Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/986/27041

From The Socialist newspaper, 14 March 2018

Socialist Party congress 2018

The Socialist Party's national congress 2018 took place in London on 10 and 11 March, attended by delegates and visitors from Socialist Party branches all over England and Wales, as well as from Socialist Party Scotland.

Below are reports of parts of the sessions on developments in the world and in Britain. We also discussed building the Socialist Party, had an update on the building fund and heard a report of the work of the Committee for a Workers' International. A fighting fund appeal raised 6,231.


World in crisis: volatility prepares the way for revolutionary upheavals

Youth and workers in Catalonia marching against Francoist repression, photo Rob MacDonald

Youth and workers in Catalonia marching against Francoist repression, photo Rob MacDonald   (Click to enlarge)

Kevin Parslow

The Financial Times, mouthpiece of British capitalism, had published on the morning of the first day of congress, a piece on how relevant the Communist Manifesto is today. "We live," according to an Oxford University academic, "in the wake of a calamitous financial crisis and in the midst of whirlwind social change, a popular distaste of financial capitalists, and widespread revolutionary activity."

The conclusion? That if Marx and Engels were writing today, they would rename their work the 'Activist Manifesto' and tone down its explicit pro-working class and anti-capitalist message!

In leading off on 'world perspectives,' Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe referred to this article but applied the real method of Marxism to analyse the world situation and show a way forward to building socialism internationally.

A wide-ranging discussion followed in which comrades elaborated on developments in South Africa, the Spanish state and Catalonia, Italy, Eastern Europe, Japan, China, Israel/Palestine and the US. Judy Beishon, from the Socialist Party's executive committee, replied to the discussion.

Peter explained that the most striking feature of the current period is the rapid and convulsive changes in the world today. They denote ultimately revolutionary upheavals at a certain stage, for which socialists should be prepared.

This is typified by the results of the elections in Italy, where populist parties gained the most votes, and forming a government will be difficult.

The Italian result could also be a blow to the 'EU project' of greater integration. Italy could even follow Britain out of the EU door.

The eventual formation of a coalition government in Germany between the right-wing Christian Democrats of Merkel and the Social Democrats took almost six months from the general election in which both these 'traditional' parties achieved their worst results since 1949.

What these outcomes show is that the capitalist class internationally cannot rule in the same way as it did in more stable times in the past, partly due to them not having reliable parties to do their bidding.

Most of Europe is similarly convulsed. The events of the last year in Catalonia have shown the volatile situation within the Spanish state. President Macron in France is conducting an offensive against the working class, which could lead to big battles there in the 50th anniversary of the revolutionary events of 1968 in that country.

Mass upheavals in the neocolonial world in the past few months are further indications of the speed of events today. The catastrophic war in Syria is terrible for ordinary people as the regional and world powers battle for 'supremacy'.

But Peter also referenced the recent mass movements in Iran and Tunisia as examples where the working class has lost their fear of the ruling class and their political representatives. Similar volatility shakes Africa and Latin America.

The biggest factor in the world situation today is undoubtedly Trump and US imperialism. The instability of his presidency is reflected in the standoff with North Korea, with no guarantee of success for the planned talks; the imposition of tariffs on steel, threatening retaliatory measures worldwide and affecting the international economy; and possible clashes with China, the world's second biggest economy.

In China itself, economic growth is fuelled by debt. This situation is unsustainable and will come to a head at a certain stage.

The country's leadership under President Xi Jinping have consolidated their powers, including scrapping term limits, to stifle the coming mass explosions.

Some of the capitalist class have talked about a new 'Gilded Age', similar to that at the turn of the 20th century dominated by so-called 'robber barons' like the

Rothschilds, Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. Today's billionaires - numbering just over 1,500 worldwide - are a new plutocracy and, in the words of the Financial Times' Martin Wolf, Trump represents 'Plutocracy populism'.

But Trump is mobilising the opposition against him, like the youth uprising against school massacres and a wave of teachers' strikes in West Virginia and other states.

The task of the Socialist Party and our sections in the Committee for a Workers' International is to prepare for big developments and build support for socialist forces worldwide. Realising socialism in Britain and worldwide, Peter concluded, is a goal worth fighting for!


Britain: Corbyn surges and Tories' weakness mean favourable terrain for socialists

Sheffield university UCU and students vote No deal and to keep the strike going, 13.3.18, photo Alistair Tice

Sheffield university UCU and students vote No deal and to keep the strike going, 13.3.18, photo Alistair Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Sarah Wrack

The era we are living through - following the surges in support for Jeremy Corbyn, and with many young people talking about socialist ideas and consciously considering themselves on the left - is more favourable terrain for socialists to be organising on than we've had for many years.

As Socialist Party deputy general secretary Hannah Sell described in her introduction to the 'British perspectives' discussion: "After 30 years of nothing but establishment politicians supporting neoliberal ideas, we've now got John McDonnell putting the case for nationalisation of at least some utilities, and being attacked again in the Financial Times as 'singing a Marxist tune'."

The support for Corbyn and McDonnell's ideas has come from "a profound, deep-rooted anger at what capitalism means for the majority."

Hannah pointed out that the return to formal growth in the economy has meant nothing for ordinary people. Instead we see huge personal debt levels, life expectancy for girls falling for the first time since the 1920s and public services like the NHS facing catastrophe.

While the majority of national trade union leaderships are holding back national and coordinated action, the same anger as is behind support for Corbyn has driven a number of important sectional and local industrial disputes, as well as community campaigns.

For example, in the discussion we heard from Socialist Party members who are playing leading roles in the University and College Union strikes, RMT strikes against driver-only operated trains, and local campaigns to save NHS services and on housing and other local council cuts.

These struggles show the potential, but unfortunately both the majority of trade union leaderships and the Labour leadership have not acted to maximise this. Instead, both give too much the impression that it is enough for working and middle class people to get behind Corbyn and hold on until a Labour government is elected.

It is a mistake to not use their positions to mobilise workers in mass campaigns for jobs and services now - that would be the strongest basis on which a Corbyn government could come to power. For example, as executive committee member Rob Williams said in replying to the discussion, the emergency NHS demonstration at the start of February could have been much bigger than it was had Corbyn and the trade union leaderships thrown their full weight behind it.

It is similarly a mistake - by Corbyn and those who claim to lead the support for him, like Momentum - to continue to talk of 'unity' within the Labour Party. "The reality," Hannah said, "is that the pro-capitalist wing of the Labour Party has been forced to appear reconciled to Corbyn's leadership, while continuing to work to undermine him."

And they would continue this undermining in the case of a Corbyn-led government coming to power, trying to prevent Corbyn's anti-austerity manifesto from being implemented.

Many workers understand that the Labour Party remains "two parties in one". That is why in many areas we see the best campaigners, including those who have joined Labour, correctly willing to prioritise fighting in the interests of the working class over fear of criticising Labour's right wing.

For example, those Labour Party members in Bristol who have signed a letter to Corbyn demanding that Bristol's Labour (and supposedly Corbyn-supporting) mayor Marvin Rees stops implementing Tory cuts.

Similarly, many workers who back Corbyn, including some who have joined Labour, are supportive of the Socialist Party standing candidates against the Blairites in May's local elections as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

Hannah said that "unlike any Labour leader in the last epoch" Corbyn and McDonnell can be pushed to take a more radical anti-cuts stance by pressure from below. This can be built through campaigns and strikes, but also through an electoral challenge which backs them, but boldly stands against the saboteurs within their own party.

These battles are made all the more important and urgent by the fact that the opportunities facing the working class are huge and there is "disarray on the other side". The capitalist class is in an extremely weak position, with no reliable political representatives to carry out a programme in their best interests - "the Tories are at each other's' throats."

Nowhere is this more clear than over the issue of Brexit. As we pointed out in the editorial of the last issue of the Socialist (see 'May's EU speech kicks can down the road') the pro-EU wing of the Tories has been temporarily pacified by May's latest position, which stressed having high level access to EU markets.

But the divisions will soon come to the surface again - it is clear that this wing hopes to push May towards accepting Single Market and/or Customs Union membership, which will be intolerable to the other side.

The bosses are attempting to use Labour as a stick to push May into a Brexit position they could accept, while hoping the undemocratic Fixed Term Parliament Act will maintain her in power. But as Hannah said, "this is a very high risk tactic... events are not under the control of the capitalist class."

The fudged positions to maintain unity in the Tories will become more and more difficult as Brexit deadlines approach, and the DUP could pull out of the 'supply and confidence' agreement at any time. So while it is possible that the Tory government could "stagger on", we could also see a general election within the next year.

Such an election would present a huge opportunity for the working class and for socialists. The work we are doing now, including mobilising people through campaigns and industrial battles as well as winning workers and young people to join the Socialist Party, is preparation for the battles that would be faced in such a situation.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 14 March 2018:


UCU strike

Determined UCU strikers: We're out to win!

UCU strike continues: set dates for next national action


Socialist Party Congress 2018

Socialist Party congress 2018


International socialist news and analysis

Italian elections create huge political shake-up

Spain: millions on streets against sexism and capitalist oppression


Socialist Party news and analysis

Spring Statement 2018: Tory austerity staggers on despite economic and political weakness

Profits up Wages down

Sainsbury's raise really a cut: fight for 10 with no strings!

Zero new homes 'affordable' in Blairite Manchester

What we saw


Iraq War

15 years since the invasion of Iraq: what we said


Socialist Party workplace news

Woolwich ferry workers win automation campaign

Leaked pay deal: fight for a genuine pay rise

We feel that we will win - a striker speaks

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Continuing the fighting tradition of working class women

Seeing-off the bigoted, billionaire toff!

Derby public meeting: Women's Lives Matter

Swansea Labour council votes for cuts

Campaigners continue to demand Chorley A&E is fully reopened

Leicester: Blairites block Labour Party democracy

Members dig deep into their pockets to support the party


Socialist Party comments and reviews

International Women's Day

Gripping spy thriller exposes hypocrisy of Falklands/Malvinas war


 

Home   |   The Socialist 14 March 2018   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Socialist Party:

triangleNorth West Socialist Party regional conference

triangleManchester Socialist Party: Marx's theory of alienation

trianglePCS AGS election: Where now after the Left Unity conference?

triangleWest Midlands Socialist Party women's meeting: our role in changing society

triangleSocialist Party national LGBT+ meeting

Socialist:

triangleSocialist Students national conference

triangleSocialist Party national women's meeting

triangleSocialist Party national congress

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: France - the Gilets Jaunes eruption

Tories:

triangleFight for a general election to kick out the Tories

triangleAusterity: not one more day - Tories out now

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Brexit - Will the Tories survive?

Britain:

triangleNothing to offer from the Blairites

triangleGovernment limps on... Corbyn and unions must call urgent, mass action

Labour:

triangleFight Cardiff Council's school cuts

The Socialist:

triangleFor a socialist alternative to the EU - mobilise to kick out the Tories!

Working class:

triangleBrexit as a window on our times

Workers:

triangleWorkers at the forefront of the new wave of protests in Iran

Capitalist:

triangleIn defence of socialist feminism

Government:

triangleEyewitness: French protesters seize streets against President Macron

EU:

triangleEnd Tory misery - general election now!

Strikes:

triangleBlairite Birmingham steps up union-busting and two workforces plan strikes

Parties:

triangleFight for a democratic, socialist Labour Party

Labour Party:

triangleIslwyn Labour Party calls for council no-cuts budget

Election:

triangleVictory for left in RMT union president election

Italy:

triangleThe ongoing capitalist crisis and the struggle for a socialist world

Trump:

triangleSan Francisco Bay Area's toxic smoke crisis and capitalism's mismanagement

NHS:

triangleHealth bosses move goalposts on A&E waiting times: more funds for our NHS now!

Cuts:

triangleNorthamptonshire council crisis continues

China:

triangleWirral Socialist Party: Trade wars - the economic

General election:

triangleEven UN slams Tory poorhouse Britain

Anti-austerity:

triangleHaringey 'Corbyn council': end the secrecy and confusion - lead a fight against the cuts

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

5/12/18

CWU

WHSmith: hands off our Post Offices!

5/12/18

Grimethorpe

Victory! Dinner ladies' strike beats job cuts

5/12/18

Socialist Students

Socialist Students conference date set

5/12/18

West Midlands

West Midlands Socialist Party women's meeting: our role in changing society

5/12/18

Leeds

Leeds TUC conference to organise fight against austerity

5/12/18

Tyne and Wear

Socialist Party argues against fire service cuts at Tyne and Wear consultation

5/12/18

Merseyside

Fighting NHS and fire services cuts and closures in Merseyside

5/12/18

Surrey

Join the march through Woking against austerity

5/12/18

Cardiff

Fight Cardiff Council's school cuts

5/12/18

Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire council crisis continues

5/12/18

Union

Workplace news in brief

5/12/18

Bradford

Bradford College joins #FEfightback strike for decent pay

5/12/18

RMT

Victory for left in RMT union president election

5/12/18

Birmingham

Blairite Birmingham steps up union-busting and two workforces plan strikes

28/11/18

Benefits

Nat West's benefit-claimant eviction policy

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


December 2018

November 2018

October 2018

September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999