collective decision-making and supervision in a communist society

by Moshé Machover: only the introduction is presented below, see the full document here.

The importance of this issue cannot be over-stated: it concerns the very essence of communism. If communism means anything at all, it means a radical eruption of democracy. Bursting its present narrow political confines, where it is allowed to hold truncated and partly illusory sway, democracy is to engulf all spheres of social life. This applies in particular to what is, under capitalism, the alienated sphere of economics: major choices that are now made behind the backs of society – imposed by private owners who monopolize wealth, or left to the chaotic play of blind market forces – will be decided consciously and collectively by the community concerned. The enormous extension of the sphere of collective decision-making will necessarily imply a corresponding expansion and deepening of the scope of public supervision, ensuring proper implementation of decisions. Continue reading “collective decision-making and supervision in a communist society”

people’s charter or charter for a democratic republic?

a guest piece by Steve Freeman

Last Saturday the organizers of the People’s Charter held a conference, at which about 150 people attended. It became clear the Charter is going to be used for agitation around the general election. It has the support of the Labour Representation Committee, various trade unions, and a section of the left in England. More worryingly it is endorsed by the TUC. The demands are sufficiently broad to span across the left and even go as far as New Labour.

I had the opportunity to speak and pointed out that although the original People’s Charter had six democratic demands this new Charter contains no democratic demands at all. We have a broken economy and a broken society. It was surely time for the left to recognize the broken democracy. The massive alienation from parliamentary democracy is both a threat and an opportunity. Continue reading “people’s charter or charter for a democratic republic?”

the commune issue 7 – out now!

The September issue of our monthly paper The Commune is now available. Click the image below to see the PDF, or see articles as they are posted online in the list below.

To purchase a printed copy for £1 + 50p postage, use the ‘donate’ feature here. You can also subscribe (£12 a year UK/£16 EU/£20 international) or order 5 copies a month to sell (£4) online here. If you want to pay by cheque, contact uncaptiveminds@gmail.com.

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troops out of afghanistan! – editorial of The Commune

wildcats show how to fight royal mail bosses – by Paul Haste

government pressure on civil service: crunch time for pcs left – by Steve Ryan

wind turbine occupation ends, but struggle continues – by Gerry Emmett

purnell’s new ‘old labour’ is just new ‘new labour’ – by David Broder

resisting redundancy and recession: reappraising the tactic of occupation – by Gregor Gall

amey struggle: burn your bridges, save your dignity – by Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marin

latin american migrants: organising against racism and exploitation – by an Ecuadorian migrant worker

exposed: soas unison, rmt and unite cleaner activists in the pay of the bosses – by Chris Kane

update on the activities of the commune around britain

afghan women bear brunt of hypocritical ‘war on terror’ – by members of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan

yes, chris ann, obama is punking us – by Ernie Haberkern

beyond props for capital – by Allan Armstrong

liberalism, citizenship and democracy – by Mark Ellingsen

the workers’ self-management alternative – by Chris Kane

review of the july/august left press – by Nathan Coombs

building from below: the case for working in residents’ groups – by Dave Spencer

latin america’s future is being played out in honduras – by Roberto Sáenz

liberalism, citizenship and democracy

by Mark Ellingsen

A lot has been written recently about the corruption of politicians, the crisis of democracy and the legitimacy of Parliament. This is particularly apt as this year marks 200 years since the death of Tom Paine, the radical liberal who was an inspiration to movements fighting for the vote. On the Left the analysis of this crisis has revolved around the interconnected reasons of the failure of the Labour Party to deliver job security and prosperity to its ‘natural’ constituency of working class voters on the one hand, and on the other, the class nature of the capitalist state which ensures that the policies enacted by governments will ensure the profits of the capitalist class even to the detriment of the majority of voters. Quite rightly these arguments take centre place in any discussion of the problems now confronting both voters and the mainstream parties. However, there is a complementary argument that even on its own terms the ideas associated with liberal democracy are never going to provide a sufficient long-term basis on which the majority of people were going to be motivated to be engaged with what currently passes as the political process. But in order to understand the perceived crisis of liberal democracy we need first to understand the crisis of liberalism. Continue reading “liberalism, citizenship and democracy”

the fate of democracy

by Nathan Coombs

What does the declining turnout for the European Union Parliamentary elections tell us? Most superficially: voters are apathetic, ambivalent and disconnected from the European Parliament. But more generally it highlights the paradox at the heart of the political discourse of Western liberal democracies: the ever-greater symbolic – even metaphysical – weight attributed to the word democracy, in the context of declining voter turnout and disillusionment with politics as a whole.

For instance, in the United Kingdom the panic initiated by the election of two British National Party MEPs and the MP expenses scandal have exposed a deep crisis in public trust for the political institutions and a sense of legitimation crisis on the side of the political class. In response to the expenses scandal, the reaction from most people is that politicians are all corrupt, and many people polled recently were not sure that they wanted to vote for any party. At this critical point the liberal media and political class have been united in repeating that we have to ‘defend our democracy.’ The motif of democracy in danger, democracy imperilled, has driven the crisis of legitimacy into the realm of one of an acute sense of constitutional crisis, with all the major parties proposing some sort of constitutional reform and paying lip-service to the motif of ‘power to the people.’ Continue reading “the fate of democracy”

‘do we live in a democracy?’ the commune debates compass

The next of The Commune’s ‘uncaptive minds’ public forums takes place in London on the evening of Monday June 8th, and is on the question of ‘do we live in a democracy?’. We will be debating a speaker from centre-left Labour pressure group COMPASS.

The recent MPs’ expenses scandal has brought renewed attention to the checks and balances of the House of Commons, from right and left alike. There is widespread anger at the excesses of the worst offenders, with the Speaker of the Commons axed, some arguing for more ‘regulation’ of the system and others calling for a clearout of the current MPs in favour of more ‘responsible’ MPs and more ‘independents’.

But few are questioning the Parliamentary system itself (see our recent editorial): although in recent months the mainstream press has been happy to use Marx’s economics to explain the economic crisis, they don’t dare to touch communists’ radical critique of the state, the ‘executive committee of the ruling class’.

At the meeting we will not only be looking at the current scandal and the response, but also the state of our democratic rights in general and its implications for our struggle for a different kind of society. The speakers leading off the debate will be The Commune’s Nathan Coombs and COMPASS’s Andy Howell.

The meeting takes place from 7pm on the 8th at the Artillery Arms, near Old Street. All are welcome – get in touch with us at uncaptiveminds@gmail.com if you would like more information. Map of the venue below. Continue reading “‘do we live in a democracy?’ the commune debates compass”

8th june london forum: do we live in a democracy?

The next of The Commune’s ‘uncaptive minds’ public forums takes place in London on the evening of Monday June 8th, and is on the question of ‘do we live in a democracy?’.

The recent MPs’ expenses scandal has brought renewed attention to the checks and balances of the House of Commons, from right and left alike. There is widespread anger at the excesses of the worst offenders, with the Speaker of the Commons axed, some arguing for more ‘regulation’ of the system and others calling for a clearout of the current MPs in favour of more ‘responsible’ MPs and more ‘independents’.

But few are questioning the Parliamentary system itself (see our recent editorial): although in recent months the mainstream press has been happy to use Marx’s economics to explain the economic crisis, they don’t dare to touch communists’ radical critique of the state, the ‘executive committee of the ruling class’.

At the meeting we will not only be looking at the current scandal and the response, but also the state of our democratic rights in general and its implications for our struggle for a different kind of society. The speakers leading off the debate will be The Commune’s Nathan Coombs and Labour left MP John McDonnell.

The meeting takes place from 7pm on the 8th at the Artillery Arms, near Old Street. All are welcome – get in touch with us at uncaptiveminds@gmail.com if you would like more information. Map of the venue below. Continue reading “8th june london forum: do we live in a democracy?”