The battle for the party’s very soul

OslandIn politics it is sometimes worth stepping back from the immediate hurly burly to take stock of the broader context. David Osland’s new pamphlet “How to select or Reselect your MP” invites us to do so, by his self-conscious decision to reboot a pamphlet that was first published in 1981.

While both the Corbyn and Smith camps are concentrating on the immediate task of maximizing their vote for the Labour leadership contest, and both camps planning their next move after the results on 24th, it is worth reflecting on how extraordinary life is in the contemporary Labour Party.

All party meetings, except those absolutely necessary for specific practical tasks with the permission of the regional director, are currently suspended. Senior Labour MPs are briefing about party members being a rabble, tens of thousands of members are being suspended or excluded on seemingly the flimsiest of pretexts, and various atrocity stories are being leaked to the press about alleged violence, spitting and abuse at party meetings, as well as reports of online insults and bullying.

What a carry on. However, this chaos in the party has been at least partially orchestrated. The scheduled parade of resignations by shadow cabinet members in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote demonstrated planning, organisation and premeditation. Rather dubious press reports of disturbances in Angela Eagle’s CLP, followed by similarly contested accounts of alleged tussles in Bristol West and Brighton provided a pretext for party organisation to be suspended, which – no doubt coincidentally – prevented AGM elections of CLP officer position in many constituencies, the first such elections since the membership was boosted by Corbyn’s supporters. For those who have studied history, this very much did resemble an attempted coup: through a campaign of destablisation, delegitimisation and disruption – a strategy of tension.

It is also worth looking at the wider political landscape, which before Corbyn was elected was already very challenging for Labour. The party has not won a general election for 11 years, between 1997 and 2010 we had lost 4 million votes. Scotland has been seemingly irrevocably lost, and elsewhere Labour is squeezed by UKIP and the Greens. Not only had the broad electoral coalition that the Labour Party had historically assembled unraveled alarmingly, but in terms of ideology and policy, the party appeared exhausted, lack lustre and shop soiled.

Whatever the personal merits of the various leadership contenders who have challenged Corbyn, whether last year’s Kendall, Cooper and Burnham, or this year’s Smith, they all offer different flavours of the same proposition: that professional politicians should run a transactional campaign that offers a hotch-potch of carefully calibrated policies each designed to appeal to various sectional interests.

The muddles this entails are perfectly illustrated by the hapless Owen Smith, who wants to be tough on immigration, but also reverse Brexit thus accepting the free movement of people. He wants to appeal to the socially tolerant metrolpolitan demographic, while simultaneously making a series of gaffes about being a “normal” bloke, who mocks “lunatics” and refers to women politicians like Theresa May, Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood in terms that resemble outtakes from a Robin Askwith movie. Indeed his recent quip about 29 inches makes it sound like he is more inspired by Dirk Diggler than Nye Bevan.

In 1976, the Labour Party leadership contest included candidates from the centre-right with the genuine stature of Denis Healey, Jim Callaghan, Anthony Crosland and Roy Jenkins. Today we have a Bilko look-alike doing a David Brent tribute act.

What the self-described Labour moderates seem unwilling or unable to do is to examine the underlying causes of Labour’s decline. While it would certainly be possible to write a very long thesis on the subject, in a nutshell, there are far too many people who do not see the economy or society working for them and their family, or their community.

There are far too many people on zero hour contracts, in precarious employment, or on low pay. There are far too many young people who cannot get a good start in life, with either a secure job or affordable housing. There are far too many communities that feel left behind, where traditional sources of employment are in decline, and new jobs are precarious and low paid. There are far too many employers prepared to exploit migrant workers to depress the wages in entry level jobs.

These problems cannot be overcome by simply a more refined message from Labour: by having a leader who is more adept at eating bacon sandwiches, or a leader whose team manage to more effectively reserve them a train seat.

For hundreds of thousands of working people who endure petty bullying and inconsideration on a daily basis from managers, but who stick with low paid, low status, and often unpleasant work because they have no other way of paying their rent or mortgage, and no other way of putting food on their table and shoes on their childrens’ feet, the bleating of privileged MPs about Corbyn’s alleged failngs as a manager will butter no parsnips. In any event, Corbyn’s team have now bedded in, and while this or that thing could have been done better over the last 12 months, some slack needs to be given to a team that had to be assembled from scratch a year ago.

Last year, Andy Burnham’s pitch was that he was like Ed Miliband but more professional. This year Owen Smith’s proposition is that he is like Corbyn, only more competent. Compare these facile 6th form debating stances to such landmarks from the right in the party from the past, such as the intellectually rigorous revisionist proposition from Crosland in his book “the Future of Socialism”, or the confident advocacy from the Labour right in the 1960s of a party that aggressively championed social equality, but was tolerant of the private sector in a mixed economy.

The right and centre-right of the party have offered no new policies, no vision or direction and no intellectual leadership for over a decade now. Instead they resemble a Cargo Cult who believe that the ghost of 1997 can be revived by behaving exactly as if nothing has changed in 20 years. While technique is important, Labour has tested to destruction and beyond the glacial processes of voter ID, contact rates and targeted messaging, whatever merit they have, and I am certainly not advocating abandoning the work, it is clearly not sufficient to win a general election.

The party faces an existential threat, not if Corbyn wins, but if he loses. We simply cannot go on in the old way, in a society that has deeply changed. The rising vote of UKIP, and the associated shock of the Brexit result, combined with the irresistible advance of the SNP, reveals a growing gulf between a disenchanted electorate, and a professionalized political elite, for whom there is a career path for the ambitious through university to becoming a special advisor, then being parked in a voluntary sector or think tank until a safe seat comes up. Time and again voters say that there is little difference between the parties, and the gulf widens between our MPs and our voters.

The Labour Party needs to change to survive, and the victory of Corbyn in last year’s leadership election was a judgement by not only the membership, but also the wider periphery attracted as registered or affiliated supporters not only that Corbyn does offer hope, but that the exhausted women and men of yesteryear, Burnham, Kendall and Cooper, offered no hope.

It is worth reminding ourselves when Owen Smith and his supporters use as their supposedly clinching argument the need to win, that winning is not given just because you want it more. Party’s who have been defeated need to regroup and reassess, as the Conservatives did between 1997 and 2010. What is more, successful parties use their period in opposition to wage a battle of ideas, and develop a new vision and proposition for the electorate. The party that Clem Attlee led to defeat in the 1935 general election was hardened and prepared by the time they swept to victory under the same leader in 1945, during which time they had substantially won the arguments with the electorate about their radical programme.

Turning back to the present day: many MPs, including those who despite subjectively centre-left politics, have learned their political skills and attitudes in an entirely different political paradigm, and are – perhaps understandably – disoriented by the new. But let us not overestimate the problem, the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs want the party to win a general election, and will be prepared to compromise for the sake of party unity.

There is more joy in Heaven for a sinner that repenteth. Therefore any overenthusiastic discussion of deselecting hard-working and essentially decent MPs would be highly counterproductive. The party is and should remain a broad church.

David Osland’s pamphlet does not advocate deselecting, it merely provides a summary of the relevant rules and processes for members of CLPs who may feel that it is the right thing to do. There are indeed a very small number of MPs who seem to put their own thirst for self-publicity before the interests of the party. Their CLPs may choose to have a contest in which the sitting MP would automatically be a candidate for the nomination, and thus would be given the opportunity to succeed in reaffirming their level of support with their local CLP. That’s is only fair

“How to Select or Reselect your MP” by David Osland. £4 via Spokesman Books or order through any bookshop.

102 comments on “The battle for the party’s very soul

  1. The first draft of this included the quote from Cicero “O tempora! O mores!”

    My wife said that it was pretentious and no-one would understand so I was forced to take it out.

    O tempora! O mores!

  2. jock mctrousers on said:

    Andy Newman: There are indeed a very small number of MPs who seem to put their own thirst for self-publicity before the interests of the party.

    170?

  3. It apears there’s an online petition calling for an emergency recall of the NEC to discuss the suspensions etc.

  4. Yes, they were panicked by talk of an early election and unreferenced evidence that Labour faced a massive defeat.

  5. John Grimshaw: Was Catiline guilty?

    It is a good question. My view is that Michael parentis’s. Defence of Cateline in his woefully bad book “assassination of Caesar” is misplaced. While I abhor Cicero I think Cateline was what we would today describe as a terrorist, and guilty.

  6. UncleAlbert on said:

    Tony: Labour faced a massive defeat.

    A massive defeat would be a gift to the anti-Corbynites in the PLP. Yes, they were panicked but, more than anything, they are panicked by the prospect of a Corbyn win.

  7. jock mctrousers on said:

    Jack:
    A little off topic perhaps, but this is a good piece on why, under certain circumstances, the failure to intervene militarily can be murderous http://thesparkuk.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/when-military-inaction-is-murderous.html

    Yes, that’s well off-topic. I had a sad but resigned feeling that you were going to crack out Rwanda or Sarajevo again ( propaganda fantasies), but incredibly you seem to be saying that ‘the West; should have imposed a no-fly zone on Syria – ie a repeat of Libya – destroy Assad’s airforce with massive bombing, and then he’ll negotiate with the moderates …..??????? MODERATES!!!!! WTF???? And then Al Qaeda could take over Syria, defeat Isis, then everyone could go back to school, starting with you.

    I guess you haven’t followed the discussions here around this, or you wouldn’t consider it a novelty of opinion…

  8. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: Is it a good read?

    Well I like detective novels. It depends whether you like this sort of literature. This is a Roman version of Chandler I suppose. I thought it was good.

  9. John Grimshaw on said:

    Andy Newman: My view is that Michael parentis’s. Defence of Cateline in his woefully bad book “assassination of Caesar” is misplaced.

    I haven’t read this but you don’t exactly sell it to me so perhaps I’ll give it a miss. Unless you tell me otherwise.

  10. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: It’s complicated Jock

    Well, thank you Grimbo. Not the least bit patronising. The Syrian conflct (s) is/are very complcated indeed, but one thing is quite simple : any unarmed opposition to Assad’s regime has no power to negotiate anything; the armed opposition is largely Islamist jihadi, opposed to democracy, opposed to negotiations. Many senior USA officials have stated this in high-profile MSM outlets over the years, and there’s the Defence Intelligence Agency Report… I’ve posted the evidence for that here before, and there’s no evidence to the contrary.

    What is a ‘moderate’? What can a ‘moderate’ negotiate with? Well, Occam’s razor gives me the simple solution that ‘moderate’ means a puppet chosen by the USA, who can negotiate backed by the threat of a massive bombing campaign to destroy the Syrian airforce, and potentially nuclear war with Russia!

  11. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers,

    Sorry Jock I didn’t mean to be patronising. That was certainly not my intention. You accept that the situation in Syria is complicated. That was my only point. I am not clear why you think that Socialists should support the Assad regime. Whilst of course agreeing with you that they shouldn’t also support Islamic fundamentalists. Just to be controversial should we also support, say for example, Kurds who are backed by the USA?

  12. John Grimshaw: I haven’t read this but you don’t exactly sell it to me so perhaps I’ll give it a miss.

    it isn’t worth reading, but was overly praised by a number of people on the left a few years ago.

    Try Social Conflicts in the Roman Republic by Brunt instead.

  13. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: should we also support, say for example, Kurds who are backed by the USA?

    yes and no.

    John Grimshaw: Leprecauns?

    Now you come to mention it, ‘leprecauns’ are as likely an explanation as ‘moderate jihadis’ who George Galloway describes as those who will only eat half your heart.

  14. John Grimshaw on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    Further to this I notice that it is now widely being reported that the USA and Russia have come to an agreement on a ceasefire in Syria of their respective supporters so as to concentrate on ISIL (whatever). We shall see. The absence of war is better than horrendous civil war. What this decision, however long it holds, shows is that both these powers are playing out the imperialist game in furtherance of their own interests.

  15. Jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: that both these powers are playing out the imperialist game in furtherance of their own interests.

    No, that sounds too much like neither Washington nor Moscow.

  16. jock mctrousers on said:

    JN: Whether that slogan was right or wrong at the time, you’re aware the USSR collapsed 25 years ago?

    yes

  17. John Grimshaw on said:

    Jock mctrousers: No, that sounds too much like neither Washington nor Moscow.

    Well Jock I didn’t intend fro it to do so but I guess maybe it must’ve come through conditioning? Whatever the truth about the nature of the “Communist” states of yesteryear and I’m happy to have that debate with you, it strikes me that the old SWP slogan is somehow more relevant now.

  18. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: Well Jock I didn’t intend fro it to do so but I guess maybe it must’ve come through conditioning? Whatever the truth about the nature ofthe “Communist” states of yesteryear and I’m happy to have that debate with you, it strikes me that the old SWP slogan is somehow more relevant now.

    ‘Conditioning’ is the heart of the matter. That’s the point of propaganda – to lead your mind into that place which sees a clash between the USA & Russia as just a clash of imperialisms so no right side to take… The USA has about 700 overseas bases all round, the world; Russia has 2 (?). The USA has just pulled off a coup in the very heart of Russia (Ukraine)… I could go on listing stuff, but the short story is ‘clash of imperialisms’ doesn’t tell us anything useful about what’s going on here.

  19. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: ‘Conditioning’ is the heart of the matter.

    Well I I was just trying to be thoughtful in the spirit of comradely conversation, I wonder if you are? We’ve presumably all got our “conditioning”. No?

    jock mctrousers: The USA has about 700 overseas bases all round, the world; Russia has 2 (?).

    So? Clearly the Russian Federation is inferior in many ways to the USA (etc.) but it doesn’t make them “communist heroes”. It just means that they are worse capitalists than the Americans. They probably want more bases but they haven’t recovered from the crisis of the 1990s. Mind you the likes of Abramovich haven’t suffered. The USSR doesn’t exist anymore to quote JN.

  20. jock mctrousers on said:

    Straw man thingy going on here. Where did I say anything about communism? To put it as short as possible, I think it’s better for everyone if the major accumulation of capitalist military industrial power doesn’t get everything it’s way and become the ONLY power.

  21. #40 Good point Jock.

    One of the interesting ironies of today’s world is that China, where the concept of social imperialism in respect of the USSR originated, still remains a socialist country, and now has better relations with Russia (which no longer is) than ever.

  22. Yesterday’s Morning Star editorial:

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-76d5-Stand-against-imperialism#.V9suW5grLIU

    The conclusion:

    “…The greatest gaping hole in British Labour politics is its inability to analyse and counter imperialism. No-one should be amazed when ruling class parties back overseas wars to control resources and impose regional hegemony and, when these adventures go wrong, to pick a scapegoat.

    The working class has a right after Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria to expect a more principled and analytical approach and to demand that those elected to represent the class act accordingly.”

    How very apt in terms of bringing this issue back to the subject of the original post!

    And, dare I say it, how bizarre that certain people not far away who polemicise on the issue of imperialist war crimes now also want to stand in the way of the first Labour Party leader who has stood consistently against US and British imperialism on every issue since he became an MP 30 odd years ago and before.

  23. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: Where did I say anything about communism?

    Fair comment. I think I had assumed Jock that you were doing that thing that apologists for Stalinism do which means supporting Russia (now not the USSR) uncritically because it once happened to be the USSR.

    jock mctrousers: To put it as short as possible, I think it’s better for everyone if the major accumulation of capitalist military industrial power doesn’t get everything it’s way and become the ONLY power.

    Well what can I say to this? You clearly accept that the USSR doesn’t exist anymore, as if that matters, maybe it does, yet you support the distribution of military hardware around the world. Personally I think the USA was much stronger in the 1950s than it is now so why do you say it will become the only power?

  24. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya: still remains a socialist country,

    Why do you thnk this?

    Vanya: and now has better relations with

    I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one.

  25. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya,

    There is little for me to disagree with here, but having read the whole article it is really a critique of right leaning Labour members who support imperialist wars.

    Vanya: how bizarre that certain people not far away who polemicise on the issue of imperialist war crimes now also want to stand in the way of the first Labour Party leader who has stood consistently against US and British imperialism on every issue since he became an MP 30 odd years ago and before.

    I don’t want to stop Corbyn from being leader of the LP or even PM, I’m just as you know, not allowed to join the LP. So from outside I will do the best I can. Who are you talking about?

  26. Petter Matthews on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    John, would I be correct to assume from your question that you don’t think China is socialist?

    I accept the CCP’s designation of its current stage of development as the ‘primary stage’ of socialism. I know many challenge this by pointing to the growth of private property and the extension of market mechanisms since the early 1980s, but these reforms are not dissimilar to Lenin’s NEP and despite them, the State has always retained control of the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy.

  27. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: You clearly accept that the USSR doesn’t exist anymore, as if that matters, maybe it does, yet you support the distribution of military hardware around the world.

    Wow, what a stimulating discussion. I’m glad we’re at least agreed that the USSR doesn’t exist ( I didn’t realise that was controversial) but can you quote me from above where I say that I support the ‘distribution of military hardware around the world’?

    This seems like another slanderous straw man. You seem almost unable to write a comment without misrepresenting or slandering someone…

  28. jock mctrousers on said:

    Anyway, as to the Battle for Labour’s Soul, I just came across this piece on Open Democracy which touches all the bases while being simple and lucid.
    Crossing the Rubicon: Why we can’t recreate the modest economic gains of New Labour
    Peter Kennedy 15 September 2016
    https://www.opendemocracy.net/peter-kennedy/against-nostalgia-economics-why-we-cant-recreate-modest-economic-gains-of-new-labour?utm_source=openDemocracy+UK+Weekly&utm_campaign=edbade98be-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_cb5cf7dd0a-edbade98be-407837781

  29. jock mctrousers: Wow, what a stimulating discussion.I’m glad we’re at least agreed that the USSR doesn’t exist ( I didn’t realise that was controversial) but can you quote me from above where I say that I support the ‘distribution of military hardware around the world’?

    This seems like another slanderous straw man.You seem almost unable to write a comment without misrepresenting or slandering someone…

    I think you should be a little less touchy comrade.

    I suspect I agree with you more than with John G, but let’s face it there’s not many of us still posting on here at the moment (and if you hadn’t persuaded me otherwise I wouldn’t have been one).

    So how about we try to be nice? 🙂

    By the way, it has occurred to me that the apology you gave to me was in fact more appropriately directed to my ex-Greenham Common wife.

    And I think those women deserve some respect. Big style!

    And I also think it will be accepted 🙂

  30. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: Wow, what a stimulating discussion.

    Oh! Well I thought it was.

    jock mctrousers: I’m glad we’re at least agreed that the USSR doesn’t exist ( I didn’t realise that was controversial) but can you quote me from above where I say that I support the ‘distribution of military hardware around the world’?

    My point is this. I’m not part of the Left that thinks that the USSR was Socialist. I’m sure you knew this. I’m not entirely convinced I have to say as I was many years ago of Cliff’s version of “State Capitalism” however. Whether that’s relevant these days I don’t know. It seems to me that there are some left comrades on this blog or elsewhere however who invest a certain degree of support in Russia because of the previous existence of the USSR. Which seems odd to me. Whatever we think of the USSR I certainly don’t think Russia is really any different to any other large(ish) capitalist country. I know you don’t support “distribution of military hardware” sorry about that. But if your justifiable anger with western capitalism means that you appear to seem to say I will support another (lesser) capitalist country you can’t blame me for that little jibe. So no straw dogs. Just a discussion which I find useful mate. 🙂

  31. John Grimshaw on said:

    Petter Matthews:
    John Grimshaw,

    John, would I be correct to assume from your question that you don’t think China is socialist?

    I accept the CCP’s designation of its current stage of development as the ‘primary stage’ of socialism. I know many challenge this by pointing to the growth of private property and the extension ofmarket mechanisms since the early 1980s, but these reforms are not dissimilar to Lenin’s NEP and despite them, theState has always retained control of the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy.

    You are correct that I don’t think China is socialist. I know some who do. I find it quite odd to think this given the cruelty of Mao’s regime and the lack of civil rights even in modern China. In some ways to me the Maoist regime had more the look of a Chinese Nationalist movement which is not surprising considering the way China was treated by the Western Imperialist powers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries plus the Japanese. Remember the way the Maoists supported the Chinese nationalists against the Shanghai uprising. It is quite clear to me that there has been an expansion of modern style capitalism in China. I think the debate is whether that capitalism is controlled by the state or by oligarchic private individuals.

    I could be wrong but I always thought that NEP was meant to be a temporary measure.

  32. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya: I think you should be a little less touchy comrade.

    🙂

    I suspect I agree with you more than with John G, but let’s face it there’s not many of us still posting on here at the moment (and if you hadn’t persuaded me otherwise I wouldn’t have been one).

    That’s true Vanya a lot of people have disappeared. Maybe you’ve scared off all the Trots?

    Respect to your wife by the way.

  33. George Hallam on said:

    John Grimshaw: It seems to me that there are some left comrades on this blog or elsewhere however who invest a certain degree of support in Russia because of the previous existence of the USSR.

    Evidence?

    There were never very many people “on the left” who supported the Soviet Union. Back in 2009 Eric Hobsbawm suggested that the number approximated to zero.

    I can’t find the exact quote but the following says much the same. “Nobody seriously thinks of returning to the socialist systems of the Soviet type – not only because of their political faults, but also because of the increasing sluggishness and inefficiency of their economieshttps://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/apr/10/financial-crisis-capitalism-socialism-alternatives

    Generally, hostility to the Soviets was/is almost a defining feature of the British Left.

    However, assuming such people exist, why would they transfer support to the USSR’s successor? Force of habit, absent mindedness?

    John Grimshaw: Which seems odd to me.

    ‘Odd’ is an understatement. ‘Absurd’ or ‘unbelievable’ might be better words.

    A more likely explanation is that Putin’s Russia is acting as a counterweight to the US. This would also account for the “certain degree of support” extended to Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and Assad, not to mention the clerics who run Iran.

    I you’re interested in odd things then perhaps you might consider the way the left was more hostile to the USSR while it existed than it is to Russia, Syria, Iran, etc., today.

  34. #53 The substantial flaw in this comment George is your own definition of the “left”, which, as we have established some time ago, is designed in order primarily, for whatever reason, to exclude your good self.

    I am sure that you are correct in what you say with reference to your own personal definition of “the left”.

  35. #55 Well if you exclude from the left the Communist Party and various splinter groups, substantial sections of the Labour Left (including a number of MPs) and a number of senior left trade union leaders, then of course you will be able to show that “the left” was overwhelmingly anti-USSR.

    Leaving aside that you would need to establish what that means.

    Does it mean giving failing to give uncritical support? Or does it mean wanting to see the Soviet system completely destroyed?

    Or does it fall somewhere in between? If so, where?

  36. jock mctrousers on said:

    Vanya: By the way, it has occurred to me that the apology you gave to me was in fact more appropriately directed to my ex-Greenham Common wife.

    And I think those women deserve some respect. Big style!

    And I also think it will be accepted

    OK, SORRY DEAR! Pass it on. Yes, I can’t help but respect them, but …

    John Grimshaw: . I know you don’t support “distribution of military hardware” sorry about that. But if your justifiable anger with western capitalism means that you appear to seem to say I will support another (lesser) capitalist country you can’t blame me for that little jibe.

    Yes I can blame you for that.

    George Hallam: John Grimshaw: It seems to me that there are some left comrades on this blog or elsewhere however who invest a certain degree of support in Russia because of the previous existence of the USSR.

    Evidence?

    Evidence is it – I don’t recall EVER encountering such a point of view here – maybe on some of the Marxist-Leninist sects (but they’re much better than the Trots by and large)

    George Hallam: There were never very many people “on the left” who supported the Soviet Union. Back in 2009 Eric Hobsbawm suggested that the number approximated to zero.

    Vanya’s answered that:

    Vanya: Well if you exclude from the left the Communist Party and various splinter groups, substantial sections of the Labour Left (including a number of MPs) and a number of senior left trade union leaders, then of course you will be able to show that “the left” was overwhelmingly anti-USSR.

    There’s a whole swathe that passes for ‘left’ since the early sixties – the academic New Left, the Trotskyists – that are on inspection very questionably ‘left’ in any traditional sense, and seem to have origins in state security services.
    Here’s an excellent piece from Diana Johnstone on the French manifestation of this:Why the French Hate Chomsky by Diana Johnstone
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/06/14/why-the-french-hate-chomsky/

    George Hallam: I can’t find the exact quote but the following says much the same. “Nobody seriously thinks of returning to the socialist systems of the Soviet type – not only because of their political faults, but also because of the increasing sluggishness and inefficiency of their economies”

    It’s sad that defeatist, class-treasonous poison like this can pass without comment. Is it down to a broken spirit of the entire human race? Or the result of the massively financed and organised long-time chipping away by the Foundations, Think Tanks, and Intelligence services of the elites at any notions of social solidarity. This is neoliberal propaganda. What? The new less sluggish and more efficient economy wasn’t so great for the 6 million or so Russians who starved to death. ‘Revealed unemployment’ they called it i.e. they weren’t making a profit for someone so they’re better off dead. Similar to the bull about the poster boy for Baltic Capitalism, Latvia, where the banksters boast mission accomplished, but half the working age population emigrated…

    Chomsky as ever gets to the heart of the matter in the fewest words – you can have the Democratic State or Private Tyranny! And the democratic state is a socialist state. Those that try to pretend socialism is possible without a strong-state are anti -democratic – end of! What do you think the rich and powerful are going to be doing while the horizontalists ignore the state and build networks of holistic yogurt makers sort of thingy…? Nailing everything down that’s what. The hour is late. It’s state socialism or get with the program and get yourself a deal with the capitalists for as long as they can use you…

    And the point is that the Soviet Union is the model for that state socialism, and it worked pretty good. No wonder the elites demonise it so much. Learn from it. Get it right next time. And please read Michael Parenti’s Blackshirts and Reds.

  37. John Grimshaw on said:

    George Hallam: Evidence?
    There were never very many people “on the left” who supported the Soviet Union. Back in 2009 Eric Hobsbawm suggested that the number approximated to zero.

    There were people such as the Communist Party who openly supported the USSR and then there were people on the Left including most Trots who defended the USSR against western imperialism on the grounds that it was not capitalist but some form of degenerated or deformed workers state. Or bureaucratic non capitalism. This is well documented George.

  38. John Grimshaw on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    I used to know a (very nice) ASLEF steward in the 1980s who was a good TU activist who went to the Black Sea every year for his holidays because he believed passionately in the USSR.

  39. John Grimshaw on said:

    John Grimshaw: There were people such as the Communist Party who openly supported the USSR and then there were people on the Left including most Trots who defended the USSR against western imperialism on the grounds that it was not capitalist but some form of degenerated or deformed workers state. Or bureaucratic non capitalism. This is well documented George.

    Hobsbawn, who’s hand I had the pleasure to shake once, on the occasion of my MA award left the CP because of the Hungarian uprising. Lots of lefties did so as they also did over the Czechoslovakia debacle.

  40. John Grimshaw on said:

    George Hallam: “Nobody seriously thinks of returning to the socialist systems of the Soviet type – not only because of their political faults, but also because of the increasing sluggishness and inefficiency of their economies”

    Well clearly the capitalists don’t. However I think this is complicated. It depends on what you think the USSR was. Also you say “increasing”. Do you mean it was once good but then became not so? Further surely the fact that the USSR existed to a certain extent in a permanent embargo by western style capitalism meant that it was always going to be in a weaker situation?

  41. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya: #55 Well if you exclude from the left the Communist Party and various splinter groups, substantial sections of the Labour Left (including a number of MPs) and a number of senior left trade union leaders, then of course you will be able to show that “the left” was overwhelmingly anti-USSR.

    the Communist Party – From the mid 1960s till its disillusion in 1991, the official line of the Communist Party of Great Britain was highly critical of the Soviet Union.

    various splinter groups – you will know more about these than me so I bow to your expertise. However, the CPB retains many of the positions of the old CPGB so there are clearly limits to its ‘support’.

    substantial sections of the Labour Left (including a number of MPs) Manifested how exactly? I think you are confusing not wanting to go war with Russia with ‘support’.

    a number of senior left trade union leaders Yes, Arthur Scargill and …

    Overall I think that you list consists of exception that prove the rule that the British Left was and remains anti the USSR.

  42. George Hallam on said:

    John Grimshaw: Hobsbawn, who’s hand I had the pleasure to shake once, on the occasion of my MA award left the CP because of the Hungarian uprising.

    Really?

  43. John Grimshaw on said:

    George Hallam: Really?

    My mistake. Hobsbawn was a member of the British Marxist Historians Group who mostly left the CPGB in 1956 after Hungary but Hobsbawn stayed in. He rapidly moved to the Euro-Com side of the party and definitely supported the “Czech Spring” and went on to support Kinnock in the 1980s. When he left the CPGB I don’t know?

    Archaeology by the way.

  44. John Grimshaw on said:

    John Grimshaw: British Marxist Historians Group

    Communist Party Marxist Historians Group. Not focussed today. Also he never left the CPGB. But what happened after the collapse of the CPGB? Did he become part of Vanya’s lot?

  45. George Hallam on said:

    John Grimshaw: There were people such as the Communist Party who openly supported the USSR

    The phrase “openly supported” suggests that others felt the need concealed their support. I wonder why. Perhaps it was because this was an unpopular position. In other words supporters of the Soviet Union were/are a tiny minority.

    John Grimshaw: and then there were people on the Left including most Trots who defended the USSR against western imperialism on the grounds that it was not capitalist but some form of degenerated or deformed workers state.

    I’m not quite sure what form this ‘defence’ took, perhaps you could give some examples.

    From what I’ve read, it seems that the standard trotskyist position was that the existing state needed to be overthrown in a political revolution.

    John Grimshaw: Or bureaucratic non capitalism. This is well documented George.

    I think you’ll find that the most popular alternative to the ‘degenerated workers’ state’ line was/is that the Soviet Union was ‘state capitalist’. Of course this involves a radical redefinition of the meaning of ‘capitalist’, but that is another story.

    In contrast the ‘bureaucratic collectivist’ analysis, developed by Bruno Rizzi, Max Shachtman, James Burnham, is something of a rarity. This is curious because Orwell’s ‘1984’ give the theory an airing (Emmanuel Goldstein’s book ‘The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism’ plays an important role in the plot).

  46. George Hallam: “From the mid 1960s till its disillusion in 1991, the official line of the Communist Party of Great Britain was highly critical of the Soviet Union.”

    Highly critical is hardly the same as hostile.

    That’s why you need to define your terms.

  47. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya: “From the mid 1960s till its disillusion in 1991, the official line of the Communist Party of Great Britain was highly critical of the Soviet Union.”

    Highly critical is hardly the same as hostile.

    Okay, they’re not exactly the same.

    I think the difference lies in usage.

    ‘critical’ is more appropriate to describing linguistic acts e.g. saying that someone or something is bad or wrong, judging severely and finding fault .

    ‘hostile’ relates to an underlying attitude or action, as in “marked by malevolence” , “having or showing unfriendly feelings” or “openly opposed or resisting”.

    Will the following rewrite appease you?

    “From the mid 1960s till its disillusion in 1991, the Executive of the Communist Party of Great Britain passed a number of resolutions that were highly critical of the Soviet Union. The membership, represented at national congresses, endorsed these resolutions.”

    “Many leading members of the CPGB and a considerable proportion of the membership had a hostile attitude towards the Soviet Union.”

  48. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: And it worked pretty well….?? So everything that Uncle Joe didn’t do was just a western capitalist conspiracy?

    Well, in the context here I meant it worked pretty well as regarding material progress, like going from a backward almost third world nation to industrialising enough to defeat Nazi Germany, build the A-bomb, put a man in space, provide universal healthcare, education and housing, END FAMINE – yes, even if you believe (against all evidence now, by the way) the shit about the Holodomor, you don’t hear about any more famines do you?

    John Grimshaw: http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/freeearth/ice_pick.html

    Before Jock gets upset. I don’t agree with all of this by any stretch

    I’m re-assured that you don’t agree with all of that. I skimmed some of it. Brainrot! There’s oceans of that stuff. The lavish lifestyles of the party people? What, beyond the wildest dreams of the Rockefellers and the rest? You’re kidding me. Parenti’s book is very readable and entertaining at least.

    But this is what you’re up against when it comes to talking about what Stalin did or didn’t do: some bad folks took decent rich folks’ shit off them over about a third of the planet, and in the good ol’ USA rich folks set out to sort them out with a relentless campaign through their countless Foundations and Think Tanks to fund academics, novelists, anyone to generate any fictional horror story they could come up with to make those commies look bad, so’s USA rich folks wouldn’t get their shit took. Near 80 years where everything published was vetted to accentuate the negative – hearsay good enough for bad news, good news ignored…

    Even today, what little info we have .access to is through a Russian regime itself hostile to the communist legacy (because they stole the workers’ shit). –

    Just bye the bye I recall that Hobsbawm recommended the book Modern Soviet Society by Basile Kerblay as ” as objective as we’re ever likely to get” , I’ve started it a few times. I wonder if anyone rates it or not. Another of the better historians of the Soviet economy, Alec Nove, wrote a book ‘ the Economics of Feasible Socialism’ on what it says on the tin, an assessment (favourable) of the creation of a socialist economy in ‘the West’. That seems to me a more fruitful topic than more brainrotting tedium about whether the USSR was a deformed workers’ state or state capitalist or…

    But back to my main point, it’s not that ‘people’ reject anything resembling a real Soviet model, but that there has been a massive propaganda campaign to link a horror story to the notion that you could plan for need instead of profit. Even amongst people who would consider themselves right-wing conservatives there is wide acceptance that there are natural monopolies which are better run by the state. Can you have a market without a state? These ideas really aren’t that controversial. One of the most perceptive arguments I’ve come across recently argued that it cost untold billions from the think-tanks of the super-rich to keep alive the ideas of the free-market, neoliberal, Chicago school types, because in the genuine free market of ideas they wouldn’t have stood for a minute.

  49. George Hallam: Will the following rewrite appease you?

    “From the mid 1960s till its disillusion in 1991, the Executive of the Communist Party of Great Britain passed a number of resolutions that were highly critical of the Soviet Union. The membership, represented at national congresses, endorsed these resolutions.”

    “Many leading members of the CPGB and a considerable proportion of the membership had a hostile attitude towards the Soviet Union.”

    Only if you can substantiate the second paragraph, which of course requires a definition of “hostile attitude”.

    Apart from anything else there is a distinction between the USSR as a state with a specific social and class basis and the given government and leadership of that state at any one time.

    So for example when Krushchev made his famous denunciation of much of what he stated happened during the Stalin era, while under his leadership changes were made to the way the state and the economy operated, many communists outside the USSR supported him , either because they were aware of things that they were profoundly unhappy about or they felt loyalty to the USSR required uncritical support for its leadership, while others continued to defend the legacy of Stalin, denounced him as “revisionist”.

    Was it a requirement of not being hostile to the USSR to give completely uncritical support to the leadership of the CPSU whoever they were and whatever policies they followed?

  50. George Hallam on said:

    Vanya: Only if you can substantiate the second paragraph, which of course requires a definition of “hostile attitude”.

    I think there is a distinction between leading members in the 1956 to 1977 period and the new generation of leaders who were prominent from 1977 onward.

    As far as I can tell, the feeling in the earlier period was that the Soviet Union had become a serious liability that was holding the party back. This was ‘hostility’ in the sense of ‘unfriendly feelings’, This was mainly directed at Soviet political practices and structures.

    The new generation of leaders were not just more malevolent and outspoken, they extended their opposition to the Soviet economic system. This was expressed in terms of a rejection of the “Soviet model of socialism”.

    I think the difference between the generations can be seen in the way the older leaders talked about “alternative roads to socialism” were as the new leaders it was more about the road to an alternative socialism.

    Of course, this is just a rough cut and need more work. But thank you for making me think about the issue.

    Best Wishes

  51. John Grimshaw on said:

    George Hallam: I’m not quite sure what form this ‘defence’ took, perhaps you could give some examples.

    Well in the SWP which I used to be a member of, there was no defence of the USSR. However some of the other Trotskyist groups who thought it wasn’t capitalist would defend it against western imperialism whilst also being “highly critical”.

  52. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: recommended the book Modern Soviet Society by Basile Kerblay as ” as objective as we’re ever likely to get” ,

    I haven’t read it but I’ll give it a try.

    jock mctrousers: the shit about the Holodomor,

    On what basis do you think it didn’t happen?

    jock mctrousers: Russian regime itself hostile to the communist legacy (because they stole the workers’ shit). –

    Wellll….Putin is increasingly moving to bring Uncle Joe back in from the cold. Secondly, yes the oligarchs/Yelstsin etc. took stuff that notionally belonged to the people but I would question whether in practice it actually did.

  53. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: it’s not that ‘people’ reject anything resembling a real Soviet model, but that there has been a massive propaganda campaign to link a horror story to the notion that you could plan for need instead of profit.

    There is much we could say about this. There is a real difference between Socialism and state planning by capitalist countries which as you say they do all the time contrary to the myth of the “free market”. E.g. Japanese capitalism after the Meiji restoration was largely backed by the state, in my view British capitalist expansion was created by the state and more spefically the Royal Navy.

  54. jock mctrousers on said:

    John Grimshaw: jock mctrousers: the shit about the Holodomor,

    On what basis do you think it didn’t happen?

    I seem to have to post this link here almost monthly. This is the definitive account based on the state of the art archival research: The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia Volume 5: The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture 1931-1933 Paperback – 23 Dec 2003 by R. Davies (Author), S. Wheatcroft (Contributor)

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Industrialisation-Soviet-Russia-Agriculture-1931-1933/dp/0230238556/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474461819&sr=1-1&keywords=wheatcroft+davies+hunger+years

    Check out too Mark Tauger: the Carl Beck papers

  55. Petter Matthews on said:

    John Grimshaw: You are correct that I don’t think China is socialist. I know some who do. I find it quite odd to think this given the cruelty of Mao’s regime and the lack of civil rights even in modern China. In some ways to me the Maoist regime had more the look of a Chinese Nationalist movement which is not surprising considering the way China was treated by the Western Imperialist powers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries plus the Japanese. Remember the way the Maoists supported the Chinese nationalists against the Shanghai uprising. It is quite clear to me that there has been an expansion of modern style capitalism in China. I think the debate is whether that capitalism is controlled by the state or by oligarchic private individuals.

    I could be wrong but I always thought that NEP was meant to be a temporary measure.

    These are of course a fundamental questions for all concerned with building socialism.

    I don’t agree that ‘civil rights’ is a useful indicator of socialist construction. Such ‘rights talk’ is straight out of the western liberal-democratic tradition and is concerned primarily with individual rights and the ownership of private property.

    Neither do I think that ‘cruelty’ is a very useful indicator either, particularly when applied to 20th century history. Our experience of socialist construction is still very limited, but we have learned surely that socialism is not a talisman that purifies all who come into contact with it? I believe that revolution can and should be peaceful and democratic, but let’s not judge too harshly those whose shoulders we stand on.

    I’m less confident than you in our ability to determine precisely what constitutes socialism. Marx didn’t go far down this road for a good reason. He understood that socialism is not a future that we construct in our imagination and then develop a road map to take us there, but rather it is the unfolding product of the laws of development. I don’t know if China is on the right path, only time will tell, but I’m prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt where you are not.

    Yes, the NEP was conceived as a temporary measure, as are the CCP’s reforms. As to how long this ‘primary stage’ will last, Zhao Ziyang once suggested 100 years.

  56. John Grimshaw on said:

    jock mctrousers: I seem to have to post this link here almost monthly.This is the definitive account based on the state of the art archival research: The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia Volume 5: The Years of Hunger: Soviet Agriculture 1931-1933 Paperback – 23 Dec 2003 by R. Davies (Author), S. Wheatcroft (Contributor)

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Industrialisation-Soviet-Russia-Agriculture-1931-1933/dp/0230238556/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474461819&sr=1-1&keywords=wheatcroft+davies+hunger+years

    Check out too Mark Tauger: the Carl Beck papers

    Thanks I will try to read this if I get the chance. Its my birthday soon so you never know….? Just to say the review which you direct to says that this industrialisation of the USSR/Russia was akin to that that started in the UK in the eighteenth century. It doesn’t draw out any differences.

  57. John Grimshaw on said:

    Petter Matthews: I don’t know if China is on the right path, only time will tell, but I’m prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt where you are not.

    It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.

  58. John Grimshaw on said:

    Petter Matthews: I believe that revolution can and should be peaceful and democratic,

    Revolution will have to be violent. I see no evidence that capitalism is in the final throws of total systemic crisis. Although if reports of global warming are not exaggerated that may change the game. As to democratic…my idea of revolution is that by implication it must be. What’s the point of “socialist revolution” if it’s not more democratic than what came before? Which of course is a critique you could use of some of the Trot groups I’ve known which is that their internal practice is lesser than the system they seek to overthrow, although of course many are “sects”.

  59. I would strongly recommend for anyone seriously interested in the issues being discussed here the collection of academic papers “Hunger and Scarcity under state-socialism” – Leipziger Universitaetsverlag 2012 – , edited by Matthias Middell and Felix Wemhauer, based upon a conference held in Vienna in 2008.

    While discussing the various famines in the USSR and China, and the complex reasons for them, it does conclude that the proposition that famine was directed in any way to particular classes or social or ethnic groups is not supported by the evidence, and in the case of the Ukraine there were specific measures taken to try to protect Ukraine from the famine crisis, which flatly contradicts the current nationalist claims. Furthermore, in the case of the Soveit famine, politburo records show that while the state was officially denying the famine existed, covertly famine releief measures were introduced.

    Some confusion has been caused by the fact that Radek leaked claims in this period that grain was being deliberately hoarded in the East in anticipation of military necessity from an anticipated Japanese invasion. This seesm to have been deliberate misinformation, as no grain was actually stockipled for the purpose, and indeed in the case of the 1932-1933 famine, the covert famine relief measures undermined the state’s professed policy of creating a strategic stockpile. In this regard, the rather less remarked upon 1947 famine showed a possibly greater ruthlessness by the state, where famine relief measures were not taken.

  60. Petter Matthews on said:

    John Grimshaw: Revolution will have to be violent. I see no evidence that capitalism is in the final throws of total systemic crisis. Although if reports of global warming are not exaggerated that may change the game. As to democratic…my idea of revolution is that by implication it must be. What’s the point of “socialist revolution” if it’s not more democratic than what came before?

    I don’t accept that violence is inevitable, but if your view prevails, then it is likely to become so. I remember Albie Sachs saying that one of the things that he was most proud of in terms of defeating apartheid was, that in securing victory, the forces of liberation did not become like those that they defeated. That gives me hope that ‘Peace And Socialism’ can be more than just a slogan.

    With regard to democracy, we need to distinguish between means and ends. Whilst the result of revolution has to be more democratic (ultimately, the abolition of all classes), the means to secure that end might not be (e.g. the dictatorship of the proletariat). A temporary reduction in democratic accountability can surely be justified if it eventually enables an extension of democracy?

  61. Petter Matthews: I don’t accept that violence is inevitable,

    In any revolutionary situation violence depends on the actions of the existing ruling class and its adherents in resisting the revolution when it arrives. There was little violence in opposition to the Arab Spring in either Tunisia or Egypt simply because both had reached the stage in their development encapsulated in Lenin’s credo that revolutions take place when the ruling class is no longer able to govern in the old way, and the people are no longer willing to be governed that way.

    Revolutions do not choose either to be violent or non-violent. It depends on concrete factors specific to any given revolutionary upsurge or process. However as Machiavelli warns, “Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered, and the unarmed prophets have been destroyed.”

  62. Petter Matthews on said:

    John,

    Yes, I agree.

    I remember reading ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ as a young man and being influenced by it. Fanon spoke of the inevitability of violence in the anti-colonial struggle – “it reeks of red hot cannonballs and bloody knives” he said. I understood this as Fanon arguing that violence was only an ‘inevitable’ part of the struggle for freedom given the inherently violent nature of the colonial system he opposed. He went on of course to discuss violence at the level of the individual and argued that it could be ‘cleansing’ in the sense of restoring self-confidence, but that’s probably where I part with him.

  63. Petter Matthews: He went on of course to discuss violence at the level of the individual and argued that it could be ‘cleansing’ in the sense of restoring self-confidence,

    Indeed, I recently read ‘Wretched of the Earth’ myself and he does advocate violence as not only a means to national liberation but psychological cleansing of the mental chains of colonialism. It is very harsh and raw stuff but I understand, I think, what he means. Having never been colonised it is harder for us in the West to accept his reasoning, but I understand him as making the point that colonialism is not only physically oppressive it is also – even more egregiously – spiritually and psychologically oppressive.

    He views violence against the oppressor as the only means by which those chains can be broken. I was struck when reading this passage of the parallels with the story of Nat Turner and the slave revolt he led in the Deep South.

  64. John: Revolutions do not choose either to be violent or non-violent.

    But there are elements of choice. And part of the issue is that once violence is unleashed, the threashold for future violence gets lower and lower.

  65. Andy Newman: And part of the issue is that once violence is unleashed, the threashold for future violence gets lower and lower.

    There is something to be said for the aphorism that the “revolution devours its children,” however I maintain that the violence, or extent of the violence in a given revolutionary situation is dependent on the nature of opposition to it. Referring back to 2011 and Tahrir Square in Cairo, the turning point came when the troops refused to obey orders to fire on the demonstrators.

    We also, of course, need to make a distinction between a revolution involving the participation of the masses, and an insurgency involving a relatively small committed group claiming to be acting on behalf of the masses, committed to violence from the outset. I’m thinking here of the Cuban Revolution.

  66. John Grimshaw on said:

    We also, of course, need to make a distinction between a revolution involving the participation of the masses, and an insurgency involving a relatively small committed group claiming to be acting on behalf of the masses, committed to violence from the outset. I’m thinking here of the Cuban Revolution.

    This is an important point.

  67. John Grimshaw on said:

    John,

    There are different sorts of revolutions of course. A nationalist revolution is not the same as a socialist one. But then you all knew that.

  68. #97 Of course a struggle fought as a national liberation movement can end up manifesting itself as a socialist revolution.

    #88 This analysis ignores the other side of the fact that the CCP grew to the extent it did during that period while part of the KMT. It therefore fails to look at what the effect on its membership and periphery would have been had the CCP broken with the KMT as suggested.

    That there are two sides to this relationship as hinted at by the very fact that Communist cadres in the KMT armies played such a huge role in the victory over the warlords in the march north from Guangdong.

    It also fails to address the actual balance of forces. Millions of people as discussed in the context of China does not translate into millions of people as we would experience the phenomenon. What would the result have been if the CCP decided to break openly with the KMT as suggested in terms of the readiness and willingness of the reactionary forces- imperialism, warlords, bourgeoisie and Chiang to clamp down sooner and even more viciously on the Communists and the organised working class and peasantry?

    The CCP eventually took power in China not by following the advice of any faction of the Soviet Party/ Comintern but by following their own path. Mao explains the necessity of this in an interview with US journalist Edgar Snow which is quoted in part in the classic Red Star Over China.

  69. Vanya:
    #97 Of course a struggle fought as a national liberation movement can end up manifesting itself as a socialist revolution.

    #88 This analysis ignores the other side of the fact that theCCP grew to the extent it did during that period while part of the KMT. It therefore fails to look at what the effect on its membership and periphery would have been had the CCP broken with the KMT as suggested.

    That there are two sides to this relationship as hinted at by the very fact that Communist cadres in the KMT armies played such a huge role in the victory over the warlords in the march north from Guangdong.

    It also fails to address the actual balance of forces. Millions of people as discussed in the context of China does not translate into millions of people as we would experience the phenomenon. What would the result have been if the CCP decided to break openly with the KMT as suggested in terms of the readiness and willingness of the reactionary forces- imperialism, warlords, bourgeoisie and Chiang to clamp down sooner and even more viciously on the Communists and the organised working class and peasantry?

    The CCP eventually took power in China not by following the advice of any faction of the Soviet Party or Comintern but by following their own path. Mao explains the necessity of this in an interview with US journalist Edgar Snow which is quoted in part in the classic Red Star Over China.

  70. Petter Matthews on said:

    John Grimshaw,

    A national liberation struggle is only a ‘revolution’ in the loosest sense of the term (which is how the majority of people use it admittedly), but the lack of precision creates problems. It does not distinguish for example between revolution and counter-revolution. In a Marxist sense a revolution is historically progressive. It must culminate in a transformation whereby one ruling class is displaced by another.

  71. Petter Matthews on said:

    Vanya: #97 Of course a struggle fought as a national liberation movement can end up manifesting itself as a socialist revolution.

    Good point.