Marxism in the 21st Century and the Future for World Socialism

Make Marx compulsory reading in all schools

21centurymanifesto

ROBERT GRIFFITHS spoke at a conference in Shenzhen, China, last week on ‘Marxism in the 21st Century and the Future for World Socialism’. Here is his speech:  

In Das Kapital, Marx explained how and why — as the result of capital accumulation and technological advance — capitalism creates a ‘disposable industrial reserve army’ from dispossessed, displaced and redundant workers.

Today, capitalism reproduces this reserve army on an ever-growing scale. Uneven development, Third World debt bondage, the deregulation of labour markets, accelerating technological change — together with large population movements caused by imperialist war and climate change — have added scores of millions of migrant workers and refugees to that army.

This underlines how vital it is to bring these workers out of the shadows, recruit them into trade unions, cover them by collective bargaining agreements and so end their own super-exploitation and the undercutting of local wages and…

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TAMWORTH BY-ELECTION RESULT SHOWS HUGE DIFFERENCE ‘FRAMING’ MAKES

26/05/2018 · by SKWAWKBOX · in Uncategorized. ·

This week saw an election in the Tamworth ward of Glascote. It was a Labour hold, but the way in which it was presented suggested a poor result in which Labour lost votes and barely clung on:

However, as Twitter users were quick to point out, the choice of 2014 as the point of comparison created an impression that was very different compared to the more recent and relevant 2016 results:

Compared to 2016, Labour gained eleven points, rather than losing fourteen. The 2016 comparison also showed that in Glascote Labour appears to have taken a significant share of the collapsing UKIP vote – and achieved an increase in spite of a Green candidate standing when there was none previously.

Two very different perspectives – one fitting the mainstream media’s current dishonest campaign that the UK has reached ‘peak Corbyn’ and the other emphatically not.

The ‘Corbyn Supporters 50+’ Twitter account was quick to spot the significance:

This tactic is one that all citizens need to understand and watch out for. The Tories routinely claim to have achieved an improvement compared to some historic high/low point in some area – but a closer look reveals that all the improvement was achieved by Labour up to 2010, while the trend under the Tories is in the wrong direction.

Dishonest ‘framing’ of arguments, statistics and history are a standard Tory ploy for misleading the public. Awareness of the tactic neutralises its effectiveness – so we need to shout loud about it when we see it.

EARLY NEC NOMINATIONS SHOW NEED FOR LEFT DISCIPLINE – WHY IT MATTERS EVEN MORE THAN USUAL

26/05/2018 · by SKWAWKBOX · in Uncategorized. ·

Over six hundred CLPs (constituency Labour parties) are eligible to nominate their preferred candidates for Labour’s National Executive Committee CLP slots, although not every CLP always nominates.

Once a candidate has five nominations, they qualify for the ballot – but overall nomination totals are often an indicator of likely levels of support in the OMOV (one member one vote) ballot this summer.

Nine CLP representatives will be elected and will take their seats after Labour’s annual conference in September for two years. At least four must be women. Each Labour member can vote for nine candidates.

The ‘left slate’ put forward by Momentum, CLPD, GLGA and others are:

Yasmine Dar

Huda Elmi

Rachel Garnham

Ann Henderson

Jon Lansman

Nav Mishra

Claudia Webbe

Darren Williams

Pete Willsman

The SKWAWKBOX asks readers to vote and campaign for this left slate.

Current NEC member Ann Black is standing separately to this slate after being dropped from it after what many consider a disappointing performance since Corbyn’s first election as leader.

The right-wing slate candidates supported by Progress and Labour First are Luke Akehurst, Lisa Bane, Johanna Baxter, Jasmin Beckett, Eda Cazimoglu, Gurinder Singh Josan, Heather Peto, Marianna Masters and Mary Wimbury.

It goes without saying that these candidates must not get anywhere near a place on the NEC.

The latest available nominations tally is below – candidates highlighted in red are on the left slate:

Luke Akehurst 13
Lisa Banes 7
Johanna Baxter 12
Jasmin Beckett 11
Ann Black 24
Eda Cazimoglu 7
James Craigie 5
Yasmine Dar 21

Huda Elmi 23

Rachel Garnham 23
Eddie Izzard 1
Gurinder Singh Josan 12
Ann Henderson
 17
Jon Lansman 23
Marianna Masters 8

Nav Mishra 20

Nicola Morrison 1
Heather Peto 12
Stephen Stanners 2
Ross Sykes 1

Claudia Webbe 20
Darren Williams 19

Peter Willsman 22
Mary Wimbury 12

While the overall figures suggest a healthy lead for left candidates, the numbers supporting Ann Black are a concern.

Ms Black’s recent history on the NEC has drawn criticism from the left, but whatever your opinion on that a strong showing for Ms Black might not only prevent a solid left candidate winning a place, but could siphon away enough votes to allow one of the right-wing slate to sneak through ‘on the inside rail’.

Important note:

One vital consideration for left-wing members, after this week’s decision by Scottish leader Richard Leonard to help vote in a less solid left chair of the NEC ‘officers’ group, is that Ms Black currently has an officers’ place because she is chair of the National Policy Forum and that position automatically has an officers’ seat as long as the holder is also an NEC member.

If Ms Black fails to win a place during this summer’s elections, it will remove her from the officers’ committee and help undo the damage caused by Leonard’s action at Tuesday’s NEC meeting.

On all grounds, it’s therefore essential that the left-wing majority of members who support Labour’s direction under Jeremy Corbyn and the re-democratisation of party structures and processes maintain discipline and throw their weight solidly behind the left slate.

Negotiating Labour’s Antisemitism Minefield

Turning the Tide

Before I started writing this I wrestled with whether I should write it. I’m not Jewish, I’m not an expert on antisemitism, so what do I know? And then I thought to myself, I’m a Labour member. I have a nose for injustice. I’m being called an antisemite in the street, for sitting in the passenger seat of a car that sports a Labour bumper sticker. Of course not everyone will agree with what I’m about to write but these are my thoughts laid out for those who are interested in reading them. This is me unpicking what ‘Labour’s antisemitism problem’ really means to me, and what we can do about it.
Has Labour got an antisemitism problem?
Yes, in so much as any degree of antisemitism is a problem.
Approximately 0.1% of Labour members have been disciplined for antisemitism over the past three years. This might seem like a…

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Esther Baker case: How the child sex abuse inquiry itself abused survivors’ trust and privacy

Very well written👏👏👏👏

David Hencke

Alexis Jay at the Rotherham inquiry Pic credit BBC

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UPDATE: Since the publication of this blog the Crown Prosecution Service have responded to my questions. A spokesman said the CPS does not investigate allegations of a crime, including perverting the course of justice. Any allegations coming to them would be referred back to the relevant police force. In this case this would appear  to be Staffordshire police.

Esther Baker is one of the few child sex abuse survivors who went public  about her allegations that she was abused by her father and other people.

The only other case I can think of recently is  46 year  old Andi Lavery who went public to the Scottish Sunbut that followed a trial in Glasgow which led to the conviction of  paedophile Father Francis Moore after Lavery gave evidence anonymously.

Therefore it is rather surprising that independent child sex abuse inquiry should publish  considerable detail naming Esther…

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Momentum and antisemitism: 2016 and now

By Jill Mountford, former Momentum National Committee and Steering Committee member

The recent statement (or see below) by the leadership of Momentum taking on antisemitism is an important contribution to the task of improving the political health of the Labour Party and the left. It is important that Momentum has spoken out – but it comes after two years of silence.

Nor is it clear that Momentum is serious about moving forward on tackling this issue.

I sat on Momentum’s national steering committee from early 2016 until it was abolished in 2017 (for the blog I ran during that time, see here). The steering committee debated the issue but, despite my best efforts, never acted.

The context was increasing reporting of antisemitic social media content following the first Corbyn surge, and high profile incidents such as the first suspension of Jackie Walker for comments about Jews and the slave trade. I proposed a statement on antisemitism to begin a debate which was amended, agreed and supposed to go out – but never did.

To be fair, this was not the only thing proposed and agreed that did not happen. Momentum’s current lack of democracy was foreshadowed. In this case, I suspect the issue was preferring to deal with things quietly rather

than saying anything which might cause a political blow up.Thus an opportunity to do anything about this issue early on was lost. The Momentum leadership/office’s pretence that it has suddenly discovered this issue is a bit rich.

Paradoxically, Momentum has also refused to do anything about the issue of justice for those treated unfairly by the bureaucratic whim of the party machine, suspended and expelled unjustly and so on.A statement about my expulsion was, again, agreed but not put out; my proposal to campaign against the suspension of Jackie Walker from the party was voted down. To this day, Momentum refuses to act on these issues. In fact it has written the ban on non-Labour members holding office into its imposed constitution.

Meanwhile, the new statement on antisemitism, elicited because Momentum felt under pressure by the storm raging around it, is welcome but is weak on actual political content – weaker than the reply Jeremy Corbyn put out in response to the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council.

That might not matter if it becomes the start of a genuine educational process. But what is to be the agency for educating Momentum and Labour members? Will it be open, critical debate and discussion in local groups, seeking to encourge a culture of debate? (Lewisham Momentum made some effort along these lines in 2016, holding a discussion on Israel-Palestine and antisemitism with speakers including Rhea Wolfson and Jon Lansman.)

That seems unlikely. The 2018 statements talks about ‘exploring partnerships with external organisations’. That is not wrong itself, but in the labour movement is all too often code for not taking issues seriously or having a serious discussion. In this case,who will the external organisations be? Doesn’t deciding that require having some discussion about where Momentum stands on all this?

Momentum should begin by encouraging its members to have some decent discussion about the issues, providing resources,suggestions for speakers and so on. More broadly what we need is to explore labour movement history and tradition and locate this debate within the class struggle, so we can find the rational and independent working-class answers so desperately needed.

Let us know what you think? Write a reply? Email theclarionmag@gmail.com

***

The full text of the recent statement on antisemitism from Momentum’s National Coordinating Group

Momentum’s National Coordinating Group (NCG) acknowledges the anger, upset and despair within the British Jewish community at the numerous cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party and the Party’s failure to date to deal with them in a sufficiently decisive, swift and transparent manner.

We also note Jeremy Corbyn’s personal pledge to be a militant opponent of antisemitism and a permanent ally of the Jewish Community — and his apology for the pain caused both to Jewish members of the Labour Party and to the wider Jewish community by what he describes as the “socialism of fools”, as well as newer forms of antisemitism which “have been woven into criticism of Israeli governments”.

Momentum’s NCG believes that accusations of antisemitism should not and cannot be dismissed simply as right wing smears nor as the result of conspiracies. Current examples of antisemitism within the Labour Party are not only a problem of a few, extreme “bad apples” but also of unconscious bias which manifests itself in varied, nuanced and subtle ways and is more widespread in the Labour Party than many of us had understood even a few months ago.

It is possible to accept that antisemitism is a problem in parts of the left and needs to be loudly denounced whilst also accepting that some of Jeremy Corbyn’s political opponents are opportunistically using this issue as a way to undermine his leadership. However, the actions of others do not reduce our responsibility to challenge antisemitism whenever and wherever it occurs.

Discussions over recent days have reinforced the need for a programme of political education across the movement – both unconscious bias training specifically targeted at antisemitism and a broader programme of political education which moves people away from conspiratorial thinking and towards a systematic understanding of how society and capitalism works.

Momentum has therefore resolved to explore partnerships with external organisations to deliver awareness trainings open to all Labour members; to renew our focus on a broad programme of political education; and to support any Labour Party initiatives in relation to antisemitism.

Furthermore, Momentum will review its constitution and complaints procedures in order to ensure that they are fit for purpose as a clear statement of Momentum’s values and practical commitment to stamping out antisemitism and all forms of discrimination. We will also provide further guidance and support for our local groups to help them in implementing these aspects of our constitution and upholding our values.

The 2016 statement on antisemitism from Momentum’s national Steering Committee

Momentum unambiguously condemns antisemitism, as it condemns all forms of racism and discrimination, and welcomes Jeremy Corbyn’s launch of an expert-led inquiry. We recognise that each form of racism has its own history, contemporary manifestations, nuances and particularisms, and that these each need to explored and understood to be overcome.

We hope that the inquiry is the start of a process of investigating how racism and oppression that in society replicate themselves in any way in the Labour Party. For the labour movement to fight these injustices effectively, we need comradely self-criticism, education and awareness-raising of these issues. We pledge that Momentum will play a productive role in this process, and will encourage members to express their experiences of antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of racism as part of the Chakrabarti Inquiry.

Momentum takes the need to the fight all forms of racism discrimination, including on the left and in the labour movement, seriously. We do not believe that questions of racism can be dealt with simply by people saying that they are not racist or prejudiced. A deeply analysis of the specific nuances is needed, which is why Momentum backs the Chakrabarti Inquiry. As with the recent controversies around antisemitism, the matter cannot be dealt with simply by people stating they are not antisemitic or just by drawing a distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Criticising Zionism is not necessarily antisemitic, of course, but some anti-Zionist politics is. Expressing solidarity for the Palestinians is distinct, and should be without any suggestion of antisemitism.

As a new organisation, we certainly have differences and disagreements, within this broad framework, in our ranks about issues of how Zionism and anti-Zionism are related to antisemitism. We will encourage a discussion throughout the organisation to draw out these differences, educate ourselves and develop our positions further.

In terms of the recent controversy, the left has nothing to learn from the Tory party and Tory press, as evidenced by the slew of bigoted and Islamophobic attacks on Sadiq Khan during the election for London mayor.

We also oppose the use of these issues as a factional weapon within the Labour Party, and to undermine the elected party leadership. We oppose the push to make it easier to expel people; there should be an end to factional expulsions and everyone should have due process.

In any this problem must be addressed politically, through discussion and education. This requirements an atmosphere of free speech and debate, where those raising concerns of antisemitism are taken seriously; where criticisms of Israel are not automatically shouted down as antisemitic; and where the discussion is not manipulated for factional purposes.

Momentum will encourage such a serious discussion in our own organisation as well as in the Labour Party and the wider labour movement and encourage members to participate in the Chakrabarti Inquiry.

Take time to smell the roses: Bulgarians love bomb London to counter British hate media

Countering bigoted Rightwing rhetoric

David Hencke

Bulgarians Soho square Bulgarians after completing the planting of the damascene roses in Golden Square Soho in London Pic credits: Boyko Boev

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The Bulgarians have not had a good press -particularly in the  Sun, Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

The Sun sent a reporter to Sofia to portray them as rushing to  hand out Britain just to claim benefits. The Daily Mail quoted a survey by a gambling company saying Bulgarians were the laziest people in Europe. The Daily Mail and The Telegraph have repeatedly highlighted that Britain is being flooded with them under EU rules.

Yet very little is known about the Bulgarians in Britain..until now. Bulgarian academics at Warwick University and the University of Florida  have carried out a detailed survey of  151 Bulgarians living and working in London for a report which has gone to Sadiq Khan, the London mayor. It is not a representative…

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