Fighting global capitalism

The workers or 'the people'?

Submitted by AWL on 22 June, 2011 - 2:51

Why should Marxists want to narrow our appeal to 'the workers', enrolling people from other classes only to the extent that they rally behind the working class? Why not seek a broader unity of 'ordinary people'?

Originally published in Workers' Liberty magazine, January 2001. By Chris Reynolds

The pivot of Marx's critique of political economy is the concept of abstract labour, or universal social labour - labour as the expenditure under standard conditions of a quotient of average labour-power. Abstract labour, according to Marx, is the substance of value.

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Workers' Liberty No.8 - Le Pen, South Korea, Australian Labor Party, National Union of Railwaymen (NUR), 1987 TUC conference

Submitted by AWL on 28 December, 2010 - 2:54 Author: AWL

A collection of articles from Workers' Liberty No.8.

* Conservative Party invitation to French Fascist and leader of the French National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

* 1987 TUC conference and the Union leaderships' response to declining union membership.

* An analysis of the Australian Labor Party's 1987 Australian general election victory.

* Child sex abuse, incest and UK law.

* The rise of working-class struggle in South Korea

* General Secretary Jimmy Knapp's sell-out of the members of the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR)

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Invitation to "Time to fight back" march - a letter from Liverpool TUC

Submitted by AWL on 26 August, 2009 - 4:00

Liverpool TUC's

Secretary: Mark Hoskisson
President: Denis Dunphy
Treasurer: John Farmer

Dear Brothers and sisters

Join Liverpool TUC's "Time to fight back" march, 13 September 2009 Assemble 12.30pm at the Pier Head, Liverpool

Liverpool Trades Union Council has agreed to welcome the presence of the national TUC Congress in our city by calling on all workers to join us in a demonstration.

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Diageo, Kilmarnock: Thousands march to defend jobs

Submitted by Newcastle on 30 July, 2009 - 5:40 Author: Stan Crooke

On Sunday 26 July, up to 20,000 according to press reports, marched against the threatened closure of the Diageo bottling plant in Kilmarnock.

It was a massive display of opposition to the company’s plans.

Diageo is the world’s biggest drinks company, with a worldwide workforce of 22,000. Its brands include Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff and Captain Morgan. Its profits over the last decade have averaged £2 billion a year. In the twelve months to July of this year, its pre-tax profits amounted to £2.093 billion.

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Solidarity Swells Lindsey Pickets

Submitted by Anon on 23 June, 2009 - 9:37 Author: Frank Miller

Good local support boosted numbers at the demonstration called at Lindsey Oil Refinery this morning adding to the solid core of sacked workers at the site. Building from a slow start at 0630 the picket swelled to over 1500 by 0830. The picket line itself was very quiet, most of the sacked workers having already heard the news that Total had agreed to talks.

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G20: Chris Knight and the Press

Submitted by martin on 1 April, 2009 - 10:25 Author: Martin Thomas

1 April: The London Evening Standard reports today that "more than 7,000 police and security staff [have] turned London into a fortress city for the G20 summit... The Met describes [it] as the biggest security operation it has ever mounted".

Cycling through the City, I saw hardware shops, newsagents, and camera shops shuttered or boarded up for the day, though McDonalds and Starbucks were still open. Visibly many workers had responded to the media coverage about likely violence by taking the day off.

Comments

Submitted by cathy n on Wed, 01/04/2009 - 15:35

Like thousands of other Londoners today I went looking for a G20 protest to attend. Forced to eschew the Climate Camp action (because of the camping dimension) I went up to Cannon Street this morning to join one of the four demonstrations which later converged on the Bank of England. This demonstration complete with its Black Horse of the Apocalypse (representing House Repossessions) was small and very heavily marshalled by police. But by the time we got to the Bank of England thousands of people were there. The police say four thousand. I would say, easily more, if you include the people who tried to get into the demonstration after 12.30 or thereabouts but couldn't due to the police cordons.

They certainly brought a different vibe to the City of London today and for the most part, until, predictably, the police blocked off the demonstration inside the square of roads that surround the Bank of England, it was a usual good natured and noisy demo. A broader range of anti-capitalists, not just hard core anarchists were there, people who simply did not want the day to pass without going on a demonstration.

Home made banners, scaling the steps of the Bank of England it was a carnival... of sorts.

But less than half an hour after the start of the demonstration outside the bank, the police began to seal off the streets that point out, like the spokes of a wheel, around this symbolic centre of British capitalism: Victoria Street, Poultry Street, Lothbury, Threadneedle Street, Cornhill, King William Street. I turned round from snapping the police and assorted banners to find a line of police on Victoria Street. There was 5 minutes of "filtering out" (including me) and then the rest of the demonstrators were there for as long as they police wanted them to be.
Outside the police cordon office workers came to look, bemused, excited, interested and supportive too. Tourists of course. And the press, so much press. For a while I set out my political stall. Selling a copy of Solidarity to a man in a suit and designer spex, for me, simply added to the mood of contrasts.

I walked round the Bank through the back allies meeting lone protesters, skateboarders, beardy men with guitars. And a situationist with curiously reform-oriented slogans: "for a real Parliament, dance dance dance. Schools, hospitals, jobs, dance dance dance". I liked the cut of his jib: flat cap, leather satchell, green cord jacket. I got talking to a young man and a "rough sleeper", about how glad he was to be here today, in the sunshine for once, with so many angry people. He told me he was 17. He looked much younger.

Martin is right of course about the recklessness of this demonstration - leading thousands of people into an area which has a geography that gifts the police a holding pen - but despite what you will see on the TV tonight this was not a bad place to be today.

I overheard one cynical press photographer say "Same old, same old" to the police. You think so? With workers occupying a car plant in the north of this city, I don't think so.

Submitted by danrawnsley on Fri, 03/04/2009 - 12:13

I wasn't there, but rather with a number of student fraction comrades at the NUS conference in Blackpool, watching it all unfold on the internet. The sentiment was very much that we'd rather be in London at the demos and car factory occupations, but had a job to do in reporting the action to the conference and being the only group to put out information about it there. So first of all I admit that I wasn't there and don't know a great deal about the protest geography of London, let that stand against me.

Cathy makes the point about the area around the Bank of England having a geography that gifts the police an easy 'holding pen', however, with a police operation on such a scale, what set of streets in central London isn't easy to blockade? Where would have been as effective a location and a better place to stand up to the cops?

From looking at videos already up on youtube of the police attacking protesters (i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_WpYG2mRWk) I think one thing we need to understand is that a lot of demonstrators seem ill equipped to deal with police brutality. People are holding their hands up peacefully in the face of determined riot cops who want to beat them back, rather than linking arms to defend themselves.

Certainly location is a question of tactics, but we cannot let the police dictate the terms of demonstrations. Rather than considering certain places in London no go areas we need to develop direct action tactics to resist police attacks. I've heard comrades discuss the miners strike in relation to the politics of violence and say that we would approach pickets telling people that they shouldn't look for violence, but rather they should be ready for it with head protection (bike helmets etc.) and base-ball bats. A baseball bat is a hard thing to sneak through a police stop and search, but a bike helmet isn't so difficult.

I also think that 'theatrics and stupidity' as a title for the main article on this topic on the front page of our website is needlessly confrontational. I think a comrade who was at the demonstrations needs to put up a report about the demonstrations pretty quickly and this article should be titled as being about Chris Knight (which it is) and not the demonstrations.

Submitted by martin on Fri, 03/04/2009 - 13:03

There's a report above, from Cathy. I hope to get a report on the Climate Camp in the City that day (which AWL focused on more) too. My point was not primarily about the geography of the demonstration, but about the business of declaring in advance of the demonstration that you may be "hanging bankers from lamp-posts", letting "hell" loose, "knocking down doors and windows", etc., especially when the actual plan is for a carnival. Stupidity seems a fair word for that.

Martin Thomas

Submitted by dalcassian on Sat, 04/04/2009 - 14:50

In reply to by martin

I think "stupidity" is a fair enough word for what Martin describes. But it is also a euphemism. The precise word for it is "lunatic". Poor Chris Knight is a straightforward loonie.

S.O.T.

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 04/04/2009 - 19:18

That may be true, Dalcassian, but Chris Knight was not the only person on these demonstrations, so I think Dan has a point in the last paragraph.

Submitted by dalcassian on Sun, 05/04/2009 - 16:07

In reply to by Janine

Yes, Dan/Janine, I think you are right there.

S.O.T.

Submitted by cathy n on Tue, 07/04/2009 - 09:38

Let's be clear.

1. The left, labour movement, anti-capitalist networks have a perfect right, I'd go further, a duty, to assert their right to demonstrate wherever they want, whenever they want to. That is not at issue.
2. The police are responsible for any disruption on demonstrations. As the Economist - which is often the honest wing of the bourgeoisie - said this week "too often the police seem to think it is their job to disrupt demonstrations". Of course we would put it more strongly: "it is the police's job to disrupt demonstrations". And the police have been penning people in ("kettling") for years (Grunwick's was mentioned to me this week).
3. There is a lot more that I could have said about the tactics and politics (anarchism especially) of the London Bank demonstration. I choose not to, because as I said there was no place then I would rather have been. And besides the most of the people that put the demonstration together are not the TUC, but a disparate group of un(der)-resourced lose networks etc etc.
4. I'm not particularly bothered about property getting destroyed and under the circumstances I'm not against people having a fight with the police.

But I think we are against people getting into fight with the police unless they are fully prepared to do that, know why they are doing it etc (to defend free speech, to defend a particular physical space, defend the right to picket, defend an occupation). And what do you do if people who are by no means prepared for that fight are not with you, cannot be with you (age, inexperience, physical strength?) or you are unable to mobilise to back you up. Essentially we want people to be fully organised, to be fully prepared in every kind of way to stay penned up by the police. And as that's a tall order, the British police are not like other police (e.g as another comrade said this week, in Italy, where they are randomly very brutal but also more shambolic): they are organised on military lines. That's my concern - and I think its one which the vast majority of people who come on these demos share.
I think for a number of reasons (not least, though no one is anxious to make political capital out of it, because of Ian Tomlinson's death) there is an opening for a campaign against police tactics and for free speech.
Cathy

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“No nation will put up with so barefaced an exploitation of the community by a small band of bonus-mongers”

Submitted by AWL on 12 February, 2009 - 8:31 Author: Colin Foster

“No nation will put up with so barefaced an exploitation of the community by a small band of dividend-mongers”, wrote Frederick Engels over a hundred years ago.

He was explaining why he considered full state control of the capitalist economy theoretically plausible but practically unlikely.

If “all the social functions of the capitalist are now performed by salaried employees”, then “the capitalist has no further social function than than of pocketing dividends, tearing off coupons, and gambling on the Stock Exchange”.

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