Friday, December 29, 2006
In Scotland today it’s true that there is a struggle - as there is in England , Wales , Ireland , or rest of the world for that matter . But the struggle in Scotland is not , as the Scottish National Party would have us believe , the struggle for home rule , self - government , self- determination , or self anything . The struggle in Scotland , as in the rest of the world , is a class struggle: the struggle between the working class and the capitalist or owning class.
The SNP tell us , the workers , that independence from England and the control of our own purse strings will cure all our problems . What they do not seem to realise is that the problems they are going to try to solve are an integral part of the capitalist system , and history has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that within this system there is no satisfactory solution to these problems apart from Socialism .
The SNP talk about the Scottish culture and the Scottish way of life . But in what way is the life of a Scottish wage slave basically different from that of an English , an American , or for that matter a Russian wage slave? There is no basic difference in the way of life of the world’s working class because we all suffer from the same problems such as poverty and insecurity . Independence from England will not cure the poverty and insecurity of the Scottish workers , because they will still be the wages labour and capital relationship.
There is no truly independent country in the world , because international capitalism has made sure of this , and our own experience here in Britain , especially since 1964 , should have brought it home to us . The past few years should have shown us just how independent Britain is , when foreign “ bankers” tell the British government how to spend money , and how it must not spend money , in order to keep the international capitalist class happy .
Independence for Scotland therefore is a myth put about by the Scottish National Party , which further confuses the Scottish section of the working class and blinds them from the real struggle - the class struggle .
The outcome of the class struggle is the abolition of capitalism and an end to poverty , insecurity and the ever-present threat of war.
Socialism is a sane society , where the means of life will be owned in common by the whole of the world socialist community . By the means of life we mean the land , mines , factories , railways , and the like - in short , the means of production and distribution . In Socialism the rule of life will be : from each according to his or her ability , to each to according to his or her need. There will be no need for buying and selling , just a free world for a free people .It could be like that now , so why not do something about it ? The world is ours for the taking . So why not take it ?
WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE FOR SOCIALISM !
J. Moir , July 1969
The BBC reports that about 6,000 African migrants have died or gone missing on the sea journey to the Canary Islands in 2006 according to Spanish immigration officials.
Say it loud , say it clear , workers of the world are welcome here !!
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
This following on from The Home Secretary , John Reid , claiming that an attempted terrorist attack in Britain in the run-up to Christmas is "highly likely" "The threat in this country is very high indeed..."
Commissioner Ian Blair adds : There was "no specific intelligence" about an imminent attack ..
"We have no specific intelligence ...it's a possibility."
So , be afraid ...very afraid ... Thats our Xmas cheer from the London Met .
Mind 'ow you go , as Dixon of Dock Green would say .
And here we have who we were all assured was that master-mind of a previous bomb-plot
Mr Rauf's detention in Pakistan triggered arrests in the United Kingdom of a number of suspects allegedly plotting to blow up transatlantic flights. The August arrests led to increased airport security around the world, causing major disruption. Passengers on many flights were forbidden to take liquids aboard aircraft. The Pakistani authorities described Rashid Rauf as a key figure.
Last week an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities or that he belonged to a terrorist organisation. The case of Mr Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani origin, was downgraded from an anti-terrorism court to a regular court. His lawyer says police evidence amounts only to bottles of hydrogen peroxide found in his possession.
The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the judge's decision has reinforced the already widespread scepticism there about the airliner plot .
Several commentators said the threat was deliberately exaggerated to bolster the anti-terror credentials of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and that it helped to demonise British Muslims of Pakistani origin.
Ex-Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan , Craig Murray , blogs extra details
Nor do we forget about the Forest Gate fiasco . Mohammed Abdul Kahar, 23, was shot and he and his brother were arrested. Both were later released without charge. The final bill for the operation was £2,211,600, according to Metropolitan Police figures.
Adam Curtis citing the Home Office's own statistics for arrests and convictions of suspected terrorists since September 11 2001. Of the 664 people detained up to the end of last month, only 17 have been found guilty. Of these, the majority were Irish Republicans, Sikh militants or members of other groups with no connection to Islamist terrorism. Nobody has been convicted who is a proven member of al-Qaida.
Have the authorities never heard of the fable of the boy who cried wolf once too often ? ( Or the boy who shouted Fire ? )
Who does it suit to have us all living a life of fear ?
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Marx v Lenin.What kind of revolution?
Reformist political parties, such as the Labour Party, have failed abysmally to remove inequality or solve social problems such as slum housing, pollution, unemployment, war, etc, etc. This fact along with the increasing class conflict on the industrial field is bringing an increasing number of people round to the view that there is a need for a fundamental revolutionary change in present day society. But what is this revolutionary change to involve?
The Socialist Party of Great Britain has a basically Marxist view on the nature of revolution. This is not because we look on Marx as some sort of god but because we consider his analysis to be generally correct.
SOCIALIST REVOLUTION AND HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT
The central feature of the Marxist concept of socialist revolution is that it is seen in the context of the whole historical development of mankind. We contend that the basis of all societies is the means of producing wealth and the relations into which people enter in order to produce this wealth. Society is revolutionised by means of class struggles when the means of production come into conflict with the relations of production. Socialism is not just a ‘good idea’ which could be put into practice at any time in history. Marx attacked the views of revolutionaries such as Bakunin and the 19th century Russian insurrectionists who thought that socialist revolution was most likely in industrially backward countries.
Marxists insist that socialism is only possible after a capitalist society has been established and developed modern industry and technology. This, of course, has long since taken place and now an abundance for all is possible; but the capitalist relations of production hold back the productive forces and prevent potential abundance becoming a reality. Private property and production for profit have to be abolished for man to progress.
WHO MAKES THE REVOLUTION?
The only force capable of carrying out this task are the working class – all those who, owning no substantial amount of property, have to sell their mental and physical energies to an employer in order to live. Developments within capitalism lead to an increasing working class revolutionary consciousness. The class structure becomes more and more simplified and polarised into the two great opposing classes of capitalists and workers; peasants are driven off the land and into the towns to become wage labourers, small businessmen go bankrupt and are hurled into the ranks of the working class, the ‘professional classes’ are turned into white collar workers and increasingly realise this. Working conditions become more oppressive as work is intensified and, with increasing mechanisation and division of labour, made monotonous and devoid of any creative interest. Capital becomes concentrated in the hands of a small minority of the population, and even though workers’ absolute standards of living may rise, relative to the capitalists' wealth their social position declines.
In addition to these factors, workers’ class consciousness is also increased by their experiences and struggles in capitalism. First, trade unions are formed to defend and improve living standards, and then workers increasingly realise that this is not enough, and that a complete change in society is needed to solve the problems they face. Accordingly a workers political party is formed with the aim of capturing political power to establish socialism. Marx always stressed, as do we in the SPGB, that the working class have to free themselves by their own self-conscious action – they cannot be freed from above by some ‘revolutionary elite.’ Thus the workers’ political party must be democratically organised and controlled by the membership as a whole – as is the SPGB. Marx put his principles into practice in his revolutionary activity in the Communist League and the First International, insisting on their open democratic organisation.
PEACEFUL OR VIOLENT DEVOLUTION?
In his early days as a revolutionary Marx thought that the only road to socialism was a violent armed insurrection. However later, when workers won the right to vote, he advocated that where it was possible the working class revolutionary party should contest elections and try and win political power by that means. If this was done there was a possibility that the revolution could be largely peaceful. Like Marx, the SPGB believes that where that means is available the revolutionary party should contest elections and, when resources allow, we do so – on a revolutionary platform of course, not on a reformist programme like the Labour Party.
Having captured political power the working class must use the state machine to dispossess the capitalists and establish a system based on the common ownership of wealth. However the bureaucratic capitalist state is not at all a suitable instrument for this task – first, therefore, the working class have to make the state organisation thoroughly democratic, with all officials being directly elected and re-callable, and being in no way privileged as compared to other workers.
THE AIM OF REVOLUTION
Socialism will be a world-wide classless society based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means for producing and distributing wealth. Thus once it has been established there will be no need for the state – the armed forces, police, judiciary, etc. – since it exists only to protect the private property of the rich minority. The government over people will be replaced by a democratic ‘administration of things’.
Socialist production will be consciously planned, aiming purely at meeting peoples’ needs. Thus there will be no buying and selling, exchange, prices, money, wages, or profits. In the first phase of communism Marx thought there would have to be some restrictions on the consumption of consumer goods – perhaps by labour-time vouchers – before industry could be developed to the extent where it would be possible to distribute goods and provide services free. With the tremendous growth in man’s productive ability since Marx’s time we consider this first phase of communism could be gone through very quickly, and free access operated soon after the establishment of socialism.
For Marxists a central feature of socialism is that work would no longer be monotonous drudgery, in which the producers control neither the labour process nor the products of their work. Instead with the ending of capitalism's extreme division of labour and the automation of unpleasant jobs, work would be a creative activity in which people would find a means of self-expression. Thus Marx advocated, as does the SPGB, a world revolution aiming at the establishment of a system based on common ownership and production for use, to be consciously carried out by the working class as a whole, democratically organised in a revolutionary socialist party.
BUT WASN'T LENIN A MARXIST?
Many people, both opponents of socialism and those who consider themselves to be socialists, think so. Modern Russia, China, Cuba, E. Germany, etc were all founded and are at present ruled by, parties calling themselves ‘Marxist-Leninist’. Many political groups operating in the West proclaim themselves to be both Marxist and Leninist – in Britain for example, the ‘Communist Party’, ‘International Socialists’, and the ‘Workers Revolutionary Party’. The SPGB contends that Lenin's views on revolution were fundamentally different from Marx’s, and that when Leninist revolutionary theory is put into practice the result is not socialism but state capitalism – as now exists in Russia, China, and all the other states that claim to be communist. An examination of Lenin’s theory of revolution will prove our point.
THE REVOLUTIONARY ELITE
Very early in his political activity Lenin formulated two theories that were always to remain central to his views. Firstly, he argued that the working class by its own efforts was incapable of wanting and understanding socialism. Secondly, following on from this, Lenin held that socialist consciousness would have to be brought to the working class from outside, from a tightly organised revolutionary organisation under a strong centralised leadership. This party was to be composed of full time professional revolutionaries, drawn mainly from the bourgeois intelligentsia.
Lenin’s view that workers by their own efforts could only reach a ‘trade union consciousness’, and that socialist consciousness could only come from outside the capitalist-worker class struggle, is in complete contradiction to Marxism. Marx, as we’ve seen, always stressed that the working class had to free itself, and that socialist understanding developed in the working class as a result of workers’ experiences and struggles in capitalism. Similarly, Lenin’s idea of an exclusive, hierarchically organised revolutionary party, in which the leadership would have great power, goes completely against Marx’s belief in open democratic organisation.
The SPGB believes that the means used, and the end aimed at, are inextricably linked. If elitist authoritarian means are used then an elitist authoritarian society will be the result. If an egalitarian democratic society is aimed at, it can only be achieved by a self-conscious majority, democratically organised without any leadership which could, become a future ruling class.
BOURGEOIS REVOLUTION FOR RUSSIA
It is not too well known that in all his revolutionary activity up to April 1917 Lenin was advocating, not a socialist revolution for Russia, but a bourgeois revolution which would establish a capitalist republic. Correctly applying Marx’s materialist conception of history to the Russian situation, Lenin rejected the possibility of an immediate transition to socialism because of the lack of economic development and. the insufficient degree of socialist consciousness among the workers. Since he considered that the Russian capitalists were too weak to smash Tsarism and establish capitalism themselves, Lenin advocated that the Bolsheviks should take power, establish a bourgeois republic with political democracy, and then become a revolutionary opposition within that republic, building up support for socialism.
DISTORTIONS OF MARXISM
However in April 1917 Lenin declared himself to be in favour of the viewpoint which he had previously scornfully rejected – adopting Trotsky's ‘permanent revolution’ theory he urged that the Bolsheviks prepare to seize power with the aim of immediately taking socialist measures. Again, Lenin was rejecting the Marxist position. As he had himself argued earlier, the degree of economic development and socialist consciousness needed for socialist revolution did not exist. In advocating socialist revolution for backward Russia Lenin was adopting the policy of the 19th century insurrectionists whom Marx and Engels had strongly criticised.
At the same time as he took up the permanent revolution theory Lenin introduced a distinction between Socialism and Communism. He stated that the coming revolution would establish not communism, but socialist society, a system which would persist into the foreseeable future, and in which there would still be the state, the wages system, and. production for sale . This was of course a further distortion of Marx who had always used the terms socialism and communism interchangeably. It does though perhaps show that Lenin really still recognised the validity of the Marxist argument that backward countries could not be the starting point for socialist revolution. For, while he advocated the immediate establishment of socialism, Lenin had now re-defined socialism so as to make it mean in effect a form of state capitalism – which was all that could be established in Russia at that time.
It was obvious that the Bolsheviks could only seize power by an armed insurrection and Lenin attempted to give this policy Marxist theoretical justification by claiming that Marx considered it impossible for the proletariat to come to power without smashing the state machine. In fact as we’ve seen Marx recognised that in some circumstances the proletariat would be able to peacefully capture the state machine and then smash/dismantle its oppressive and undemocratic features.
THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT = THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE BOLSHEVIKS
Marx sometimes referred to the political transition period between capitalism and communism, in which the democratically organised working class used political power to dispossess the capitalists, as the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin in addition to differing from Marx on the length of time that he envisaged the state existing after the revolution, developed a completely different concept of the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Instead of the extremely democratic set-up Marx advocated, he re-defined the dictatorship of the proletariat to the dictatorship of the Bolshevik Party which actually meant the dictatorship of the Bolshevik Party leadership. Not long after their seizure of power the Bolsheviks started to oppress all opposition, left-wing as well as right-wing, and verbal and written opposition as well as anti-Bolshevik actions.
The SPGB in contrast, while recognising that violence would have to be used against a minority who first used violence against the socialist majority, is in favour of the freest and fullest possible expression of ideas both before and after socialist revolution. We totally oppose all censorship. Thus Lenin’s views on the revolution are basically contradictory to Marx’s theory of revolution in many respects – even though Lenin claimed to be a Marxist. How is this to be explained?
THE HISTORICAL ROLE OF LENINISM
Lenin’s theory of revolution was developed in an industrially backward s basically feudal society that was ripe not for a socialist, but for a bourgeois revolution. Lenin up to 1917 had advocated that the Bolshevik Party should take power to carry through this capitalist revolution.
In 1917 the Bolsheviks did take power, and though they did so proclaiming that they were establishing socialism, they were prisoners of Russia’s backwardness and could do no more than develop capitalism, as Lenin had earlier advocated. However the Bolsheviks did not relinquish power to a traditional capitalist government. Justifying their rule on the grounds that it was the dictatorship of the proletariat the Bolsheviks have retained power ever since, and over the years their leaders have become a new ruling class, collectively controlling and thus in effect owning the means of production, and performing the same role as the private capitalists in the West. Thus historically Leninism has been an ideology used in the building up of state capitalism in backward areas of the world. Its insistence on the need for hierarchical organisation and a revolutionary elite, and its denial of the possibility of the working class itself developing mass revolutionary consciousness, stamp it as belonging to the era of bourgeois revolutions.
Lenin’s concept of revolution has no relevance for socialist revolution in modern industrially advanced capitalism – and if a Leninist party seized power the only result could be the establishment of some type of state capitalism.
REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE TODAY
It is vital that when abolishing present day exploitation we do not substitute a new form of exploitation. The only sure guarantee against this is a revolution made and . controlled by the self conscious majority of the working class.
As Marx put it "The emancipation of the working class must be the act of the workers themselves."
Another article from the archives produced by comrades in the Aberdeen SPGB Group and was written in 1974 .
Friday, December 15, 2006
The execution showed that Angel Diaz had been conscious after the administration of a supposedly lethal dose . Witnesses said he was moving and trying to speak .
In his final appeal to the US Supreme Court Diaz challenged the execution chemicals saying they constituted a "cruel and unusual punishment". His appeal was rejected an hour before the execution began.
"Cruel" , yes , but unfortunately no longer "unusual" in the United States
Thursday, December 14, 2006
I have just been reading his latest column in Socialist Review and what rot and bilge there still exists in the minds of some in the Left .
In a eulogy to the Iraqi Resistance , Harman harps on about the past and the consequences of the Vietnam War . No doubt to escape from any guilt of his own support for a murderous , ruthless Stalinist regime he has the audacity to say it was all worth it . At a cost of 3 million dead !! And all for what ? He says it himself :-
"...those who rose to power out of the liberation struggle now welcome not just the mass murderer Bush, but also the multinational exploiters of which he is the political representative...."
And no weasel words that the Left of the 60s and 70s fell into a trap of viewing the leaders of the resistance in Vietnam through rose-tinted glasses. There were those who were stripping Ho Chi Minh of his socialist credentials and exposing the Emperor as naked . But the "Theory of National Liberation" , which was in many ways simply a proxy war between super-powers on the dividing-up of the world , had its supporters and the International Socialists ( SWP) were one such vociferous organisation .
It is astounding that Harman endeavours to justify support for the future ruling elite of Vietnam by claiming that it contributed to the advancement of the cause of the black and women's and the workers' movements . Opposition to the war certainly may have been an important part of the politicalisation of those people , but the support offered to the state-capitalist dictatorship by the likes of Harman and his ilk hampered understanding and hindered those movements .
Harman states there could not be any progress in Vietnam until US imperialism was defeated . Can I counter this assumption of his by asking if there has been no progress in the working class of South Korea where US imperialism prevailed ? Does not the working class in that country possess a trade union movement that actively resists the onslaughts of multi-national capitalist exploitation as effectively as any other .
Advocating the political independence of the working class is very different from promoting national independence. And Harman now repeats this tragedy .
His references to the Vietnam War was not out of historic curiousity but to call upon the workers of Iraq to lay their lives down yet again , not for their own interests , but for the "national resistance".
Again it is claimed , through Harman , that a defeat for American imperialism and the victory of the "Iraqi Resistance" will somehow have an effect on stopping the exploitation of the victims of the US capitalism "in the barrios of Caracas and the sweatshops of the Philippines, those suffering under the dictates of the IMF and those toiling for poverty wages to pay off the debts to Barclays and Citibank, those rotting in the prisons of Saudi Arabia or going hungry in sub-Saharan Africa."
As if all the other imperialist nations , from Paris to Peking , will not leap in and replace American Big Business .
By tying the USA down in an Iraqi war , the Iraqi Resistance " indirectly aids all those who would be next in line if the US were not bogged down in Iraq. This includes forces such as Hizbollah in Lebanon, and also those in Venezuela and Bolivia " - Well , Harman , lets take that to its logical conclusion ...A call for no victory to either side and instead the demand for a never-ending continuous war would be your most desired policy , would it not ?
And just how mealy - mouthed for an apologist is Harman with his pretence of regrets :-
"[ Support should be offered to the Iraqi resistance ] ...despite the attitude to women of some of the resistance groups and those whose religious bigotry leads them to direct their fire against other Iraqis as much as against the occupying troops."
I'll rephrase that in words that we all can clearly comprehend :-
" I'll drive away the thieves from your home but the price you will pay is that I rape your wife and daughters and murder your neighbours and friends and then for the rest of your remaining life you do as exactly as I tell you "
How sick can Chris Harman be .
P.S. To understand the cynicism of Chris Harman , it is helpful to understand the opportunism of the SWP and a brief history of them can be found here
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Hillel Ticktin has an article in CPGB’s Weekly Worker , Seeds of a New Society , and I was struck by just how actually mundane it was but that’s probably because I am no academic like he and missed its pertinent points . Or , on the other hand , its because much of my socialist education has been from the SPGB so that there was little in it that I found particularly original or insightful that I have not read before . I also have a natural disdain for camouflaging simple ideas with verbose explanations or complicated language .
The article touches on such subjects as mentioned on this blog as Economic Calculation and Consciousness .
I was immediately minded by this statement of Ticktin's .
"…socialism can only come into existence on a world scale - it must be international and arrive “all at once”. Capitalism is a world system, and bits of it cannot be removed."
That is something straight out of any SPGB pamphlet .
Of course , a Trotskyist realises that "socialism in one country" is impossible. But, although Trotsky did proclaim this , it didn't mean that he thought nothing could be done in one country and that if a vanguard political party took power and was ruthless and determined enough , it could, he argued, establish a "Workers State". ( Theory of Permanent Revolution) .We of the SPGB have been arguing for decades against the Trotskyist theories of Workers State , Degenerated Workers State , or Bureaucratic Collective State or whatever variant of half-way house they endeavour to use to justify the Bolshevik Coup d'Etat and apologise for its failure .
I was then surprised when I later read Tickin stating :
"The fundamental aspect of a communist or socialist society (I make no distinction between the two) is that for the first time a society is planned by the associated producers themselves."
I’m pleased that Hillel doesn’t make a distinction between the two and now accepts the long held position of the SPGB that has always been opposed by the Left that communism and socialism are synonyms and were used as such by Marx and Engels . Another first for an avowed Trotskyite to admit . Of course , Ticktin seems partial to stating this as he says elsewhere
"Now it is true that the distinction between socialism and communism was actually made and employed by Lenin, Trotsky and so forth. But they put inverted commas around the word ‘socialism’: ie, so-called socialism."
Oh , did they now ?
But whats this ? The CPGB own website on which Ticktin writes ,
" Socialism is the first stage of the worldwide transition to communism "
We didn't need to go very far to find a distinction being made between socialism and communism , did we , and , nope , I can’t see any inverted commas there being used .
Ticktin finds himself in agreement on many things that the SPGB has been asserting as part of its party-case for many years as self-evident . Such as :
"The potentiality for abundance comes into existence within capitalism. Without such a potentiality there would be very great difficulty in ever going over to socialism, because there can be no scarcity in a socialist society…We know there is potential abundance today."
Yup …, sufficient for a society to provide for all according to their needs .
It seems that Ticktin accepts the Von Mises case against socialism that economic calulation is not possible , or at least Ticktin accepts that the "market-socialist” critics have been unable to answer Von Mise . But perhaps , Ticktin is seemingly unaware of the vigourous Non-Market Socialist rebuttal of Von Mise and his Economic Calculation .
That, naturally , brings me to that vast void inside Trotskyism . Where is the Trotskyist programme for the abolition of wages and money and the introduction of free access . I read plenty of their minimum transitional demands but rarely do I ever find the maximum programme .
His Weekly Worker article goes on to discuss aspects of consciousness . and once again it appears as if Ticktin has to repeat old truths . The SPGB has always been the party that has expounded the idea that there were now only two classes in society ( in industrialised countries , that is ) and Ticktin takes on the mantle of the SPGB and discards his cloak of Bolshevism with the analysis that there no longer is a middle class who have now become subject to increasingly proletarianisation .
"I would never have predicted that university lecturers would become workers, but that is what is happening. "
Ticktin on consciousness-----
" the movement for socialism cannot be entirely spontaneous.
There has to be an understanding of the change, which implies that there has to be a political party, expressing the consciousness of the working class, which actively intervenes in that change…Despite this, it is quite clear that there can be no change of system unless the working class actually takes power and creates a new mode of production ."
Well, we won't argue with that but we will look at history and note that the requirement is a political party OF the working class and not an organisation that substitutes itself FOR the working class . Yet again , I willl refer you to this article where The Socialist Party have made it clear that it is much more than just interpreting the world but about the need to take concerted political action to change it .
Ticktin in the article descibes the internal contradictions and conflicts that Capitalism throws up as it continually evolves and develops . The corruptions of Capitalism. Monopolies ...joint-stock companies ...government intervention ...and what he describes as proto or pseudo-socialism , that is , state ownership and nationalisation .
Some of those structures he states will form the seeds of the new society - socialism . Oh , yes , as he says , Engels was talking all about that . Simply put , Capitalism gives birth to Socialism . Socialism springs forth from Capitalism . Woweeee...What a revelation that is . Yes indeed , as many members of the SPGB have been saying for years ...the true transitional stage towards socialism/communism is indeed capitalism .
But , Hillel , please not lets get too carried away with what you describe as capitalististic decay and malfunction .
There is nothing deterministic about the collapse of capitalism simply because it created socialised production methods yet still cannot fulfil society's needs . It can and will stagger on from one crisis to another until the working class accept the alternative and actively work towards it. Hiding that objective behind a screen of theoretical verbiage doesn't help in the least bit .
( Drat , re-reading this and I'm guilty of the same transgression too , darn and damn it . Thank god I qualified this blog by saying it's rambling and rantings )
Friday, December 08, 2006
I was caught by one in particular and will take the liberty of re-posting a slightly shortened version here . As another of Piers blogs has it:-
"Here is our struggle in the Socialist Party of Great Britain, you see. We depend for the success of our message on people who are prepared to THINK. We cannot do what in Lenin's day the Bolsheviks would have done, that is to seize power by a minority, and then lead the majority of sheep into the promised land."
And what can the Socialist Party do ?
As Marx recognised , the party of the working class must perservere :-
"Even where there is no prospect of achieving their election the workers must put up their own candidates to preserve their independence, to gauge their own strength and to bring their revolutionary position and party standpoint to public attention."
No point in the Socialist philosophy arouses such controversy as that of the “class-struggle” and “class-consciousness.” ...What then is the meaning of this term “class-consciousness?”
At a certain stage in the life of every individual he acquires a “consciousness” of personal identity. He becomes aware of his distinctiveness, physically and mentally, from the external conditions which progressively stimulate his susceptibility to impressions, and possessed of a power to recall, combine, and analyse by successive stages of mental presentation these said impressions and emotions.
This sense of individuality, this power of ordered thought (briefly “consciousness”), is the result of the development of the requisite brain-organ; and, as each individual from conception to maturity successively reproduces the stages through which the species as a whole has passed, by comparison we can ascertain the relative degree of development reached by any individual.
When an individual has become “conscious”—has, that is, arrived at that stage of growth at which he perceives both the distinction and relation between himself and the rest of creation—he has acquired a power of reacting upon his environment; a power (limited but real) of “self-determination,” within, of course, the possibilities set by his physical powers and the said environment.
Society is an organism progressing through stages of development.
The present stage is that in which classes have been differentiated within the Social organism: the propertied bourgeoisie and the propertyless proletariat.
Whether they are aware of it or not their interests are conflicting. The workers fulfil the function of production, i.e., their associated labour adapts all natural resources to human use; the Bourgeois or Propertied Class retain ownership of the tool of production, appropriate the products and control the function of distribution.
Hence the social function of production the prime necessity for social existence and development is fettered and hampered by the survival of the obsolete Bourgeois system of exchange—Bourgeois control of the social function of distribution.
Just as the chicken developing within the shell is compelled as a condition of further existence and development to burst the shell which had till then served as a necessary condition of further growth, so the working-class will sooner or later become conscious of this hindrance to their development—become conscious that they are the only useful class and progressive force in Society—conscious that they are potentially, the Society of the Future, and bursting the shell of Bourgeois political control and consequent economic domination, act themselves (and Society) free to commence a new and higher stage of evolution.
In a word: when conditions are ripe the working class will acquire, with the recognition of their place in Society, and of their constraint and that which constrains them, and a perception of the vital organic force impelling them to struggle, their consciousness as a class—their power of “self-determination.”
To make the working class thus “conscious,” it is necessary to make it understand the relation between it and the rest of (i.e., the other classes in) Society.
To achieve this result in the class, an effective of the individuals composing it must acquired the capacity of seeing, behind apparent diversity of interests (as clerks, spinners, hammerers, and diggers) their real community of interest as a class—must have recognised their common subjection to the necessity of selling their abilities in a common labour market; their consequent common exploitation, and their common interest to emancipation as a class.
Such distinction as still survives between “skilled” and “unskilled” labour is being rapidly abolished by the extension of education on the one hand and the introduction of machinery on the other. And few know this better than the “skilled” workmen themselves...
...Class-consciousness on the part of any one worker thus entails the recognition by him of his place as a unit in a class, at present politically ruled and economically enslaved, whose historic mission it is to carry Society forward into a higher stage of development: the recognition that the interests and therefore impulses of the individuals composing either ruling or ruled classes respectively are mutual and those of the two classes antagonistic, and consequently that the development of Society more and more produces a class-struggle for the possession of political power as a necessary pre-condition on the one hand for rule and on the other for emancipation.
The working-class-consciousness will express itself in a political organisation for the purpose of accomplishing this emancipation. That worker is class-conscious who has seen the duty of enlisting under the banner of Revolution—in the Political Party of the workers —the Socialist Party of Great Britain...Socialism is possible when the workers, organised in the Socialist Party, proceed to establish it. When they do that, the whole of the “upper and middle” classes will be powerless to prevent them. Without the workers so consciously organised nothing can be done.
The first thing then is to make the working-men “class-conscious.”
T. A. J. Socialist Standard, July 1906.
Transcribed: Adam Buick
Bertell Ollman has an interesting article Toward Class Consciousness Next Time:Marx and the Working Class .
I have tried to draw attention in earlier blogs to the the insidious rise of xenophobia against migrant workers . So i was pleased to see across on the Socialist Courier blog the mention of a promising development , which is the unionisation of this so-far mostly unorganised work-force .
The Guardian article explains why the Eastern European and other workers must come together .
" Once the exhilaration of earning five times the average wage in Poland has abated, many of them realise that the cost of living here eats up most of their pay packet and the agencies that have found them work take their own handsome slices...Trade unions were formed because employers were otherwise able to threaten individual workers with the sack if they complained, to divide and rule and to exploit the weakest parts of a workforce..."
WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE
Thursday, December 07, 2006
But , of course , we shouldn't have been surprised . Many of Colin Fox's and the SSP's heros possess feet of clay .
It has long been known that the oil giant has spent millions of dollars to fund climate sceptics. Exactly how much is unknown but some estimates suggest $19m (£9.7m) since 1998.
In its 2005 report, Corporate Europe Observatory details payments by ExxonMobil to two organisations the International Policy Network, which received $130,000 and the Centre for the New Europe (CNE), which received $50,000. The two groups have long been accused of denying climate change.
Earlier this year the Royal Society, considered Britain's leading scientific academy, wrote to ExxonMobil asking that it stop funding groups that have "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence".
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Springing from similar roots , it is understandable , that there was an overlap of our respective critiques of society . This pamphlet by William Paul has much in it , which we in the Socialist Party , would happily concur . We share the same analysis that raises the importance of political action in addition to industrial action to achieve our socialist objective - one of the defining factors that separates us from the anarchists and syndicalists and led to the SLP leaving the early Industrial Workers of the World .
" The constructive element in the social revolution will be the the action of the Industrial Unions seizing the means of production in order to administer the wants of the community ...Thus Industrial Unionism is the constructive weapon in the coming social revolution...In order to facilitate the work of industrial organisation it is absolutely imperative for the workers to disarm the capitalist class by wrenching from it its power over the political State ...by destroying the capitalist control of the State , makes possible a peaceful social revolution...the work of the political weapon is purely destructive , to destroy the capitalist system. " William Paul , The State . Its Origins and Function ,1917 .
Although we may have reservations on the actual economic organisation ie industrial unions , William Paul was much in accord with the SPGB views.
"...The Socialist Party, in aiming for the control of the State, is a political party in the immediate sense, but we have an economic purpose in view, namely, the conversion of the means of living into the common property of society. Therefore, the question necessarily arises whether an economic organisation acting in conjunction with the political is vital to our task. We have on more than one occasion pronounced ourselves in agreement with the need for such an organisation, and in so doing have flatly denied the charge that the Socialist Party of Great Britain is "nothing but a pure and simple political party of Socialism." The Socialist Party and economic organisation , Socialist Standard , 1937
It is regrettable that Paul was caught up with the hype of the Russian Revolution and took the road of Bolshevism .
REVOLUTIONARY POLITICAL ACTION
ITS DESTRUCTIVE FUNCTION
I. THE ATTITUDE OF THE S.L.P. DEFINED
THE Socialist Labour Party is a revolutionary political organisation which seeks to educate the workers in order that they may organise to combat Capitalism in every field of its activity. Capitalism is the most cunningly organised social system ever known, and the capitalist class is the most powerfully enthroned ruling power known to history. Therefore, the S.L.P. declares, Capitalism must be fought in every avenue of social action. In keeping with that attitude we have outlined a policy regarding the press, education, industrial organisation, and political action. Our policy is distinguished in so far as we have given a lead to Labour to control its press and its educational activities ; and our tactics demonstrate the need for industrial unionism which covers the economic sphere of Labour's activity. But we also emphatically insist that Capitalism's control of the political machine—i.e., the State and the armed Force of the Nation—must be challenged at the ballot box.
Capitalism is a social system which breeds conflicts. It is a seething jungle of struggles wherein individuals, classes, nations, and empires fight against each other. Individual wage-earners vie with each other for jobs ; capitalists outbid one another for markets ; classes struggle against each other in the economic and political arenas ; and nations are prepared to wipe each other off the map for the sake of imperial conquest. But the struggle, international in its extent, which looms larger than all others, is the conflict between Capital and Labour. In this struggle the former fights with ability and consciousness of aim, while the latter fights with great confusion and without a knowledge of its own strength.
We intend to examine one phase of the class struggle here— the great weapon which the masters wield through their control of the political State. The capitalist class clearly understands that, in addition to its economic dominion over Labour—through its ownership of the means of life—it is necessary to be able to crush the workers should they dare revolt or refuse to produce profits. In order, therefore, to strengthen its economic power, the rulers have left no stone unturned to capture political power—the State—which gives it control over the armed force of society. With this political power in its hand Capital is able to enforce its domination over Labour. In other words, the capitalist class looks upon political power as an important weapon to be used in its conflict with the working class. The political power of the masters is one of its chief fortresses against the rebellious workers. Thus Capital has used its political supremacy to intimidate and to murder those wage-earners who endangered its profits. The use of troops at Featherstone, Tonypandy, Belfast, and Dublin are only a few instances. And Asquith, a few years ago, warned the railwaymen that if they struck work the powers of the State would be placed at the disposal of the railroad magnates. The political power of Capital was energetically used in 1914 by enforcing new laws which sought to smash the rights of industrial organisation and the possibility of Labour striking for higher wages. Deportations, imprisonments, munition tribunals, and industrial conscription are vivid illustrations of how Capital strengthened its economic power by its political control of the machinery of Government.
II. OBJECTIONS TO POLITICAL ACTION.
Because the political weapon is used by the capitalist class against Labour, and because the political State is a machine to maintain class rule, there are many workers who contend that working class political action is futile, if not dangerous. The S.L.P, declares that as political power is used by Capital to enforce its economic power, for that very reason the workers must meet Capital on the political field. In the class war the workers dare not allow the capitalists to hold any fortress without laying siege to it with a view to capturing it. We may ignore the political fortress, as our anti-political friends would have us do, but neither the class war, nor any kind of war, can be waged successfully by ignoring any stronghold of the enemy. To ignore the insuperable advantage which the political machine gives to Capital would be tantamount to closing our eyes when the enemy aimed a blow at us with a dangerous weapon. Sanity demands that we must tear the weapon from the grasp of the foe.
But, argues the anti-political, what is the use of returning members to Parliament—they always betray their class interests ? What the critic of political action has in his mind are the betrayals of Labour by such creatures as Hodge, Thorne, Barnes, Henderson, etc. Let it be noted that we have exposed the treacheries of these political tricksters time after time. Nevertheless, we deny most emphatically that these men ever represented the interests of the working class. And we further assert that these betrayers of Labour learned the art of treachery before they entered Parliament ; they were educated in that art on the industrial field. Our anti-political friends wish us to devote our energies to the industrial arena because they imagine that the workers are sold when they enter politics. But the workers can be betrayed industrially as well as politically. The history of the trade union leaders since the war began indicates this point. Until the working class is conscious of its own interests—until it clearly realises what it wants and how to get it—then they are the tools of the Labour fakir and the political charlatan. The moment that the wage-earners understand their class interests they will not be betrayed either industrially or politically. Because "leaders" are only able to act treacherously when the rank and file is ignorant and confused.
It is argued that the workers are easily misled on the political field. Here again we beg to point out the fact that Labour can only be misled politically so long as it can be betrayed industrially. The political field is where the conflicts of economic interests are fought out. If the working class does not realise its economic interests it will be sold in Parliament; and if it does not realise its class interests it will be sold out in the workshop. Thus every argument which can be urged against political action can be used against industrial action. They react upon each other. There is nothing inherently dangerous in political action. All the arguments brought against it prove that the Socialist movement has neglected its educational work ; it has paid insufficient attention to the creation of a revolutionary press ; it has not sought to industrially organise Labour as a class ; and the result is that these weaknesses are glaringly reflected on the political field. When our anti-political friends contend that the political field makes for the confusion of Labour they are unconsciously passing censure on every other field of Socialist activity. The critic of political action, unable to perceive the law of causation, which links together the various weaknesses operating in the different channels of the Labour movement, places all the blame on the political field. He therefore decides to ignore political faction. But by doing so he ignores the whole problem.
III. PARLIAMENTARY ACTION.
Many of the arguments against revolutionary political action are in reality criticisms of parliamentary action. The two spheres of activity must not be confused. Parliamentary action believes that by placing a series of reforms upon the Statute Book— " steps at a time " they are called—the economic position of the workers can be improved, and that they will be finally emancipated by such State measures. Such a line of activity is the aim of the " reformers" (who, since recent events in Russia, have mouthed revolutionary phrases) or State Socialists. This course of action is best represented by the pre-war literature of the I.L.P., although a healthy minority of the younger element is now in revolt against it. The attitude of the reform party means that it can throw open its ranks to those who do not believe in Socialism—but in " something now." (See " Labour Leader "—27th September, 1917—which admits this regarding the entrance of Mr Dunstand to the I.L.P.) In brief, the logical outcome of parliamentary action, by seeking to show Chancellors of the Exchequer how to bring in Budgets, etc., is State Socialism. The S.L.P.—as the columns of the " Socialist " can testify—repudiates parliamentary action. We deny' that it is the political function of the Socialist movement to show the capitalist class how to legislate for Capitalism or administer its laws. The S.L.P. does not aim at trying to outdo the capitalist politicians in the sinister game of Statesmanship. We hold that the purpose of political action is the destruction of the capitalist State. It would be the duty of revolutionary Socialists in Parliament to criticise every measure that came before the House of Commons, and to seek, by every means, to undermine the prestige of the capitalist class by exposing every one of its political manoeuvres. Thus the debate on the credits would furnish the fearless S.L.P.-er with an opportunity of demonstrating his uncompromising antagonism to militarism by voting against them. We are aware that the pacifist I.L.P. members of Parliament refuse to vote against the war credits because, as Mr. Brace Glaiser has explained, they represent voters who are not Socialists. This, of course, is simply a damning admission that I.L.P. candidates do not make Socialism the only issue during electoral contests. If anyone cares to look up the election addresses of any of the I.L.P. members of Parliament, it will be found that the voters were asked to vote for Free Trade, and other capitalist patches, but not for Socialism alone. The consequence of such an attitude is that these members dare not and cannot act as Socialists once they are returned to Parliament.
IV. REVOLUTIONARY POLITICAL ACTION.
The S.L.P. takes the political field with one plank upon its programme—Socialism. It emphasises that only Socialists must vote for its candidates. It realises that its candidates may not get returned to Parliament yet awhile. But it knows that if there are only 200 class-conscious Socialists in any constituency, that must be the extent of its poll. Every other vote is useless and dangerous. Alliances, compromises, and arrangements with the Liberal Party may easily mean the return of a candidate, but not of a Socialist candidate. We are convinced that Socialists are only strong by themselves. Our political declaration is to aim at the capture of the political machine in order to tear the State, with its armed force, out of the hands of the capitalist class, thus removing the murderous power which Capitalism looks to in its final conflict with Labour. In a word, the revolutionary value of political action lies in its being the instrument specially fashioned to destroy Capitalism. Just as industrial unionism is necessary to construct Socialism.
But political action is further necessary in so far as it is its work to demand the right of free speech and of press. It must be used to combat the capitalist class in its attempt to filch away the rights of industrial action and other civil liberties. Political action, too, brings the propaganda of Socialism into the daylight and lifts the revolutionary movement beyond that of being a secret conspiracy. Political action, by insisting on free speech, prevents the capitalist class from forcing the movement underground—because once there the State would crush it. And, above all, the political method by bringing revolutionary Socialism upon the political field places it on that ground of social action where all conflicts tend to be settled peacefully. If Socialism is ushered in by violent means it will be because the capitalist class repudiated the civilised or political method, or because the Socialist movement failed to wrench the armed force of the State away from the control of the masters.
V. THE IMPERIALIST STATE.
The war has shewn an additional need for revolutionary political action. Since 1914 the tendency of Capitalism is towards an intensified concentration of Capital. This need has been urged upon each national capitalist class in order to promote its economic security and profit. But with the concentration of Capital there has also sprung up closer, and sinister, relations between the State and Capital. The advent of modern Imperialism has made this necessary for two reasons—(1) the necessity for economic expansion abroad, and (2) the need for the better control of Labour at home. These two tendencies will appear in the form of an intensified Nationalism which will be the will be the sentimental lever to force the workers to increase output and to hate the foreign workers. Plans are now being prepared by the State to further speed up production in order to satisfy the British imperialists' lust for profits. The capitalists, in conjunction with the State, have their schemes already organised. These will be put in operation immediately peace is declared. We see, therefore, that the capitalist class realises the value of controlling the political State.
The British capitalist class understands the need of political action. It intends to be prepared in order to crush the attempts of awakening Labour seeking to organise its forces. The workers will be confronted by the whole economic force of Capital in alliance with its political force—the State.
Can Socialists, therefore, neglect the political field, which is at present one of Capital's strongest forts ? The S.L.P. says no. We dare not leave the enemy entrenched in any position from which it can threaten Labour. Revolutionary political action has not failed for the simple reason that it has never been used. There has been plenty of Labour electioneering and parliamentary reformism, but that is not revolutionary political action. The time has now arrived for the Labour movement . in this country to define clearly its attitude towards political action. Many are opposed to political action for no other reason than that they have not realised all that it means.
The S.L.P. believes in the political weapon as the instrument by means of which the workers can capture the State in order to uproot it. The S.L.P. advocates political action because it is the destructive arm of Labour which will overthrow Capitalism. And for these reasons the S.L.P. permits only those who believe in the efficacy of political action to enter its ranks.
(Chapter 4 of Scientific Socialism. Its Revolutionary Aims and Methods by William Paul, 1918)
Transcribed by A Buick
Further to the recent report release by the UN of the distribution of the world's wealth that the richest 1% of adults in the world own 40% of the planet's wealth and that half the world's adult population, owned barely 1% of global wealth , the Swiss magazine Bilan released a list of the richest Swiss residents. 400 citizens or residents whose fortunes are close to, or more than, 100 million francs.
The top 300 richest people saw their capital grow by 13.3% this year or the modest sum of 46 billion francs, for a grand total of 420 billion - almost as much as all the old age pension funds in Switzerland, from which four million workers will eventually receive retirement packages.
David Beckham £87m
Michael Owen £32m
Robbie Fowler £28m
Sol Campbell £27m
Rio Ferdinand £22m
Ryan Giggs £22m
Andriy Shevchenko £22m
Thierry Henry £21m
Wayne Rooney £20m
Michael Ballack £18m
FOOTBALL'S TOP INVESTORS
R Abramovich (Chelsea) £10.8bn
J Lewis (Spurs) £2.1bn
D Desmond (Celtic) £1.25bn
M Glazer (Man Utd) £1.05bn
T Hemmings (Ch'ton, Preston) £900m
Sir A Sugar (Spurs) £790m
R Lerner (Villa) £789m
D Murray (Rangers) £650m
S Keswick, family (Cheltenham) £644m
D Sullivan (Birmingham) £595m
Abramovich is only the second richest man in the country, behind steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, worth an estimated £13.2bn. It is thought that Abramovich has ploughed around £440m into Chelsea.
Icelandic Eggert Magnusson's got West Ham United for £85m
Mohamed al-Fayed, owner of Fulham , is just outside the Top Ten in 13th position with a £426m fortune.
Robert Earl, aged 55, is No 19 as a result of his 23 per cent stake in Everton after buying out Paul Gregg for £15m. His overall wealth is estimated at £210m.
Portsmouth's Alexandre Gaydamak, aged 30. , who has invested over £30m, is joint 31st in the list with an estimated bank balance of £100m.
As an Edinburgian , Hearts Vladamir Romanov , first injection of cash: £800,000 up front for shares, and subsequent outlays which eventually reached a total of £2.2m for an 80% controlling stake. Romanov's fortune is estimated at £200 million, £80m more than the Hibs owner Sir Tom Farmer .
Who wants a game of fitba' ? Who has the cheque-book ?
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Came across this story on my internet travels .
Stanislav Petrov was a Soviet army officer monitoring the satellite system for signs of a U.S. attack, the year was 1983, and his instructions, if he detected missiles targeting the Soviet Union, were to push the button and launch a counter-offensive.
Half an hour past midnight on September 26, 1983, he saw the first apparent launch on his computer monitor in a glass-walled room on the top floor of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) command and control post. Then the warning system was by now showing five missile launches in the U.S., headed toward the Soviet Union. The "START" command , that's start a retaliatory strike , Petrov was expected to give would have started an irreversible chain reaction in a system geared to launch a counter-strike without human interference.
Why didn't he do it? All the data checked out and to all appearances, the system was right .
"I just couldn't believe that just like that, all of a sudden, someone would hurl five missiles at us. Five missiles wouldn't wipe us out. The U.S. had not five, but a thousand missiles in battle readiness." It just didn't seem like any scenario considered by military intelligence before.
The second thought on Petrov's mind every time he was on duty was this:
"I imagined if I'd assume the responsibility for unleashing the third World War - and I said, no, I wouldn't."
A real life Dr Strangelove scenario . Petrov reported the alarm to his superiors and declared it false. And world -wide nuclear destruction was averted .
How precarious our existence proves to be when Super-Powers confront one another with the power of small Suns and the reliability of a computer-chip and a computer programme . And the humanity of one man .
Sitting in death row is Percy Walton guilty in 1997 to the murders of Jessie and Elizabeth Kendrick, a couple in their 80s, and 33-year-old Archie Moore , robbed and shot in the head; Moore's body was found stuffed in a closet, his corpse doused in cologne. At trial, the prosecutor called Walton "a sadistic, ruthless and cold-blooded murderer who has no conscience."
He was scheduled to die on Friday, but Gov. Timothy M. Kaine on Monday postponed his execution. It was the second time the governor has temporarily halted Walton's execution. In June, Kaine issued a six-month delay to allow for an independent evaluation of Walton's mental condition. The results of that evaluation prompted the governor to delay Walton's execution an additional 18 months, until June 10, 2008, for "continued observation" of his mental state.
Walton "is severely mentally impaired and meets the Supreme Court's definition of mental incompetence," Kaine said. "At the same time, it is within the realm of possibility -- though unlikely -- that Walton's mental impairment is not permanent."
"Percy was and remains deeply schizophrenic and mentally retarded," said Walton's attorney, Nash Bilisoly. "He still has no concept as to the fact that he's going to die or why and, in our view, it makes no sense to execute someone in that condition."
One prison psychiatrist testified that Walton was "floridly psychotic."
In letters to The Associated Press, several of Walton's fellow death row inmates said his behavior is consistently bizarre, describing him as "nuttier than a fruitcake," "crazy as a bed bug," and "a walking talking cuckoo bird." His prison nickname is "Crazy Horse."
Inmate William Van Poyck, who has been on the row with Walton for seven years, said Walton is unable to engage in any meaningful conversation, responding to most questions with a monotone "yeah" or "no."
"I've served approximately 34 years in adult prisons, which is to say I've got a lot of experience being around truly insane men, and Percy ranks right at the top of crazy guys I've encountered," wrote Van Poyck, a Florida death row inmate being held in Virginia.
The Kendricks' daughter, Barbara Case, said she is unsure about Walton's current mental state...but
"If something happens December 8th and (Walton) doesn't die, it's not going to bother me one bit," Case said. "Because you know what? I really think the worse punishment ... is for him to be locked up the rest of his life."
So who is the execution for ?? Who is it to satisfy ??
Saturday, December 02, 2006
"So," I asked. "Is Europe really that attractive that it's worth risking your life for?"
"Not at all," Ndiro shot back. "Why would a man want to leave what he knows for something he doesn't? Why would he want to abandon his family, his wife, or his children, and possibly leave them to starve? Why would he turn his back on the land where his blood is buried?"
Then Ndiro answered his own questions.
"The greatest danger a man can face," he said, "is to wake up to find his children are hungry and he has no food to offer them. Measured against that, the hazards of a long sea voyage to Europe are nothing."
How do you stop those whose slogan is Barca ou Barsakh [Barcelona or death]?
Friday, December 01, 2006
What is the betting that this couple voted for Bush for President because they believed in him too , as the second-coming .
I also remember my article being returned with so many red ink corrections to the spelling , grammar and punctuation , scribbled with various amendments and deletions and alternative suggestions , I still wonder if it is really my article .
So here it is , from November 1971 , 35 years ago , when i was 17 years of age :-
What we stand for
The Socialist Party of Great Britain comes under criticism from some left-wingers for engaging in a policy of peaceful political action to establish Socialism
These pseudo-socialists claim erroneously that it is near impossible to get a majority of class conscious workers who understand and want Socialism and are prepared to work for it. They prefer to side with Lenin who is reported to have said “ If Socialism can only be realised when the intellectual development of all the people permits it then we shall not see Socialism for at least five hundred years” ( From a speech in November1918 quoted by John Reed in Ten Days that Shook the World ) and that the working class is not capable of Socialist consciousness but that “ exclusively by its own efforts , is able to develop only trade union consciousness” ( What is to be Done ). They , therefore , favour insurrection and smashing the State and army by a professional elite and who will lead workers to the promised land.
We in the Socialist Party on the other hand hold that the emancipation of the working class can and must be achieved by the working class itself through capturing the State machine and not by a vanguard demolition squad . ( Marx and Engels held this opinion too as seen by their letter to August Bebel , Bracke , Leibknecht and others in September1879 * ). But we also realise that we face a difficult struggle considering the stranglehold the ruling class have over the ideas held by the working class . We face powerful weapons wielded by the State which operate from the day we enter this world until the day we leave it. Then the capitalists use the radio , television, literature , and films to spread capitalistic values .
These mind-controlling weapons ensure that the obedient wage-slaves pop down to the polling station to vote for one of the capitalist parties. They also provide willing recruits - and corpses - for inter-capitalist rivalries for markets in the form of war. “For Queen and Country” is a sentiment still prevalent among working class circles, although not always in such words.
Minority insurrectionists would fail in any attempt to overthrow the capitalist system while masses are still conditioned in this way.
How will the Socialist Party counter these highly sophisticated instruments of submission ? One way is to propagate the case for Socialism wherever and whenever it is possible. That is why we publish literature and hold regular indoor and outdoor meetings throughout the country urging workers to organise politically and send delegates to Parliament with the view to setting up world Socialism , in conjunction with the workers of the rest of the world.
But a more powerful force on our side is capitalism itself. The deprivations and contradictions of the present system of society must lead more people to challenge capitalist values. The uncertainty of the future caused by the spectre of war , pollution and starvation forces the workers to think. Some drop out of society and form isolated Hippy communes , others sink into an alcoholic or drug induced escape . But as they realise that man is not an island they have to return to the rest of the slaves . More people are being confronted with the economic scrap heap and the dole queue . Salary earners of £5000 a year are sinking in the same boat as a man earning £500 . No one is secure under capitalism. The system is its own grave-digger .
* “…When the International was formed we expressly formulated the battle-cry: the emancipation of the working class must be achieved by the working class itself. We cannot therefore co-operate with people who say that the workers are too uneducated to emancipate themselves and must first be freed from above by philanthropic bourgeois and petty bourgeois. If the new Party organ adopts a line corresponding to the views of these gentlemen, and is bourgeois and not proletarian, then nothing remains for us, much though we should regret it, but publicly to declare our opposition to it and to dissolve the solidarity with which we have hitherto represented the German Party abroad…”
Thursday, November 30, 2006
A Two Act Play
by Larry Tickner
( Dramatization of events preceding to , and from “Bloody Saturday” , June 21 1919 , arising from the Winnipeg General Sympathetic Strike )
Note: I have taken a few liberties with the events of this time in order to best condense the events and feelings of the times . For example :Secretary of the Seattle Trades and Labor Council , James Duncan , had actually made his address a couple of weeks earlier. And those of the Central Strike Committee as were arrested had been arrested days earlier . So Sam Blumenburg , soldier Bray and Helen Armstrong would not be present . However , Helen did take lumps on occasions and is useful in conveying sentiments of Strike Committee . The Socialist , Blumenburg , was actually a dry cleaner but rates being written in , not just for his classic (genuine) one-liner but to show problems of “enemy aliens” . The secret police reports are of various times and sometimes condensations of more than one report to give the idea of the hysteria and paranoia that existed in some official circles . Like wise with government officials . The beating is as nearly accurately reproduced as possible. There is some controversy as to whether the workers did or did not destroy some of the interior of the streetcar , so I left it out . They did not , as some historians have claimed , tip over the streetcar. They tried , but it was too heavy. So are a lot of things . Larry Tickner
ex-Gen. Sec. S.P.C.
Cast , in order of appearance :
COMMENTARY: Relates happenings and statements of others away from the scene. As he gives wide cross-section of views of various elements it is important that his face not reflect conflicting emotions and should be blanked out with makeup . It is occasionally necessary that he be able to call on a booming voice that will shake the rafters .
“WORKERS”: All somewhat a-political , reflecting the general situation of the time . The common headgear of workers , at the time , was the bowler hat. But as such is not likely to carry the desired impression upon today’s audiences it is perhaps better that wear tweed or cloth caps .
WORKER 1: Generally more than average social awareness . Experienced . Knows he is in a tough fight but prepared to hang in there no matter what .
WORKER 2: Considerably less aware , but not lacking in courage . Slight foreign accent.
WORKER 3: Probably would have given in at the first blush if not carried by the tide of determination amongst his peers.
WORKER 4: Highly idealistic ( more than the others). Still retains the original religious fervour. Prepared to act first and think later.
( Soldiers all in uniform )
SOLDIER BRAY: Active supporter of the strike.
OTHER SOLDIERS: As many as can be comfortably accommodated on stage.
An attempt to attain an approximate balance between them and workers .
HELEN ARMSTRONG: Wife of socialist and carpenter union organiser George Armstrong. A socialist speaker in her own right. A proud upright woman. Femininely attractive enough , but dressing in such a manner as to neither hide nor exploit the fact .
SAM BLUMENBERG: Socialist , slight Jewish accent , but quite articulate. Fellow metal worker with Russell.
JAMES DUNCAN: President of Seattle Labor Council . He is not unsympathetic to groundswell of need for industrial unions but is attempting to achieve it by reforming the American Federation of Labour (AFL)
( Open Set )
Market Square , opposite Winnipeg City Hall . Center stage is a raised platform suitable for speakers. There are a few chairs on the platform for the speakers . At extreme left and extreme downstage stands COMMENTARY . He holds a scroll before himself . He can use it for cues , but it is preferred that he memorize his lines. He remains still when not speaking and when he speaks the “participating players” freeze as , except where otherwise noted . (Note: All entrances and exits are made from amongst the audience.)
COMMENTARY: Saturday morning , June 21st 1919. Market Square , opposite Winnipeg City Hall . The war to end all war is over . Wartime restrictions are still in effect . The Social Democratic Party has been declared illegal .The journal of the Socialist Party of Canada has been banned , as has the works of Marx and Darwin , and some of the plays of Gilbert and Sullivan. The men who fought four years for a “glorious new world” return to find it the same one they left- widespread unemployment , with all too familiar grinding poverty, aggravated by rampant wartime inflation . Nationwide discontent reflects itself, in Winnipeg, in the form of a six-week General Strike .
[ Enter WORKER 1 . He briefly shuffles around at the base of the platform until he is joined by WORKER 2 ]
WORKER 2: Where’s the Strike Committee?
WORKER 1: Don’t know . Guess we’re a bit early.
WORKER 2: Storm bother your place much ?
[Enter Worker 3 ]
WORKER 1: Blew off a few shingles . Fixed them. But I sure don’t want to see a storm like that again [ others nod in agreement ]
WORKER 3: Blew a big piece off the roof of the Children’s Hospital . What the hell ? Strike or no strike we don’t want to see children suffer . Me and a mate offered to fix it . Hospital Director said he’d roast in hell first .
WORKER 2: What the hell’s the matter with them ? Why do they hate us so? Don’t they see all we want is a decent living ?
WORKER 3: Don’t know . Say we’re all Bolshevik or Reds or something . Whatever that is . Enemy aliens getting German gold to ruin the country .
WORKER 1: That’s nothing . Been saying things like that about us for 20 years. Longer. Far as I can remember . Anything to keep our wages down. Been through it three times now . Try to get a union , decent wages. Each time, they use the police and scabs to break our strike - Courts to fine and imprison our union leaders . Forced to go back to work , at worse conditions. Alongside scabs [Spits]
WORKER 4: But this time it is going to be different . We are better organised now. All workers together striking for each other . Worked last year . Got three wage settlements by threats of general strikes .
COMMENTARY : With the workers properly organized there is nothing they may not successfully demand from the capitalist , by means of a general strike .
WORKERS 2: But without a general strike the metal masters beat the workers down within a month . That’s why we had to support them this year . Make things better for all of us , too.
WORKER 3: But maybe we should not have gone out . It’s been 6 weeks now and things are getting bloody tough . Don’t know if there will be enough food for my family .
WORKER 1: Don’t lose heart , brother. The Strike Committee says that as long as there is one crust of bread amongst us we’ll share it . We must be strong to win
WORKER 2: Why do the metal masters hold out so long? Even they admit the men cannot live on their present wages . Why can’t they see the justice of our case.
WORKER 1: We don’t even get the minimum conditions just laid down by the League of Nations .
COMMENTARY: I worked hard to establish my businesses .As a logger .In he sawmills. Worked to get my an engineering ticket . I alone am best qualifies when and whom to hire and fire and how much an employee should be paid. And no bloody Red is going to tell me different.
WORKER 4: [In almost dreamy nostalgia ] Remember , six weeks ago, when we came out? Labor Council called on all unions to support the Metal Trades . Eleven o’clock in the morning , as arranged, I took off my apron, put on my hat and left the job. The streets were full of people . ‘Twas like a Roman holiday . Not just union people either. As many without unions came out in support of the metal workers’ cause . Even soldiers changed over to our side .
WORKER 2: Even the Strike Committee was surprised . In the afternoon went to their favourite restaurant . It was closed . [All laugh ]
WORKER 4: Even police voted to come out .
WORKER 1: Agreed with the Strike Committee though. Stayed on to keep order. Even said they’d bust our heads if we got outa line. Never needed it though . Strike Committee cooperated to see everybody kept calm.
WORKER 3: [Apprehensively] But now they have fired all the police for being sympathetic to the strikers . Replaced them with boss’s goon police
WORKER 4: Dumb buggers are no good for anything anyway .Just say boo and they fall off their horses . Think we should sun ‘em outa town . Worse scab herders yet .
COMMENTARY: Sawing, sawing , sawing .What the hell we sawing up these old oxen yokes for anyway? We hire on to be policemen , not bloody woodcutters [Pause] Don’t care. For six dollars a day I’ll do anything . Don’t need oxen yokes no more anyhow. Got tractors now .
[ Immediately enter Soldier Bray . He is readily recognised and accepted by the workers. As he steps upon the platform other soldiers begin to mingle with the crowd]
BRAY: Comrades , the soldiers are with you in your demands for collective bargaining . We also demand an allowance for returned soldiers.
WORKER 1: How can we trust soldiers? You have not always been with us .
BRAY: I know what you mean .Last winter some of us did act against workers . Beat up foreigners Even destroyed the Socialist Party’s headquarters. We know we were wrong .But we have been misled by newspaper nonsense that screamed about enemy aliens , red menace and such .Strikes financed by German gold .
COMMENTARY: Secret Police Agent 57, reporting from Vancouver BC . There is reason to believe Bolshevik agents have landed on our shores .5,000 of them training under arms in Canada and the United States . They have violet rays and know how to use them to blind people .
BRAY: [Continuing] The Union members convinced us your interests are our interests . That is why we are here today , to stage another parade . When soldiers support is shown the justice of our case will be seen and we will win .
[Most of the crowd obviously restless and leaning towards action]
WORKER 1: [As he speaks Helen Armstrong mounts the platform] But the mayor has forbidden more parades . And the Strike Committee says we should avoid confrontation [Quoting the Strike Committee] The best thing to do is nothing. Go to the beach . Make love.
HELEN: That’s right Comrades , I beg you wait for the advice of the Strike Committee. They should have been here by now . I was to have met my husband …
WORKER 4: We can’t wait any longer. It’s been six weeks now .
HELEN: Wait. He comes Sam Blumenburg [As Sam mounts platform] He’s on the Strike Committee.
SAM: I’m late. I was bringing a visiting speaker but he didn’t show up .
SOLDIER 2: [in a badgering manner but the rest not too sympathetic with him] You sound like an enemy alien . How do we know the papers aren’t right? How do we know you ain’t gettin’ German gold ?
SAM: [Not in any way intimidated , scoffingly laughs] What is this enemy alien ?And German gold ? Workers see damn little gold of any kind . In my country it was very bad- very poor . Then the Canadian government says , Come to Canada , Land of Big Opportunity . Shows a poster, Woman with a nice white apron , waving to husband coming in from field. So I come. What do I find? All the good land gone . Even farmers , who have it can hardly make a living. Long unemployment lines. Miserably low wages . Then I get a job with Bob Russell. He says he wants to make a union that gets good wages for everybody. Not just craftsman. I think , maybe this is the big opportunity government talks about .
SOLDIER 2: Russell’s a socialist . How do we know you are not using the strike to make a revolution , like the papers say?
SAM: You crazy? Socialism could never happen that way . Sure Bob wants a new society . Me too. One with no money, no wages , everything free. But it can only come by majority action. Right now all we want is enough wages so we can live to see that day .
SOLDIER 2: Hah , what country do you come from?
SAM: [With all the confidence of someone who has dealt successfully with the question many times before]…It is not necessary to ask where I come from. My face is the map of Palestine and my nose is Mount Zion. [All laugh and that ends the matter]
[Enter James Duncan. He takes to the platform as he is welcomed by Blumenburg]
SAM: Here is the visiting speaker was to meet .James Duncan of the Seattle Labor Council.
[A lot of booing and hissing from those in attendance. But sentiment not shared by Bray ,Blumenburg or Helen Armstrong]
WORKER 4: Yankee Craft Union Snob.
BRAY: Wait . Lets hear what the man has to say . [All quieten]
DUNCAN: Brothers and Sisters . I am sorry I am late . Got a bad time from the border guards .Said if I’d been a day later they wouldn’t have had to let me through at all.
COMMENTAARY: Honourable gentleman of the house . The legislation before you will permit us to scourge the country of the enemy alien red menace once and for all . It will permit us to deport any of them. Reds of any kind, even British born reds, without trial. And once again make our country free. [Speaking rapidly] House of Commons : First Reading - all in favor say aye .Second Reading: all in favor say aye. Third Reading: all in favor say aye .
Senate: First Reading - all in favor say aye.
Second reading: all in favor say aye.
Third Reading: all in favor say aye.
Signed by the Governor-General
Total time elapsed 40 minutes
DUNCAN: I understand your sentiments . They are not unlike my own .[As he speaks the crowd begins to warm to him giving each other nudges and nods of approval] We have just had a general strike in Seattle for almost the same reasons as yours - low wages and refusal of the employers to recognize joint industrial bargaining . I am now on my way to the AFL Convention .[Boos and hisses]. If I cannot get them to reform their organization to embrace all workers I will join with you to help found one big union to represent all workers. [Enthusiastic cheers from all and applause from those sharing the platform] I wish I could stay longer and help your strike but I am late and must go to the AFL Convention . My heart is with you [Exits to applause]
BRAY: Hear that ,comrades .Our case is just. Workers everywhere are sympathetic to us Many are striking in support for us .
COMMENTARY: Secret Police Agent 98 reporting from Ferni,B.C. You do not have to worry about the union leaders becoming revolutionary. They don’t want to lose their soft and cushy jobs.
BRAY: Vancouver is out . Calgary is out . Lethbridge, Edmonton -
COMMENTARY: Dear Mr Prime Minister , as your Minister of Labour I must respectfully advise that , this is not an opportune time to make a declaration in favour of the principle of collective bargaining as it would be grasped as an excuse by the strikers to claim they had forced the government and thereby proved success of the sympathetic strike.
BRAY: Saskatoon is out. Regina , Prince Albert , Brandon , Port Arthur , Fort William , Toronto.
COMMENTARY: Edmonton out two weeks- Vancouver a month
WORKER 3: [Apprehensively.] But there is talk of getting scabs to run the streetcars. If that happens the strike is broken.
WORKER 4: Don’t worry Comrade [ He uses this address for the first time reflecting the increased pitch of anxiety] We know how to look after scabs.
COMMENTARY: Secret Agent 67, reporting from Calgary : What the new union policy will be , will depend on how dangerous things may be to their personal liberty. Already their fear is making them hesitant and , as far as possible, they will tone down their program. I recommend reformed labour laws , which would meet with the approval of the Conservative labour element ,aiming at the elimination of basic grievances and a satisfactory settlement to the returned soldiers and simultaneously the deportation of alien trouble makers . Decisive and concerted arrest of the leaders , a quick trial with a sentence making release or confinement dependent upon their future policy .
BRAY: Comrades , it is time to begin our parade.
HELEN: No , no . Wait for the Strike Committee [Blumenburg nods , in agreement]
COMMENTARY: [Continuing] Unionism , rightly organized , is the very basis of national unity and strength. Especially will this be proved with the inevitable international complications ensue . With regard to this new movement , only two courses are open - either crush it ruthlessly or reform the labour laws of the country .[ while Commentary is finishing a boy messenger hands Helen a note and hastens nervously away]
HELEN: [Upon reading the note shrieks ] God! They’ve arrested my husband. They’re arresting the whole Strike Committee .[In her sobbing grief she wakens to the danger to Sam] Oh , Sam , they’ll be after you too . You have no family to hold you . Run!
SAM: No , I must stay with my comrades and help the strike .
HELEN: [Bray and the crowd showing sympathy and anxiety for Sam] Don’t be a fool . You’re the only one on the Strike Committee without an English background . They are deporting foreigners who didn’t even have anything to do with organizing the strike . You can’t help us from jail or deported . Run…run! [Hesitantly and reluctantly Sam exits to the well wishes of the crowd]
COMMENTARY: Sam Blumenburg escapes to the United States where he is active in Socialist and labour organisations for the rest of his life .
BRAY: Now the soldiers are in charge. We will begin our parade .[Steps from the platform to take his place at the head of the forming parade ]
HELEN: No! No! Wait!
WORKER 4: [They are all in an ugly mood ] I’m bloody tired of waiting .[Helen runs beseechingly from one to another . Her helplessness is symbolised by the lack of dialogue. Each pushes her gently but firmly aside]
WORKER 3: Look! Here comes the mounties . [Note: the ensuing confrontation with the police is somewhat pantomimed . Crowd begins mocking and jeering . Mockingly hold their backs upright , stiff and hands in front as though holding horses reins. As the mounties “go though” the crowd turns in unison to watch them pass 9 a bit of choreographic talent needed here). Helen , and to some extent Bray , are not out of agreement with the sentiments expressed but their apprehension shows as things begin to get more and more out of control]
WORKER 1: Bloody mechanical men!
WORKER 2: Can’t you understand the workers’ needs?
WORKER 4: [As they pass through] Bloody scab herders!
[All looking down the street]
BRAY: [In relief] They’re gone . Now we can begin .
COMMENTARY: [In a voice that rattles the rafters] COMPANEEEE! Fall in! [Following lower volume but with military precisioness]. Ninetieth Winnipeg Rifles ready for action at a moments notice , Suh! 100th Winnipeg Grenadiers , ready at a moments notice , Suh! 106th Infantry ready at a moments notice , Suh! 79 Cameron Highlanders ready at a moment notice , Suh! Twenty machine guns on mobilized units . Ready at a moments notice , Suh!
HELEN: [Looking in direction of mounties] Wait , they’re turning. They’re coming back . [Crowds all jeer as they part ranks as though horses going between them .As the eyes of the crowd follow the mounties away Worker 4 picks up a rock and makes ready to throw it after the mounties. Helen tries to stop him but is brushed aside . The others aghast , at first , but then start picking up rocks and hurling them after the mounties . All except Helen and Bray , curse the mounties as they pass]
BRAY: [As things get out of hand] Let’s not lose control of ourselves. Lets be orderly
WORKER 3: [In relief] They’re gone
WORKER 2: Here comes a streetcar.
[ They all crowd around . Helen and Bray are quite helpless now. Worker 4 jumps as though to grab the trolley line]
WORKER 4: I’ve got the trolley cord .Its stopping!
[Helen and Bray have the same feeling toward the scab but do not take part in what follows , for slightly different reasons. The crowd make actions that indicate pulling the scab out of the streetcar . They make a cordon , ironically similar to the one the mounties passed through. They in turn take a punch at the scab and shout obscenities at him as he runs the gauntlet and runs away . There is a great amount of noise from the crowd]
HELEN: Listen! The mayor’s reading something.
WORKER 3: Who can hear ?
WORKER 4: Who cares anyway . Bloody boss‘s stooge.
COMMENTARY: In the name of the security and protection of the King all herein assembled are instructed to disperse …[Drowned out by the noise]
HELEN: The mounties are returning. They have their revolvers out
COMMENTARY: [Military voice] At the READY…AIM…FIRE! [Pause] [regular voice] One bystander is killed instantly.
[All paralyse looking in direction of Worker 2 as he holds his leg in pain. Hal crawling to extreme stage right where he lies own dying Remains there for remainder of scene]
WORKER 2: Hide me . No , do not call the doctor. I am foreign born. They will deport me. [Dies]
COMMENTARY: Dead of gangrene .[Now all begin to jerk and fall as though being shot and clubbed and trampled by horses . Helen goes to help a half-dazed worker ]
HELEN: Here Comrade. I’ll help you [Screams in pain as head jerks back from clubbing. Arises from momentary unconsciousness ] Run !… Run !
[As Commentary speaks all in unison go through a slow motion act of running .First stage front then left , then right , raising their hands in horror at what they “see” in each street]
COMMENTARY: Blockaded across each street are the special police . In the right hand of each is half an oxen yoke . In the other hand some have revolvers.
[All go through action of being clubbed , being shot ;falling getting up; stumbling in every direction]
HELEN: [Half dazed] Come Comrades. Hide in this alley. We’ll be safe here .[ All go to centre stage and crouch as though hiding]
COMMENTARY: Mommy . Why do people call that little street Hell’s Alley ? Come along dear. Don’t ask such things.
[In a few moments that are startled by something at stage left]
ALL: The goon police !
[They all retreat to stage right but again confronted ]
COMMENTARY: At each end of the alley cordons of special police , clubs in hand
[They all go through action of being beaten]
WORKER 4: [Going through action of fighting back] Fucking bastards!
[But he is clubbed from one side and then another . Crumples unconscious, as they all do , in tortured heaps .]
COMMENTARY: Scourge the streets! Find them , find them! .Punish ! Punish! Punish! Beat! Beat! Beat! Law and Order! Law and Order! [Slight pause]
[As strikers begin crawling off stage helping each other , carrying the unconscious and the dead workers , Commentary continues.]
We return to work like whipped dogs . Work alongside scabs, Lose seniority . Pensions . Sign allegiance oath. [With vengeance] Sign! Sign! Sign! [ Some exiting workers resentfully go the through the action of signing. Some spit in hatred] . Some are permanently blacklisted . [Slight Pause ] Troops arrive to take over the streets …trucks with mounted machine-guns patrol back and forth . But the streets are empty of strikers . Bloody Saturday is over.
COMMENTARY: Same qualifications as Commentary in first act [could be same performer but recommend the part be divided.]
JUDGE: Complete with those mysterious robes they are prone to wear
[Commentary 2 assumes position as Act 1 The judge is at his bench fiddling with papers as Commentary speaks.]
COMMENTARY: History books will largely by-pass the participants in the events of these days. Worse. Some will write in heroes who had very little to do with the struggle. This is not to say they were not key martyrs and heroes . There were. And their bravery and suffering matched any. But the genuine ones would not have had it that they were so heavily written in , nor that the rest be so easily passed over.
JUDGE: [Forcefully banging his gavel] Order in Court !
COMMENTARY: Many “aliens” have been deported. The vast majority of them are unknown to the strike leaders . Those of British backgrounds get a trial. As to fairness ? The trial is by jury. The jurists are mostly farmers with little in common with the accused . It is doubted by many , that a similar jury could be found anywhere else in the country .
JUDGE: The seven of you : A.A. Heaps ; Reverend William Ivens ; R.E. Bray ;George Armstrong ; John Queen ; R.J. Johns ; W.A. Pritchard , have been jointly charged on six counts of seditious conspiracy which we have spent these many weeks reviewing but may be briefly summarized here :
Count 1: A general form of seditious conspiracy to bring hatred and contempt to excite disaffection against the government , the laws and the constitution and generally to promote ill-will and hostility amongst the people and between classes.
Count 2: Seditious conspiracy in overt acts; in the calling of seditious socialist meetings and distribution of seditious socialist literature; Participation in the founding of the One Big Union with syndicalism objectives ; The prosecution of an illegal strike , to discommode and inconvenience the inhabitants of Winnipeg and paralysing of all industries and business in Winnipeg and endangering the lives, health , safety and property of said inhabitants .
Count 3: Seditious conspiracy to carry into effect a seditious intention to endanger human life and to cause serious bodily injury and to expose valuable property to destruction and serious injury .
Count 4: Seditious conspiracy to organize an unlawful combination or association or associations of workmen and employees to get demands by unlawful general strikes which were intended to be a step in a revolution against the constituted form of government in Canada .
Count 5: Seditious conspiracy to undermine and destroy confidence in the government . Laws and constitution . To persuade workmen to form unlawful associations for the purposes of obtaining control of all industries and of obtaining the property rightfully belonging to other persons.
Count 6: Seditious conspiracy to unlawfully bring about changes in the constitution and to enforce the “Soviet” form of government in Canada through means similar to those used in Russia.
Count 7: Committing a common nuisance by use of unlawful general sympathetic strike in which various employees walked out illegally and which endangered the lives , health , safety , property and comfort of the public and obstructed the exercise and enjoyment of rights common to all His Majesty’s subjects .
COMMENTARY: In making his charge to the jury the judge makes it clear that he believes in the guilt of the accused. The defence protests the method of choosing a jury and the prosecution attorney confides to a colleague that with any other jury in the country a conviction would be unlikely . Upon reconvening the jury renders its verdict.
JUDGE: I have the jury’s verdicts before me .[Pause] A.A. Heaps. Not guilty on all seven counts .
COMMENTARY: A labor alderman in the City of Winnipeg . Member of the Strike Committee . Upholsterer by trade . Only one of the seven to be acquitted on all seven counts Defended himself . His address to the jury took all of one day.JUDGE: Reverend William Ivens. Guilty on all seven accounts . Sentence: one year in Manitoba Prison Farm .
COMMENTARY: Had been ousted from the Methodist church for his pacifist views .S subsequently founded a labour church in the Winnipeg Trade and Labor hall. At the time of his arrest was editor of the Western Labor News . Defended himself. His address to the jury took 14 hours . While in prison , elected to the legislature for the Independent Labor Party , where he served 16 years.JUDGE: R.E. Bray. On six accounts of seditious conspiracy , not guilty. On the charge of committing a common nuisance , Guilty. Sentence: six months in the Manitoba Prison Farm.
COMMENTARY: Soldier . Member of the Strike Committee. Representative from the Soldiers Committee. Philosophically a pacifist. Only joined the army to get work. Subsequently becomes an organiser for the newly-founded One Big Union. Spends his reclining years in Vancouver growing gladioliasJUDGE: George Armstrong. Guilty on all seven accounts . Sentence: one year in the Manitoba Prison Farm.
COMMENTARY: Member of the Strike Committee . Member and one-time organiser of the United Brotherhood of Carpenter and Joiners of America. Prominent lecturer for the Socialist Party of Canada . While in prison elected to the Manitoba Legislature on a reformist ticket .Subsequently returns to write and speak for the Socialist Party in relative obscurity.
JUDGE: John Queen. Guilty on all seven accounts . Sentence: one year in Manitoba Prison Farm.
COMMENTARY: A silver-tongued labor orator. Alderman of the City of Winnipeg. Advertising Manager of the Western Labor News . While in prison , elected to the Manitoba Legislature and subsequently re-elected the rest of his life. Serves terms as the mayor of Winnipeg.
JUDGE: R.F. Johns , Guilty on all seven accounts .Sentence: one year in the Manitoba Prison Farm.
COMMENTARY: Railroad machinist. Active member of the Socialist Party of Canada . During entire strike was in Eastern Canada involved in other union activities . His imprisonment results in undue strain on his wife causing him to drop all Socialist activities. He returns to school to become a machinist teacher and ultimately the Manitoba Director of Technical Education.
JUDGE: William A. Pritchard. Guilty on all seven accounts . Sentence : one year in the Manitoba Prison Farm.
COMMENTARY: Vancouver organiser for the longshoremen’s union. In Winnipeg on a four-day visit as executive representative of Vancouver Trades and Labour Council. A prominent speaker for the Socialist Party of Canada .
His address to the jury , two days , from 10am to 10pm each , becomes a classic in judicial circles . Pressures from his imprisonment have tragic effect upon his family . He is subsequently the Reeveof Burnaby and is a key factor in the founding of the reformist British Columbia CCF Party. For this latter act some of his fellow socialists never forgave him . In 1979 three years before his death at the age of 93 , in his home in Los Angeles he wrote “had the government carried out its initial move there would not have been any trial …Andrews , principal counsel for the crown went one evening to the Penitentiary and announced : By tomorrow you will all be deported to Britain - wives and children to follow…But Armstrong at once called out: Hey Alfie ! What are you going to do with me ? Send me to Alaska ? He was born in York , Toronto. This put the kibush on the hurriedly devised scheme.”
COMMENTARY: Two others are tried separately.JUDGE: F.J. Dixon. For your part in writing and circulating articles in the Western Labor News you are hereby charged with seditious libel.
COMMENTARY: A labor member of the Provincial legislature, undertook the publication of Western Labor Newswhen the others were arrested . Made a stellar performance of conducting his own defenceand despite hostile charge from judge , after 40 hours the jury rendered a verdict of not guilty.
COMMENTARY: R.B. Russell is charged on six accounts of seditious conspiracy and one account of common nuisance .
JUDGE: R.B. Russell. Guilty on all seven accounts . Sentence: two years in Stoney Mountain Penitentiary .
COMMENTARY: Secretary of Canadian Railroad Machinists. Esteemed to be leader of the strike. Prominent member of the Socialist Party of Canada for which he runs while in prison . He is narrowly defeated by fellow strike supporter , Dixon, on the count of a preferential ballot .Labor throughout the world demands a pardon for him as far away as Glasgow , Scotland threaten a general strike if he is not released . He is pardoned. Upon release , he becomes secretary and main organizer for the newly founded One Big Union. It is Russell’s expressed intention to fight for workers on the industrial field., while at the same time educate them in socialist ideas for the ultimate abolition of capitalism. For a while the OBU makes an impressive impact on the labour scene ; its presence being felt in a wide spectrum , including Nova Scotia miners, textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts , New York and San Francisco and amongst western lumber workers . For fifteen years it publishes a weekly journal with union business interspersed with socialist theory. But the writing is on the wall. The OBU has to fight on too many fronts: employers with an understandable mutual antagonism ; government ; police; and with other unions - first there is the international craft unions , then the international industrial unions - and the Communist Party , whose worm-within and Moscow obedience policy is corned by the OBU. Ultimately the OBU withers to a mere Winnipeg base . After 43 years ,a t the founding of the Canadian Labor Congress in 1962 what remained of it is officially disbanded . On Labor Day 1964 , four years before his death , Bob Russell is officially recognised as the father of labour in Manitoba . A school and a wing of a children’s hospital are named after him. [pause]
In the words of Pritchard at the time
“... in my own mind I rest assured the historian of the future will drive the knife of critical research into the very bowels of the bogey that has been conjured forth out of the imagination of certain luminaries of this city; and placing everything in proper position will appreciate at their worth each fact and each factor ; and will appreciate at their proper worth all those persons who have become part and parcel of what has been conceded to be the greatest case in the history of Canada”
Hells Alley is an inconspicuous alley Between Market Avenue and James Avenue, which consists a series of old loading doors and two old rail tracks peeking out from under the gravel.
The Winnipeg General Strike, W.A. Pritchard.
The Impossibilists, Larry Gambone
Address to Court , J.S Woodworth ,
Transcribed from World Socialist No.5 Summer 1986 by ajohnstone