Forum Replies Created
Thanks for the explanation of your query re the 82% polling figure which I initially quoted in a previous post (#247252). “In most countries” you say, “you would expect this to be at least 99%”. Whaaat??
I can only make sense of this if you were speaking of countries with a totalitarian regime, like say North Korea today, or as it was in the worst of times in the USSR. Putin hasn’t quite gone down that road as far as I can see nor has Ukraine. Still, anything is possible I guess.
You also say that I left unanswered your request for the percentage of people polled etc. This refers to the third para in my previous post where I indicated the source as The Economist, 23/09/2023, which in that issue has two lengthy articles on Ukraine (pp. 16-20). Having now re-read this article I see that there were figures following the sentence I quoted: “Support for negotiations with Russia is relatively low”. The figures are: 32% in the east and 39% in the south. These figures appear to have come from Darina Solodova, a sociologist with the UN Development Programme in Kiev. She says that “only 23% think it is worth initiating negotiations.” I take it that this would be an aggregate figure (Ukraine-wide). The higher figures for the east and the south are to be expected , given the higher percentage of ethnic Russians in those areas. I think if, as seems likely, the war in Ukraine contnues to a stalemate, the numbers supporting negotiations with Russia would rise.
No, I don’t support NATO’s proxy or non-proxy whatever war in Ukraine. I support Ukraine’s war against Russia – for reasons I have made clear many times. I support NATO and other capitalist powers sending financial, military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine because without it, they couldn’t defend themselves. I’m not going to oppose them getting help from NATO any more than I would have opposed the Spanish Republic in 1936-38 getting help from Stalin’s Russia.
I don’t buy your Realpolitik version of events at all. Like many Leftists, for you the culprit is NATO’s post-cold war expansion, no doubt fuelled by US capitalist interests. This ignores the fact that every country that joined NATO did so willingly, and none of them did anything to seriously threaten Putin’s regime. The former Soviet vassal states of Eastern Europe joined for the good reason, based on their experience of USSR rule, that they feared Russia. But not even the most hawkish and Russophobic of them – Poland and the three Baltic States – did anything to threaten Putin. Prior to February 2022 Western military involvement in Ukraine was minimal and it’s hard to believe that any NATO government contemplated the imminent possibility of Russia invading Ukraine. Your Realpolitik view also ignores the significance of Putin’s firm conviction, made known well before last February, that Ukraine was never a country, and incorporating it into Russia would be an act of restoration, not an act of aggression. Ideas matter, and there is always a choice. Unfortunately, Putin made a catastrophically wrong choice in starting the largest land war in Europe since 1945.
I am dumbfounded by your remark that the 82% statistic I quoted “seems rather low”. For over a century the SPGB has stood steadfast in its claim that the socialist revolution must have majority support to succeed – an overwhelming majority I would have thought. And here you say that a majority figure of 82% in a Ukraine poll “seems low”. I must be missing something here (irony probably). I can’t add anything to what I have said in my previous post about Ukraine polling figures – for which I did give you the source.
I am aware of SPGB support for conscientious objectors, I too supported conscientious objectors (and not just worker COs) in the 1960s when Australia joined the US war in Vietnam. Many young men here went to Vietnam as conscripts. A tiny minority declared themselves conscientious objectors and only a few of those objected on political grounds. I am sure that none of the conscripts would have joined the army voluntarily. I am equally sure that those who went believed it was a just war. I know you don’t like words like “morality” and “justice” in political debate, but what, if not justice, were you seeking when you actively supported conscientious objectors?
You say it is a “socialist principle” not to kill fellow workers in conflicts between capitalist states. But conflicts between capitalist states may have little or nothing to do with capitalism as such, inasmuch as they are not principally fought over resources, markets or trade routes etc. Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine is such a one. The principle you are proclaiming sounds more like a pacifist principle to , me, with the important difference that you only want it to apply to workers, whereas pacifists apply it to all people regardless of their class identity, which makes their position more morally coherent IMO.
You ask if the governments of NATO and others such as Australia are being “just” in supplying arms to the Ukrainian government and nationalists. “Am I for it or against it” you ask. That’s an easy one to answer. I am for it. I support the provision of financial, military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine because Ukraine is fighting a legitimate war of self defence against a war of aggression by Russia. I don’t think that I would call it “just”. I’d call it the right decision. I wouldn’t call it “just” because you are talking of government decisions, and I don’t regard governments as moral actors.
It was no “cop out” as you call it when I said that “I’ll leave it to the Ukrainians to decide”. You have misunderstood me. I meant that I have “no skin in the game”, because I am not the one doing the fighting and dying, living as I do thousands of miles away in a peaceful place that is not being invaded. I am not involved. I take no risks. It would be arrogant in the extreme for me to tell Ukrainians who are doing the fighting and dying what they should do. Which is why I said, “I’ll let them decide”.
The most recent figures I have seen from Ukraine say that support for Ukraine’s independence is the highest it has ever been at 82%. 76% tell pollsters they do not want elections until the war is over. Support for negotiations with Russia is relatively low. Confidence in the country’s politicians is low, but approval of the army and Zelensky remains sky high (from The Economist, 23/09/2023). The general picture given by these figures are in accord with what I have read in the recently published book “Invasion” by Luke Harding, the Guardian’s former Moscow correspondent. Overall, I get a different picture of popular feeling about the war amongst Ukrainians than what I read from you, but of course, like yours, mine is a limited picture.
You mention conscription against their will (of Ukrainian males presumably). There is no necessary contradiction between the introduction of conscription and popularity of the war. It’s like tax. Few individuals will volunteer to pay tax. But asked if they think the government is right to levy tax, most will say yes. It’s the difference between being an individual and being a citizen. The large number of ethnic Russians in Ukraine you mention doesn’t imply that they are all supporters of Putin. When I last heard, many if not most expressed their abiding hostility to him. Other ethnic Russians who support him have made their way across the border into Russia. Some have stayed in Putin’s two faux republics in the Donbas. “Why take the side of the majority who support the war?” you ask. Surely it’s obvious. I support the majority because the majority support the war of resistance against Putin. And I’ll let the majority decide. I neither support nor oppose draft dodgers.
I disagree that the war in Ukraine has become a “proxy” war just because Ukraine is now completely funded by foreign powers. I would agree with you if you could show that these foreign powers have effectively contracted out the use of force to the Ukraine state as an alternative to direct military intervention themselves – like US supplying missiles to the Mujahideen against the USSR in Afghanistan, or Putin using the Donbas separatists against the Ukrainian armed forces. I don’t see any similarity between these examples and the current situation in Ukraine. You are calling it a “proxy war because it describes the “constraints on (the Ukraine state’s) actions and abilities” due to total financial dependence. I know there is no agreed definition of “proxy war,” but IMO yours fails to accurately describe what is currently raging in Ukraine. Since when has constraints induced by financial dependence been enough to turn an independent state into a proxy state?
I’m not sure that one of the criteria for a “just war” is likelihood of success When a decision is first made to resist an aggressor, who is to say that the resistance is likely to be successful or not? However, I think it fair to say that there are limits on waging a just war, eg. when a just war has achieved victory, it would be unjust to continue to demand total submission of the aggressor state’s population or, say, as in WW2 when the Allies had already defeated Germany but insisted on unconditional surrender. You say that independence is now off the agenda for Ukraine. Really?? The war is likely to end in a stalemate, with an armistice. Ukraine will be taken swiftly into the open arms of the EU and NATO. But it will still be an independent sovereign state. The state more likely to end up as a satrapy is Russia, as a satrap of China.
Who would possibly deny that we are entitled to question the motives of the governments we live under and express our concern when they treat people as a means to an end? But why single out Ukraine? Ukraine is fighting a war against a state much bigger and stronger than itself because it doesn’t want to be part of a forced merger imposed on it by Putin. Treating people as a means to an end is much more likely to happen in a country at war than in a peaceful place like the UK. The UK has also treated people as a means to an end in wartime. On the day war broke out in 1939, the British state imposed a liability to conscript on all men between 18 and 41. Wasn’t that also a case of a state using people as a means? Ukraine has a rather stronger case for imposing its will on its people I would have thought, because it has been invaded. Britain hasn’t been invaded since 1066.
ALB (#247057) argues that the US is giving military aid and support to Ukraine deliberately below a level that would enable it to “beat” Russia, but only to “weaken” it. I find this hard to comprehend since weakening Russia and beating it means the same in the eyes of the US. Even the worst of their hawks have never indicated that they are OK with the idea of ”beating” Russia via total war. I thought the official war aim of the US is to weaken Russia so that it can’t do the same to others as it is doing now to Ukraine, by reducing Russia’s ability to wage war beyond its borders. As I understand it, it doesn’t want to provoke a war with Russia because this would risk a serious escalation of the conflict with the possible threat of nuclear weapons – a possibility made real by Putin. The official US view seems a fairly realistic one to me.
I cannot understand why ALB regards Ukraine as a “proxy or puppet state,” serving US interest in weakening but not beating Russia in its war in Ukraine. Zelensky must be the worst example of a puppet imaginable. Most puppet political figures I can think of have not wanted their backers widely known for fear it will stigmatise them as puppets. But Zelensky not only makes it well known who gives him support in his war with Russia, he publicly urges them to keep on giving more. He has just come back from the US and Canada with the promise of increased military support.
Financing the Ukraine state by the US doesn’t prove that Zelensky is a puppet in a proxy war. On the contrary, it shows how effective he is in getting his supporters to put their money where their mouth is. Proxy war proponents want to deny that Ukrainians are their own agents acting in their own interests, who have a right to self defence. The willingness of Ukrainians, military and civilian, to resist Putin’s army puts paid to the idea that they are mere puppets in a proxy war between US/Nato and Russia.
Most people I know accept and understand the notion of a “just war” and the related idea that people are justified in resisting an aggressor. That’s probably because they share the same moral vocabulary (where they disagree is in applying the “just war’ concept to particular cases). I gather that ALB, with a different lexicon, rejects the idea entirely that there can be such a thing as a “just war” (except for the class war) so he comes up with the spurious argument that those who think the war is justified are also justifying the continuation of the killing. “Shame on them” he says. Dear me. Like many others, I think the war (ie. the Ukranian resistance) is justified, but I also think that negotiations should begin now to stop the war. Many Ukrainians doing the fighting have a different view, as they have every right to. I’ll leave it to them to decide.
In his latest spray (#246740), Robbo says that “the same death cult of nationalism that informs the ‘invaded’ (Ukraine) with their delusional fantasy of ‘independence’ (“the workers have no country”) also informs the ‘invader’ (Russia) – and nationalist minded liberals like (Lizzie45) and PGB”. Wow.
The “independence” I have referred to is the independence of Ukraine from Russia (and formerly the USSR) which was agreed to between Yeltsin and Kravchuk and overwhelmingly confirmed by Ukrainian workers in the referendum in 1991. This is the “independence” which Putin has tried to extinguish since February last year by replacing the Ukrainian government with a puppet government and incorporating Ukraine into a new pan-Russia. That’s what Ukrainian workers are fighting against. No “delusional fantasy” there. Robbo’s “workers have no country” trope carries an entirely different meaning, where “independence” means being freed from the rule of capital and state via international working class revolution, an heroic ideal but utterly unrealisable in current conditions in Ukraine or Russia or indeed anywhere else in the world. That’s the true “delusional fantasy” here.
Perhaps it’s of minor importance, but the “workers have no country” trope is not what Marx and Engels said. They said that the working class has no fatherland (Vaterland). They never said that the working class has no ‘country’ or ‘nation’. They believed that the working class had a material and, initially, a political stake, in their own national society (sic) if not in the state. They understood the role of nationality in shaping class-based movements, and that distinctive cultures, languages and ‘ways of life’ are embodied in nations and permeate all aspects of peoples lives. I was trying to get a similar idea across when I suggested that Ukrainian workers fighting against Putin’s army are defending their “common life” and that it is simplistic to see it only in terms of defending the state. Clearly, Robbo disagrees with this. A powerful antidote to Robbo’s simplicity is to read the best thing ever written on Marx and nationality IMO, in Erica Benner, “Really Existing Nationalisms” (Verso, 2012).
Robbo says that he is still waiting for me “to justify the continuation of the war from Ukraine’s standpoint when it’s pretty obvious that the counteroffensive has failed…” Lacking Robbo’s military expertise, I am unable to say that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed, and I’m in no position to satisfy his gratuitous demand that I justify the continuation of the war from Ukraine’s standpoint. I’ll let Ukrainians decide whether to continue their fight or not. I imagine that most of them believe that theirs is a just war and that many Ukrainian workers are willing to die for that. There may well come a time when the costs of continuing are too much and the war will reach a stalemate with a cease-fire more or less around the present front lines. Negotiations leading to an armistice seem like the best option to hope for, similar to the way the Korean war ended in 1953. At least it’s a realisable option, more so than anything Robbo has put up here.
Once again, Robbo can’t comprehend why anybody would want to resist an invader who wants to subjugate them by surrendering their independence to an imperialist autocrat who will likely kill them if they resist. He can only believe that they fight over “a tacky piece of cloth on a flagpole somewhere” or what ALB calls “rags at the end of a pole”. Both seem blind to the fact that when Ukrainians fight they might be fighting to defend their right to live in their own country with the right to choose their own government, something de-nied them by Putin who believes that Ukraine is not a real country at all but is actually part of Russia.
Robbo and ALB have such a visceral hatred of flag-waving that they cannot see that patriotism, despite Dr. Johnson’s claim that it is the last refuge of a scoundrel, can also be the ordinary refuge of ordinary men and women particularly when they are the victims of a war of aggression as are the ordinary people of Ukraine. Like it or not, that’s how the world is.
Their answer to the question of where responsibility and blameworthiness lies defies credence because they claim that Putin and Zelensky are equally responsible, and so equally guilty of war crimes etc. whereas in reality it was a war of choice by Putin who declared war on Zelensky. As I read her post, Lizzie 45 has at-tributed the blame for war crimes on Putin, and rightly so because it was Putin’s army that has sent missiles into civilian apartment blocks, houses, and schools. As everyone who knows anything about international law, these are war crimes. You don’t have to read Geoffrey Robertson to know that. We can add the kid-napping of children to the list of horrors. I have not seen any credible evidence that the Ukrainian side has done the same, which is not to say that Ukrainian soldiers haven’t done some nasty things and deserve to be condemned for it. But here we get into the distinction between the justness of a war and justice in the war – a distinction unknown to SPGBers it seems.
When ALB declares that “the best immediate thing that could happen from a working class point of view is a ceasefire to stop the killing”, who would disagree? But then who would disagree that the citizens of Ukraine have a right to resist an aggressor even if it involves the use of arms and waving “a rag at the end of a pole”? Is that moral dilemma beyond the ken of ALB? His preferred solution to the war in Ukraine is presented as the best thing from a working class point of view. But what exactly is the view of the Ukrainian working class? He doesn’t know any more than I do. But I would wager that if we could conduct a poll of Ukrainian workers we would find majority support for resisting the Russian forces. In time they may also decide that the cost of continuing is too much to bear. If so, that would not render their belief in their right to resist Putin invalid despite what Robbo and ALB might think. More likely than not they would find Robbo and ALBs views about their “true interests” risible and insulting.
ALB (#245790) says “…recourse to the law, rather than an appeal to voters, to deal with opponents was a new step in US politics, a further widening of the already wide “democratic deficit” there.”
It is unclear to me what you are saying here ALB. Is it that you believe the pursuit of Trump through the US legal system (eg: via. the recent grand jury indictment) is being done for the primary purpose of destroying Trump as a political opponent of Joe Biden? Are you saying that this amounts to a corruption of democratic process – because it widens the “democratic deficit” ? How would your alternative of an appeal to voters actually work in this case? I thought voters had already made their voice heard when they chose Biden over Trump as the President in 2020, a fact denied by Trump. What recourse do you think the Feds should have taken if they were true to their claim that they have acted in accord with democratic principles in prosecuting a former President who has fairly clearly acted in breach of democratic principles?
Recourse to the law isn’t a “new step in US politics.” It’s not so long ago that George W Bush was declared the winner of the 2000 Presidential election when the Supreme Court stopped the count in Florida in the “hanging chads” dispute and declared Bush the winner and Al Gore the loser even though Gore won the popular vote. Using the judicial system in the US – the world’s most litigious nation – is a fairly regular event in US politics but in itself says nothing about the degree of democracy involved.. The prosecution of Trump on the charge that he attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 election is a clear case where democratic principles are alive. It was after all a jury of twenty or so ordinary citizens (read: workers) that indicted him. What’s undemocratic about that?
ALB(#245672)says: “… there’s a point of principle involved here — it is not democratic to prosecute an opposition politician with a view to maintaining the ruling party in power. As for instance in Pakistan. Is the Biden regime trying to do anything different?”
To which Lizzie45 says: “Yes, there’s no comparison and it’s ridiculous to suggest otherwise.”
Absolutely. Where is the evidence that Biden and/or the Federal prosecutors have pursued Trump in order to maintain the ruling party in power? I thought that Trump is being pursued because of his efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 election. The evidence for that seems incontrovertible – though still to be tested in open court. And even if we assume that Biden and the Federal prosecutors believe that a Trump conviction will improve Biden’s chances of victory in the Presidential elections in 2024, that has no bearing at all on the case against Trump, unless of course you believe that the judicial system in the US is utterly corrupt, which is probably how Almamater sees it given that he likens Trump’s case to that of Al Capone.
So how is it possible to believe that prosecuting Trump is in breach of a (democratic) principle as ALB alleges? It might be a breach of a democratic principle if Biden and the Federal prosecutor pursued Trump while knowing the evidence against him was false. But the opposite is surely the case. I think the only democratic principle in evidence here is the principle that everyone is equal under the law and that even a US President can be held accountable. I would have thought that socialists would want to support that principle given the importance they rightly attach to democratic processes.
ALB (#245632) likens the pursuit of Trump by the “US State machine” to “the sort of thing that authoritarian regimes do, like Erdogan in Turkey and Putin in Russia”. It is beyond belief that anyone would compare Putin’s pursuit of opposition leaders in Russia with the US State pursuit of Trump. Emphatically so in light of the very recent news that Alexei Navalny has just been sentenced in a closed court to an additional 19 years in a penal colony on charges of “extremism” and “rehabilitating Nazism”. Here we have a genuine case of a political leader putting a prominent leader of the opposition on trial on a political charge based on false evidence. I’d like to think, ALB, that you made an inadvertent error when you likened ex- KGB Putin to the US Federal prosecutors!
PS: I’ve just read the two preceding posts, from ALB and Lizzie45. I agree with Lizzie45 and do not wish to change what I have written above.
“Try reading any of the the “Theoretical Journals” of any of the the leftist or Trotskyist parties and you’ll find they’re all completely impenetrable due to their unreconstructed and inaccessible use of quasi Marxist word salad.”
BD, would you include New Left Review in this?
Your quote from a SPGB appraisal of Kautsky, written over a hundred years ago, refers to the so-called “Kautsky resolution” at the 1900 International Congress in Paris. This followed Kautsky’s condemnation of Millerand’s participation in a bourgeois government which Kautsky saw as a “normal” circumstance. The “Kautsky resolution” indicated that support for a socialist-bourgeois coalition government could apply only in an “exceptional” circumstance – like an invasion or occupation of a country perhaps. What your quote failed to say is that at the SPD Congress in Dresden in 1903 Kautsky drafted a resolution against government participation that removed all references to “exceptional” circumstances. He may have changed his mind because he wanted to support those French Marxists who opposed Millerand. Who knows? His position in 1900-1903 might be called ambiguous, opportunistic or compromising. But you cannot on this evidence say that he “proclaimed his renunciation of Marxism”, or that he abandoned his socialist views. I know that you and the SPGB take the opposite view, because you never make compromises and you condemn all opportunism and coalition building. But the price you have paid for your doctrinal purity is complete political irrelevance. Kautsky never had it that easy.
I strongly disagree with your evaluation of Kautsky. You say that he “held a manipulative view of politics” yet you provide no hard evidence, drawn from Kautsky’s time as a leader of the SPD, of his “manipulative” behaviour. Who did he manipulate in your view? The only “evidence” you cite is the excerpt from Kautsky’s book on Marx and Bernstein published in Paris in 1900, at the tail end of the Revisionist debate and during the other debate on Millerand’s participation in a bourgeois government in France. I have several times read the quoted translation you have given and I cannot see how it can be read as proof of Kautsky’s “manipulative view of politics”. Two thirds of it is predominantly descriptive. The remaining part predictive, but in my view does not warrant a reading that can show Kautsky as a manipulative politician in the SPD.
Things get no better when you equate Kautsky’s “manipulative view of politics” with Lenin’s vanguardism. Lenin’s vanguardism is plain in his theory of the Party, as he pronounced it in 1902. The Bolshevik party was designed as a hierarchy with a core leadership of professional revolutionaries giving command and direction to subordinated worker activists organised in Party cells isolated from each other. It was designed that way because in no other way could a truly revolutionary party survive in the conditions of Tsarist rule. No remotely similar situation existed in Germany. Even if one believes that Kautsky was a “manipulative politician”, it is seriously wrong to see him as a supporter of vanguardism, the same as Lenin.
I am not going into a debate about Blanqui. I only mentioned him in an earlier post because I thought you must have had Blanqui in mind rather than Lasalle as a “propagator of the vanguard party”. But now you say that the Marxist Humanists (I take it you are referring to members of the Marxist Humanist Initiative in the US?) say that “all followers of ;; the vanguard party are Lasallean because it was Lasalle who first developed the concept”. This is news to me.
I think you are confusing the situation, the concept of the vanguard party original was developed by the Jacobin, and then Lasalle adopted it….
It is of little interest to me to decide who first developed the concept of the vanguard party. My reference to Chernyshevsky was a deliberate one because it places Lenin in the relevant historical context – as a member of the unique revolutionary movement of nineteenth century Russia. According to Lenin, Chernyshevsky was the greatest influence on his thought after Marx. Lenin’s concept of the professional revolutionary, central to his theory of the vanguard party, was modelled on Rakhmetov, the hero of “What is to be Done?” You also mention Lasalle. Surely you mean Blanqui?
The gist of my comments on your original post (#244937) was that you were seriously mistaken in claiming that Kautsky propagated the concept of the vanguard party, with the implication that Kautsky and Lenin shared the same theory of the party. But what they shared was the same or similar theory of consciousness: that a socialist consciousness “comes from without”, not directly from the working class. This chimed with Lenin’s view that, left to themselves, workers would never get beyond a “trade union consciousness”. Hence his strong opposition to “spontaneity” and his virulent criticism of the so-called “economists” who believed that socialists, members of Russian social democracy (RSDLP), should vacate the field of revolution and instead devote their energies to supporting workers’ industrial struggles (mass strikes etc).
Rosa Luxemburg wrote about “spontaneity” in her controversy with Kautsky. But this was c. 1906, well after Kautsky and Lenin first spoke of it. She believed that spontaneous action by workers, as in mass strikes, could develop towards a true (revolutionary) socialist consciousness and so should be actively supported by the SPD. Kautsky expressed support for mass strikes, but only in the abstract – the fatal flaw in his socialist politics in Luxemburg’s view.
I don’t agree that Kautsky “abandoned his socialist point of view” as early as 1900. I don’t think he ever abandoned it. He had a firm conviction, drawn from his extreme determinist, evolutionist, Darwinian thought that socialism was historically inevitable (I imagine there would be many SPGBers who would agree). But Kautsky believed all his life that socialism must never be imposed by a revolutionary minority. It must be the undisputed work of a majority. He was profoundly attached to democratic values. Just the opposite of Lenin and his Bolshevik party. By treating Kautsky as a “propagator of the vanguard party” you have put this completely out of sight.
Plekhanov opposed the bolsheviks coup, but they do not say that Kautsky and Lasalle were the propagator of the vanguard party and the original idea came from the Jacobin
Kautsky was not the propagator of the vanguard party! Although Kautsky shared Lenin’s distrust of “spontaneity” and his belief that socialist consciousness could not come from trade union struggles alone, he never supported the idea of a vanguard party as Lenin did. Kautsky believed that workers could only gain a “scientific” understanding of socialism with the aid of bourgeois intellectuals (like himself), and that it was the task of the Party to educate, organise and inspire workers to understand and overthrow capitalism. But that doesn’t mean he supported vanguardism as you appear to believe. Kautsky believed all his life in a democratic mass party of workers, quite the opposite of Lenin who created a party of professional revolutionaries giving orders to worker activists – along lines suggested by Chernechevsky whose book title “What is to be Done” (1862) was borrowed by Lenin in 1902. Lenin had no need to get his vanguardism from the Jacobins.June 7, 2023 at 4:45 am in reply to: Review of book about the CNT’s integration into the State #243826
The problem with the word “interest’ is that it carries many different meanings. Does it relate to needs, wants, desires, intentions etc? What interests are objective, and what are subjective? I used the word to mean revealed preferences, so that all aims actually pursued by a person can be regarded as “in their interest”. This was only to highlight the way in which socialists often refer to “working class interests as their “real” or “true” interest and ignore what workers actually say or reveal as to what their interests are. Using “real interest” in this sense can often carry implications which can be seen as paternalistic (or in some contexts, sinister). However, you have made clear that you are using “interest” to mean “an interest in solving problems (workers) face. ”
The question raised here is an empirical one: Does capitalism satisfy workers’ material needs and solve their problems? You list wages, pensions, benefits, housing, health care, transport, education etc. etc. With the arguable exception of education, these are material interests. The pursuit of material interests in capitalist societies is closely related to the relative prosperity of capitalist economies. I don’t think capitalism has to meet your high standards of “meeting people’s needs properly (?)” for it to be accepted by workers (even if they say it is not in their “interest”). It appears to me that the working class in advanced capitalist societies has nothing against capitalism so long as it is relatively prosperous, and it has been sufficiently prosperous thus far to ensure there is no great demand for socialism.
Many, certainly most socialists, would rightly deny this by pointing to the very uneven spread of general prosperity leaving some people to live insecure and impoverished lives. This is true. But in terms of providing pressure for socialism, these groups are negligible. For most workers, the solution to these problems is not socialism, as you insist, but more welfare state capitalism. Prosperity, at least in advanced capitalist states, has been sufficient to meet the material needs of workers. And being sufficient is enough to allow capitalism to survive.
Fairly clearly, I must disagree with your statement that “capitalism cannot be reformed so as to work for the benefit of the wage-working majority.” In the eyes of the majority of workers, this is not so. You are giving a meaning to “benefit’ that most people don’t share and therefore they would be right to reject your claim that your statement is “the strongest and most irrefutable part of (the SPGB) case”.June 5, 2023 at 9:07 am in reply to: Review of book about the CNT’s integration into the State #243787
Yes. My mistake. I Googled Folkestone and Hythe and misread the figures which were for the 2019 general election. I have just re-entered 2023 F & H council election results. The figures I get are different to yours however. In Folkstone Central the SPGB candidate received 81 votes out of a total of 6,883 votes cast, which gives a figure of 1.2% for the SPGB. In Folkestone Harbour the SPGB candidate received 45 votes out of a total of 2,788 votes cast, which gives a figure of 1.6% for the SPGB. I have no direct experience of UK Council elections so maybe I am missing something here.