is the fact that the three far right, ultra-nationalist parties (UKIP, BNP and English Democrats) together got over 9 percent of the vote.

    in reply to: People before Profit #87198
    ALB
    Keymaster

    That was the by-election in which we got beaten by Mr Blobby. Another unfortunate result in a by-election in Scotland in 2005 (details here) led Conference the following year to vote:

    Quote:
    That no more by-elections be contested as they appear to be a waste of money.

    So we couldn’t have put up a candidate even if we wanted to, but if there had been more time (the Labour Party has rushed the by-election since the MP died only on 10 November and was buried only on 25 November) West London branch would have leafleted the area. The 2006 resolution, however, does not rule out contesting either the general election or regional or local elections, just by-elections. Which is why we will be contesting the Greater London Assembly elections next year.On the face of it by-elections seem a good opportunity to gain some national publicity but the sort of results we were getting turned out to be counter-productive.It will be interesting to see tomorrow morning how many votes George Hallam got and whether he too got his fingers burnt by contesting a by-election for the publicity. 

    in reply to: People before Profit #87194
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I sent an email to the People before Profit contact for Feltham and was surprised to get a reply from the candidate himself, George Hallam. Apparently he knew a Party member when he was in Bristol in the late 70s. Here (with permission) is what he replied:

    Quote:
    I’m George Hallam (the candidate). I’m just off to campaign so I will have to be brief. Are we a socialist party? Let’s just say that we are more concerned with practical actions to tackle some very real problems than we are with labels.  So formally we don’t use that term. Check our manifesto and policy statements to see where we stand.  Quite a few of our members do consider themselves socialists.  We try to take decisions by consensus so there is no great conflict.  We have members who are in The Socialist Party (of England and Wales). In May we stood Ian Page (an SP member and former councillor) as a joint candidate in a council by-election in Lewisham. Ian got 13 percent, 78 votes behind the Conservative if I remember correctly.  Must dash now. Best wishes

    The result of the local by-election can be found here. Page, who stood as a “Socialist Alternative – Lewisham People Before Profit​” candidate, didn’t do too badly.

    in reply to: The ‘Occupy’ movement #86439
    ALB
    Keymaster
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    Another insight into OWS organising and decision making here http://www.thenation.com/article/165087/fracturing-occupy-wall-street

    Having been to Occupy London a number of times now I think the same distinction between the political activists and homeless occupiers exists there though without the conflict.Here is a description of the situation in Oakland towards the end (not what I expected from some of the glamorised reports of it as a hot bed of working class resistance):

    Quote:
    Here are some points that someone who has not participated in an Occupy meeting won’t understand (and this is based on common trends in West Coast Occupy spaces — but comrades have said some apply to others elsewhere): 1.) the majority of those camping at the sites are people dismissively referred to as “chronic” homeless; many are veterans of wars, as far back as the one in Vietnam 2.) a significant part of the population at the encampments have serious mental health issues 3.) there is open and widespread use of marijuana and alcohol, as well as other drugs that are used more covertly All 3 factors are interrelated. Since I’ve still had beautiful interactions with people afflicted by all 3, I see Occupy sites as places of healing and for the possible reintegration of long-term homeless people into housed working class communities. I have seen people who in the past were noticeably mentally ill start to adjust and appear more stable after taking on collective duties in the safety of the encampments. Never having been anywhere near homeless myself, I can imagine that the safety in numbers must making sleeping outdoors seem much less dangerous. Yet these encampments, especially on the margins of Occupy Oakland where the guy got shot dead last week, have lumpen characters prowling around the fringes looking for some hustle or something to rip off. There’s this strange paradox of safety within the core and danger at the margins. I’ve seen a few fist fights myself, mostly between drunks, all of which got broken up due to the thankless efforts of stable people at the encampment. If you know the counter-cultural reference, you’ll get this description a friend made: Occupy camps are a cross between a Rainbow Gathering and jail. That pretty much sums it up.

    I think the Occupy London political activists are going to have a similar issue to face when they end it (and go back to their homes) of what to do about the homeless people they have attracted and given a sense of community to.Perhaps we’ve concentrated too much on the political aspects of the Occupy movement and overlooked the social effect for some of those involved. 

    in reply to: People before Profit #87193
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I wonder what the people of Lewisham would have made of this. Luckily for them it was only distributed in Vauxhall in Lambeth.

    in reply to: People before Profit #87190
    ALB
    Keymaster

    That would be an interesting development as the SWP are still supposed to be in coalition with Militant and Bob Crow in TUSC (Trotskyists United with Stalinist Crow) which is trying to cobble together a list of militant trade unionists to fight the Greater London Assembly elections next April.  It wouldn’t be the first time that these two would-be vanguards have fallen out over which of them is to “lead the working class”.I’m still not convinced, however, that People Before Profit are not genuine reformists who really believe that capitalism could be made to work in the way they propose (as opposed to the insincere reformists that the Trotskyists are with their “transitional demands” which they know can’t be achieved under capitalism).If TUSC and People Before Profit do have rival lists for these elections I would think that People Before Profit would do better as they would be appealing to a wider audience than just trade unionists. In any event, we’ll be standing in at least one area advocating the common ownership and democratic control of productive resources and production solely for use not profit (socialism) and nothing but.

    in reply to: William Morris and Errico Malatesta (10 December) #87060
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Interesting meeting last night in the middle of nowhere at which some interesting facts emerged.1. That Malatesta was never actually a member of the Socialist League but merely knew some of the anarchist members of the League and attended some of its meetings. He did meet Morris at that time (1889-90) but they would have had to have spoken to each other in French since Malatesta didn’t speak English then.2. That Malatesta actually shared some of Morris’s criticism of the anarchists who drove him out of the League, eg their talk of “absolute freedom” and advocacy of “individual appropriation” as also their belief that all that was required was to destroy capitalism (by bombs or “the new chemistry” as it was known in the anarchist movement) and an anarchist society would spontaneously arise on its ruins.3. On Morris’s death in 1896 Malatesta wrote what was described as a “rather bitter” obituary in which he criticised the fact that in his will Morris, like a good bourgeois, left all his money (some £1.5 million) to his family and not a penny to the workers’ movement or to workers. Morris, said Malatesta, was a socialist in literature but a bourgeois in life (and, it’s true, Morris did not abandon his bourgeois lifestyle, though over the years he did give considerable sums of money to the socialist movement). Malatesta, suggested the speaker, was criticising Morris for not doing what he had done. Malatesta (who was born in 1853) himself came from a bourgeois background (though not as privileged as Morris’s) and gave up his medical studies to learn a trade (in the event, as an electrician, then the cutting edge technology). Incidentally, £1.5 million would be worth at least 100 times that amount today, so Morris was definitely one of the 1%.4. Peter the Painter and those involved in the Sidney Street siege a hundred years ago were not anarchists (as in the popular imagination and as anarchists sometimes claim). They were in fact Latvian members of the Bolshevik wing of the Russian Social Democratic party. Malatesta was only incidentally involved in this since they had borrowed an acetylene torch from his electrician’s business without him knowing what for. It was in fact to use in their raid on the jewelry shop.

Viewing 15 posts - 8,401 through 8,415 (of 8,486 total)