Thursday, 26 November 2015

Two Quick Wins For Corbyn's Labour Party

Yesterday's Autumn Statement showed two quick wins for Jeremy Corbyn's new leadership of the Labour Party.  Other candidates for the Labour Leadership had already undermined their position, by being tainted with the austerity-lite policies of the last Labour Government, and by their refusal to give a clear lead, either in opposing the Tories current austerity policies, or their attacks on welfare.  The Tories complete collapse over their Tax Credit proposals, and over police funding, are a direct result of the clear anti-austerity policies put forward by Corbyn, and the hundreds of thousands of Labour Party members who stand behind him in the country, along with millions of trades unionists.

In both cases, however, Tax Credits and police funding, there are other similarities and issues related to them.  Marxists are not in favour of Tax Credits, which act to subsidise low-paying, inefficient, usually small capitalists.  However, as set out recently, our response to that, as in all things, is not to first demand that something be scrapped, before we have established a more progressive alternative. Marxists are in favour of workers being employed in jobs that pay them wages that enable the reproduction of their labour-power.  Under capitalism, that cannot at all be guaranteed, as all of the zero hours and casual jobs attest.  Rather than Tax Credits that subsidise low paying capitalists, therefore, Marxists prefer the establishment of a Minimum Wage that is sufficient to ensure the reproduction of labour-power.

Capital then has to become more efficient, and raise productivity so as to be able to pay those higher wages to workers.  And Marx demonstrated that that is what it did in the 19th century, when the capitalist state enforced a level playing field, via the introduction of the Factory Acts, the Ten Hour Day, and so on.  But, where no such conditions exist, Marxists clearly will not argue for a removal of those elements of workers income, such as Tax Credits, on which they currently rely.  In other words, a high level of Minimum Wage first, and only then a removal of Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and so on.  And, of course, that requires a higher level of Unemployment and Sickness Benefit too.

The same thing applies with police funding.  Marxists are not in favour of strengthening the capitalist state, or expanding its remit.  It is the concentrated power of the capitalists, and so our main enemy.  Rather we are in favour of workers self government.  Not only does that mean workers extending the democracy that flows naturally from the creation of worker owned and controlled co-operatives, into such workers' democracy in their communities, and across those communities, it means creating all of the elements of the kind of semi-state, required to support that workers' democracy.

It means that just as workers, as citizens, have a duty already to take part in Jury Service, or to fight in the armed forces, so that has to be a permanent rather than occasional duty.  There is a need for communities to be able to police themselves, and there is a requirement, for the establishment of a Citizen's Militia, as described in the US Constitution, and as exists in Switzerland, rather than that the capitalist state should have a monopoly of violence, which can be used to defend the interests of the capitalist minority against the majority of citizens.

But, we do not have any current measure of workers self-government, or organs of workers democracy arising from it.  We do not have, other than sporadically, as in 2011, the self policing of workers' communities, by those workers' communities themselves.  Nor do we have a Citizens' Militia, as in Switzerland, or even as exists, in the form of the National Guard, in the US.  The only time we had something like that, was during World War II, in the shape of the Home Guard, which was established by a Marxist, Tom Wintringham, on the basis of his experience fighting in the Spanish Civil War.

So, although we would not start from here, as the saying goes, and would not advocate the establishment of a capitalist police force, or standing army, the focus of our attention is on advocating the progressive alternative to those things, rather than advocating a demolition of what does exist, prior to it.  I may think, that the fire brigade should have efficient fire engines, access to fire hydrants and so on, rather than be limited to a horse drawn cart, and buckets of water, but until the former is a reality, I'm not going to turn away the latter, if my house is on fire!

And that is a lesson, in general, that is important, but which seems to have been forgotten.  Our focus is on advocating and building our progressive alternative to capitalism, to be pro-socialist, not simply "anti-capitalist", because as Marx and Engels described, in the Communist Manifesto and after, there are numerous forces that are "anti-capitalist", but which are so only on the basis of being even more reactionary, of seeking to turn the clock backwards not forwards, just as Lenin pointed out that there are numerous forces that are "anti-imperialist", but which we should have nothing to do with, because they are in fact, even more reactionary.  That should also be considered in relation to the situation in Syria, and the response to the current situation over coming days.

If Corbyn and the Labour Party adopts that stance another quick win can be obtained against Cameron's hypocritical and warmongering too.

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