By Eric Lee
The Bernie Sanders campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination is probably the most exciting development in US politics since the 1930s. And it’s not a coincidence that both the resurgent left of that decade and the Sanders phenomenon have followed the spectacular economic crashes of 1929 and 2008.
The Sanders campaign is a phenomenon. He’s not only rising rapidly in the polls, posing a clear threat to Hillary Clinton, but he’s raising millions of dollars in small donations and filling arenas with supporters – including in some surprising places, like Phoenix, Arizona.
A self-described democratic socialist and a former member of the Young Peoples Socialist League (YPSL), Sanders was influenced by an early visit to a kibbutz in Israel in the 1960s, and by the model of Scandinavian social democracy. He’s proposed a number of radical reforms that put him far to the left not only of any other mainstream presidential candidate this year, but to the left of anyone in living memory.
There’s not been a campaign like this since Norman Thomas led the Socialist Party to its second-best result ever in 1932, polling just under 900,000 votes. (The Communist Party back then polled only a fraction of the Socialist vote.)
But there’s a problem with Sanders’ call for a “political revolution” in America. It’s not going to happen without organisation. And a presidential election campaign is not an organisation. Read the rest of this entry »
This has been causing some excitement in liberal-left circles, as it apparently means would-be lefties can just wait for “post-capitalism” to happen, while working in retail management or small business:
The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.
Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.
If you lived through all this, and disliked capitalism, it was traumatic. But in the process technology has created a new route out, which the remnants of the old left – and all other forces influenced by it – have either to embrace or die. Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques. It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviours. I call this postcapitalism.
As with the end of feudalism 500 years ago, capitalism’s replacement by postcapitalism will be accelerated by external shocks and shaped by the emergence of a new kind of human being. And it has started.
Postcapitalism is possible because of three major changes information technology has brought about in the past 25 years. First, it has reduced the need for work, blurred the edges between work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages. The coming wave of automation, currently stalled because our social infrastructure cannot bear the consequences, will hugely diminish the amount of work needed – not just to subsist but to provide a decent life for all.
Second, information is corroding the market’s ability to form prices correctly. That is because markets are based on scarcity while information is abundant. The system’s defence mechanism is to form monopolies – the giant tech companies – on a scale not seen in the past 200 years, yet they cannot last. By building business models and share valuations based on the capture and privatisation of all socially produced information, such firms are constructing a fragile corporate edifice at odds with the most basic need of humanity, which is to use ideas freely.
Third, we’re seeing the spontaneous rise of collaborative production: goods, services and organisations are appearing that no longer respond to the dictates of the market and the managerial hierarchy. The biggest information product in the world – Wikipedia – is made by volunteers for free, abolishing the encyclopedia business and depriving the advertising industry of an estimated $3bn a year in revenue.
Almost unnoticed, in the niches and hollows of the market system, whole swaths of economic life are beginning to move to a different rhythm. Parallel currencies, time banks, cooperatives and self-managed spaces have proliferated, barely noticed by the economics profession, and often as a direct result of the shattering of the old structures in the post-2008 crisis.
…read the whole article here
A comrade comments:
“It’s complete nonsense; not only utopian in the worst sense of the word but also depressingly gradualist and reformist (its central claim is that ‘post-capitalism’ will just sort of emerge as the result of a proliferation of… well, I don’t know what exactly: file sharing?).
“The ‘would-be lefties’ drawing the conclusion that they can ‘wait for post-capitalism to happen’ – i.e., without having to think, or organise, or act, or struggle in any meaningful way at all – seems to me an entirely faithful reading of the article.
“It’s like the worst bits of Owen and Proudhon repackaged for the digital age and dressed up as some amazingly innovative, novel theory. But at least those people (even Proudhon, who was basically a reactionary) had a bit of fighting spirit about them, wanted to build a movement (of sorts), and wanted people to fight the system (in however distorted or misguided a way). What does Mason want us to do? Surf the web?
“It’s actually quite sad from a guy who probably ought to know better, and who only a few years ago was writing books about how the key aspect of contemporary capitalism was the globalisation of the working class. He seems now to have decided that this isn’t really that important after all.”
I am a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader. I campaigned for him within Unite before the Unite leadership decided to back him.
As such, I think its important for all of us who support Corbyn to put 15 minutes aside to watch this 13 July Channel 4 News interview by Krishnan Guru-Murphy.
On domestic policy, Corbyn is excellent, clearly rejecting Harman’s position on welfare cuts, advocating higher taxation of the super-rich, and speaking up in defence of immigrants. That’s why I and others like me support him.
But on foreign affairs he is – and let’s be frank – shite. Corbyn dodges the questions dishonestly although quite effectively
Yes, Guru-Murthy was probably determined to discredit Corbyn but why can’t he (Corbyn) say on national television what he has already said to countless left-wing audiences: that Hamas and Hezbollah are good, progressive people?
Corbyn doesn’t have the guts to come out and say that openly on TV because he knows that, outside the Stalinoid ‘common sense’ of the pseudo-‘left’, most people (rightly) think supporting these fascistic anti-Semites is outrageous. So he obfuscates and pretends what he said was just about supporting multilateral peace talks, etc (the bit where he says “I’ve also engaged with people on the right of Israeli politics on this issue” – which is simply untrue). Instead of answering the question, he becomes angry and self-righteous. His response to a reasonable line of questioning is, frankly, a dishonest disgrace.
Corbyn does not raise his policy on Israel/Palestine much in his campaign – probably because he realizes how unpopular it is.
Corbyn has been comparatively open that he does not see himself as Labour leader at the next election. I am told that he has said that there should be another leadership election before 2020. This is what I would want in the event that he wins: in which case some of his more idiotic positions on foreign policy may not matter so much.
A bigger problem with Corbyn (and where he may not be in a minority on the Labour left) is the issue of Syria.
Kurdish representatives of the pro-Rojavan PYD went to see him last week. As I understand it they were hoping to get him to moderate his total opposition to Western airstrikes as well as call for arms for the secular Kurdish militias. This would mean Corbyn moving away from his position of simply endorsing the positions put out by the Stop The War Coalition. It would be an ideal way for him to demonstrate that he is not ‘soft on militant Islamism’, but it would involve breaking with the Stalinist/soft-left consensus on Syria/Iraq: something that Corbyn’s politics and established alliances will not allow him to do. It is something that should be raised by Labour leftists alongside Kurdish organizations.
The serious left must support Corbyn, but not hesitate in exposing and denouncing his truly wretched positions on foreign affairs.
Cross-posted from Paul Canning‘s blog (17 July 2015):
|#MH17 victims of #RussiaInvadedUkraine Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin|
A year ago today hundreds of Western bodies tumbled out of the sky in the middle of a European war zone.
Nobody predicted the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 but with hindsight they could have. The war in Eastern Ukraine was at a turning point. Despite a corrupt and crumbling army and 92 thrown together groups of ragtag militia, the Ukrainians were turning the tide on the rebels.
But if it was not obvious that the exact same ‘little green men’ scenario played out in Crimea was being played out in the Donbas it should have by the time that the first planes started getting shot down. The fighter jets started going down and then the high flying transport planes.
Those transport planes were being shot down by some very sophisticated weapons, ones that took a lot of coordination and a lot of training to operate. They did not, to turn around Putin’s joking phrase, from when he was still pretending that those in Crimea were ‘local volunteers’, ‘come from a shop’.
We now know thanks in large part to the work of one British man, Eliot Higgins, almost beyond all reasonable doubt, that MH17 was shot down by a Russian missile system. This means a Russian crew, precisely because of the training required to operate such a system and Higgins just said that his Bellingcat team now have Russian names and have provided them to the official investigators, the Dutch Safety Board, where he is an official witness.
How could they know Russian names? Because those Russians posted the evidence themselves, on social media. After the jump watch the film by Vice News’ Simon Ostrovsky where he follows up on evidence gathered by Higgins of one Russian soldier’s presence on the Donbas battle fields. Ostrovsky finds the exact same spots where one soldier took his selfies. That soldier was from Buryatia, a Russian region whose people are Mongols. Hence the soldier got noticed in Eastern Ukraine.
After MH17 the tide turned back and the rebels with their Russian ‘volunteer professional assistants’ ensured that the war did not end last August but carried on, as it still does today, Minsk ‘peace’ or no ‘peace’.
10% of Ukraine lost, 6000 dead and over 2 million displaced.
Russia has come up with five, to date, explanations for MH17, none blaming themselves of course and some out of science fiction. One by the Defence Ministry is described by Bellingcat as Russia’s “Colin Powell moment”.
That moment when the former American Secretary of State went before the UN Security Council to argue for war on Iraq has become a poster for Russia’s lavishly funded international propaganda TV network RT. You may have seen it on the Washington Metro or on London’s Tube. But just as the West tolerates RT so does Western media have ‘balance’ and thus MH17 will remain ‘he said, she said’ until the official report comes out in three months time.
That ‘balance’ and essential fairness which underpins our Western societies is used against us by Russia. Their security services and their ‘political technocrats’ know full well that with something like MH17 they can muddy the waters enough that many in the West won’t blame Russia. They can somehow wriggle out of this.
The FSB and the Kremlin will find willing partners on both the left and the right but they will also find unwitting ones like journalists. Journalists such as one Mike Kelly writing today for the Newcastle Chronicle. (Newcastle is where two of the British victims hail from.) Kelly presents MH17 as a tale of ‘versions’ and he condemns the ‘squabbling’ over whodunnit, comparing this notion of his with the ‘quiet dignity’ of today’s memorials.
Putin could not have said it better – in fact he has said it with his talk of the politicisation of the MH17 inquiry. But just as climate change is not about ‘sides’ of equal veracity neither is MH17, to say otherwise is to damn the whole profession of investigative journalism and to sign up to the Russian propaganda meme of there being no such thing as the truth! And it is no service to the victims’ loved ones to pretend otherwise.
Tomorrow Ukraine will disappear from people’s radar but come October we know what the Dutch report will say. Not because we are arrogant but because others have done the hard work.
Even when we then have a Russian war crime spelt out in black and white I predict we will still hear the siren voice of appeasement, from the left and from the right. Business will still go on and London palaces will still be bought with corrupt money.
- Others than Higgins have of course investigated. Two are James Miller and Michael Weiss and they have a long read at the Daily Beast spelling out how come we know Russia dunnit.
Watch Simon Ostrovsky’s astonishing report tracking down one Buryat soldier to one of Russia’s remotest regions:
This is from the US Socialist Worker (no longer connected with the UK organisation/paper of that name). Note that the Left Network, while rejecting the terms of the bailout, and denouncing Tsipras’s capitulation, does not call for ‘Grexit’ from either the Eurozone or the EU itself.
This is the text of a leaflet, translated by Leandros Fischer, that the Left–an alliance of socialists who are a leading voice in SYRIZA’s Left Platform–distributed during demonstrations on July 15, as the parliament meets to vote on Tsipras’ proposals.
JUST ONE week after the July 5 referendum’s massive “Oxi!” vote, the governmental leadership and Alexis Tsipras have returned from negotiations in Brussels, having agreed to a gigantic Memorandum, socially and fiscally harsher than the two previous ones, and with a much stronger colonial character.
This Memorandum threatens to crush the social majority that lives from its work and has suffered in the five years of extreme austerity policies under the previous two Memorandums, which have eliminated what remains of its gains over many years.
Tsipras and the government have betrayed the Greek people’s shattering “Oxi!” in the referendum by signing an agreement much worse than the Juncker proposal that was rejected in the referendum, at the urging of the government.
With its unprecedented colonial clauses, this Memorandum completes the disastrous task of transforming Greece into a debt colony within the EU. It dishonors the left, since it was agreed to in its name, and by the leadership of a party of the left and a government dominated by this party, which won governmental power based exactly on its historical commitment to abolishing the Memoranda and overthrowing austerity.
This new Memorandum essentially and practically overthrows the government led by SYRIZA: programmatically, but also politically, since it transforms SYRIZA into an austerity government with an increasingly pro-austerity composition (more so after the removal of left-wing cabinet ministers and the potential openings to the austerity camp).
It will have a destructive effect on SYRIZA itself, by blackmailing it to become an apologist for the implementation of austerity policies; to sever its ties to the working-class majority and move against it; to transform itself into a social-liberal party of austerity and authoritarianism.
The new Memorandum strikes a double blow at the left’s system of core values and its moral high ground, by cheating the people who believed its longstanding promise to abolish the Memoranda and topple austerity, but also all the people who contributed to the referendum’s shattering “Oxi!” vote.
It whitewashes the austerity system and the pro-austerity parties by giving them the chance to claim that SYRIZA and the left have delivered a Memorandum worse than their own. It hinders us in the fight against local and international capitalism, making them look all-powerful and capable of crushing and humiliating a left-wing government.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
FOR ALL these reasons, the new Memorandum poses the serious danger of massive disillusionment among the left and the social movements, while also creating a danger that popular discontent will be exploited by the right, the far right and the fascists.
Yet if all these are dangers arising from this agreement, if its first consequences are already visible, nevertheless, the struggle for its overthrow is not in vain. On the contrary, the potential for blocking and overthrowing the new Memorandum, but also lifting the banner of the left, which some, criminally, want to tread upon, are great!
The people of “Oxi!”–this massive popular force, this class-based alliance of workers, the poor and the youth that surfaced in the battle over the referendum–continues to exist. It proves to us that the will to struggle, as well as the anger at their conditions, not only haven’t subsided, but are accumulating at the base of society. The baton of the battle against the new Memorandum can be handed on to new hands! That means the struggle will continue with the same goal as always: abolishing the Memorandums and overthrowing austerity.
And SYRIZA, too–the left-wing SYRIZA, with its radical soul–continues to exist. The government and party moderates rightly consider it to be an obstacle in managing and implementing the new Memorandum, and threaten it with disciplinary measures and expulsions. They call for it to be disciplined to party decisions.
But what counts for the left, above all, is discipline to its program and its political strategy–including abolishing the Memorandums, overthrowing austerity, renouncing the debt and the implementing the basic measures articulated in SYRIZA’s Thessaloniki program–discipline to the inviolable principles and values of the left; and discipline to the collective decisions made to realize both of these.
For SYRIZA, this means discipline to the program of its founding congress, to its pre-election commitments, to the Thessaloniki Program, to the popular mandate of the January 25 elections, and to the mandate of the “Oxi!” vote on July 5.
We are the SYRIZA that abides by all this and that calls for discipline from those who dare to trample on the double popular mandate, and the principles, values and collective decisions of SYRIZA. For the left, discipline does not mean discipline to the arbitrary decisions of the “leader” and the tight circle around him!
Now is the time for this SYRIZA to enter the battle and prevent the disastrous decision to sign a new Memorandum agreement.
Last, but not least in importance, there is also the left beyond SYRIZA of the social movements and the “Oxi!” vote. Whatever the mistakes made and disagreements we have had, we found ourselves in the streets and in struggles in recent years, and we won the battle of the July 5 referendum. In this new cycle of social and political struggles, we must and can stand side by side!
This battle of ours is, at the same time, a battle against demoralization and disappointment–for a new commitment to our part in the mass struggle. Not by way of moralizing and not because it is our “duty,” but on the basis of both reason and imagination, based on the realistic assumption that we can win!
Together, the people of “Oxi!” and the party of “Oxi!” which is SYRIZA–the forces of SYRIZA, but also the forces of the rest of the left, for whom “no” means no and cannot become maybe or, even worse, “yes”–can enter this battle, and win as well!
Translation by Leandros Fischer
Nicola Sturgeon and other female politicians have objected to the cover of the present issue of the New Statesman:
17-23rd July Issue
Say no to anti union laws!
Branches of unions including Unite, Unison, and PCS have signed up to the campaign, which is urging the TUC to call a national demonstration against the bill.
The government’s bill proposes turnout thresholds for strike ballots, an ‘opt-in’ system for union political funds, tighter picketing restrictions, and limits on time reps spend on union duties.
“Trade union rights are democratic rights,” said Ruth Cashman of the Right to Strike campaign committee. “No other voluntary organisations in society face as much interference in their internal affairs as trade unions. It is the height of hypocrisy for a government elected by just 24% of the public to tell us that we need a minimum turnout to carry out our democratic decisions.”
“This is an ideological move designed to push legitimate trade unionism outside the law. We need to start talking about what our responses to this law will be, starting with a huge trade union mobilisation to defeat it,” said Edd Mustill, a branch official in the Unite union. “We are working with others in the movement such as the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom to make sure the unions take a real stand.”
The Right to Strike campaign is organising regional meetings and local actions against the bill in the coming days and weeks.
The Right to Strike campaign was launched by a number of union branches in June 2015 to campaign against the government’s proposed Trade Union Bill. It has received rank-and-file support from across the trade union movement and its Facebook page, ‘Right to Strike,’ reached 1000 ‘likes’ in a week.
The campaign can be contacted at email@example.com and by the following phone numbers: 07455158249, 07930845494, 07505514610, 07784641808.
In response to acting Leader Harriet Harman’s support for Osborne’s attack on poor families (also backed by leadership candidate Liz Kendall), Shiraz calls on readers to sign up to Corbyn’s petition against cuts to working families tax credits.
The Tory budget means taking child tax credits off working families.
If you back my call that Labour should be opposing this plan, you can join the thousands who’ve added their names since last night and sign my petition.
It’s a policy that hits working families with more than two children.
Yesterday we heard Labour might not vote against this policy. From my campaign, we immediately said no – we must oppose this.
It is now said our position on this is to wait until we have a new leader.
I don’t want us to spend the summer waiting to oppose this policy. We must oppose it now.
This matter goes to the heart of our choice on the future of our economy, and how we oppose the Conservative Party.
If we want to get the benefit bill down, let’s invest in secure jobs and affordable homes, not squeeze those trying to make ends meet.
To win, we must set out a clear alternative to the cuts and austerity of the Conservatives.
If you want Labour to stand for a modern Britain, join our movement.
Sign the petition against the child tax credit cut and please ask your friends to join you.
Jeremy Corbyn MP