what ‘went wrong’ with the winter of discontent?

the commune

Often portrayed as responsible for bringing down a Labour government and ‘letting in’ Thatcher’s Tories, the 1978-79 ‘Winter of Discontent’ remains a high point in the history of the class struggle in Britain.

by Sheila Cohen

The Winter of Discontent (WoD) has not had a good press – either from the right or, less predictably, from the left. The most recent diatribe against this historic wave of struggle comes in a relatively recent publication whose author claims that “The Winter of Discontent marked the democratisation of greed…It was like the spirit of the Blitz in reverse”. A former Labour minister’s comment on the WoD that “it was as though every separate group in the country had no feeling and no sense of community, but was simply out to get for itself what it could” is used to illustrate “the callous spirit which characterise[d] the disputes”.

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a response to jackie lucas

Stuart King of the Permanent Revolution group and a member of the new Anti-Capitalist Initiative has written a reply to a previous article.

The ACI and wary libertarians

Jackie Lucas’ article on the Anticapitalist Initiative (ACI) in the June issue of the Commune appears to take a positive, if wary, attitude towards the ACI. Perhaps I can tackle some of these suspicions.

Jackie quotes from an article in Permanent Revolution 22 on the launch of the ACI where we talk about why young anticapitalist activists are not joining the Trotskyists or organised far left but rather are attracted to a vague libertarian and even anarchist politics. Jackie quickly declares “This in itself should alert libertarian leftists to what they are letting themselves in for if they decide to join this project which has not renounced its political origins or traditions.” Continue reading “a response to jackie lucas”

new anti-capitalist initiative launched

A ‘comrades reunited’ front or something else? Libertarian communist Jackie Lucas poses the question, is this as home for libertarian leftists?

Comrades reunited?

The 28th April launch meeting in London of the ‘new’ anti-capitalist project was surreal. The meeting had been called by Simon Hardy, prior to his resignation from Workers Power, where he had been the editor of the group’s monthly paper, who with others had resigned from the Trotskyist group on 14th April, only to be back in the same room with them discussing the future. Continue reading “new anti-capitalist initiative launched”

which way forward for the revolutionary left?

Guest post by Chris Strafford on how communists should relate to mass movements, and his experience of the CPGB

The capitalist crisis has opened up a new period and instigated the intensification of class warfare on every continent. Movements such as Occupy, the uprisings in the Middle East, the student movement in Quebec and the popular protests in the Russian Federation represent an acceleration of the class struggle. After listening to two electricians speak in Manchester about their struggle against BESNA I was struck by how these movements have transcended national boundaries and how the language of Occupy and Los Indignados in Spain have embedded themselves in a layer of working class activists. This is also evident in the affinity many people have with the 99% slogans adopted by Occupy. Continue reading “which way forward for the revolutionary left?”

you can’t say that! ken livingstone as a barrier to working class organisation

Ollie Sutherland was not impressed by the common call on the left for us to vote labour.

What always strikes me as bizarre about elections is the importance the left places on them. Every few years working people get the chance to choose which part of the ruling class they wish oppress them; as it’s always the ruling class in power after the elections, why do most of the left encourage participation in them? Elections are an ideological cornerstone of capitalist ‘democracy’: that people have control over who governs the country and makes key decisions about society. Therein lies the problem: they give people the illusion of control, when people’s lives and society are actually controlled by their workplace and the economic system – not parliament or City Hall. Continue reading “you can’t say that! ken livingstone as a barrier to working class organisation”

galloway and parliament

George Galloway’s victory in the Bradford West by-election has caused a stir, says duvinrouge.

The people massively voted for a candidate to the left of Labour even with a Tory-FibDem coalition. This has got Labour nervous and inspired the Left. However, as much as Galloway appears to be on the side of ordinary people as opposed to the rich, he is another political ego on another stage of his trip. The whole parliamentary system is full of them, all dreaming about one day being Prime Minister. Today more and more people are fed up with the egos. Not just the political variety but the corporate whores as well. Increasingly people are realizing that they don’t need to put up with them. That society can be run without structures promoting power and control. That society is one of direct democracy. That is, communism. All over the world people have got a taste of direct democracy through the Occupy movement & their General Assemblies. Tahir Square has spawned workers’ councils. We can organize society to meet our needs rather than just being used to generate profit for an elite.

Out with the professional political egos ruling; in with delegates & assemblies!

the cat that got the cream (and avoided the ginger beer)

David Broder remembers one of George Galloway’s less glorious moments

In the aftermath of the ‘Bradford Spring’, I thought I’d share a brief recollection of one of my few face-to-face encounters with George Galloway.* It took place amidst a controversy pretty typical of Galloway’s career, where in the face of a straightforward case of socialist principle he instead jumped to defend the Iranian régime.

Four years ago, Galloway was in choppy waters. Having stretched the SWP’s loyalty to him to breaking point with his ‘outspoken’ views on sexual morality and his bizarre Big Brother appearance, in November 2007 he split their Respect venture as to still further exert his authority over it. Nonetheless standing in the May 2008 London elections (though still an MP), he was keen to stay in the media spotlight and thus made an appearance on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff. Continue reading “the cat that got the cream (and avoided the ginger beer)”