Preparing the fight for socialism in 2019 – socialist party scotland

“I have never been more ashamed to be a Conservative. We continue to be led by a mule flogging a dead horse” (Allison Pearson, Daily Telegraph columnist). This blistering attack on Prime Minister Theresa May and the Tory government – before the leadership challenge was called – from its own side is a fitting epitaph on their futile attempts to effect an ‘orderly’ withdrawal from the EU.

Imagine what would have been gained if the trade union leaders had put themselves at the head of this movement, then called for and organised a general strike? This would have led not only to the total defeat of Macron and driven him from office but also prepared the ground for the idea of working-class power, of socialism in France.

As one French worker commented: “We don’t want the crumbs, we want the whole baguette.”

All the downtrodden, the victims of the social war against the rights and living standards carried out by the capitalists throughout Europe, have generated a mood of ‘let’s act like the French’. Socialist Party sellers on the streets in Britain have found a thirst above all for action, not just words, against the bosses and their rotten system.

A new crisis also looms in world relations. Trump has enormously ratcheted up tensions with the repudiation of the Iran nuclear deal and its political fallout, increased conflict with China both economically and militarily and now with Russia in a proposed new ‘great power’ nuclear arms race, in relations with the EU and practically the whole of the rest of the world.

This was reflected in the general outburst of laughter and jeering which greeted Trump’s speech at the recent United Nations General Assembly where he nakedly reasserted US imperialism’s doctrine of unilateralism to “make America great again”. This was in place of the previous so-called ‘rules-based’ international ‘cooperation’ – a softer form of US capitalism’s power and domination.

Moreover, his repudiation of the Paris agreement on climate change flies in the teeth of increased worldwide concern. This concern is reflected in significant mass movements and heightened consciousness in some of the countries and continents most immediately affected by the likely terrible repercussions of an increase in the world’s temperature, which is indisputable and can lead to a world climate catastrophe.

It was also founded on a continuation of low wages and generalised wage repression, with little real substantial long-term benefit accruing to the working class. In Britain, for instance, wage stagnation is the worst since the Napoleonic wars at the beginning of the 19th century. Elsewhere austerity is still continuing in Europe and for the majority of the working class in the US.

The neocolonial world has in general suffered a severe crisis, with an economic contraction in Brazil unprecedented since World War Two, and a significant dimming of economic prospects in Argentina, Turkey and South Africa. However, where there has been even a slight economic upturn in some countries this has encouraged the working class to move to ‘take back’ some of what they lost in the ‘great recession’ and its aftermath.

In the US there has been a powerful re-emergence of the working class in a series of strikes, including militant teachers’ strikes in West Virginia and elsewhere. In logistics giant UPS there has been a rank-and-file revolt against a contract negotiated by the union leadership. These and other disputes are leading towards the biggest number of workers taking strike action since the 1980s.

This is before the fallout from the effects of the incipient trade war between the US and China, Canada and Mexico is felt. Retaliation will undoubtedly be undertaken by China to a larger extent than at present if this ‘war’ continues. Farmers in the US Midwest and elsewhere – an important base for Trump – will be seriously affected by counter-measures against US agricultural exports, particularly soya, to China.

The Chinese elite and regime have gone from being a ‘strategic partner’ of the US to a ‘strategic rival’, while Russia has recently come in for the same treatment on the military front. Trump and his spokespersons have called into question the 1987 nuclear treaty signed by Gorbachev and Reagan to freeze strategic nuclear weapons. However, the overall result was to ratchet up conflict between the US and its rivals in the rest of the world.

They supposedly ‘delivered’ the vote in favour of Brexit in the UK, the election of La Lega and other right-wing forces in Italy, and the authoritarian populists in control of Hungary and Poland. The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) is on the rise. Right-wing populists are also well entrenched in Austria, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The rise of this politically nebulous populism is rooted in the enduring legacy of the world economic crisis of 2007-08. Capitalist analysts, including Francis Fukuyama and an array of commentators, in effect jeer that it was not the left but the right who mostly gained from the political fallout from this crisis. This turns reality completely on its head.

Some commentators described this crisis as worse in its lasting economic effects than even the depression of the 1930s. Huge layers of the population, not just the working class but swathes of the middle class, confronted with the impossibility of them and their children acquiring even modest wealth, and the decimation through austerity of decent housing, education and social services, initially inclined then towards the left. New left formations have also grown in this period, as shown by the initial support for Bernie Sanders, then Jeremy Corbyn in Britain, and others.

However, they were confronted mainly by the spectacle of social democracy in Europe and elsewhere pursuing the same policies of austerity, as did the Democrats in the US under Obama. With Hillary Clinton as candidate, their programme in the last US presidential elections amounted to ‘more of the same’. It was this that provided the opening for Trump and the variegated populist forces internationally of the right to gain a significant foothold.

But the long-term growth of the right is very tenuous, as witnessed in Germany at the present time. It is true that the right and far right have gained electorally but so did the Greens in regional elections in Bavaria and Hesse. Moreover, as our German comrades have pointed out, at the same time as the right was chalking up these successes, gaining massive publicity for their demonstrations, even larger left demonstrations – for instance of 250,000 in Berlin – marched opposing the far right and the racist attacks on immigrants.

So already the whip of counter-revolution has moved significant sections of workers, women and young people into action. Trump will be undermined by these revolts which will grow and have been brewing for a long time in the US. Trump is preparing the ground for a huge political radicalisation. He warns: ‘If you don’t vote for me socialism looms’, which can only further popularise socialism for millions!

Of course capitalist politicians systematically lie but Trump outdoes them all. In one recent rally it was estimated that there were 74 verifiable falsehoods! This obscene, pampered bourgeois, who was officially a millionaire at the age of eight (!), managed to scrape the presidential election win with 3 million less votes than Hillary Clinton because of the built-in bias and gerrymandering of the American constitution.

The magnificent pro-choice revolt of the Irish working class, with the Socialist Party in Ireland playing an important role, against the relics of Catholic feudal and semi-feudal reaction, particularly in the social field, can be repeated in the US, as it has already in Argentina and Spain, and win mass support from other sectors of the working class. However, the recent strike of women workers in Glasgow, Scotland, for equal pay also led to the active support of their brothers, the male refuse workers.

One measure of this terrifying collapse is that Brazil in 2018 has experienced as many murders, most of them drug-related, as the annualised average deaths in the Syrian civil war. Bolsonaro has openly supported the last military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 1985. He has lauded ‘torture’ and intends to extirpate ‘communism’ – by which he means democracy and workers’ rights – including measures against the trade unions.

The rapacious Brazilian capitalists have wistfully looked back to the military regime which only ended in 1985 in Brazil. In the last few years they have in effect tested out the water by engaging in a ‘slow coup’, largely parliamentary, achieved through stages: first, the removal of PT president Dilma and then the imprisonment of Lula himself, one of the founders of the party, on the grounds of corruption. Without excusing the PT’s corruption, its accusers were in fact up to their necks in even greater corruption themselves!

The lessons of Brazil must be absorbed by all workers. Many will no doubt be legitimately fearful about the imminent imposition of a military regime, and some of even ‘fascism’ in Brazil. There are undoubtedly elements of this in the situation, where the new regime could lean primarily on extra-parliamentary and military measures in order to attack and weaken the left.

Moreover, its coming to power can act like a crack of thunder to awaken the Brazilian masses – and not just them but in the whole of Latin America – to the real danger that they confront. Events in the biggest and most important country in Latin America, Brazil, will be watched avidly both in the rest of the continent and internationally. We must do everything, both politically and materially, to assist our comrades in this crucial struggle.

Once the ninth richest country in the world, Argentina has gone through a process of collapse and instability. Macri came to power as a capitalist solution to the chronic instability which has plagued the country. Within months he faced a general strike in protest against his cuts but he still continued with counter-reforms although seeking to soften their impact. At any time there can be a social explosion.

The failures of other left governments in Venezuela, Brazil, etc, are a warning for the Mexican masses who have just elected Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who largely remained within the framework of Venezuelan and world capitalist markets, did not clearly call for the spreading of the revolution to the region and internationally.

The current position in Britain is also pregnant with many kinds of possibilities. Given the stalemate that exists, the May government could collapse at any time. Each proffered ‘solution’ from the different wings of the Tory party and all other parties becomes a colossal problem, as no soon as it is mentioned than it is kicked into the long grass.

If the government or even Labour accedes to a new EU referendum, Britain will enter unknown territory with the possibility of widespread mass outrage and violence at the spectacle that the ruling class just changes the rules of ‘democracy’ whenever they think it is convenient. This could lay the basis for widespread clashes between the different camps over the EU, which would call into question whether a democratic referendum could be re-run.

Those Labour voices, erstwhile lefts such as Paul Mason who are now clearly advocating another referendum and remaining in the EU, do not have a class and internationalist approach. The European Union was conceived as a neoliberal pro-capitalist construction right from its inception and that remains the same with the outlawing, at least on paper, of nationalisation by a left government.