Carlisle rs21 put forward a revolutionary perspective on the Corbyn victory
Jeremy Corbyn’s victory is a milestone in the fight for a better society. It was a day when people who had been silenced by austerity found their voice and bellowed. We witnessed the death and burial of the Blair project. We got the conclusion to the Iraq War that Chilcott is refusing to give.
We are entering into a new period. Never since the war has the gap between the rich and the rest of society found such expression in the political mainstream.
So how should revolutionaries respond, and should we take a stand on joining the Labour Party?
There are many reasons for joining. Corbyn has woken up a de-commissioned army of people who are sick and tired of the way things are. People who live in all parts of the country, belong to all age groups and bring together unemployed people, public sector workers and people across all walks of life – in other words the 21st century working class.
These are the 50,000 who have joined since Corbyn’s election, and are the strongest reason to join.
Another reason to join is to defend Corbyn against the apparatchiks who make up the bulk of the party’s machinery. Corbyn has called for a new way to make policy from the bottom up, and we welcome this.
A final reason is based on the argument that ‘you have to be in it to win it’, and that if we stay outside our influence will decline.
It is clear that a lot of people are being persuaded that a reformed Labour Party would have the capability to transform capitalism. With John McDonnell as shadow chancellor we shall see these arguments develop.
For us, the lines of debate will need to centre on where the power in society really lies, and whether parliament provides the lever that is needed to transform capitalism.
We will also need to debate the nature of capitalism, and why it is a system that creates crises. We need to be clear that bankruptcies, mass unemployment, deskilling and zero hours contracts are not just a result of Tory policy, but of the way capitalism operates.
A left wing government would have to come to terms with the question of how to stop multi-nationals pulling their investment, how to deal with sanctions imposed by hostile governments, how to repulse the attacks of financial markets who will seek to drive us into the hands of the IMF – and break the spirit of the government as they did with Syriza.
Looking at examples of radicalisation over the past century, we can see two things happening. While the majority of people turn to parliamentary reformist parties like Labour, a smaller but growing group turns to revolutionary politics. Both grow together as the working class gains consciousness and confidence.
The Russian Revolution was a product of the crisis of the First World War. Across Europe new Communist Parties were formed, while the Trade Unions grew and parties like the Labour Party and the Social Democrats in Germany were elected for the first time into government. In 1945 when the Labour Party won a landslide and formed the most radical government in the past century, the Communist Party had 45,000 members – the largest in its history. In the late 60s and 70s working class militancy brought down a Tory government for the first time ever, and revolutionaries found an audience on the shop floors for their ideas.
History demonstrates that there is a space to the left of reformism, which flourishes when radical reform seems possible. This is the kind of space to Corbyn’s left that he will need, and the freer that space is, the better for the movement.
If all of us to the left of Corbyn joined the Labour Party what would we do? What would be our gameplan?
Do we have the strength in Carlisle to take on all the right-wing councillors and fight the faction fights? Would we have the stamina to orient ourselves on the migrant crisis, the People’s Assembly, and to campaign against fracking, Trident and the TTIP? Would we have time to build networks with the radical independence movement in Scotland?
There may come a point of maximum crisis in which joining Labour is vital, but that would be in circumstances where the Labour Party formally splits and a new left wing party arises.
In the meantime our place locally is to join in with the struggles that are happening and make the case for revolution as our ultimate goal.
As long as capitalism lasts the majority of humanity will live in a world where the wealth of society is produced by one class and owned by another. Under such conditions we must go beyond parliament, and get to work on those unelected bodies – the civil service, the police, the army and the judiciary. They have grown up as part of parcel of capitalist society and would be used in a crisis to crush any movement from below.
Yet capitalism remains as unstable as ever, threatening our economic existence and the climate. To retain such a system is to condemn the future while mortgaging the present. Let us bury the dead hand of the past before it drags us into its grave.
Every day the entire profit of the capitalist system is based on the exploitation of labour power. Every penny of profit is based on workers producing, serving and selling things. The endgame for our form of politics has to be the overcoming of this system globally. This means orienting our politics on the 21st century working class.
This is what we mean by revolution – a complete transformation of society. It is more than a change of government.
Revolution comes about when millions of people around the world take control directly of the means of production and consumption. This needs to happen everywhere where people live. In cities like Carlisle across the world it would mean every workplace being run directly by the employees, and linking up to form a city-wide council run by delegates who plan together. This would be a complete break with the way things happen now.
We know that we do not live in a revolutionary situation, where this is on the cards. Yet the problems thrown up by the banking crash will not go away and we need to use our revolutionary perspective to challenge from the left while taking part in the movement.
As revolutionaries we must be encouraging people to take whatever steps they can, and we support Corbyn as the greatest leader in the Labour Party’s history – regardless of what happens next.
For revolutionaries, our aim is to harness change where it happens. For us it the true power that keeps capitalism in motion is the collective capacity of the population, the 21st century working class. This is the class of the 99%, the De-commissioned Army, who could try something totally different – something that would be a real break with the muck of ages.
And that rotten national anthem will be the first thing that goes.