crisis! so what else can we do?

The Commune is hosting a debate on organisation this month. Roy Ratcliffe offers his contribution.

Among the anti-capitalist left there has been much debate of what is an appropriate course of action in the present circumstances of developing capitalist crisis. A great deal of conflict exists together with considerable impatience. Discussions and debates among the ‘left’ are tending to orientate around assisting and initiating class or population wide actions, and this via competing forms of organisation. Such attempts are largely by either invigorating existing ones, such as trade-unions and political parties, (eg the Labour-Party in the UK) or initiating new ones such as Occupy and Syriza in Greece.

However, some of these initiatives stem from a mistaken view, that small groups, with the correct orientation and ideas can stimulate  significant and sustained actions, involving large numbers of people – before the vast majority of the population are ready to do so. In this case, they are bound to fail. And of course, simply turning out in large numbers to demonstrate or vote will be insufficient to solve this present structural crisis. A parallel problem is that promoters of these initiatives generally appear to have insufficient understand of the dynamics and evolution of protest, uprisings and revolutions.

Continue reading “crisis! so what else can we do?”

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britain: ‘to fight austerity we need a united left’

Simon Hardy of the Anticapitalist Initiative says the urgent need for unity on the radical left is something that has been eloquently put forward by Dan Hind on the Al-Jazeerawebsite. Asking a very pertinent question as to whether there can be a SYRIZA-type organisation in Britain, Hind draws out some of the most important lessons of the Greek struggle and poses a challenge to the British left — can we break out of the ghetto as well?[1]

To plot a possible trajectory we have to be clear of the political alignment that has emerged for the left under the Conservative Party-Liberal Democrat coalition government. While Ed Miliband’s Labour Party might be surging ahead in the polls, the possibility of a Labour left revival is simply not on the cards. The Labour Party is hollowed out and bureaucratically controlled and all the best intentions and actions of Labour left activists will not change that. The Labour left is reduced to the old argument that there is nothing credible outside the Labour Party. They mockingly point to all the twisted contortions of the far left in Britain in the last decade (Socialist Alliance, Scottish Socialist Party, Respect, Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, Left list, Respect renewal, etc.) to forge a new unity and conclude that the Labour Party is the only show in town.

Continue reading “britain: ‘to fight austerity we need a united left’”

protest: justice for cleaners at john lewis

Come to a lively protest to stand in solidarity with the cleaners at John Lewis
This Saturday, 3pm
John Lewis, 300 Oxford Street, London, W1A 1EX

The cleaners are demonstrating because they are….

1) All on the minimum poverty wage of £6.08 p/hour and are demanding the London Living Wage of £8.30 p/hour.
2) Often not paid for the hours they work.
3) Not provided appropriate equipment or protection.
4) Discriminated against by their managers. For example, some Hindu cleaners are called ‘bloody Indians’, whilst some larger employees are called ‘pig heads’
5) At threat of seeing 50% redundancies. The remaining 50% of the cleaners would be expected to cover the work of those made redundant with the same hours and with no extra pay!
6) Prejudicially excluded from the so-called John Lewis partnership. Continue reading “protest: justice for cleaners at john lewis”

sparks show the way

This month’s editorial is written by Adam Ford and compares the workers that are winning, and those who are not

The wildly different trajectories of two recent industrial disputes provides us with an almost perfect lesson in both how they can be won and how they are generally lost. In both cases, the workers were members of the Unite union, as are around three million others in the UK, and in both cases the industry concerned was what might be called a ‘blue collar’ one. But one won, and is winning, while another lost badly. Continue reading “sparks show the way”

urgent protest: justice for cleaners at the lse

From IWW Cleaners Branch
Come and stand in solidarity with the cleaners at the London School of Economics on Wednesday 13 June 2012, from 1PM – 2:30PM
LSE, Houghton Street, City of Westminster, WC2A 2AE – Just by Natwest bank

The IWW Cleaners at London School of Economics will be staging a lively protest to…

1) Stop the LSE from reducing the cleaner’s working hours
2) Stop the LSE from intensifying the cleaner’s working day
3) Stop the LSE from giving with one hand and taking with the other
4) Stop the LSE from treating the cleaners like second-class employees
5) Publicly expose Resource’s management’s inveterate practice of racist bullying Continue reading “urgent protest: justice for cleaners at the lse”

why the phony war?

London based college worker Siobhan Breathnach writes about the top down nature of the UK public sector pensions dispute

We got notice of the 10th of May strike on a Friday afternoon ten days before, in the middle of an emergency meeting about redundancies. The first response was “They have got to be fucking kidding.” There was a general expression of dismay and disbelief. So what is the problem? Why weren’t we pleased about being called out? Continue reading “why the phony war?”

time to cut the anti-cuts campaigns?

In the lead-up to the latest national strike day on 28 March, Sheila Cohen asks whether the anti-cuts campaigns are working

I have been asked to write an article about anti-cuts campaigns, and said I don’t know much about them. I don’t know much about them because I don’t think they work. I don’t think they work because the government and ruling-class generally are rabid hyenas without an iota of inclination to give a flying **** about the needs and wishes of so-called “ordinary people” – if they did give such a thing they wouldn’t be, well, ruling. But I was asked to write nonetheless.

The several large demonstrations against the cuts programme have presented a confident outward image, mocking the Coalition: but what power do we actually have to stop Cameron and co.?

As a dutiful writer, I began preparing for this piece by doing (admittedly, a very small modicum of) research. One dedicated anti-cuts organisation I turned up which shall be nameless, but describes itself on its website as “a diverse collation of…groups and individuals that have come together to challenge social exclusion and promote social justice” includes as part of its many activities a project to unite unemployed workers, a “celebration” of its locality with a “one day community event” and, of course, intransigent opposition to racism – and quite right too. The community event was warmly received, with one participant commenting that it had, indeed, given “a real sense of community”. So what’s not to like? Continue reading “time to cut the anti-cuts campaigns?”