Following on from your obituary of Ted Grant, the Trotskyist founder of the “entryist” Militant Tendency (September Socialist Standard), I agree that he was never a revolutionary; but just another reformer masquerading as a revolutionary.
I first heard Ted Grant speak at a meeting in High Holborn, of the so-called Revolutionary Communist Party, just before its demise probably in 1947. At this meeting, I heard for the first time the claim that the Soviet Union was not socialist, or even a “degenerated workers’ state”, but in fact a dictatorial form of state capitalism. A member of the audience (of about 100) got up and forcefully, as well as persistently, much to the annoyance of Grant and the other Trotskyist speakers, and argued that the economy of the USSR was state capitalist, and that the workers and peasants there were exploited in much the same way as elsewhere. Shortly after, two of the leaders who were at the meeting, Jock Haston and Tony Cliff, both accepted the claim that Soviet Russia was state capitalist.
And who was the speaker from the audience? I learned later, when I knew the SPGB (from meetings on Clapham Common), that it was a man named Sammy Cash, a well-known and active member of the Socialist Party.
As you noted, Ted Grant was ousted from the Militant Tendency by a man called Peter Taaffe, a thoroughly dishonest individual who claims that his existing group is the “socialist party”, known by the most appropriate acronym of SPEW.
PETER E. NEWELL, Colchester, Essex
The obituary on Ted Grant by DAP rather impressed me with its honesty and, even, generosity. I met Grant and Haston in 1948 at the RCP HQ on the Harrow Road. Haston was a fun fellow; Grant seemed a bit like a frustrated priest.
RICHARD MONTAGUE, Ballymena, Co. Antrim.
Royalty – an irrelevance?
On the road to Socialism there are powerful institutions in the way. Monarchy, with all its associated inequalities and public loyalty, is a powerful support for capitalism. It embodies wealth and privilege alongside emotional adoration by the poor. Cromwell managed to remove a king, but soon after his death the monarchy was re-established.
Why has it been as successful as an institution? It no doubt has its own methods for self-survival (modern PR experts, and years of experience of being a monarch, plus perhaps a genuine love for the British people). Yet the institution can only survive with public consent. None of the political parties that have attained power has bothered to question in any serious way the existence of the monarchy; partly I assume because they dread the loyalty of the British people.
We are been socialised into a culture that respects the royal family, at least in principle (people may frown at certain incidents with the royals, but basically accept their existence). Submission to the monarchy is encouraged from the cradle to the grave, and even if cynical, a person may find it difficult to resist a feeling of pride when a member of the royal family visits their factory or local area. Celebrities have occasionally returned MBEs, but they are few and far between.
Vast arguments are put forward to justify the royal family (e.g. encourages tourism and hence the pockets of the people) We all ‘immersed’ in royalist propaganda and culture. Yet how can it be right for one family to be so well provided for (houses, land, wealth, public adoration etc) when other families struggle from day to day?
They also assist and legitimise other people who have unfair amounts of wealth (in the past kings and queens have helped each other in difficult circumstances – when the peasants are getting above themselves for instance).
The institution also puts unfair pressure on the members of the royal family. The horses the Queen must have sat on horses on rainy days to fulfil her royal duties; and the boredom of watching parade after parade! The lack of privacy – even minor scandals blown out of all proportion, and the difficulty of moving in privacy from A to B.
We are so ‘brainwashed’ into the advantages of monarchy, that we grossly underestimate the disadvantages. Yet it take courage for a politician to suggest to suggest we abolish it – the inaction of millions of indoctrinated people can be a formidable thing to experience. Other politicians would condemn his very words (in the hope of gaining votes for their own parties!).
Are we all involved in a ‘mother-figure’ complex (or for ex-public school types –‘matron’)? Do we feel more comfortable knowing she is then looking after us? Or are we being childish? Shouldn’t we liberate her and her family, as well as the public, from an institution that goes hand-in-hand with unequal society? Draw a line under history and move on?
PAUL WILSON, Brighouse, West York’s
Obviously if the monarchy is still around at the time socialism is established it would be abolished immediately. Such institutionalised privilege can have no place in a society of equals. This said, we don’t see any point in wasting time campaigning to get it abolished under capitalism. Whether or not a capitalist state is a monarchy or a republic makes no difference to the economic structure of society, which is the root cause of the problems wage and salary workers face today. Just look at the USA, which has been a republic since the 18th century – Editors.