huge challenges for PCS: conference report

by Steve Ryan

Delegates from all branches of PCS met in Brighton last week for the Annual Delegate Conference.

Buoyed by the court decision that the changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme were unlawful, the spirit was positive. Continue reading “huge challenges for PCS: conference report”

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an alternative to the age of austerity

by Chris Ford

The new decade began with The Times predicting an “age of austerity” in the UK which will last for years. We can expect, they said, cuts in public spending to offset the Treasury budget deficit of £178 billion, caused to a large extent by the bank bailouts after the September 2008 crisis.

The view that the financial sector is at the roots of our current predicament is not restricted to the bourgeois papers like The Times. This view is common amongst liberal, Labour Party and socialist opinion. John Cruddas and a hundred other MPs are campaigning for a High Pay Commission, arguing our current predicament was caused by “greed”, as banking and executive salaries grew excessively. There is certainly widespread bitter resentment amongst working class people that we are paying for a loan to rescue the banks. Cruddas appears like a philanthropist from a Dickens Christmas story coming along to help the poor, making the rich share the pain of the recession. But state controls on high pay would only scratch the surface of the crisis: we need something far more fundamental. Continue reading “an alternative to the age of austerity”

a workers’ movement for communism

by Steve Ryan

So it’s 2010 and the media is full of reflections on the last decade. Looking at it from the point of view of the Left it’s an interesting one. Massive marches against war, the rise of the BNP, the collapse of pretty well all initiatives to build an alternative to Labour. The rise and fall of left led unions alongside occupations and wildcat strikes, climate camps and environmental protests, the list goes on and in many respects shows the Left on the defensive.

Depressing? Actually no. Looking at the areas of hope in the last 10 years is a lesson for the future. Continue reading “a workers’ movement for communism”

social ownership and workers’ self-management

A motion to the Labour Representation Committee conference proposed by The Commune

The Labour Representation Committee notes this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall the Berlin Wall, and the beginning of the change of regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe in the years 1989-1991. Conference salutes the great freedom struggles by the working people, of the communist and socialist oppositionists to the dictatorships which ruled in the name of “actually existing socialism”, such as the rebellions of 1953 in Berlin, 1956 in Hungary and Poland, 1968 in Czechoslovakia, 1980-1989 in Poland, and the myriad struggles in the USSR.

Conference recognises that the legacy of the Stalinist regimes continues to hinder the struggle for a new society today. As part of developing the vision of a viable alternative to capitalism in the 21st century, our movement needs to learn the lessons of their historical failure, including of the previous state socialist conceptions. The Labour Representation Committee conference recognises that: Continue reading “social ownership and workers’ self-management”

a communist revival?

by Nathan Coombs

One of the remarkable things about the manifesto of the recent University of California Santa Cruz student occupation, the Communiqué from an Absent Future, was the emphatic use of the word communism to describe their project to “demand not a free university but a free society”.

santacruzwearethecrisis

This re-appropriation of the word communism marks a new direction after numerous attempts to refigure a certain spirit, while avoiding the specific content, of communism under such concepts as “the common” or “communisation” in various brands of leftwing, post-cold war political activism. Communism itself had been more or less abandoned to the dwindling base of old far-left political groups and Maoist movements. Continue reading “a communist revival?”

self-management at zanon: “we showed that it is possible”

Zanon: a factory in the hands of the workers, Argentina. Published by Wildcat in December 2003.

zanon

The Neuquén province, where Zanon is located, was one of the epicentres of the protests that swept Argentina in the 1990s. It was here that the piqueteros first emerged in the town of Cutral-Co, and there are many militant trade unionists. Unlike in most of Argentina, many of the attempted privatizations of state owned enterprises were defeated. In May 2006, teachers won a 40% pay rise following a month long strike. But most famous, is the successful takeover of the Zanon tile factory and its subsequent worker-run management. In 2000 the workers went on strike. The employer implemented a lock out and the workers responded by occupying the factory. In October 2001, the workers officially declared the factory to be ‘under worker control’. By March 2002, the factory fully returned to production. In April 2003, the courts ordered the police to forcibly take the factory out of the hands of the workers. In response the workers developed a broad based campaign and as the police began to move in over 3000 citizens of Neuquén formed a picket in front of the factory. During the period of worker control, the number of employees has increased from 300 to 470, and wages have risen by 100 pesos a month, and the level of production has increased. Accidents have fallen by 90%. Continue reading “self-management at zanon: “we showed that it is possible””

state capitalism and communism-from-below in latin america

David Broder’s talk to The Commune’s recent Manchester forum

The class struggle in Latin America is one that has always roused great interest and a certain romanticism among the western left. The continent has seen a number of heroic struggles against often savage exploitation and state repression, whether by the industrial working class, landless peasants or indigenous peoples. But the politics of the Latin American left are complex and often mischaracterised.

zelayacorreachavezortegamorales

I’m going to talk about the recent history of Latin America and the relationship of US imperialism to national ruling classes; in what ways this has shaped the major left trends and the workers’ movement on the continent; and the different types of movement that exist today.  Continue reading “state capitalism and communism-from-below in latin america”