Thursday, 24 May 2012

AWL Stalinism, Once More - Part 9

Telling The Truth To The Workers

Trotsky, wisely said that Marxists should always tell the truth to the class, even when it was not pleasant. But, let us look at what the AWL would really have had to say to the Vestas workers had it told the truth, and compare it with what a Marxist can say. Were the AWL to have spoken the truth to the Vestas workers they would have said,

“Look, we don't really believe there is a hope in hell of David Cameron nation-alising your company. In fact, we don't believe there is any more chance that Ed Miliband would do so, were he Prime Minister. Still less do we think that even were they to nation-alise your company they would do so, for your benefit. Every Capitalist Government, including Attlee's, that has nation-alised companies has done so to bail-out the Capitalists, and for the benefit of the Capitalist economy, not for the workers. We recognise that Trotsky was right when he said, ' a bourgeoisie that feels it is firmly in the saddle will never tolerate dual power in its enterprises', and no one can doubt that the bourgeoisie certainly does feel it is firmly in the saddle. In fact, for the reasons Kautsky spelled out that, ' As an exploiter of labour, the state is superior to any private capitalist', we understand that if Cameron DID nation-alise your company, you would be in an even weaker position than you are confronting your current bosses! But, we do not ask you to spend your time and energy struggling for this demand because we think it has any chance of success, or that it could resolve your problems.

On the contrary, we ask you to struggle for this demand, precisely so that you can discover that it is NOT achievable, that you can shed the illusions you might have in the Capitalist State, and in politicians like Ed Miliband. We hope that in that process one or two of you might join our tiny sect, or at least buy some papers from us. We understand that the price of that is that all of you will likely lose your jobs, but that is a price we are happy for you to pay, in order for us to possibly build our sect.”

On the other hand the Marxist can tell the truth, and say,

“Look, we are not going to pretend that there are any easy solutions to your problems. Your bosses are wanting to close the factory for their own economic reasons, and that can't be ignored if you want to save your jobs. As Marxists we believe in dealing with reality, as the starting point for changing it. Your bosses want to close the factory, we suggest that you take it over yourselves and run it as a Co-op. The first question then is, are the statements made by your union leaders about the Company being profitable, about there being plenty of demand for your products true? If they are, then that is a good starting point. We have confidence that you as workers will be able to develop that, more efficiently than your bosses, or the State, and that as owners you will have an incentive to do so.

But, if the statements by your leaders are not true, then that reality has to be addressed too. It does not mean the end of the line. More than 30 years ago, workers at Lucas Aerospace, showed that they could draw up their own plans of products they could produce, instead of weapons, which they could sell profitably. There are lots of useful products, which are required, and which we are sure you have the skills to produce. A start would be to enlist the support of other workers to draw up such plans, to investigate what needs you could meet, and so on.

Again, we do not pretend that is easy or without dangers. So long as the capitalist system continues, there are potential pitfalls due to unforeseen crises, which could cause a recession and so on. But, that is true whether you work for yourselves, or whether you work for a private Capitalist or the Capitalist State. Look at what happened to the Miners, and Steelworkers, look at what is happening to Local Government and NHS workers. Being employed by the Capitalist State is no security for workers. Working for yourselves, you can at least prepare for that, you can make your own decisions about how to deal with such situations, and will do so more fairly than any Capitalist employer would impose on you.

But, your best safeguard against that is to pool your resources with other workers in a Co-operative Federation, and as the workers who have set up the Argentinian Co-ops have done, by uniting your Co-ops with the local communities to help meet their needs.

We don't seek to win you to our organisation as part of making these arguments to you, because instead, what we want is for you to realise the need for you to create your own mass Workers Party, which will pursue the political struggle that will be needed to defend your Co-ops, your Trades Unions, and the other organisations you create, from the attacks of the bosses and their State. And, as in your day to day struggles in the workplaces, and in the communities, our aim within this Workers Party, is once again to only provide you with our advice. On that basis we hope you will find our advice proves correct, and on that basis we will win your respect, so that you may be inclined to take our advice in future.”

The AWL's statement that the Tories are putting forward the idea of Co-ops as a cover for Cuts may well be true, but so what? Why would that mean that we should then not argue for Co-ops for our own reasons? If socialists develop their demands and their programs based not on what they believe is necessary, but by placing a plus everywhere that the bosses place a minus, then it will mean boycotting our own politics. Thatcher argued for Trades Union democracy as a cover for attacking the Unions, but that in no way meant that Socialists had to drop their own demands for greater democracy within the unions. In Trotsky's words,

“The policy of the proletariat is not at all automatically derived from the policy of the bourgeoisie, bearing only the opposite sign – this would make every sectarian a master strategist; no, the revolutionary party must each time orient itself independently in the internal as well as the external situation, arriving at those decisions which correspond best to the interests of the proletariat.”

Learn To Think.

But, the AWL do not seem to have noticed, when they advise workers to look to the Capitalist State rather than their own Co-operative organisations, for solutions, that it is that very same Capitalist State that is carrying out the attacks! It is the Capitalist State, which is attacking workers pensions; it is the Capitalist State which is sacking tens of thousands of workers; it is the Capitalist State which is cutting billions from welfare programmes; it is the Capitalist State, which is the workers main enemy, its class enemy incarnate. It is this Capitalist State the AWL tell the workers to place their faith in at home and abroad, rather than in their own actions, their own organisations, their own self-government!

Aldous Huxley understood the ideas that the AWL put forward, as he set out in “Brave New World”. He recognised the way in which Fordism in production was being applied at a State level in the form of the Welfare State, whose function was to subdue the working-class. He saw its obvious manifestation in the State power of Totalitarianism, but as others such as Chomsky have set out, the ideological power of the modern bourgeois democratic state (what is sometimes referred to as soft power) is far more effective than any totalitarian propaganda machine.

In the Foreword to the book, Huxley writes that the really efficient state of the future would not need to rely on coercion because Fordism would have become 'second nature'. The state's role would be controlling “a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers. The task of making people love their servitude was to be the task of an army of scientists through a “deep, personal revolution in human minds and bodies”. They would use, amongst other things, improved techniques of suggestion, through infant conditioning and drugs. It is achieved today through an all embracing Welfare State, which, especially as in the case of the NHS, we are told to “love”, and via the myriad of ideological strings, by which it is connected through the mass media, and all the panoply of a consumerist society to lead us not only to accept our current condition of servitude, but to love it. It is that condition that the AWL seek to perpetuate. They have become like the Lotus Eaters.

Back To Part 8
Forward To Part 10


Louis Allaways said...

I've been following your blog for a while, and this is the best summary of your arguments I've read, at least about what we should be doing as socialists. So er, like well done and that...

Boffy said...

Thanks for your kind words.