This is a reply to Damon Hoppe in respect of a discussion within the North Staffs Campaign Against Racism and Fascism that arose after recent reporting in the Guardian of the rise of the BNP in Stoke, and the decline of the Labour Party.
“I mean greens a capitalist party???!!! Thats a bit like calling the Labour Party a workers Party...Oh they just did.”
“1) The Greens are definetly not capitalist it is an ecological movement and therefore by its very definition anti-capitalist. Its philosopohy is grounded in ethics and ecology. As being 'Green' involves a change in world view it has not yet gained popular appeal, but greens are optomistic about a paradigm shift. Though there is an air of desperate panic amognst some members - myself a case in point- as they know it may soon be to late!”
This makes no sense. The Greens ARE a capitalist party. There is nothing in the programme which challenges Capitalism per se. On the contrary being Green is very profitable for Capitalism. Just look at all the stratified marketing that capitalist firms do selling things at higher prices, be they environmentally friendly this or that, or organic water or such like. Or look at the big business now being developed around alternative energy. Nor does the Greens social base come from the working class.
The Labour party, however, whilst it has always been a Party which remains ideologically tied to capitalism is at the same time organically tied to the working class, both through those that vote for it, through its individual membership, and through the affiliation of the Trade Unions. That is what makes it a Workers Party, and what provides the basis for being able to change society in a way the Liberals or Greens never can.
“2) Socialist Party. Extreme left? Dont be silly. Most of its policies were the bread and butter of post-war Labour and indeed Conservative governments. Just good old 'Social Democracy'...A bit hung up on old rhetoric maybe....”
I didn’t actually specify the Socialist Party as “extreme left”, I was actually thinking of other actually more left groups. But the same logic applies to the Socialist Party. The fact remains they do not have the same resonance within the working class that the LP has – or unfortunately even the BNP amongst workers – so their attempt to substitute their own commitment for the actual support of workers is in practice divisive, and counter-productive.
“3) Liberalism attempts to accomedate Capitalism by restraining it and harnessing its forces for good.(Adam Smith, etc) Gave us the welfare state (Bevridge report) etc. Many liberal ideas have been dismissed as socialist which gives you an idea of how right-wing the government is. Not exactly a 'workers party' (what is a worker anyway?) but certinely a friend of the people. Alas the use of the term neo-liberal which is in fact anti-liberal may leave many confused as to what liberalism is.”
Actually, if you read some political history and philosophy you will find that Liberalism is based on the policy of Laissez-Faire, and the unrestricted Free market. It is what is alluded to by anarcho-capitalists such as Mises and Hayek. Neo-Liberalism derives its name from the fact that it recognises under monopoly capitalism the fundamental role of the capitalists state, a role denied by the original Liberals, and by people like Mises. It was under the Liberals that the worst excesses of the Industrial revolution occurred. As for policies such as the Welfare State and so on these are capitalist policies, in part brought in because of the desperate condition of workers who had not even been fit enough to fight in World war I and II, and because short of Labour in the post-war period, capitalism needed a healthy workforce. Along with the rest of these state capitalist welfarist measures they buy off sections of the working class, pacify it, and create a dependency culture rather than a spirit of working class self-reliance, and collectivism.
“The liberal democrats are probably the most sympathetic to workers of the mainstream parties.”
When it suits them to win votes. IN practice in Councils around the country they have been far more harsh in their treatment of workers than have most Labour councils.
“The suggestion that 'iron fist of capitalism' BNP is a Workers Party is really quiet insulting.”
No its not, it’s a statement of fact, and socialists like myself believe in starting by telling the truth. Only then can you begin to deal with it. The BNP like all fascist parties exists ultimately to come to the rescue of capitalism, but in order to do that it has to win power, and it has to gain support on the streets. The majority of people are workers, and they can only do that by appealing to workers and the middle class. Usually, they appeal to the most backward, least organised workers, and you can see that happening now. But, in Italy and Germany for instance the more dominant the fascists became the more they were able to win over wider groups of workers, including some that switched straight across from the Communist Party.
If you don’t recognise that, and from that realise why it is necessary not just to oppose the BNP, but why it is also necessary to provide workers with a credible alternative then you are doomed to failure.
“As for infiltrating the Labour Party to transform it into a 'workers party' , apart from being dishonest, makes about as much sense as infiltraring the BNP with the same intention. Most infiltraters go native insteed.”
As for infilreating the Labour party, who said anything about infiltrating it. I am a Marxist, and believe as Marx did that the priority is to build the Workers Party. In the Communist manifesto Marx and Engels wrote,
“The Communists do not set up their own parties separate from the Workers parties.”
There is no question of infiltrating anything, or of being dishonest. It is the responsibility of socialists to build the Labour party as the Workers party. The way to do that is by beginning at the grass roots turning each LP Branch out into its community to deal with the problems of people through collective action. We should where possible attempt to build co-operative forms as alternatives to the solutions offered by Capitalism and by the capitalist state at national and local level, thereby building the strength and conscioussnes, and social and economic power of the working class.
Ultimately, that is a far more practical and realistic solution than relying on bourgeois politicians whether they be from the Labour Party, the Greens or the Liberals.
“We have to face poltical reality.”
Yet you advocate voting for the Greens!
“There are decent people in both of these parties who probably detest the leadership of them and there 'new right' ideas as much as the general population who we can all be working with.”
And the best way of doing that is by being a member of the Labour Party.
“But anyone claiming that 'New Labour' is a friend of ordinary working people is frankly only going to upset lots of people and make them very very angry indeed “
I agree, but who is saying that New labour is a friend of ordinary working people. I’m certainly not.
“Now please can we get back to stopping the BNP and deal with resistsing or supportiung 'New Labour' some where else!”
Yes, but the way to stop the BNP is by providing a credible political alternative, and that can only be built through the labour party alongside all those “decent people” in there you refered to.
The LP is Dead, Long Live the LP
Vote labour in the mayoral Election
Marxists and the Workers Party