No2EU, the organisation set up by the National Socialists of the British Communist Party has now announced its list of candidates to stand in the European elections. Many of those who have joined the Stalinists in this reactionary venture do so, at least partly, on the basis of an argument that a Left-Wing, more democratic alternative to the Labour Party has to be built. But, in that case it is puzzling why they accept an election platform and programme that was simply announced by the Stalinists, and which is thoroughly imbued with the kind of reactionary, National Socialist ideology of Stalinism – See: The Cancer of Nationalism in the Workers Movement - and over which they have had no right of discussion.
Only, the leaders of the other main grouping to have joined the Stalinists – the Socialist Party – have been allowed to ask for amendments to the original platform, and the changes they have been able to make have been insignificant. And the announcement of candidates, similarly without any kind of democratic selection process, is again reminiscent of the authoritarian methods of Stalinism in Eastern Europe. In recent years, the fact that large numbers of the Left ran away from the fight, meant that the Right were given a freer hand to restrict democracy within the Party, but even today the Labour Party remains far more democratic than anything that No2EU has demonstrated. At least LP members retain the right to discuss and help formulate LP policy from the Branch level upwards, at least from the Branch level upwards they retain the right to select the candidates who will stand in their name!!!!
The adverse comparison extends even further. Ever since Lenin and the Comintern advised the British Communist Party to apply for membership of the Labour Party, the Stalinists have complained that they were expelled and refused membership. The Socialist Party too, complains that it is barred from membership of the Labour Party following the expulsion of some members of its predecessor – The Militant Tendency – back in the 1980’s. In fact, the Communist Party could have retained membership of the LP back in the 1920’s simply by stating that the British Socialist Party – which was an affiliated organisation of the LP – had simply changed its name to the Communist Party – which was true. It did not, and framed its application in terms that were almost certain to result in the application being turned down, repeating Lenin’s statement about supporting the LP “like a rope supports a hanged man”! And, although its true that some members of Militant were expelled from the LP in the 1980’s, the fact is that the majority faction that went on to become the Socialist Party, simply voted to leave, rather than stay and fight alongside all the other Trotskyist organisations, and members of the Left. If Marxists and members of Marxists organisations WANTED to be in the LP they could be, Marxists have found ways to operate politically in far more difficult and restricting conditions than those which exist within the LP today. Just look at Trotsky’s arguments for his supporters to remain in the Stalinist Parties during the 1920’s and early 1930’s when they were facing physical assault and even murder!!! Look at the way Marxists in Germany operated under the Anti-Socialist laws, or even the Russian Marxists under Tsarism.
No, the reason the majority of Marxists are outside the LP, is because it is their choice to be so, and simply reflects the sectarian politics of British “Marxism” going back more than a hundred years. It compares very unfavourably with the methods of Marx and Engels, who were extremely critical of those sectarian Marxist groups of their time who made similar arguments to those of today – of groups such as the Social Democratic Federation, for instance. In comparison, Marx and Engels rejected such sectarianism when they threw themselves into support for genuine mass workers organisations like the Chartists. And, as Engels states, when they helped create the First International they made its programme as broad as possible precisely in order to bring together all of those real mass working class forces such as the Chartists and the British Trade Unions.
But, look then at the attitude of the Stalinists and of the Socialist Party. No2EU specifically refused entry to the organisation for various Left-wing and centrist organisations. They were obviously keen to refuse entry to the SWP, for the simple reason that the size of the SWP could threaten the dominance of the campaign by the Stalinists, and the SP, who will try to utilise No2EU as a recruiting ground for their own organisation, as they used the LP in the past, will not want to compete for the same ground with their rivals in the SWP! IN other words the same kind of sectarianism that has dogged the British Left for over a century is institutionalised within No2EU.
But, to be honest most of those organisations are in any case better off keeping their distance from such a reactionary Nationalist organisation. In the past weeks most of the Left has outlined the reactionary nature of No2EU in similar terms to those that I set out in the post linked to above. Whether they would have done so quite so much had they been allowed to join in the first place – as some of them tried to do – is another matter! In response, the Socialist Party, many of whose members must be uneasy about signing up to such a reactionary platform, has been taking every opportunity to defend No2EU, and to attack those other left groups as being sectarian – the same groups they have refused entry to, but from whom they expect support for the reactionary programme they have signed up to!!!
A discussion of these arguments has been going on over at the A Very Public Sociologist blog run by SP member Phil B.C. But, others have been providing some very interesting information about how the reactionary, nationalist politics of No2EU is pulling down by an inevitable logic members of the organisation into a reactionary swamp.
For example, over at the Serge’s Fist blog there was this report of the meeting of No2EU inaugural meeting attended by just 8 people, half of whom were from Left groups hostile to the campaign, in which the CPB speaker Dave Hawkins, came out with a load of reactionary crap in favour of Immigration Controls.
“The meeting began with an unwelcome discussion on the politics of the campaign with myself and other comrades taking the CPB to task for backing immigration controls, British jobs for British workers and little Britain politics dressed up in trade union clothes. The comrade from SPEW seemed genuinely shocked when Dave Hawkins from the CPB proclaimed that immigration controls are a great British tradition and that British workers should be protected from immigrants coming over here and taking their jobs.”
Well, those SP comrades may have been shocked, but it was not long before other prominent SP members had been drawn down into the sewer of such reactionary politics. A later post on the same blog related how a prominent SP member had been posting on BNP dominated websites trying to whip up votes for No2EU by appealing to all of those kinds of reactionary nationalist sentiments. In No2EU Looks To Far Right For Support , they relate how SP member, Andrew Ballard, had been posting comments on BNP dominated pages of facebook such as,
“‘British jobs for British workers and Italian jobs for Italian workers. The only reason the EU has such a large migrant workforce is to drive down workers wages and increase profits for the super rich. Vote no2eu on June the 4th.’”!
This apparently has been the “internal” position for a long time. According to one post I read last week in an internal discussion the SP’s Peter Taffe stated that if they raised a demand for abolition of all Immigration Controls, British workers simply would not understand it!
But, similar stories are coming in for other parts of the country too. This report from the Weekly Worker gives a similar picture of the defence of reactionary nationalist politics and support for Immigration Controls being put forward by No2EU spokesmen.
Given the deeply ingrained Nationalism and xenophobia of the British population that comes partly from being an island nation, unconquered for more than 1,000 years, and partly from the need to develop racism as a specific ideology based on the inferiority of those it enslaved – the American sociologist Oliver Cromwell Cox argues cogently that Capitalism as an ideology based upon the idea of Equality, needs racism in a way that previous class systems did not, precisely because of the need to explain why some people are NOT treated as equals – Marxists have a specific duty to stand against any infection of the workers movement by Nationalism. Moreover, given that situation it is obvious that even at the best of times that Nationalism will colour workers ideas and responses. In the current conditions where xenophobia is being whipped up by the BNP, and sections of the media to diver workers attention from the responsibility of Capitalism for the current crisis that duty is all the greater. If socialists stand on a platform whose very name “No2EU” chimes in with everything that the BNP and the right-wing media have been saying. Let alone when the individual elements of the programme of that organisation reinforce those Nationalistic ideas, it is no wonder that workers do not hear any potential progressive message that members of the Socialist Party might want to convey to them, because that message has already been drowned out by the reactionary nature of the name and basis of the organisation!
Even Phil was forced to admit that in his blog post about his experience of holding a “No2EU” stall in Hanley recently. No2EU in Hanley . He says,
“For starters people approaching the stall tended to be more politically engaged, though not always in the way we socialists would like! Given how the campaign's only recently come together it was unsurprising a bit of confusion greeted the name. He and Brother N spoke to some anti-EU people who were preparing to vote for UKIP or the BNP and found the best way of talking to them was to strongly contest anti-immigrant sentiment by putting forward straightforward class arguments.”
He doesn’t say what the conclusion of that was, but I’d suggest that such people are unlikely to be won over to a progressive position simply on the basis of a short discussion in the street, or being given a “No2EU” leaflet to read!!!! And, as the reports above demonstrate the nature of No2EU as a pretty opportunistic election vehicle – the opportunist nature of it was demonstrated by its declaration of trying to pick up votes on the back of opposition to sleaze in Parliament – is more likely to result in a sliding into accommodation of those backward ideas simply in order to win over votes from workers holding those reactionary ideas.
Marxists should say No to No2EU, and vote for Labour in the upcoming elections as still being the mass party of the working class. More importantly, Marxists should join the LP, and begin to do the necessary work at a Branch level of turning it outwards to local working class communities, building the working class and its organisations from the ground up on the basis of encouragement of direct-working class action and self-activity. That can be done by encouraging and facilitating the building of basic working class organisations such as Tenants and residents Associations, Credit Unions, Housing Co-operatives and so on that can give immediate practical solutions to workers in dealing with their problems here and now without asking them to wait for the revolution, or asking them to place their faith in the bourgeois state at a local or national level. It can be done by linking such organisations to the local Trade Unions, to Co-operatives of Construction Workers providing houses and repairs as well as jobs under workers ownership and control. And, at the same time it can be linked to local anti-fascist organisation to keep the fascists and also criminal gangs out of workers estates, through the building of workers own defence and policing organisations on their estates. Such solutions, however, can only ever be partial. They cannot deal with the overall contradictions of Capitalism, and the repeated economic and social crises which it suffers. But, without that basic focus on workers self-activity, without that root and branch rebuilding of the workers movement from the ground up the solutions to those bigger problems cannot be solved by the working class. Instead, the solution to those problems will be posed in terms that have continually failed throughout the last century, and which No2EU replicates today. The solution will instead be posed as coming from some “Leader”, or “Vanguard” that provides a solution from on high to be brought about either via some Parliament or via some revolution undertaken by this leader or vanguard, and to which the working class have no other relation than to be the foot-soldiers. We’ve seen time and again where those solutions lead in the consequences of Social Democracy and of Stalinism, and its time to return to the fundamental solutions based on workers self-activity, and Co-operation advocated by Marx and Engels.