|WHAT DISTINGUISHES OUR PARTY – The line running from Marx to Lenin to the foundation of the Third International and the birth of the Communist Party of Italy in Leghorn (Livorno) 1921, and from there to the struggle of the Italian Communist Left against the degeneration in Moscow and to the rejection of popular fronts and coalition of resistance groups – The tough work of restoring the revolutionary doctrine and the party organ, in contact with the working class, outside the realm of personal politics and electoralist manoevrings|
– Elections in Israel: The abstentionism of the Party against the fraud
– The Stresses, Strains and Chaos of Brexit
For the Class Union
The "civil society" is convulsed, the bourgeois electoral system in Israel in a crossroad.
Next September, a new general election, full of bourgeois contradictions and a worrying tendency towards apathy and general fatigue of the working class, must be repeated after an unfortunate election of the Prime Minister Netanyahu, where a coalition government could not be formed between the various currents of the bourgeois parties, whether they call themselves the left or right.
But what has drawn the most attention of the bourgeois domination, has been the growing proportion of abstention.
It is not enough the indistinct and terrible means of propaganda and wash brain carried out today in the educational system of the bourgeois capitalism, putting the democratic system above all political value to bring the proletariat closer to the polls in a massive way, not even the war drums and the living conditions to which they are subjected, in a state of paranoia and widespread alertness, in a running tendency to no felt in mendicancy.
It is clear, for the bourgeois domain, that the survival of the bourgeois democratic institutions is possible with the immense participation of an increasingly apathetic working class. One could go so far and say that the entire creation of the Israeli State as such depends on the sacred union between the classes and their predisposition to die in the constant wars.
Within the Arab proletariat, the value of Israeli democracy is more and more simply what it is: a fraud. One of the biggest abstentions, more than the half of the population, shows the dissatisfaction with the political and social system destined to fail.
The capitalist social system, individualizing to the extreme, separating the proletarians from any form of union with different methods, in an abyss of personal perspective, egoistic and a social apathy with the consequence of the growing alienation of social relations.
But it is the material conditions that today move the proletariat away from the bourgeois politics full of fraud, corruption, war and betrayal, and create in the proletarians hatred towards the entire corrupt political system, which tomorrow will drive it to the to the class struggle. With the deterioration of the material conditions of the life of the workers, the union between proletarians is a must, a necessity to defend their class interests.
Between these two variables, the foundations of the next revolution are laid, which includes not the "citizens" but the class regardless of their race, creed, or origin. No more citizens, but proletarians in struggle.
Our Party, organized today in the International Communist Party, owner of a unique strategy and tactics worldwide, the result of the study and historical experience of the communist movement, defends abstentionism not as a moral imperative against authority, nor as an abstract principle, but a real and proven tactic in the historical experience of strengthening the path of revolution, the empowerment of a lethargic working class, and that is why it calls proletarians to practical abstention.
And we say proletarians, no citizens, because as well as equality in bourgeois society it is a fraud, the same goes for the democratic decision of the most masked dictatorship over proletarians, and we include those who have no chance to vote, unlike all the fauna bourgeois.
We include them and tell them that the solution does not happen to obtain the right to vote, but the total suppression of the right to vote that is in itself, the right to fraud of the bourgeois dictatorship ad infinitum, and we call to organize around the workers' struggles towards the formation of an Class Workers Union, and then organize as a class for themselves, in the Communist Party. This is and will be the first step for the emancipation of the proletarians in Israel, of a democracy that is now sinking, and that although it already demonstrates all its fierce repression against a part of the proletariat, in the near future it will do so even with the same Hebrew proletariat, which lives in awe of a fraudulent democracy, supposedly the only one in Middle East.
Britain has become a curious place in recent years as the Brexit saga rumbles on, showing no signs of reaching a conclusion. In our press we have characterized it as a bourgeois argument about how best to make the UK more “globally competitive”, primarily by imposing worse conditions on the working class.
There is intense and often bitter disagreement on all sides about how to achieve this. The pro-Europeans hold up, for example, BMW in Oxford as a great example of the benefits of the EU, but keep quiet about the fact that the bulk of manufacturing is being exported to “low cost” countries either in the EU or countries linked to it (such as Turkey), which in turn reduces workers’ bargaining power. On the other side the globalists want to make London “Singapore on the Thames” and open “free ports” in places like Hull, burning all the regulations that (theoretically, at least) create a level capitalist playing field across the EU. And thirdly, companies whose interests are limited, or largely limited, to the British domestic market, argue a “Britain first” position that appeals to naked chauvinism.
The British working class is therefore the victim of a struggle between the interests of domestic, European and global (mainly American) capital. The farce that is playing out in parliament and the media reflects this struggle, but also deliberately distorts and obscures the underlying realities.
Our understanding of the anti-working class nature of all of these positions should not however be interpreted as indifference. Brexit could have a devastating effect on workers in many sectors. What happens when car workers are put on short hours or the plant closed? What happens to agricultural workers who would be thrown out of work when 30-40% WTO tariffs are slapped on beef and lamb exports? And of course, Brexit has the potential to disrupt the lives of millions of migrant workers and their families.
Moreover, the entire Brexit “debate” has thrown up some atrocious demagoguery designed to mislead and disorient the working class. All sides in this democratic contest base the legitimacy of their position on “the will of the people”, thereby exposing the very absurdity of the expression, and indeed, the absurd pretensions of democracy itself. We see millionaires railing against the rich elite, Lords draped in ermine railing against the privileged elite, globalists railing against the globalist elite and well-heeled, overpaid London journalists railing against the metropolitan elite, all in the name of “the people”. It is the same on both sides: Ministers like Philip Hammond, who reduced thousands of people to dependence on food banks, have the nerve to tell us we will all be poorer outside the EU!
Such rank hypocrisy is easy to debunk but it has a strong appeal to the petty bourgeoisie. Though economically weak, this class is numerically strong and it is the class that various bourgeois factions are most intent on mobilizing behind their projects, because they are susceptible to the most philistine arguments, for example the notion that “the Establishment” is in league with foreign capitalists to undermine the British (or English or Scottish etc.) “way of life” and “culture”. The petty bourgeoisie is incapable of creating a coherent ideology of its own; rather, it nurses a whole ragbag of resentments and grievances that provide fertile ground for opportunist politicians. These grievances, real or imagined, are poisonous to the working class because they identify the wrong enemies (or the right enemies, but for the wrong reasons) so we cannot remain indifferent to them, either.
The parliamentary clash over whether the UK leaves the EU with or without a “deal” on 31 October (Hallowe’en! – but there are only tricks, no treats in store) is escalating out of control. In 2019 the Conservative Party clung to a precarious House of Commons majority with the help of Northern Ireland’s loyalist Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) but was unable to get a vote in favor of the withdrawal agreement negotiated with the European Union. The determined opposition of the most extreme pro-Brexit faction, the European Research Group, and the DUP, blocked the withdrawal agreement. The majority of the Conservative Party’s membership convinced itself that Theresa May had been too soft in the negotiations and that someone who could shout louder would get a better deal.
Enter Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Old Etonian, Daily Telegraph columnist, ex-Mayor of London. The “anti-Establishment” candidate. Johnson immediately purged 21 pro-EU Conservative MPs, wiping out the Government majority, and prorogued parliament in an attempt to drive through Brexit by executive fiat. The left (meaning, in this case, everyone from Tory dissidents to anarchists) mobilized demonstrations in defense of democracy under the banner “Stop the Coup”. The Supreme Court agreed, declaring the prorogation null and void.
But, legal detail aside, what does “defense of democracy” really mean? Democracy is the bourgeois State, pure and simple. It exists to maintain the idea that the bourgeois State is an expression of that (fictional) “will of the people”. The mistake made by Boris Johnson and his éminence grise, Dominic Cummings, was in claiming that they, and not the Mother of Parliaments, with all its arcane procedures, represented the true “will of the people” based on the 2016 referendum result.
That Margaret Thatcher started it
The current parliamentary deadlock reflects the deep disagreements about the future direction of the British economy. Is it inside or outside the European Union? By the late fifties, much of British industry was no longer able to compete with the USA and the “defeated” nations of Germany and Japan. This, together with decolonialization, fanned seething resentments in the British petty bourgeoisie, which already regarded the bourgeoisie’s decision to throw in its lot in with the Common Market in the 1970s as an “act of surrender”.
Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Prime Minister throughout the 1980s, therefore had to perform a delicate balancing act. She won a series of battles against the British working class, notably the coal miners in 1984-5, clearing the way for deindustrialization. She promoted the European single market, seeing a huge opportunity for Britain to sell financial and other services to European companies and, in turn, to be a conduit for inward investment. London became Europe’s financial capital. Economically, the UK’s future seemed clear, although some Cabinet ministers such as Michael Heseltine wanted to go further in reducing American influence.
On the other hand, Thatcher’s electoral victories depended entirely on fanning the flames of anti-European (and, in particular, anti-German and anti-French) resentment. Her 1988 speech to the College of Europe (the “Bruges speech”) gave the rural backwoodsmen of the party encouragement. Over the course of three decades, they have steadily grown in strength to the point that in 2019 they elected someone they considered “one of their own” to lead the Tory Party with a crushing majority over his rivals. In today’s Conservative Party, saying anything in favor of the European Union is now suicidal. And Boris Johnson, who had made all the right pro-European and liberal noises to ensure his election as Mayor of London in 2008, now made all the right anti-European and reactionary noises to ensure his election as the leader of the Conservative Party.
Such is the utter dishonesty and rank opportunism of bourgeois democracy.
The European Union has also provided a useful scapegoat for mainstream politicians, even those who own holiday villas in Tuscany or on the Algarve. This is not, of course, a purely British phenomenon. But it has added to the political crisis. Most of all, their rhetoric has given credibility to the most rabid anti-Europeans led by the demagogue Nigel Farage, first with the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and more recently the Brexit Party. It was in order to counter the electoral threat of UKIP and neutralize the anti-European wing of the Conservative Party that Prime Minister David Cameron called a leave/remain referendum.
This was a huge miscalculation. Having spent months attacking the European Union and trying to negotiate more privileged terms of membership (Cameron often faced the cameras in Brussels with his stern face, “battling for Britain” like some comic book World War 2 hero) Cameron’s leadership of the remain campaign was unconvincing, to put it mildly. Moreover, the entire Cameron government, and in particular the pro-European Chancellor George Osborne, had spent six years ruthlessly attacking working class living standards. By contrast, the leave campaign was free to blame austerity, the loss of British manufacturing, the near bankruptcy of the National Health Service and (always an emotional issue) the loss of “our fish” on the EU. It was also free to make whatever absurd promises of future prosperity (“sunlit uplands”) it liked once “we” had “taken our country back”. These arguments, as well as nakedly chauvinist demonization of immigrants (and not just immigrants from the EU) proved extremely popular with the petty bourgeoise, but also with some sections of the working class in regions hardest hit by deindustrialization.
Consequently, the referendum ended with a narrow victory for leave, a result that Boris Johnson himself did not expect, let alone plan for, throwing the United Kingdom into the ongoing political crisis.
The Republic of Ireland
Even though the Republic of Ireland achieved its independence almost a century ago its economy remained tied to that of the United Kingdom for decades. From the 1920s onwards the British Government maintained a Common Travel Area in which there was an unrestricted right of Irish citizens to travel without a passport, work and settle in the UK. The Irish pound was tied to sterling. And until the 1960s, Ireland was under the political control of a party (Fianna Fáil) that drew its support from rural farmers who – while playing lip service to the nationalist, anti-British tradition of the 1916 uprising – sold the bulk of their produce to the UK. As agriculture became more efficient and there were few opportunities in the cities, a large proportion Ireland’s “surplus” population continued to migrate to the UK.
The UK and the Republic of Ireland both applied at the same time for Common Market membership in the 1960s and finally joined in 1973, bringing both parts of the island of Ireland in 1973 within this enlarged economic bloc. Nevertheless, the economic impact was very different. In the eighties and nineties, the Republic saw an economic boom, largely thanks to its geographical position and language, which made it an appealing base for American capital to penetrate European markets. But Northern Ireland lost out as deindustrialization hit Loyalist communities hard, and discrimination hit Republican communities even harder.
The situation was eased somewhat by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which sought to end the 30-year conflict between these two communities: for the first time since partition, Ireland could function as a single economy within the European single market. Brexit puts this in doubt, and this has proved to be the main sticking point preventing a conclusion to the entire Brexit saga.
The end to the free movement of commodities would have a disproportionately adverse impact on the Irish Republic, not just because of disruption to trade across the land border, but also trade across the Irish Sea. The UK is the second biggest customer for Irish goods, but it is also the main transit route for goods to reach Europe through British ports, road, rail and the Channel Tunnel. The situation has been rendered insoluble by the British government’s so-called “red lines”, which require the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to leave the European Union’s customs union as a single unit.
Consequently, the UK and EU negotiators agreed the so-called “backstop” as a temporary measure keeping Northern Ireland in the customs union, and under the same regulatory regime, until a comprehensive free trade agreement is signed or alternative measures to border checks can be found. This would keep the Irish border open, protecting the single market, customs union and the Good Friday Agreement.
For the EU, this is critical: otherwise there would be a gaping hole in the single market, allowing, for example, lorryloads of goods into the EU via Northern Ireland while dodging EU tariffs and regulatory standards. The EU has therefore given its absolute support to the Republic of Ireland in any Brexit negotiations, while the Democratic Unionist Party and the right wing of the Tory Party have dug in their heels to resist any move that puts Northern Ireland in an all-Ireland market separate from the UK.
However, this also gives the EU leverage over Ireland, which for years has attracted disproportionate inward investment through its low tax regime, with internet firms in particular basing their European operations in Ireland while legitimately dodging the payment of taxes on revenues derived from sales elsewhere in Europe. The EU is now insisting that taxes are paid in full.
The whole mess could have a particularly dire impact on the working class of Northern Ireland, which has been without a government and parliament since the alliance between Sinn Féin, the main Republican Party, and the DUP over a Renewable Energy Initiative that the DUP administered corruptly. The Northern Ireland economy is already under strain, with unemployment hovering around 50% since 2009 in some of the hardest hit areas. This provides opportunities for the paramilitaries to recruit. The imposition of a border would make things far, far worse.
At the time of writing the UK has proposed a bizarre “two-border” arrangement whereby Northern Ireland would be aligned with the EU on some regulatory issues and customs checks would be carried out a few miles back from the actual frontier. The EU has dismissed this. It appears that both sides are now blaming the other for the failure and that Boris Johnson’s primary aim is to fight a chauvinistic election. He is no longer referring to the EU as “our friends and partners” but “stubborn and unreasonable”. But of course, an election cannot change reality and the stresses, strains and chaos will continue.
Democracy has no answer
Democracy is to bourgeois politics what the stock exchange is to bourgeois economics. It mediates and resolves the demands of the institutions and individuals who have the greatest investments in the system. All this is part of the normal functioning of capitalism. But at a certain point the system is thrown into an unsustainable disequilibrium. In the case of Brexit, the link between politics and economics is in this respect rather less opaque than usual: the currency speculators and hedge fund managers backing Brexit make life difficult for exporters and importers who would face all kinds of tariff and non-tariff barriers to their business; the capitalists that want to rip up EU regulations to push down workers’ living standards cannot resolve their interests with those dependent on selling into European markets, and so on. The functioning of society can eventually come under an intolerable strain, which is why there are constant dire warnings against pushing solutions to extremes: Brexit will lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom, a return to the Troubles on the Irish border, etc.
The bourgeoisie can never bring capitalism entirely under control because capitalism itself is riven with contradictions that are beyond any human control.
Nevertheless, the idea that Brexit shows that the British ruling class has lost the ability to resolve its differences is a dangerous one. The ruling class will always unite whenever it sees a threat from its true enemy: the working class. Until then they will feel free to bicker amongst themselves ad nauseam.