Friday, 13 February 2015

Labour's Immigration Policy Is A Mess - Part 8

Because the response of Labour, as with all other social-democratic parties, is necessarily bureaucratic rather than democratic, the contradictions, which themselves arise from that bureaucratic solution, result not in the proposal for a democratic response, but rather for an additional bureaucratic response. The failure to deal with racism and other forms of bigotry at its root, and in the heads of those it infects, is instead to pander to it on the one hand, by introducing immigration laws, that reaffirm the racist notion that the cause of problems is immigration rather than capitalism, and on the other to introduce equality laws, that attempt to abolish racism by diktat!

In the same way, the conservative, nationalist and bigoted ideas that are fed by the bureaucracy and waste of the EU – and the same is true of the national welfarist state – are not to be dealt with by a democratic “political” revolution, to sweep away that bureaucracy, and transfer ownership and control to workers, but with a further bureaucratic tinkering. The repeated top down reorganisations in the NHS are a good example of that, but anyone who has worked in local government, for example, will have seen similar repeated reorganisations, often proposed by the top bureaucrats within the Council, and out of which, the main beneficiaries are inevitably those top bureaucrats who end up with a larger empire, or the ability to retire with large golden handshakes, not available to the rest of the workforce.  As Marx put it in "The Eighteenth Brumaire",

“ All revolutions perfected this machine instead of breaking it. The parties, which alternately contended for domination, regarded the possession of this huge state structure as the chief spoils of the victor. 

But under the absolute monarchy, during the first Revolution, and under Napoleon the bureaucracy was only the means of preparing the class rule of the bourgeoisie. Under the Restoration, under Louis Philippe, under the parliamentary republic, it was the instrument of the ruling class, however much it strove for power of its own.”

(Chapter 7)

In reality, a thorough debate, across Europe, on the nature of the EU, as the foundation for referenda on its political organisation, would be a good thing. In opposition to the reactionary, nationalist ideas put forward by conservative parties, the left would argue for a United State of Europe, for democratic control over the existing bureaucracy, for common rules, across the whole EU, in relation to minimum wages, benefits, retirement ages, working conditions and so on. But, of course, social-democratic parties are not geared to such a political struggle, because they are only geared to winning elections, by tailoring their message to what they believe will win them the most votes. So, it then seems that the parties that are “listening” to the concerns of ordinary people, and who are in favour of such “democracy”, are the conservative parties. 

On the other hand, the social-democratic parties prefer to respond bureaucratically, opposing the holding of any such vote, for fear of losing. And, because they are not prepared to launch the campaign of political struggle required to move forward, there is every possibility that they would indeed lose, which would represent a severe setback for the interests of big industrial capital, which ultimately means for capital across Europe in general, because if the most mature forms of capital cannot advance, capital in general is thrown back. Such a defeat for the more advanced sections of capital, is in no sense, a victory for workers.  On the contrary, it is a victory for those social layers that would throw the workers back even further!  But, social-democracy is loathe to unleash such a necessary political struggle, because it goes against its whole ethos. The purpose of social-democracy, was to keep the working-class within bounds, and to channel its aspirations.

Social-democracy acts, in society as a whole, in the same way that the trade union bureaucracy acts at an industrial level. The workers provide the foot soldiers, but, the basis is the ability of the bureaucracy to do deals with management. Provided relations are contained within that framework both capital and labour's interests are negotiated, and managed. That breaks down as soon as the bureaucracy loses control, and the rank and file exercises its power. At that point, capital cannot guarantee that any resolution is contained within its interests, and the bureaucracy's independent interests are overwhelmed, because its only function, to mediate between the two, has completely disappeared.

All of social-democracy is, therefore, dependent upon the continuation of this situation, and any attempt to move beyond it, by mobilising the power of the mass of the working-class, continually threatens to undermine the basis of social-democracy itself. The Party members may, as with Labour's proposals for 4 million conversations, be encouraged to go out, in one off stunts, ahead of elections, but this remains wholly within the bounds of a controlled environment, for a specific purpose, which itself remains wholly within the bounds of parliamentarism. It is not like even a simple thing such as encouraging party members to actively establish tenants and residents committees on estates, and to focus within them on tackling racism and bigotry alongside the other problems that residents and tenants face. Instead, the responsibility for dealing with such problems is intended to reside with the local Councillor, who deals with those problems through channels, just as it becomes the job of the shop steward, or union official to deal with problems through channels, rather than a matter to be resolved actively, and immediately by the collective.

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