Building a General Strike against Trump’s fascist coup – Steps you can take.

Spread the word on social media!

∙ Invite your friends to the “For a united front against fascism in the US! General Strike now!” Facebook group. Post this group in other groups that you belong to. Lets build it to thousands of members!∙ Post the call out for a United Front from on your page and in groups that you belong to.

Mobilize your union or workplace!∙

If you are a member of a Labor Union find out if your Labor Union has joined the call for a General Strike. Pass a motion at your branch such as those passed by the MLK Labor Council in Seattle and the Rochester Labor Council in New York.

∙ If you are not in a Labor Union, organize your fellow employees to join a General Strike. Such organizing may be best done outside of work premises. Many workplaces disallow any organizing onsite.

Mobilise your political party!

∙If you are a member of an organized political party, find out how they plan to react to an unfair, irreconcilable and illegitimate election. If they have no plans for response, organize one.

Mobilise your social justice group!

∙If you are a member of an organization that fights for justice find out how they plan to react to an irreconcilable and illegitimate election. If they do not have a plan, organize one.∙If you are aware of another organization who is currently fighting the austerity and the fallout from the pandemic, such as Tenants Unions, try to organize a General Strike within these organizations.

Organise your neighbourhood.

∙Talk to your friends and neighbourhoods about the looming dangers. Do not allow people to call you an alarmist; arm yourself with data that shows that it is already happening. In the event of a widespread strike, neighbourhood committees and organizing will be important in sustaining strike activity.

Protests versus General Strike

∙A General Strike is more than a protest, it is when workers across all industries refuse to go to work eg withdrawal their labor. By grinding the economy and therefore profits to a halt, the working class can assert its demands! A General strike is the working class intervening directly into this struggle.

∙Protests in contrast are where people assemble to make a demand. They are important and will be needed alongside a strike however protests alone will not be enough to stop a fascist coup in the US.

Educate yourself!∙

Learn the difference between a General Strike and a Protest.∙

Learn about the definition of a United Front. A United Front does not require an ideological agreement on all matters, only an agreement on a specific action, in this case a general strike to stop slow motion fascist coup.∙

Use the opportunity of building the strike to teach people who are amenable to learning about the class struggle and socialism. Whatever occurs in the next few weeks – the class struggle will only intensify under conditions of capitalist crisis around the world.Plan ahead∙If you have sick leave or vacation time sign up to take it now. Take off as many days as possible from the election forward, no one knows how long this will take.

∙Stock up on supplies. Think about how you, your friends and co-workers can support each other if supplies and transport etc are shut down in ongoing general strike.

March separately, but strike together! For a united front against fascism in the US! General Strike now!

Two facts are now clear. Firstly, President Trump will use fascist thugs and his control of the executive and judiciary to try and stay in power regardless of the vote on Nov 3rd. Secondly, the Democrat Party will not offer any resistance to this coup. The consolidation of a presidential dictatorship means the end of democracy and the basic rights of free speech and assembly won by the working class over the past two centuries.

What path forward then for the US working class? The answer lies in organising for a general strike organised by a United Front of all anti-fascist forces in the US to bring down the Trump regime. The United Front against fascism was a strategy proposed by Leon Trotsky the last time a capitalist ruling class called upon the filth of fascism. He argued the German working class must unite in action to stop the Nazis. His call was not heeded. The same mistake must not be made in the US today.

What is a United Front Strategy and why is it needed?

A United Front strategy seeks to unite as much of the working class as possible in common defensive struggle against fascism. Trotsky unsuccessfully encouraged the German Communist Party (KPD) to adopt the strategy in 1930 when he wrote:

The Communist Party must call for the defense of those material and moral positions which the working class has managed to win in the German state. This most directly concerns the fate of the workers’ political organizations, trade unions, newspapers, printing plants, clubs, libraries, etc. Communist workers must say to their Social Democratic counterparts: “The policies of our parties are irreconcilably opposed; but if the fascists come tonight to wreck your organization’s hall, we will come running, arms in hand, to help you. Will you promise us that if our organization is threatened you will rush to our aid?”.

What would this look like in the US today? It would be a call out for united action to defend protests, meetings and gatherings from fascist attack. The number of attacks on Black Lives Matters protestors or anti-fascist protestors by thugs using cars, guns, mace and other weapons in the US is truly frightening. Trump has openly called for the fascist gangs to “Stand back and Stand by” to prepare to unleash organized violence and intimidation to suppress the vote and disrupt the voting before November 3rd, at the polls, and on the day after. This will serve the double purpose of bludgeoning working class resistance to the coup and adding to an atmosphere of chaos to legitimize the Supreme Court’s ratification of his coup.

Kyle Rittenhouse, left, walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 25, 2020, with another armed civilian. (/The Journal Times via AP)

Defensive organising must begin now to defend all forms of political organising by the working class. Défense committees based around the social movements, trade unions, schools and universities, and workplaces must be formed. Workers must come rushing to help each other. However, spontaneous action will only lead to more, not less bloodshed on the streets. Collective action must be organised across the US.

What is a general strike?

A general strike is the withdrawal of the labor of all workers across all industries joined by students and the unemployed. If the US ruling class was rattled by the recent large Black Lives Matters protests, imagine the power of tens of millions of people on the streets if schools, universities and workplaces shut down! Such a strike would alter class relations in the US. It would represent the working class intervening to defend its own interests rather than conceding the political terrain to either faction of the ruling class. Workers can unite in this strike around the central demand – No to fascism! Down with the Trump regime!

 What is the working class?

In Marxist terms, the working class is everyone who has to survive by earning a wage e.g. by selling their labor. This is the vast majority of humanity who all share the same social interests of wanting access to good working conditions, healthcare, education and a clean environment. The working class is not just “blue collar” or industrial workers but teachers, nurses, retail workers, people in the service industry etc but everyone who survives by earning a wage.

Why the Democrat Party will not lead this fight

This is not a call to support any form of electoral alliance with the Democrat Party or a vote for Biden. Since Trump’s election in 2016, the Democrat Party have done everything in their power to deaden any mass mobilisation of the working class against Trump. Instead they have tried to direct all opposition to Trump down reactionary dead ends such as Russiagate. They are not calling for people to head to the streets if Trump steals the election, but are fostering the illusion a fascist coup can be headed off by a large Biden majority. They are terrified that any mass mobilisation of the working class could spiral out of control and lead to demands for radical political change in the US. The last thing they Democrats want is to come to power on the back of a working class uprising. They would much rather live with an election stolen by the far right forces around Trump just as they did in 2000 when Gore and his party refused to challenge the anti-democratic ruling of the Supreme Court.

The Democrats are attempting to chlorophorm the working class to accept that the military will prevent a Trump fascist coup. This is a deadly trap. Whilst General “Mad Dog” Mattis and the military brass may have spoken out in June against Trump’s threats to use the insurrection act, this tactical move should not be taken as evidence of their commitment to democracy. To do so would ignore the blood soaked role that the US military and intelligence agencies have played in destroying and undermining democracies and the popular will around the world. Secondly, a democracy “saved” by the military would be a democracy in name only. One need only look to the experience of Egyptian democracy being “saved” by the military in 2013 which led to the installation of the “Butcher of Cairo,” Al sisi. Allende, the Social Democratic President of Chile also hoped that General Pinochet would help protect Chilean democracy in 1973.

We appeal to all those workers and democratic forces planning to vote for Biden in hopes of blocking fascism to join with us in a joint struggle for real action to stop Trump and the fascist coup. Join us in the struggle to build defence committees and for a general strike!

Trade Unions

Similarly the trade union bureaucracies which tie workers to the Democrats cannot be trusted. They remain silent about the growing threat of a fascist coup. We appeal to the workers in trade unions to do all they can within their unions, but also to reach out to their class brothers and sisters in the non-unionised sector to build for a general strike of the entire working class. 

On October 8th, the Rochester Labor Council, in the State of New York, passed a motion calling for all labor organisations in the US to “prepare and enact a general strike” if the election is stolen by Trump.

March separately, strike together!

We are not making a call out for any political union or merger between Marxist and non-Marxist forces— only for an agreement on a specific joint action. As Trotsky wrote in 1931:

No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike, and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. [5] On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.

What is the class function of fascism

Fascism is not just some evil ideology that emerges at random times in history. Fascism aims to destroy the ability of the working class to organise in times of intense social crisis when the ruling class fears the specter of mass opposition to its rule leading to its overthrow by socialist revolution. This is why it gained in strength in Europe in the 1920’s and 30’s after the Russian Revolution and during the Great Depression. Now it’s back again as the world plunges into an ever deeper economic crisis beginning with the 2007/8 Global Financial Crisis, and now intersecting with the disaster of covid19. A section of the US ruling class has come to believe that under conditions of such staggering social inequality and mass desperation, even limited forms of democratic rule must be jettisoned and replaced with outright fascist dictatorship. Likewise, the maintenance of the domination of US imperialism in the world market vis a vis the growing power of economic rivals like China may require the launching of ever more horrific wars, including nuclear war. The same ruling class faction does not believe that both a social war on the wages and living conditions of working class, and an imperialist war against a rival competitor, can be carried out under democratic conditions given the overwhelming anti-war sentiment of ordinary people.

As revolutionary Marxists, sees fascism as an outgrowth of capitalism. We insist that the only way to truly defeat fascism is through the struggle to put an end to capitalism once and for all and replace it with socialism. This is a system where the international working class owns and controls the means of production (the important parts of the economy), and the productive capacities of humanity are consciously planned to meet human need rather than private profit.

Spread the call out!

However, the threat posed by fascism in the US is immediate and dire. Revolutionary socialists cannot fight this struggle alone. We need a united front of all trade unionists, socialists, anarchists, Marxist tendencies, and their allies in the middle class and the social movements to defend the democratic right to assemble peacefully in protests, meetings, and pickets and against the fascist militias. We need joint organising for a general strike. is a very small group. We hope that by spreading this demand we play a role in helping to support the growth of a mass working class anti-fascist movement to bring down the Trump regime and rout the fascist thugs on the streets. The fate of the international working class is tied to the US working class. Likewise, the crisis of capitalism is driving the growth of fascism internationally. In countries as far afield as Brazil, the Philiphines, India, Hungary and Poland far right governments are in power. This process is emboldened and strengthened by the growth of fascism in the US which views fascist allies as essential as it plans war against its strategic rivals. A victory of fascism in the US would set us all back and spread the virus of fascism and dictatorship around the world. A victory over fascism in the US would strengthen us all in our struggles.

Contact us on if you would like to discuss with us how to work together to urgently promote the tactics and action for a united front against fascism and for a general strike in the US.

We have also formed a Facebook Group United front against fascism! General Strike Now“.

Trotsky on Fascism

To read more about what fascism is and the tactic of the united front, Trotsky’s writings on Germany maintain a burning relevance. They can be found on here.

No more appeals to the fascist Trump! The Assange campaign must turn to the working class!

by Davey Heller 19th September 2020

As the outrageous show trial of Julian Assange continued at London’s Old Bailey several developments highlighted the political crossroads facing the Assange campaign. Will elements of the campaign continue to foster the dangerous and self-defeating illusion that Assange can be saved by appeals to Trump, the fascist political thug responsible for his persecution? This reactionary dead end was personified by Glen Greenwald’s recent interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News. Or will the campaign turn to the only social force that can free Assange, the international working class?

The harsh truth is that the middle class forces dominating the Assange campaign continue to believe that only appeals to one faction or another of the ruling class can save Julian. In the US context this has been disastrous. Due to the almost universal hostility of the Democrat/liberal faction wing of the US ruling class to Assange, illusions were developed that Trumps MAGA movement could be a counter balance to this and his supporters could be a tool to lobby Trump for a pardon. has been warning against this self-defeating strategy since at least August 2018, when we published an article slamming the inclusion of alt-right speakers among progressives on the #Unity4J platform. At the time #Unity4J was virtually the “official” arm of the solidarity campaign. To see this strategy still being pursued whilst Julian is literally facing off with Trump’s own DOJ in a London courtroom shows the level of desperation and disorientation of the petty-bourgeois “leadership” of this campaign.

Perhaps the most high profile, recent example of this trend comes from Brazil-based US journalist Glen Greenwald, who writes for the Intercept. He appeared on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox news on September 10th on The Tucker Carlson Show. Carlson uses his platform on Fox to support Trump’s fascist agenda. Carlson recently justified the murder of two anti police violence protestors by a fascist gunmen with the statement, “How shocked are we that 17-year-olds with rifles decided they had to maintain order when no one else would?” Greenwald appeared on this far right demagogue’s platform to make the following direct appeal to Trump, who watches Fox News religiously:

Obviously this isn’t coming from President Trump! He praised WikiLeaks in 2016 for informing the public. He knows, firsthand, how these spying systems that Edward Snowden exposed can be abused and were abused in 2016. This is coming from people who work in the CIA, who work in the Pentagon, who insist on endless war, and who believe that they’re a government unto themselves, more powerful than the President. I posted this weekend that there’s a speech from Dwight Eisenhower warning that this military industrial complex — what we now call the Deep State — is becoming more powerful than the President. Chuck Schumer warned right before President Obama — President Trump — took office that President Trump challenging the CIA was foolish because they have many ways to get back at anybody who impedes them. That’s what these cases are about Tucker, they’re punishing Julian Assange and trying to punish Edward Snowden for informing the public about things that they have the right to know about the Obama Administration. They’re basically saying to President Trump, “You don’t run the country even though you were elected. We do!” And they’re daring him to use his pardon power to put an end to these very abusive prosecutions.”

Tucker Carlson interviewing Glenn Greenwald about Assange.

Here we see yet another so called “progressive” element of the Assange campaign regurgitating the ludicrous idea that it’s not Trump but “Deep State” actors opposed to him, who are responsible for the prosecution of Assange! For starters this completely contradicts the main tenet of Assange’s legal defence, that the prosecution of Assange is being directed by the highly politicized U.S. Department of Justice, which under Trump, essentially takes it’s orders from the President.

Max Blumenthal has revealed evidence of how the biggest single donor to Trump’s election campaign in 2016, Sheldon Adelson acted as a conduit between the company who spied on Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy and the CIA. Testimony from alt-right fascist Cassandra Fairbanks in the extradition hearing further proves the orders for the arrest of Assange came straight from Trump.

The “Trump versus the Deep State” narrative also somehow posits a billionaire developer from New York, whose cabinet is full of billionaires and the former head of the CIA is somehow an “outsider” fighting and taking on the “establishment’! This is the narrative that underpins the MAGA movement and the Q Anon conspiracy theory.

In reality, the US ruling class is currently locked in vicious internecine warfare between the liberal faction working through the Democrats, and the fascist wing working through the far right Republicans/Trump. Whilst both wings of the ruling class are reactionary servants of Wall St, they rest for their support on different social forces, backed by different elements of the military-industrial-complex, and different networks of billionaires. They represent different strategic approaches of the ruling class as to how to best divide and suppress the working class at home, while pursuing imperialism’s interests abroad under conditions of deepening social crisis. For Greenwald, however, to appeal to the fascist wing to pardon Assange is not only deluded, but dangerous. This appeal occurs in a context where Trump is openly planning to steal the election and crush resistance on the street with military force!

However It is not too late for the Assange campaign, despite Julian’s dire situation. Julian himself has called from his prison cell for workers to organise themselves in his defence. In a letter from Belmarsh in late 2019 he wrote to a supporter

Dear Anne-Marie, You ask what you can do to fight for my freedom? Use your strongest skills, friends, resources and associations. If you are a nurse, gather nurses, create a bloc in the nurses union, etc! JPA

Julian Assange’s letter written on an envelope from Belmarsh Prison

Julian Assang’es letter written on an envelope from Belmarsh Prison

This reflects the fact that despite signs of some disorientation prior to his arrest in appealing to, and attempting to maneuver between different factions of the ruling class, Julian too has now turned politically to the working class.

This approach took a step forward with two recent developments. Firstly,  South Africa’s largest trade union federation (COSATU) issued a joint statement with the influential South African Communist Party (SACP) calling for an end to the US persecution of Assange..

COSATU is a Federation of over 30 unions, representing 1.6 million workers. Along with the Communist Party of South Africa which has over 200,000 members, they form the tripartite political alliance with the ANC that has dominated South African politics since the fall of Apartheid. The joint statement issued on September 15th stated:

“Assange has become a target because he did what journalists are supposed to do—expose the truth. The WikiLeaks publisher exposed the crimes that emerged out of wars launched based on lies, which have led to the deaths of more than one million people.

 We stand firm on the belief that it is the working class, the broad mass of the population, that must be mobilised to defend Julian Assange, and all class war prisoners. The demand for their freedom must be a rallying cry for the global working class. We therefore call on all workers and young people, and all those who uphold democratic rights, to come forward.” (The full joint statement is reproduced below the article.)  

Since the end of apartheid rule both the Communist Party (SACP) and COSATU  have worked tirelessly to suppress the growth of a revolutionary socialist movement in South Africa. The SACP is a Stalinist party that embraces the political perspective of the “two stage theory” of revolution. The “two stage” theory demands that the class interests and struggle of the workers must be subordinated to the so called “progressive” wing of the bourgeoisie, in this case the ANC. Rather than fight independently for the overturn of capitalist property relations, the workers movement is forced into the dead end of giving parliamentary support to the ruling bourgeois nationalist ANC, thus propping up South African capitalism and the domestic ruling class. The Stalinist “two stage” theory has led to repeated disasters in country after country in the 20th century.  From Spain and China to Indonesia and Chile, untold thousands of revolutionary workers and leftist militants have gone to their graves in the name of the Stalinist two-stage theory.

However, this political perspective does not change the significance of this development. Such a call-out is a crucial break in the chain of betrayal by all the reformist, social democratic organisations around the world. It is a statement made in the name of the political forces which help run a country of almost 60 million people. In contrast, the Australian union movement in Julian Assange’s home country has remained virtually silent as his extradition hearing kicks off again. One can hardly imagine such a statement coming from any of the political groupings associated with the Democrat Party in the US! It should be welcomed by the broader Assange campaign, but as yet it has received very little promotion within the campaign, and no news coverage outside it.

The statement also states  “COSATU and the SACP call for an all-out campaign in South Africa, and internationally to defend Assange, oppose his extradition to the US, and secure his freedom, with guarantees against any future prosecution”. Currently there is no evidence beyond publishing this statement that the unions and the Communist Party are working to activate their membership on this campaign in a concrete way. Time will time whether this statement is left cover for the bureaucracy or a genuine statement of intent to organise for Assange. Once again though, the issuing of the statement has objective significance for the Assange campaign and should be utilised in efforts to build on the campaign amongst workers not just in South Africa but globally.

Another development occurred in London when a newly formed London Bus Drivers Rank and File Safety Committee, initiated by the Socialist Equality Party of Britain, passed a motion condemning the state frame up and persecution of Assange

The motion read:

We call on all workers everywhere to come to Assange’s defence. At stake are basic democratic rights, including free speech and freedom of the press. The defence of Assange is the spearhead of the struggle against militarism and war abroad, and the mobilisation of the state against the working class at home

The SEP is a Trotskyist socialist party. Trotsky, co-leader with Lenin of the Russian Revolution fought for decades against the degeneration of the USSR under Stalin.

The safety committee is one of several rank and file safety committees initiated by the Socialist Equality Party, who publish the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS). The motion should be welcomed as a reflection of the deep well of support and internationalism that exists within the working class. However it is worth noting that has a principled difference with the SEP in regards to only organising with workers on Assange outside the structure of unions by insisting workers must “break” with the unions altogether and form new worker committees. We believe this severely limits the capacity of united front work with the best layers of workers still trapped under the control of the reactionary trade union leadership. By working only outside the unions, promising developments such as the safety committees motion, risks withering on the vine as other committee initiatives of the SEP have done over recent years. has long argued that only a campaign that did not appeal to any faction of the ruling class but sought instead to independently mobilise the international working class. This is the only social force capable of forcing a backdown by US imperialism in its obsessive campaign to crush Assange as part of its efforts to stop ordinary people from learning about its crimes.

The Assange campaign must once and for all step back from the cliff. No faction of the ruling class will save Julian, not the liberal/social democratic, or the fascist wing. The British ruling class and its kangaroo court do the bidding of the war mongers in Washington. The working class is the only international force with the social power to free Julian. It is the working class that has the most to lose, because at its heart the prosecution of Assange by the Trump administration is designed to prevent ordinary people from learning about, and therefore, being able to intervene politically to stop imperialism’s war crimes.

Statement from COSATU website

Statement on the

“Three socialists walk into a job interview….and other jokes they told

by Stephen James Kerr, 19th September 2020

In my first report on the subject of the attempt by three ‘socialists’ to hijack a capitalist political party – the Green Party of Canada – by intervening in its leadership race, I noted that these ‘socialists’ were really applying for a job, that of “policy wonks to the ruling class.”

I was roundly criticized for this, and other observations by those who are themselves waiting in the wings with their own job applications for lesser positions in the ‘independent’ capitalist state of the Green’s imagination. Unfortunately for them, their political idols were not done arguing for my case.

During the Green Party’s leadership debate on ‘Canada’s Place in the World’ the ‘socialist’ trio provided mountains of evidence that whatever ‘socialism’ they might profess is pasted on.

There they debated the appropriate ‘independent foreign policy positions’ for an aggressive imperialist capitalist state run by middle class idealists in conditions of encirclement by a much larger and even more aggressive imperialist, capitalist state whose institutions are collapsing. How would our middle class idealists cut a deal with capitalism which would enable their continued survival as middle class idealists?

If only they had been so clear. My task, gentle reader, is to clarify the muddy waters they stirred up so that you may see and avoid the sharp-toothed Canadian nationalists which are lurking just beneath the surface. Careful. They bite.

This was no debate. It was a job interview conducted over Zoom where every candidate – ‘socialists’ included, addressed themselves to the Canadian ruling class, with their impressive CVs clutched firmly to their breasts. Who would be the safest pair of hands to manage the ‘independent interests’ of the Canadian state, and thus of the capitalist ruling class whose state it is? Whose breast beat truest north, beat strongest, beat most free?

Our purpose here is not to name winners, but losers. Loser number one was the working class. To be fair, the working class was never notified, was not invited, didn’t participate, was never mentioned, not a single time in this debate featuring three ‘socialists.’ The independent class interests of workers are international in nature, and thus run directly contrary to the ‘independent interests of Canada.’

This was an exercise in political presto-changeo, on the part of the ‘socialists’ who conflated the interests of the Canadian state with those of the working class, a class without a country.

Bankrupt Canadian Nationalism

If the international working class had managed to get a word in, no doubt any one of the debaters would have rushed to smother it with a Canadian flag.

Andrew West

The political tone of the discussion was set by at the open by the leadership candidates on the political right. Ottawa lawyer Andrew West, and Annime Paul, a former government bureaucrat from Canada’s Ministry of Global Affairs. West: “The Green Party is in a position to show the world that we can take strong action on climate change. To do that, we need to get elected. Green Party must be a governing party, not an activist party. We need to care about the economy…” Correction – the capitalist economy, which he never mentions is the source of the climate change he claims to want to fix. No intervention seriously questioned this general line of political opportunism, in service to Canadian nationalism and Canadian capitalism. The Green Party is preparing itself to govern the Canadian capitalist state, in light of the ongoing collapse of the NDP.

The foreign policy debate was entirely structured around how to solve what has ever been the ‘big question’ for the Canadian capitalist ruling class. This question is a two-part question. For the big capitalists the question is always how to deal with the United States, the biggest export market for their capital. For this section of the ruling class, a dirty deal must be done which will pit American and Canadian workers against each other.

For the smaller capitalist operators, the dream has always been one of ‘independence.’ This assumes that the United States – the only country aside from Denmark and France with which we share a border – just wasn’t really there, sort of like Demark and France. [i] How to chart an ‘independent foreign policy’ is the pipe dream of the Canadian middle class, who see their own fortunes tied to such fantastic notions. They imagine Canada to be ‘oppressed’ by the United States. In reality, they resent their status as small-time operators. The historical record of their total failure in this enterprise never made it into the Green Party debate.

And so in the discussion of how a Green Party government would deal with either President Donald Trump or President Joe Biden, we are told by the non-binary ‘socialist’ Dr. Amita Kuttner: “There is a large difference between whether you have Donald Trump as leader or Joe Biden.” – a difference which they never explain… “We need to make sure we stop following their lead. We need to make sure we don’t continue to sponsor state sponsored violence or coups in other countries. We differentiate ourselves, or separate ourselves. Make sure we’re not economically tied. With Biden it’s going to be easier…”

This is the doctrine of Canadian left nationalism, frozen since the Waffle movement of the 1970s. It’s still inedible, no matter how much maple syrup they pour over it.

Cartoon about the The Waffle movement, a wing of the NDP,  in late 1960s/early 1970s that espoused nationalism and solidarity with Quebec’s sovereignty.

Who are ‘ourselves’? Who is the ‘we’ who is sponsoring coups in Venezuela? Which Canadians are behind the ‘state sponsored violence’ and which are not? Here Kuttner’s blind acceptance of Canadian nationalism renders her incapable of the most elementary socialist political conclusions.

The working class in Canada has nothing to do with, and no responsibility for, the sponsorship of coups in Venezuela. It is not responsible for Canadian imperialist foreign policy. This is the policy of the Canadian ruling class. Why doesn’t the ‘socialist’ Kuttner say so? To frame the question in nationalist terms is to equate the responsibility of workers and their ruling class, when workers have zero control over the policy of the Canadian state. And Kuttner wants us to imagine that somehow it will be different if only we vote for Kuttner, at the head of a capitalist party?

Further, let’s imagine what would happen if the Canadian ruling class decided to ‘differentiate itself’ and no be longer ‘economically tied’ to the United States, as Kuttner and others in the debate advocate. The economic relationship between Canada and the USA is the largest foreign trade relationship in the whole world. What socialist would want to destroy that economic relationship? Kuttner hasn’t even considered this position beyond the opportunistic utility of phrase mongering.

Dr Amita Kuttner

But let’s take Kuttner’s notions for a moment on their own terms. Where would the Canadian capitalist ruling class turn for an alternative trading partner, under Kuttner’s leadership? In their other pronouncements, Kutner, whose family is from Hong Kong, is all for confronting the second largest economy on earth, China. They also state: “We must be so clear on standing up to the expansionism and the imperialism that China is causing across the entire world right now.” Is this not also the policy of the United States, from whom ‘we’ also must ‘differentiate ourselves’? Here is an object lesson in how the pseudo-left lines itself up behind American imperialism.

And further, how is China ‘imperialist’? Is Kuttner even acquainted with Lenin’s definition of imperialism? “Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.” [ii] How much capital is China exporting? China is a net capital importer. It is the United States which is the world’s largest exporter of capital, and also the country with more than 1000 military bases in foreign countries. China has one. The largest exporter of capital to China is – the United States. And yet Kuttner wants to line up behind the United States (independently) to go after China? The mind reels.

As if attempting to provide more evidence for my argument, Kuttner continues: “I think we also need to stand up for everyone’s right to self-determination… Be ready to take on refugees from across China, but leave open all of our diplomatic channels so that we can even with the clarity of our stances, so we can work together on climate action” – so Kuttner stands ready to use the power of the Canadian imperialist capitalist state to break up China, presumably by supporting Tibetan and Uighur separatism, (though Kuttner doesn’t state this explicitly) create a massive Chinese refugee crisis, and also simultaneously ‘work together’ with China to stop climate change?

One wonders how a future Prime Minister Kutner would handle the US announcement of a massive new expansion of its navy fleet to confront China. Which contradictory ‘principle’ would they abide by? Steer an ‘independent course’ and not participate, or contribute Canadian warships? Kuttner’s appeal to human rights is the thinnest veil for Canadian imperialism. Perhaps before launching a crusade to liberate Tibet – independently of the USA of course – Kuttner might want to take a few deep breaths.

The biggest enemy confronting the Canadian working class is not China. It’s not an administration of either Donald Trump or Joe Biden. It’s not Russia, as Glen Murray avers. It is Canadian nationalism, and all of its manifestations. It is the Canadian ruling class. It is the role of socialists to mobilize workers against nationalism. These three wallow in it.

Meryem Haddad

Meryem Haddad, the Montreal immigration lawyer also frames her ‘socialism’ in exclusively nationalist and identity politics terms which would be amenable to Justin Trudeau. Witness her statements on a response to climate change: She declares that “the climate crisis is a continuation of colonial violence.”  Let’s unpack this statement. This type of moralizing against ‘settler colonialism’ has usurped any analysis of the role of capitalism in the Canadian discourse of the pseudo-left, framing contemporary problems in terms of racial conflict, between ‘white settlers’ and ‘First Nations’ not class conflict. We are asked to be morally appalled by ‘settler colonialism’ but not capitalism, by ‘socialists.’ Today’s workers are thus commanded to share an equal burden of guilt and moral responsibility for the very real crimes of colonial conquest along with capitalists and 19th century imperialists, the better to pave the way for moralizing middle class social climbers to ascend to positions of power – within the existing capitalist state. Never mind the fact that socialism is premised upon the conquest by the world working class of all of the accumulated capital and technique built up in all previous stages of historical development. By the low level of the debate, one imagines that neither Haddad, Kuttner or Lascaris have heard of this basic concept. They would rather workers feel guilty for those previous stages of development over which the working class had zero control. We are supposed to deeply regret the previous stages of development, wishing they had never occurred, never mind the fact that these provided the only material foundation upon which the working class could possibly build socialism! And of course there is the idealist longing on the part of many Greens for a return to pre-industrial conditions of life, which they mystify, absent all understanding of the extremely unequal social relationships which such relations of production must necessarily engender.

And so Haddad declares that “The people at the forefront of climate change are not the ones responsible for climate change.” And she’s right. But she only refers to indigenous peoples while implying that all ‘Canadians’ are culpable. Working people feature exactly nowhere in her statements.

This ‘socialist’ doesn’t mention the responsibility of corporate polluters, who are actually responsible for the majority of GHG emissions originating in Canada. 8% of emissions come from ‘leaks’ from the oil and gas industry, which is more than all the emissions from heating and powering the homes of the Canadian working class, which account only for 6%. 14.5% of emissions come from mining and oil and gas exploration. [iii] But she lumps workers and capitalists together – under the Canadian flag, when she declares next that “It’s countries like ours who are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses who are responsible. If we don’t act on climate change, there is going to be a sea of climate refugees and blood on our hands. Canada must take responsibility for its role in this crisis. We have the wealth, we have the technology and we have the means of production to phase out fossil fuels.”

Who exactly has ‘the means of production’? A curious choice of words for a ‘socialist’ who never once mentions the working class or its interests. Who exactly ‘has the wealth’? She doesn’t say. A curious omission for a ‘socialist’ in a country where 1% of the population owns 25 % of the total wealth, and the bottom 40% have only 1.5%. [iv] Canadian nationalism obscures these realities.

Uncritical Idealism vs Historical Materialism

Dimitri Lascaris is widely hailed as the most ‘socialist’ of all candidates for the GPC leadership. But his ‘socialism’ is framed by idealistic appeals to concepts such as ‘the rule of law’ – laws made by and for the ruling class. He is a very successful lawyer. The law pays his bills. But he errs when he imagines that lawyers can bring about ‘socialism’ from comfortable leather seats in national parliaments.

Dimitri Lascaris

Many of Lascaris’ stated policy goals are developments socialists would warmly welcome.

Lascaris: “I think that our foreign policy is a combination of extraordinary and frankly disgracefully deference to US government foreign policy, but also it is heavily influenced by the extractive sector…. We aren’t going to deal with the climate emergency without confronting the fact that the capitalist system is at the core of this crisis. And that means that we’re going to have to deal with corporate power, and with the billionaire class, we’re going to have to break up monopolistic organizations, we are going to have to put serious constraints on corporate power, and ensure that our regulators are independent and sufficiently resourced to hold them accountable, and we’re going to have to reform our legal system so that ultimately the Canadian government is not pursuing foreign policy which caters to the needs of big business while sacrificing the people and the planet.”

Nice speech. But how possible are such reforms as he imagines, under a capitalist system in serious crisis? In my previous article, I pointed out how capitalism in its current stage of development requires a higher rate of exploitation of labour power, not the lower one he promises, so we will not explore that question here. But what social force could bring Lascaris’ dreams into being? Lascaris never mentions the working class. But our collective agency is the ONLY force which could possibly bring about the changes he promises. And further, we could only do so on an internationalist basis.

Lascaris’ idealism is bound in national fetters. And so he gives the Canadian ruling class the quarter they require to maintain themselves. Instead of overthrowing capitalism – necessary if we’re to solve the climate crisis – he’d ‘deal with corporate power.’ How exactly? He’d only deal with ‘the billionaire class’ and not the multi-millionaire class? That would leave the capitalist ruling class – and thus the exploitation of the working class and the natural world completely untouched and in place, despite any ‘serious constraints on corporate power’ that one might imagine. Such constraints as he promises would inevitably be negotiated away as a blood sacrifice in the service of some parliamentary compromise or other.

Fortunately, we don’t have to do a thought experiment to consider what would be the likely results if Lascaris were to lead the Green Party, and further, if he were to come even close to power. We merely have to look to the failed Corbyn experiment in the UK.

Corbyn was elected leader of the Opposition by fostering illusions in social reform, but without the participation of the working class.  His ‘progressivism’ was always wrapped in the Union Jack, and organized around identity politics, and appeals to ‘decency’ across the class divide, and across the aisle of the House of Commons. These fell on predictably deaf ears. Yet the Stalinists at the Morning Star and the various pseudo-left liberal tendencies were agog. Now, they have a fist full of nothing, just as socialists predicted.

Corbyn’s politically bankrupt strategy could not advance a single one of its professed aims, and its spectacular defeat – via an internal party coup d’etat justified by completely fraudulent accusations of anti-semitism, pushed the entire spectrum of British politics, not to the left, but to the hard right.  Much can be made of Corbyn’s personal fecklessness and cowardice. But the root of the failure of Corbynism lies in its bankrupt, nationalist and reformist perspective – the same one shared by the Green Party’s ‘socialist’ fraction.

If one were in any doubt that a similar fate would befall Dimitri Lascaris, should he be elected leader, one only had to follow the heated discussion around the GPC’s party of sanctions on Israel, of which Lascaris is the author. He noted: “When Elizabeth May came back from the West Bank in 2018, she said that what Israel is doing is much worse than the Apartheid in South Africa. This is not a political judgement. Apartheid has a specific definition in international law. This is a legal judgement which must be based on international law. We are the only party today that calls for economic sanctions on Israel.”

This statement was followed by vehement denials from the right wing candidates that such was even the adopted policy, even though it in fact IS the policy, which 91% of GPC members supported. One is reminded of all of the fine sounding policies of the Labour Party which went up in flames under Corbyn. The failure of Lascaris’ policies can be predicted by the political idealism with which he describes them, and the nationalism which frames them. He declares that Israeli apartheid is ‘not political’ but rather a technical definition, based on law. As if the law were apolitical! As if the state and the law ‘stood above society.’ As if the United Nations, as if the International Criminal Court – to which he appeals, and which specializes in the criminal prosecution of the enemies of western states, were not the political tools of imperialism.

Socialists know that the state and the laws, and yes international laws are merely tools for the rule of one class by another. We are happy to use those laws to advance the cause of socialism, but with open eyes, and not based on what are ultimately moral appeals to the ruling class to ‘obey the law.’ The ‘rule of law’ has a class character, and has developed historically. What Lascaris fails to realize is that the rule of law is now a barrier to the further accumulation of capital for a growing section of the ruling class, and this is why it is being abandoned. Yet Lascaris wants to run a capitalist party?

The Squad – to which Lascaris appeals as political allies, cannot guarantee the rule of law. The only force capable of defending the rule of law is the organized international working class. And there is another aspect which is critical to the struggle for socialism. Laws are neither a political or moral absolute. One merely needs to point out how many such laws have had to be broken when injustice wore the mantle of the law. And that is where the struggle against Israeli apartheid is being waged – in the Occupied Territories by Palestinian resisters. Israeli Apartheid is perfectly legal – in Israel, and also in the United States, and pretty much every other capitalist state which accepts it. The question is therefore NOT one of legal technicalities, but of political power. It is Israel’s political power and its military violence which enforces its unjust laws. A countervailing power must be applied. This is exactly the opposite of what Lascaris avers. Power makes laws. Laws do not make power. Lawyers are merely power’s uppity stenographers.

Just once during the debate, Lascaris offered a faint hope that perhaps he might appeal to the working class. Such hopes were dashed immediately. After listing the many war crimes of Joe Biden and the Obama administration, and bemoaning the Trump administrations attack on the International Criminal Court, he states “At the same we have to realize that we have allies in the United States. People who want to see a humane foreign policy. People like Bernie Sanders, people like Alexandra Ocassio Cortez,  people like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib,  Senator Merkely, and we have to reach out to them and build alliances and make clear that the American people are not our enemies. The problem here is the US Government, which oppresses people in the United States just as it does in developing countries.” Yes it does. But what kind of ‘allies’ can Lascaris imagine, in the fight against US imperialism? Only the political enablers of Joe Biden. Not the working class. Further, he calls for an “alliance of non-belligerent countries.” His notions would contain the working class inside obsolete national borders.

Working Class Political Independence

After my initial critique, some of the easily impressed drew the erroneous inference that I was advocating that socialists should abstain from electoral campaigns, and this was a ‘Left Wing Communism / Infantile Disorder’ type affliction. Nothing could be further from the truth.  

Socialists welcome electoral political contests, but not for the reasons and not using the means and methods deployed by Kuttner, Haddad and Lascaris. Where these three use such a campaign to promote their CVs as policy wonks to the ruling class, socialists use electoral campaigns to build the class consciousness of the international working class.

A socialist election campaign would therefore look and sound completely different from the campaign of these three middle class radicals. Firstly, it would not be focused on a parlour coup inside a capitalist political party. Following on from that, it would be founded on a Marxist historical materialist analysis which raised the consciousness of the international working class of its own aims. It would be politically independent from all factions of the ruling class. One could refer to the campaign of Joseph Kishore and Norissa Santa Cruz in the United States for an example. It’s a campaign based upon socialist principles.

Unlike the campaigns of Lascaris, Haddad and Kuttner, a socialist campaign would not foster illusions in the reform of capitalist social relations – a lower rate of exploitation, a ‘nicer’ capitalism. All such illusions are just that, illusions. A socialist campaign might use very similar demands to those Lascaris suggests – cut military spending by 50% immediately – fund climate change mitigation! Stop Canadian interference in the Lima Group! for example. But it would use such demands not to foster illusions in the working class that they could be achieved under capitalism, by a reformist government, but precisely in the opposite way – to educate the workers that they can never be achieved on such a basis.
(Further reading: A. Badayev. The Bolsheviks in the Tsarist Duma)

Lascaris, Haddad and Kuttner need to confront the socialist tradition, and also the history of political bankruptcy in which they have chosen to stand. So far, no sign of that. In the meantime, socialists will continue to speak the uncomfortable truth.

[i] Canada shares a border with only three countries, the United States, Denmark via Canada’s border with Greenland, and France, which still owns the Islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Canada does not share a border with Russia, which is separated from Canada in the Arctic via international waters.




Support the Leon Trotsky House Museum Appeal

8th September 2020

An appeal for funds has been made by Leon Trotsky’s grandson, Estaban Volkov, to support the Leon Trotsky House Museum. The Museum requires urgent funds because it has been closed to the public since March because of measures taken to limit the spread of Cov-19.

A significant part of the museum’s income (from ticket sales, the cafeteria and the giftshop) has dried up, putting a large strain on its ability to remain open.

Esteban in an audio message stated:

Comrades and friends, warm greetings from the Museums general director, Esteban Volkov. We’re going through difficult times with Covid-19, and we need the support of all our comrades and friends, to preserve this valuable historical site where 80 years ago the great Marxist Lev Davidovich Bronstein was struck down in the revolutionary struggle. Luckily, many comrades continue to carry forward his valuable teachings and ideas, which are today more alive than ever.

The Leon Trotsky House Museum is a unique institution dedicated to preserving the legacy of the great Russian revolutionary in the house where he lived and worked, with his wife Natalia and his grandson Esteban until his assassination in 1940.

The appeal is being conducted through the International Marxist Tendency (IMT) who launched the “Support the Trotsky House Museum!” appeal on August 21st on their “In Defence of Marxism” website. A week later they published an update “Great Success for the Trotsky Museum Appeal” stating over seven thousand euro’s had been raised but more funds were needed to ensure the ongoing survival of the museum.

Both Stalinist and capitalist forces have been united in their desire to obliterate Leon Trotsky’s ideas and political legacy from the consciousness of the working class, through a combination of slander and omission for almost a century. This appeal is part of the ongoing efforts of Marxists to ensure that not only is Trotsky’s Museum House preserved but that the living struggle of Trotskyism is maintained. Trotskyism is indeed the Marxism of the 21st Century! is proud to do what we can to support this important appeal.

Donate to the appeal at the IMT website here.

The plot to take over the Green Party and other delusions of the Canadian middle class

By Stephen James Kerr , 5th September 2020

The campaign by a group of so-called ‘eco-socialists’ to take over the Green Party of Canada by nominating allegedly ‘socialist’ candidates to the party’s leadership race is a bankrupt exercise in middle class political delusion.

Three candidates are running for the leadership as ‘socialists’: Toronto class-action lawyer Dimitri Lascaris, Montreal law graduate Meryem Haddad and Dr. Amita Kuttner, an accomplished astrophysicist.

The campaign has captured the limited imaginations of those who accept that merely identifying oneself as a ‘socialist’ makes one a socialist. The affair poses in stark terms the political disorientation and bankrupt perspective of Canada’s pseudo-left.

The words ‘working class’ ‘socialism’ and ‘capitalism’ appear nowhere in Dr. Kuttner’s policy statement. Neither do they appear in the brief policy statement of Mereyem Haddad. Lascaris, refers to capitalism a couple of times in his more extensive platform papers. The term ‘class struggle’ appears exactly nowhere. In his ‘socialist’ economic platform, the word socialism is marked by its absence.

What does appear is a great deal of left-sounding rhetoric, couched in policy sound bites. But is it socialism? Lascaris’ ‘worker’s rights’ platform is revealing in that regard. Witness the following, frankly astonishing passage:

“We have come a long way from the wage slavery and subjection to employer whim of the early Industrial Revolution.  Today, we expect workers to have a shared relationship with management.  It is the combination of management and workers that will determine the success and sustainability of Canadian firms.”

Have we in fact come a ‘long way from wage slavery’? Today’s wage slaves slaving away for the super-profits of Amazon, Apple and many other firms would beg to differ! No, it’s no longer the wage slavery of the ‘early industrial revolution’ but rather the wage slavery of the twenty first century. What exactly is a ‘shared relationship’ between workers and management? It means nothing. Lascaris the ‘socialist’ is here openly advocating not socialism – a new society where the working class is the ruling class – but rather its opposite – a cease fire in the class struggle, for “the success and sustainability of Canadian firms.” How can a ‘socialist’ advocate a cross-class alliance between workers and management to boost capitalist profits and not be laughed off the stage? Lascaris’ effrontery is the measure of the political degeneration of the Canadian middle class. He can get away with it because his audience knows nothing better.

What is the Green Party of Canada?

What is the Green Party of Canada? What is its history? To understand the folly of the ‘eco-socialist’ coup attempt, a short history lesson is required.

The Green Party has never, since its founding in 1983, been a working-class political party. It was founded by a group of middle class intellectuals and business people who were either complete strangers to the socialist tradition, or in reaction against it. These elements, who still dominate the Green Party’s ideology, are more influenced by the idealist utopianism of E.F Schumacher than the historical materialism of Karl Marx. Former Green Party Elizabeth May first ran for the ‘Small Party’ inspired by Schumacher, who explicitly rejected Marxist economic thought in favour of a religious formulation based on his concept of an idealized ‘human nature’ which determined the forms of economic organization which should prevail. He looked backwards to small scale industry and craft production, essentially a reaction against industrialism and all of its socially progressive implications.

Schumacher’s concept of ‘Small is Beautiful’ is central to Green Party ideology, which although it nods to such vague terms as ‘social justice’ undertakes no serious critique of capitalism. It embraces capitalism instead.

The Green Party platform declares that “Canada needs to support entrepreneurs” and small business who are “hampered by red tape.” They call for a new “Green venture capital fund” and to “hold taxation at no more than 9 percent.” What socialist could say no?

At its most absurd, green ideology imagines small-scale economic ‘alternatives’ to industrial capitalism based on an idyll where the class struggle has been papered over. The history of the Green Party on its official page hints at the ideological roots of this fantasy:

“The modern green movement started in Canada and around the world in the 1960s when the counter-culture movement launched the first mass rejection of consumer culture. Five decades later, the 60s values of peace, love and understanding have become the founding Green Party values of non-violence, social justice and ecological thinking. While the end of the 60s saw the decline of many grassroots movements, their life-affirming values didn’t go away. In the ’70s, the green movement re-emerged in isolated, small-scale enterprises such as health food stores, women’s and environmental groups, renewable energy programs and organic farms.”  

Indeed, the 1960s saw a mass uprising by the working class all over the world. American workers rose up against the Vietnam War and against segregation. France, Portugal and other countries came close to socialist revolution, only to be betrayed by the nationalist policies of the Communist Parties and trade union bureaucracies. A brief overview of this history is beyond the scope of this article.

The defeat of these mass working class movements caused many in the middle class to reject socialist thought, which they falsely conflated with Stalinism and its betrayals. From this they drew reactionary political conclusions. In their eyes, the working class was not capable of changing society, and so they adopted a political position combining extreme cynicism and pessimism with various shades of idealism. Their cynicism they directed at workers. Their idealism they projected onto capital.

For the agency of the working class, they substituted various other agencies, of the oppressed, of various identity groups, of third world liberation movements. These could liberate themselves, for themselves, without the need for a socialist revolution, under capitalism. And some decided that it wasn’t even capitalism that was the problem with society at all, but rather decided to reject the industrial revolution itself. A simpler capitalism was what they sought. Not an end to exploitation, but exploitation at a lower rate. Not worker control of industry, but ‘partnerships’ between labour and management, leaving exploitation, and their source of income, safely intact. Not an end to injustice, but only as much injustice as they could stomach on a full stomach.

The Green Party arose precisely out of this rejection of socialist struggle, in favour of a retreat into personal issues, religiosity, hippie communes, and small business etc. Rather than struggle to overthrow capitalist social relations, the ‘counterculture’ and the green movement adapted themselves to those relations.

This combination of uncritical idealism and political opportunism is the source of every moralizing campaign to ‘Buy Local’ or ‘Shop Organic’ and has a definite class character.

Caught between the capitalists and the industrial working class, two classes who are at war with one another, the middle class imagines there is some alternative to class conflict, between capitalism and revolutionary socialism, one that will allow them to hold fast to their illusions in peace and quiet, and most importantly – maintain their privileged lifestyle. But it’s socialism, and Marxism which the Green Party and green ideology rejects most vehemently. It wants a small-scale capitalism where it can provide wise ‘policy solutions’ to the ruling class, and thus ascend to positions of influence within the bureaucracy and capitalist corporations. This is the limit of its ambitions. And they dare call it socialism!

Elizabeth May has stated many times that the Greens are ‘not a left-wing party.’ She is correct. It’s an establishment, capitalist political party based on its ideology and the class composition of its membership.

And yet somehow, a group of self-styled ‘eco-socialists’ – with zero political or organizational connection to the working class – believe that their palace coup within a capitalist political party, founded upon the rejection of socialism, can achieve ‘socialism’? One doesn’t know where to begin.

The true role of “The Justice Greens

The coup plotters call themselves ‘The Justice Greens’ modelled after a similar caucus – the ‘Justice Democrats’ within the US Democratic Party, which is the world’s oldest capitalist political party. This group includes Alexandra Ocassio Cortez, (The political role of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ) who passes herself off as a socialist with some success, largely because both the media and the public have been led to believe that ‘socialism’ means merely the adoption of a few progressive, social reforms by otherwise capitalist governments. Never mind the fact that such reforms as she promises are themselves a hopeless fraud.

The net effect of this political card trick is to keep the working class dragooned behind a capitalist political party, lured by empty promises that cannot possibly be kept. This was the effect of the totally fraudulent Bernie Sanders phenomenon, which only served to shepherd workers behind Biden and Hillary Clinton, both avowed enemies of socialism.

And indeed, the role of ‘policy wonks to the ruling class’ seems to be exactly the job for which the Justice Greens are applying – they come to manage workers, not to lead them.

In an interview in The Canada Files , Justice Green leader John Connor Kelly stated that “their long term objective of bringing in an eco-socialist leader is to create sustainable policies and provide ecological justice for communities of colour, Indigenous and low-income communities.” Kelly also noted that “All these issues have the same root cause which is the economic system that we live in.” Indeed they do. Yet an analysis of that economic system – capitalism – in its present development exposes the delusional notion that a Green Party or any other capitalist party could enact such reforms as the Justice Greens imagine.

The capitalist system is based on the exploitation of wage labour by capital. As the only thing the worker has to sell in the market is his labour power, he sells this power as a commodity to the capitalist. Labour power is a commodity with a special character. In its consumption by the capitalist, new value is created, surplus value, which the capitalist appropriates as profits. Thus the labour of the working class is the source of all economic value, and of all capitalist profits. The special position of the working class in capitalist production is also the source of its immense social power, when it comes into conscious political activity. This is why socialists address themselves to the working class – because theirs is the only social agency on the planet powerful enough to bring about socialism, by collective action. Yet the Green ‘socialists’ nowhere address themselves to the working class, nor do the terms ‘working class’ or even ‘class’ appear in their campaign literature! They imagine ‘socialism’ to be their vague policy ideas, which they offer meekly to the capitalist ruling class as friendly advice.  

Nowhere do they mention the immense crisis of capitalism under way at present. Nowhere do they address the crisis faced by the working class in the face of the ruling class response to the COVID19 pandemic – the back to work campaign and the campaign to force working class children into unsafe schools. Nowhere do they denounce imperialist war for what it is – the bloody child of nationalism and capitalism. Nowhere can one find an analysis or perspective document of any seriousness, only vague policy sound bites, floating above the maelstrom of current events as if in a dream.

Nowhere do the Green ‘socialists’ ask ‘Where will tomorrow’s capitalist profits come from?’ when they conjure their vague, imaginary reformist fantasies of happy life in some indefinite future powered by small business.

The financialization of the economy on central bank credit has grave implications for the working class under capitalism. Today’s sky-high stock valuations are a claim on the labour power of future generations of workers. Today’s trillions of dollars of speculative stock bets will be extracted from the working class by the hyper-exploitation of their labour, decades into the future. This is one reason why the bets are being waged in the first place. The only way these can be paid is by increasing the level of capitalist exploitation. If capital will be busy extracting super-profits from workers into the indefinite future to pay for today’s speculative binge, how will capital simultaneously create the happy valley imagined by the Green ‘socialists’? They haven’t imagined the question, let alone the answer.

We have reached a point where working people are now having to defend social and economic gains won 100 years previously. Global capitalism is not interested in the ‘progressive reforms’ touted by the Green ‘socialists.’ It is busy arming right wing militias and far right political parties in the USA, in Germany, in Mexico, Chile, in Spain and Greece, in the Philippines, Brazil, Ukraine, Hungary, Sweden etc. The ruling class is turning not towards the next Bernie Sanders, but towards the next Augusto Pinochet. Who exactly do the Green policy wonks to the ruling class hope to advise?

This begs the question of the true political role of this group. The ‘Justice Greens’ are not an isolated phenomenon. They replicate, belatedly, a pattern of middle class political development that has been already played out, in Greece with the SYRIZA government, in Spain with PODEMOS, and in the UK during the Jeremy Corbyn experiment. The result each time has been a record of complete betrayal of all of their fine sounding promises. SYRIZA came to power based on promises to reject the austerity demanded by the EU. They spent their time in power implementing an even more brutal austerity regime than the one they were elected to reject. The result was mass demoralization and the growth of fascist influence in Greece. PODEMOS was launched on the back of the 2011 mass demonstrations, and is now a partner in the coalition government of Spain with the PSOE. It has rejected all of its early ideas, and now poses as a ‘safe pair of hands’ to manage Spanish capitalism, and repress Catalan nationalism. The political retreat of PODEMOS has coincided with the advance of the openly fascist VOX party. Likewise in Britain, the refusal of Corbyn to fight for his espoused principles in the face of attacks from the right led directly to the election of the most right wing government in British history under Boris Johnson, thanks to the confusion and demoralization engendered by his political capitulation.

The true role of the Green Party, and of the Justice Greens, whether they know it or not, is the containment of working-class political aspirations behind the façade of a capitalist political party, deferring those into the indefinite future, and the opening up of a political space, not to the left, but to the right, using the lever of empty promises and the disillusionment these ultimately create once betrayed.

The Greens cannot seriously imagine that the capitalist ruling class will take them or their reform ideas seriously.

The danger is that the working class will.  

It is only through and open and robust discussion scientific socialism, ie Marxism has developed. would like to play its role in developing such a culture again. We are attempting to foster debate by publishing articles that may not fully align with the position of our editorial collective.

A Marxist History of Police, Part II. – Experimenting on the Irish

By Stephen James Kerr

Today we are publishing the second part in a series “A Marxist History of the Police” dealing with experiments towards a police force in Ireland by Sir Robert Peel, up to the infamous Peterloo Massacre in 1819.

Part 1: Repression in the face of revolution, examined how the birth of the industrial working class and the tumult of the bourgeois revolutions drove the need for new forms of repression.

England in 1800: Poverty and crime but no police

The first notable history of police is called A History of the Police in England, and was penned in 1901 by William Lauriston Melville Lee, who would later go on to head up British spying operations against socialists under PMS2, Parliamentary Military Section 2 in WWI. This group was later absorbed into MI5. Lee would also later publish a periodical entitled ‘Industrial Peace’ which was in fact a black list circulated amongst factory owners, smearing suspected communists and labour organizers.

Melville Lee writes that in 1801 England, “the proportion of thieves and delinquents to other honest individuals must have been alarmingly high.” (196). Lee notes that between 1801 and 1811 the percentage of apprehensions rose 50%, while the population only increased by 16% in the same period.

“Night after night, undisturbed by watchmen or other peace officers, hundreds of urchins huddled together for shelter and company under the barrows and fruit stalls of Covent Garden Market. Day after day, these homeless and unhealthy vagabonds quartered the town street by street, alley by alley, in search of any prey they might be able to lay their hands on. Their pickings and stealings were turned into money with ease at the shop of any one of the six thousand receivers of stolen property…” [i]

Britain in 1800 was in the midst of enormous upheaval, mainly due to its wars with Revolutionary and then Napoleonic France. The spectre of invasion by an external enemy helped rally working people behind the British ruling class. At the same time however, the war wreaked economic devastation and many men were forced into enlistment as the only alternative to starvation. The British government enacted higher taxes to pay for the enormous costs of war, which placed a further burden upon the people.

The Plumb-pudding in danger , James Gillray, 1805, Pitt and Napoleon dividing the world between them

Lee hints at the resulting loss of state authority among the poorest. “John Sayer, the Bow Street officer stated before a Parliamentary Committee, that there were streets in Westminster, especially Duck Lane, Gravel Lane, and Cook Lane, infested by a gang of desperate men, and so dangerous that no policeman dared venture there, unless accompanied by five or six of his comrades, for fear of being cut to pieces.”.

Lee admits that despite a desire to check “the savage tendencies of the people” “offences against property were even more numerous than crimes of violence.” Sixteen robberies in the rich borough of Kensington in six weeks. Counterfeit banknotes distributed. Coachmen conspiring to “rob the traveling public.” The economic crisis of the Napoleonic Wars drove the desperate towards theft, and also towards a new political consciousness.

But though the Bow Street Runners were tasked with prosecuting theft, there was no police force to deal with social unrest. “Before 1830 there were only two methods of dealing with a riotous mob, the first was to leave it severely alone, the second was to allow a regiment of cavalry to trample it into submission.”

Keeping the Indians and Irish down: Imperialist experiments in policing

If the British ruling class was still squeamish about the threat of an organized police force to ‘English liberties’ at home, it felt no such inhibitions for the liberties of the Irish or the Indians.

In 1793, Lord Cornwallis abolished the system of local police forces in Bengal under the control of the local magistrate, and staffed by European officers. This greatly facilitated the main purpose of the British in India, which was the bleeding out of India of all of its wealth for export to Great Britain. 89% of the revenue from land taxes administered by local land lords called ‘Zamindars’ was appropriated by the British. British police and legal reforms were key to securing this revenue.

However, police experiments in Ireland were more crucial to establishing the police in England. Writing in 1885, F.W. Maitland, one of the first Police Commissioners, admits that “A full history of the New Police would probably lay its first scene in Ireland, and begin with the Dublin Police Act passed by the Irish Parliament in 1786.” This act was modeled on Pitt’s rejected 1785 police bill in the British Parliament.

The Irish were not immune to ‘the French disease.’ The formation of the United Irishmen in 1792 was inspired by the Revolution in France, and sought parliamentary reform as well as the “abolition of bigotry in religion and politics.”

Wolfe Tone was one of the founding members of the United Irishmen, and leader of the 1798 Irish Rebellion. He was captured and sentenced to death.. This is one of the inscribed flagstones on the steps leading to his grave.

Protestant versus Catholics: the divide and rule strategy

Where in England the ruling class had responded to the growth of corresponding societies by establishing their own vigilante group, the ruling Irish Protestant landowners responded by regularizing the Orange Order, which organized repression of Catholics by Protestants, further establishing British authority on a sectarian basis.

The failed Irish rebellion of 1798 resulted in particularly barbaric reprisals by the British military, including house burnings, widespread torture and rape, the burning alive of rebel suspects and targeted murders. One torture method involved the pouring of hot tar on the head of the insurgent, and then its removal, along with the skin.

The British Parliament also attacked Irish independence by dissolving the Irish House of Commons at Dublin and merging Irish “representation” with the Westminster Parliament in London through the Act of Union of 1800.

Lord Peel, who would later go on to establish the London Metropolitan Police, became Irish secretary in 1812, and devoted himself to maintaining the Act of Union and the repression of the Irish peasantry. By the time the young politician had finished with Ireland he was ready for the British Cabinet.

In 1813 Peel brought in the Irish Fire Arms bill, which prevented “improper persons” (the Catholic peasant majority) from owning guns. “The object of the Bill was to preserve the peace by means of the civil power, without recourse to the military” according to Peel. [ii] This would become a central rationale for professional police forces in England.

The bill was ostensibly a response to an upsurge of attacks by armed Catholics in Limerick and Waterford on local protestant authorities, in which Catholic militants had been freed from the gaol by the Irish people.

But despite Peel’s pretense to the “firm determination to conciliate all parties”, Catholic and Protestant in Ireland, he remained partial to the cause of the Orange Order, a semi-legal association led by the exclusively Protestant “nobility” of Ireland, and based in the Scots and English imported small holders who were settled in Ireland. [iii] The Order drew on the wealth of the gentry to fund its operations, which made the organization financially independent without having to solicit membership dues. Yet Peel firmly opposed the Catholic defense associations which relied upon small subscriptions from poor peasant households to fund opposition to British rule.

The oppressive characteristics of this rule merit some comment.

Ireland was a peasant society and economy, with agriculture being the basis of nearly all wealth creation. There were some industrial towns around Belfast in the north. But a tiny minority owned all of the land, and much production was exported, leaving an impoverished subsistence economy for the majority whose labour produced the wealth that enriched the tiny landowning class. This tiny minority were in the main protestant imports from England and Scotland, with a select few ennobled.

An eviction in the West of Ireland

These not only monopolized political life – Irish Catholics could not sit in the House of Commons – but also and most importantly Ireland’s economic life. The landlord extracted rent from the tenant farmer, and also tithes, payments from Catholics to the Protestant Church of England. Extractive rents and tithes to an “heretical” church were deeply offensive, and local disputes between landlords holding tens of thousands of acres, and peasants who paid to rent a half acre “potato garden” were the occasions of armed resistance by militant Catholic associations, who threatened to become engaged in larger, nationalist and revolutionary struggles. These disturbances threatened the stability of “civil order”, in reality a state of surrender to conditions designed to secure the flow of rent to the landlord class, and then back to England.

Robert Peel’s 1814 ‘Peace Preservation Act’: The specialisation of labor of repression

In 1814 Peel campaigned for a radical means to maintain state control in Ireland: an organized state police force, deployed throughout the country. The Hansard record of his apologia reads that “many parts of Ireland were in a disturbed state, excesses had been committed, and disaffection prevailed, which it was known that the ordinary powers of the law were insufficient to repress.”

Many of Peel’s Whig opponents in Parliament accused him of exaggerating the state of political unrest in Ireland in order to create these new powers.[iv] The Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool described Peel’s measures as “not English” referring to the well-established systems of organized police repression in Continental Europe. [v] But Peel won the day.

The main object of Peel’s bill was to establish the germ of a professional and permanent police force in Ireland, to repress agrarian disturbances, and also “political combinations” which “had for their object the overthrow of the government and the separation of Ireland from Great Britain.”

Peel was careful to note the class character of this nationalist movement, from the haughty perspective of his own class. “These combinations consist of idle, infatuated people, with little education…” he declared. Peel then entered the evidence that some of the leaders of the Irish resistance had sworn oaths to assist Napoleon should French forces land in Ireland. The attempt was prevented only by bad weather.

Peel also noted the intense solidarity of the Irish with each other. There was a “romantic sentiment” in the country which made the “name and character of an informer odious and was almost sufficient of itself to close the ordinary sources from whence information could be derived.”

“He proposed a Bill, which would give the Lord Lieutenant a power, when disturbances existed in any county, to proclaim that district to be in a disturbed state, to appoint a superintending magistrate with a salary, and special constables, with salaries.” These special constables would “keep watch and ward in the disturbed district.” These constables did not have special powers, and were responsible to and removable by the government, in theory. [vi]  In practice they could do whatever they liked, to whomever they liked, and they did.

This professionalization of the old “ward and watch”, which had previously drawn on local amateurs in their spare time, represented a technical advance, according to Peel. “Their minds being wholly turned towards one employment, they became more skilled in the mode of detecting and apprehending offenders.” In this, Peel was applying to the problem of policing the specialization of labour arising out of British industrialism. Peel himself was a wealthy owner of cotton mills in northern England.

Thus the specialization of labour deployed to enforce work discipline and extract profits in the Peel family cotton mills was now to be employed in the repression of organized political opposition to the state in a restive colony.

Peel also emphasized that removing the responsibility of self-policing from the local authorities would give the government the means to break through local solidarity; “they (the police) would have no local allurements to sway their judgment” he observed.

But Peel’s initial measures only radicalized the Irish poor. One month later, Peel declared that “in those parts of Ireland where the laws had been administered with the greatest severity, and where the greatest number of convictions had taken place, the terror arising from these convictions had scarcely survived the cause, when new combinations of a more extensive and dangerous character had given birth, and these combinations were carried on with a degree of secrecy which defied the operation of the law.” In plain language, Irish resistance was implacable, and new repression sparked fresh resistance. Peel requested that power be given to local Irish magistrates to sentence agitators to Transportation to forced labour in the British colonies, and to reinstitute the Insurrection Act.

Peel then criminalized the Catholic Associations which organized peasant resistance. It was a pattern Peel would repeat in England: exploit and oppress the poor, and declare their resistance to repression to be “illegal.”

England 1815-17: Years of hunger, rebellion and repression.

While Peel was busy reducing Ireland, conditions in England were worsening. Demobilized soldiers who had defeated Napoleon and assisted the British Empire in making Europe safe for the landed gentry were abandoned to their fate by the English government of the day. These impoverished men swelled the ranks of the indigent poor, and many could be found begging in the city streets.

In 1815 the British government passed the Corn Law, which protected British agriculture from cheap foreign imported grain. On the day the Law was passed, armed troops had to circle parliament to keep out a massive demonstration of enraged eaters.

Bread riot at the entrance to the House of Commons in 1815 as a result of the Corn Laws.

The Corn Laws kept the cost of subsistence high for the English poor, while guaranteeing fat profits for British landlords. The next year, 1816 was called “the year without a summer” due to the volcanic explosion of Mount Tabora in Indonesia (though the cause of the poor weather was not known in Europe at that time). The presence of volcanic dust in the atmosphere caused alternating frosts and heat waves in Europe during the summer of that year, resulting in crop failure and widespread famine. Worker’s wages had collapsed. People were starving.

The economic conditions combined with widespread hunger led people to rebel. On November 15, and then again on December 2nd, and 9th 1816 mass meetings of impoverished workers were held at Spa Fields just outside of London. These were some of the first open air mass meetings of working people in British history, and mark the birth of the labour movement.

The meetings were organized by “Spenceans” – the followers of the then recently deceased English Radical Thomas Spence, who had campaigned for the abolition of the landed gentry, the public ownership of all land, universal suffrage for both men and women, a guaranteed material standard of living, and for the rights of children since the 1770s. These mass meetings have become known to history as the Spa Fields riots as they were violently suppressed by the British military and what police forces existed at the time. The Riots also curiously played out some of the general features to be found at many modern demonstrations.

Caricature by George Cruikshank. The tricolor ribbon is inscribed “No God! No Religion! No King! No Constitution!” Below the ribbon, and its Phrygian cap with tricolor cockade, are two bloody axes, attached to a guillotine, whose blade is suspended above a burning globe. An emaciated man and drunken woman dressed in ragged clothes serve as heraldic “supporters”, gleefully dancing on discarded royal and clerical regalia…

The radical movement at the time was very poorly organized, and also infiltrated by police spies from the Home Office. The demonstrations were instigated by a radical faction, the Spenceans, but the more moderate reform leaders such as Henry Hunt were invited to speak. On December 2nd, radicalized sections of the demonstration broke away on various direct actions which failed due to their folly, lack of organization, leadership, coherent strategy, tactics and numbers. These included the raiding of various gunshops, an attempt to liberate inmates from one of London’s prisons, and an abortive attack on the Tower of London.

Some of these direct actions were originated by the spontaneous leadership of anonymous members of the London crowd. While these actions were taking place, the majority of the massive crowd remained at Spa Fields, listened to Henry Hunt’s moderate speech, after which they peacefully went home while the police repression of the incited crowd continued.

The jury at the treason trial of James Watson, one of the radical leaders of the meetings, found that the government had employed agents provocateurs, including the principal witness for the prosecution, and resulted in the acquittal of the accused. [vii]The revelation that the government was using paid agents to incite violence which it could then repress totally scandalized all of Britain. People simply could not imagine it, though the use of paid informants and provocateurs had long been a common, though heretofore hidden practice of the English government.

The public mood became increasingly revolutionary. The Prince Regent’s (later George IV) coach was attacked by rebellious workers on January 28th 1817, in an incident reminiscent of the attack on his father’s carriage in 1795.

The British government responded in exactly the same way as Pitt’s government had, by suspending Habeas Corpus on Feb 24, 1817, and by passing a new Treason Act, which declared that even to “imagine” the destruction of the existing political order was an act of Treason. This gave the government near unlimited power to repress the workers. [viii] 

The repressive measures only generated more resistance, to which the government responded with ever more repressive measures. Thompson notes that whereas Pitt’s repression in 1795 could be accepted by most Britons as a defense against continental style despotism, the repression of Regency London in 1817 was widely resented as the epitome of continental style despotism.

The rise of the industrial working class: a slumbering giant awakes

How did the same repressive measures of 1795 and 1817 meet such opposite reactions? What accounts for the total transformation in the attitude of the British public over the course of 22 years? The rapid growth and emergence as a distinct class, of the industrial working class over the same period.

Engels gives an account of it in his introduction to ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England.’ Of the condition of the pre-industrial craftsperson in England, Engels writes:

“Before the introduction of machinery, the spinning and weaving of raw materials was carried on in the workingman’s home. Wife and daughter spun the yarn that the father wove or that they sold, if he did not work it up himself. These weaver families lived in the country in the neighbourhood of the towns, and could get on fairly well with their wages, because the home market was almost the only one and the crushing power of competition that came later, with the conquest of foreign markets and the extension of trade, did not yet press upon wages. There was, further, a constant increase in the demand for the home market, keeping pace with the slow increase in population and employing all the workers; and there was also the impossibility of vigorous competition of the workers among themselves, consequent upon the rural dispersion of their homes. So it was that the weaver was usually in a position to lay by something, and rent a little piece of land, that he cultivated in his leisure hours, of which he had as many as he chose to take, since he could weave whenever and as long as he pleased. True, he was a bad farmer and managed his land inefficiently, often obtaining but poor crops; nevertheless, he was no proletarian, he had a stake in the country, he was permanently settled, and stood one step higher in society than the English workman of today.” [ix]

A working family who ‘had a stake in the country’ being ‘permanently settled’ could have imagined that their interests indeed did lie with ‘Church and King.’ And indeed in 1795 they mostly did.

“In short, the English industrial workers of those days lived and thought after the fashion still to be found here and there in Germany, in retirement and seclusion, without mental activity and without violent fluctuations in their position in life. They could rarely read and far more rarely write; went regularly to church, never talked politics, never conspired, never thought, delighted in physical exercises, listened with inherited reverence when the Bible was read, and were, in their unquestioning humility, exceedingly well-disposed towards the “superior” classes.” [x]

But the growth of the factory system created a massive class of workers who were permanently unsettled, who had no stake in ANY country, and certainly no stake in the ‘mixed constitution.’ The violent dislocation and displacement of craft workers, weavers, dyers, ceramics workers, etc resulted in a massive transformation in the consciousness of these layers. They awoke from the slumber in which they had long gestated.

“The industrial revolution has simply carried this out to its logical end by making the workers machines pure and simple, taking from them the last trace of independent activity, and so forcing them to think and demand a position worthy of men. As in France politics, so in England manufacture and the movement of civil society in general drew into the whirl of history the last classes which had remained sunk in apathetic indifference to the universal interests of mankind.” [xi]

The Peterloo Massacre: the limits of military violence

Displaced by the growing industrialization of their trade, starving cottage weavers in Lancashire and the North protested their conditions and the suspension of Habeas Corpus with the Blanket March. On March 10th 1817 as many as 20,000 spinners and weavers gathered at St. Peter’s fields at Manchester, hoping to march to London to present a petition for redress of grievances to the Prince Regent. Each marcher carried a homespun blanket, and was organized into a group of ten, which technically skirted then existing laws against illegal mass assemblies. But the marchers were broken up by the British military and 28 leaders arrested. Several were wounded by the swords of the King’s Dragoon Guards.

On August 16th, 1819 another political demonstration at St. Peter’s Field would be even more violently repressed, and mark a critical turning point. Alarmed by the increasing size of the crowd of protesting workers, the 15th Hussar brigade cut down 18 people, and wounded more than 500 others with swords. The demonstration had been led by women, with the prettiest girls in the community deliberately chosen to stand out in front as a deterrence to violent repression. Many carried banners inscribed with the demands “Reform. Universal Suffrage. Equal Representation”, and even simply, “Love.” Many were topped with the red ‘cap of liberty’ a symbol of the French Revolution, and of plebeian liberty since ancient Rome.  

The demonstration was repressed in the ‘traditional way.’ Six hundred Hussars, four hundred men of the Cheshire Cavalry, and an equal number of special constables attacked the crowd. The local Yeomanry, organized out of the wealthy shopkeepers and factory owners of the area, went about arresting the leaders.

Samuel Bamford was present, arrested after the massacre and imprisoned for one year. He wrote,

“On the cavalry drawing up they were received with a shout of goodwill, as I understood it. They shouted again, waving their sabres over their heads; and then, slackening rein, and striking spur into their steeds, they dashed forward and began cutting the people…”

“Stand fast,” I said, “they are riding upon us; stand fast”.

The cavalry were in confusion: they evidently could not, with all the weight of man and horse, penetrate that compact mass of human beings and their sabres were plied to hew a way through naked held-up hands and defenceless heads; and then chopped limbs and wound-gaping skulls were seen; and groans and cries were mingled with the din of that horrid confusion.”  [xii]

The Peterloo Massacre: ‘A print from Social England, edited by HD Traill and JS Mann, volume VI. , 1904.

The general revulsion at the repression turned public opinion decidedly against using the military and yeomanry to repress demonstrations.

This atrocity, memorialized as the “Peterloo Massacre” demonstrated to the British working class that the government was willing to kill them to maintain its control and the unequal distribution of power and wealth, and to the Government that additional and more subtle means of control were required to maintain that unequal distribution.  Peterloo is a crucial turning point in the struggle of the working class for the vote, and equally in the development of police repression.

As Lee notes, “The alarming frequency by which mobs appealed to violence to compel attention to their grievances, real or supposed, by force of arms, was one of the most dangerous symptoms of the age… Unless something better than the shoddy defence, which was all that the civil power could then muster, was quickly forthcoming, the mob would soon obtain a complete mastery, for the destruction of all law and order, just as had recently happened in France.” [xiii]

[i] Melville Lee, William Lauristen. A History of the Police in England. Page 197

[ii]  Op. cit. pg 22

[iii] Op. cit pg 24

[iv]  Op. Cit. pg 37

[v] Broeker, Galen. Rural Disorder and Police Reform in Ireland, 1810-1836 pg. 60

[vi] Op. Cit. pgs 28.29

[vii] Gurney, William Brodie, The Trial Of James Watson For High Treaso’At The Bar Of The Court Of King’s Bench On Monday 9th June to Monday 16th June 1817 (London, 1817) Vol. II, pp. 258–275

[viii]  See Treason Act, 1817. (repealed)

[ix] Engels, Op. Cit. Introduction.

[x] Op. Cit.

[xi] Op. Cit.


[xiii] Op Cit. page 101, Google Books edition, 2019

It is only through and open and robust discussion scientific socialism, ie Marxism has developed. would like to play its role in developing such a culture again. We are attempting to foster debate by publishing articles that may not fully align with the position of our editorial collective.

Support the August 20th meeting for Victorian teachers! Schools must be safe workplaces during the covid pandemic!

In an important development, a group of teachers in Melbourne, Australia, organising out of the MESJ (Melbourne Educators for Social and Environmental Justice) Facebook page, have begun organising online, cross sub-branch meetings. These meetings are to allow Australian Education Union(AEU) sub-branches to organise at a rank and file level to fight for safe working conditions during the covid pandemic. The first meeting was attended by over fifty teachers from nine different sub-branches from government schools. This fight has become necessary in the face of the Andrews Labor Government’s disregard for teachers’ safety by keeping schools open for senior students during Term 3, even as cases skyrocketed; and by the AEU’s complete capitulation to the government’s callous agenda. The next meeting is planned for August 20th at 4PM.

As part of its determination to keep the economy fully open, the Andrews government insisted that in Term 3 schools be open for senior students, children of “essential workers”, and schools for children with disabilities . Yet, when Term 3 started on July 27th, there were already over 200 cases a day being reported. This resulted in over seventy schools being closed temporarily, and a school in Northern Melbourne becoming one of the largest clusters in the state in the period leading up to the announcement of Stage 4 restrictions on August 2nd, which finally saw all schools return to remote learning within the Melbourne metropolitan area. Currently teachers at regional state special schools are still working on site despite growing case numbers in some regional centres and without any provision for pandemic leave when getting tested.

The AEU’s role in this was scandalous. As late as July 31st, at a Victorian State Council meeting, AEU officials argued against a motion demanding a return to remote learning for all students on the basis that many members opposed this measure and wanted instead “flexibility”. The motion moved by MESJ associated councillors was defeated. Even the Australian Principal Association had demanded during the previous week , a return to remote learning in Melbourne.

August 20th MESJ cross-sub- branch meeting

The proposed agenda for the upcoming meeting on August 20th is as follows:

1. Remote teaching conditions – how are things going now and what do we need?

2. Assessment, reporting and VCE – what alternatives would be preferable to business as usual?

3. Return to on-site teaching conditions – when would this be safe and what should it look like?

4. Next steps – how can we stay connected and make sure our needs are met?

Details on the meeting and how to join can be found on the MESJ Facebook group.

This initiative of the MESJ to organise cross sub-branch meetings must be supported by the broadest section of AEU members as possible across as many schools as possible. The initiative of the MESJ for cross sub-branch meetings should be replicated in other Australian states, particularly in NSW where community transition is still significant. Consideration should also be given on how to include non-unionised layers of teachers into this struggle.

This is an international struggle

This must be seen as part of the broader struggles internationally against the drive to force teachers back into the classroom whilst this pandemic rages. Tens of thousands of teachers in the US are currently fighting against the bipartisan Democrat and Republican drive to reopen the schools. Devastating stories of teachers, and even students, being asked to sign legal waivers if they get sick and die, are emerging from the US. Similar struggles are occurring in Germany and elsewhere. The capitalist ruling class is determined to open schools— not as they claim for the “benefit of students”, but because schools are needed to function as child minding centers for workers as part of the drive to reopen economies to protect the profits of the rich. Teachers care about their students and their futures, but education can’t be run in-person if it means both students and teachers are dying. This is why remote learning must be continued until the ruling class takes the actions necessary to get the Corona virus pandemic under control. Teachers, as workers, have the right to organize. They alone must decide when it is safe to return to the classroom.

Other workers internationally, from distribution, mining, and construction, to healthcare settings, manufacturing and others, all face the same pressures to return to work under unsafe conditions. Links must be made between all these struggles, and they are starting to be made. This week on Twitter the #GeneralStrike was trending in recognition of this commonality of struggle.


Support the MESJ’s initiative, join the cross sub-branch meeting on August 20th if you are a teacher and please spread amongst your networks!

Please note: has no affiliation with MESJ

It is only through and open and robust discussion scientific socialism, ie Marxism has developed. would like to play its role in developing such a culture again. We are attempting to foster debate by publishing articles that may not fully align with the position of our editorial collective.

Paul Howes: a tale of class betrayal

Listening to the ABC local radio recently, my ears were pricked by a news report announcing the appointment of Paul Howes to the Morrison Government’s economic panel supposedly dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Australian economy, the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission. Once again, everything I knew about this man allowed me to understand in greater detail the relationship between unions in Australia, corporations, government and US imperialism.

Howes first made headlines in Australia in 2010. His name came up, in files published by WikiLeaks (which has an unimpeachable record when it comes to reporting the truth) as having been a participant in the removal of the Labor Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. Howes, at the time, was the leader of the Australian Workers Union, which covered millions of workers in many industries around the country. Howes was revealed in the WikiLeaks files as having been informing the American embassy in Canberra of affairs internal to the Australian Labor Party. Specifically, he was informing America of the removal of an elected Prime Minister and his replacement by Julia Gillard.

Excerpt from US Embassy cable from June 13th 2008 published by Wikileaks in 2010 where Howes discusses Julia Gillard . Note: (Protect) means Howes identity as source was to be kept secret.

In other words, Howes was an American spy that was operating inside the trade union movement and conspiring with a foreign imperialist power to remove the PM and override the political will of the Australian people. His conspiratorial collaborators in this act were Mark Arbib and David Feeney, both Labor Party functionaries and members of Parliament.

Around the same time as the removal of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, Howes was involved as Australian Workers Union secretary, with the scandal surrounding the Cleanevent workers. He represented these workers whose job was mainly to perform cleaning services at major events and festivals. The scandal involved the AWU organising through the company employer the payment of union fees by the employer to incorporate the workers as union members in return for the slashing of working conditions for those very workers. The company would pay the union and the union would negotiate an employment contract that covered the cleaners that removed penalty rates and other lawful conditions of employment. The company was able to save millions of dollars for the small cost of paying union dues. Howes oversaw this.

Paul Howes book published in 2010

Sometime in the middle of this decade, Howes left the leadership of the union movement and politics and was given a contract as a partner at the Australian arm of multinational accounting firm KPMG. He went from union leader to corporate executive. If anything I have said has not altered your perspective of both man and organisation, then this may or if not, you are lost to the working class. Howes has never as an adult worked in a factory or workplace for which the union was supposed to represent. Which raises the question of how is it that union representatives are appointed in the first place.

One might ask, what did Howes’ betrayal of the working class do to promote his candidacy at KPMG? What would have been his role? Remember that KPMG is a firm that plays a role in the superannuation industry also known as the pension fund sector. His protection of corporate interests overriding working class conditions, made his qualification for administering part of the trillions of dollars of workers’ wages invested in superannuation, a strong point of endorsement. Unions in Australia are participants in the management of pension funds for profit.

Which makes Howes’ appointment by right wing Prime Minister Scott Morrison all the clearer. In this promotion, several threads come into unison. Hostility to the working class, support for capital and firm alignment with US imperialism. This development has a long history and Howes is only one of the latest expressions of it. Back in the 1970s, Bob Hawke, ACTU leader was also hostile to the working class, a major supporter of US imperialism and great friend of the capitalist class of Australia. The union movement and its Labor Party support are thoroughly embedded to the capitalist system and moreover to the drive to war lead by American imperialism. Do you want to be part of that train? Never!

Finally, an anecdote. As I was preparing to write this story, I was digging around for information. I first heard this story on the local ABC (government broadcaster) radio. When I typed into the Google search engine, “Howes, Morrison appointment, ABC” nothing came up. Literally NOTHING. The story did appear on Murdoch’s “The Australian” webpage but you had to pay for it to read it in its entirety. The ABC did not present it on its webpages. You can interpret this in any way you like but I thought that the budget pressures on the ABC by the Federal government have not only altered the quality of the work undertaken by the national “broadcaster”  but also the quantity of its work. The expression, Australian Bullshit Corporation is rather apt.

Serious conclusions can be made by examining the why and how Paul Howes was picked for his recent appointment by the far-right Morrison Government’s covid19 economic commission demonstrates that trade unions are thoroughly corrupt and work for capital, government and as tools of US Imperialism. The lack of coverage of this appointment by ABC demonstrates the ABC is truly a state broadcaster acting as another propaganda arm of the government and not at all independent as some want you to believe. As the capitalist crisis continues to deepen, the greater will these facts be brought into relief. The World Socialist Revolution cannot wait.

It is only through and open and robust discussion scientific socialism, ie Marxism has developed. would like to play its role in developing such a culture again. We are attempting to foster debate by publishing articles that may not fully align with the position of our editorial collective.

A Shift in Perspective: Covid and the US working class

by Chris Mason

The total number of COVID-19 infections in the US has now passed the 5 million mark, and the number of dead from the virus exceeds 160,000. If this is a time of strife for the entire nation, it is all the more so for the average worker, particularly those labeled “essential” who don’t enjoy the luxury of working from home. When the nationwide lockdown was announced the US stock markets recorded their worst performance since Black Monday in 1987. The stock market crisis suggested to the wider populace that there is a link between the financial markets and the human labor that goes into the economy.  

Voices from the front line

But these past few months have proven to many workers that the platitudes of the corporations are as hollow as they appear. Many working people are waking up to the fact that they are seen as disposable costs in the corporate drive to maximize profits. This has been made even more apparent by the news that the top 1% of Americans have actually gotten richer during the pandemic. As unemployment increases, many workers are seeing that those in charge of the corporations are unwilling to risk money to employ them, and they would rather sack them to make even more money. The veil of what those at the top actually think about those at the bottom has been thoroughly ripped off by the virus.

Jack: Mailroom worker

This can be seen not just by looking at statistics, but also by actually talking to those workers on the front lines that have been labeled as essential workers. They all share a common experience despite differences in where they live, or their type of job. This pattern is simple, and could even be seen as the equivalent of gaslighting” in an abusive relationship, where the abuser psychologically manipulates the abused party to make them doubt their own perception of reality.

An employer sends out an email, has a small meeting, or even posts something on a bulletin board about how proud they are of the work the employees are doing, how essential they are, and even going so far as calling them ‘heroes’. While there is nothing inherently wrong with this first step, it’s what comes next that makes this treatment borderline abusive. The messages of gratitude and thanks are followed by lackluster personal protection and safety measures against the virus, hardly any increase in pay outside of upper management, and no guarantee that they will stay employed should things get worse. 

Jack, a corporate mailroom employee living in Washington State who has been designated as an essential worker, describes getting periodic emails from his employer. They would always begin: “We’re all so appreciative and proud of your hard work”. But the only measure taken to ensure workers’ continued safety was the single disposable mask in a plastic bag that they all received. 

Mark: UPS worker

Mark, a UPS supervisor in Portland Oregon, described a similar experience where the employees were provided with almost no protective equipment, despite UPS being a company worth $3 billion in net income, and $53 billion in net revenue. The employees had to ask for outside donations in order to get proper masks and gloves for their work. Mark described getting praise from UPS corporate management, and encouragement to keep up the good work. The UPS bosses even talked about how grateful they all are. However, both Mark and Jack’s employers made them feel like they should keep their heads down, and to not complain or they would risk losing their jobs. Mark’s employer would occasionally, after giving workers glowing praise, remind them to be grateful that they even have jobs at all. 

Ryan: Security Guard

Ryan, a security guard in Kansas, talked about how at the onset of the virus, when the prospects of what a lockdown might entail were still unclear, he would receive emails from his company reassuring everyone that there was no need to panic, and they would be able to stay afloat during the pandemic. He recalls that there was a small mention at the end of the email saying how grateful ‘they’ were for everyone’s hard work. Ryan says that now the emails he’s getting never fail to mention how grateful the company is preceding a routine message about changing parking rules, new break times, or something else totally mundane. He says, “Now it just feels like it’s an email signature as if they are obligated to send them and not because they actually mean it”. These obvious platitudes are followed up by no new procedures to keep the work area clean, or to make sure that people coming in and out don’t pose a health risk to other employees. 

All three experiences reflect a broader national trend of companies’ gaslighting their employees while providing no job security, hardly any added safety measures, and no pay increases at all. With Congress deliberating a “corporate liability shield,” the power of workers to sue employers for Covid19 related damages, may be taken out of their hands. If the Democrats and Republicans get their way, employers will be exempt from Covid related litigation by employees.  But the silver lining in all this may be that many workers have experienced a major shift in perspective, realizing what they perhaps already knew—that the very people who go out of their way to make commercials thanking them, rather than giving them any sort of pay increase, actually view them as disposable.

It is only through and open and robust discussion scientific socialism, ie Marxism has developed. would like to play its role in developing such a culture again. We are attempting to foster debate by publishing articles that may not fully align with the position of our editorial collective.