Socialists need Left Unity. Every socialist should sign the appeal made by Ken Loach: http://leftunity.org/.
The first National Meeting of Left Unity is going to take place on 11th May in London, with two delegates sent from each local group. Socialists who want genuine left unity have to ensure that they have representation because there will be those who do not want socialism. And there will be delegates who do not want left unity with socialists at that meeting.
Socialists have to be present at this meeting to make the case against the Eduard Bernstein wing of Left Unity. Socialists have to be at that meeting to defeat the arguments of witch hunters who look back with fond memories of Neil Kinnock’s McCarthyism against the Labour Party’s left. We need socialists at this meeting who will propose motions calling for placing at the very top of Left Unity’s agenda the cooperation in the electoral field between Left Unity and TUSC. They have to prepare themselves for counter-arguments from the likes of Mark Perryman.
Mark says his criticism of the so-called ‘privileging’ of trade unions within Left Unity is minor(ish). I disagree. Mark’s bewilderment at the stress socialists place on trade unions speaks volumes. Trade unions are the most elementary embodiment of class consciousness of our class, a class with what Marx called ‘radical chains’. Where the chains of capitalism are forged, there shall they be broken. Of course, Mark disagrees with breaking those chains, preferring instead the Stalinist cross-class, pro-capitalist politics of the 1930s. Mark likes the ‘strategy’ of the Stalinists who betrayed the workers, paving the way for disillusion and as a consequence of this, ultimately, fascism.
Left Unity has to reject pro-capitalist popular fronts. Left Unity must acknowledge the fact that workers collectively have the power to expose the reality of exploitation: profits, after all, derive from surplus value, plunder, unpaid labour sucked from those who don’t own the means of production, distribution and exchange.
By withdrawing their labour power during industrial action, this economic power relationship becomes transparent to us all, even to the most blockheaded of the capitalist class who are then forced to fall back on brute force: the state, the ‘special bodies of armed men and women’, giving a hand up to paramilitary thugs to help the state: fascists. Individual workers collectively grasp that they are far from being as isolated as the broadcast and print media would have them believe. The mass media is lying about what people actually want, and industrial action is like a snowball picking up momentum.
During strikes, previously passive workers feel their strength. That in turn inspires them to go further and further and further still. The class composition of trade unions is what gives Tories and Lib Dems, Blarites like David Miliband and Blairities like Ed Miliband a hard time when it comes to votes. In trade unions the debate is between the likes of Len McCluskey (portrayed as a raving ultra-left by the mass media owned by the richest one percent) and the supporters of TUSC whose candidate can win 36% of the vote. There is a powerful lesson here for socialists. And anyone who wants Left Unity to snub the SWP and SP who can win 36% in the trade unions needs to think again.
Here is Mark Perryman in his own words distancing himself from the trade unions, preferring instead collectives that cut across the exploitative class relationship, with employers and the self employed having an equal status with active trade unionists and their families, bigging up accountants who know the price of everything and the value of nothing, who are oblivious to the existence of surplus value:
- Mark Perryman
- April 21, 2013 at 9:12 am
- A minor and perhaps over-sensitive point. But why does a treasurer need a ‘tack record in the labour movement’ for members to have confidence in them? Why not a track record in other social movements or none. Perhaps a professional accountant might exist amongst the 8000 signatories. This provelging of one form of experience or activism over others should be a tradition that Left Unity breks with rom the start.
- Similrly the call to reavh out to trade unions. Nothing wrong with that, but not at the expense of reaching out to a broad range of social movements, not to mention localities. To mention one reach out in the absence of all others send out all the wrong messages.
- Minor(ish) points but getting things wrong at the start, even in small and unintended ways, makes it more difficult to get things to turn out right in the end.
- Mark P