Friday, 19 August 2011

...and let's not forget Labour

As a postscript to my previous post, I should also point out that the Labour Party Conference is in Liverpool this year. Kicking off on Sunday 25th September, it is less contentious in the fact that Labour are not currently in power. But doesn't mean that it should be ignored.

Merseyside TUC have already muted that they will be holding a demonstration, though the details are not yet confirmed. However, whilst it is a safe bet that demos against the Lib Dems and the Tories will be uncontroversial for "the left," Labour sadly remains a different matter. The Unite union has already seen fit to remind us that it "plays a full and active part in Labour party affairs at all levels." The AWL was making suggestions on how best to do the same as far back as May, whilst the SWP is also concerned about intervening within the Labour Party on issues such as party democracy.

On the other hand, having been booted out in the 80s, and now being the driving force behind the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, the Socialist Party will be more open to opposition. Likewise, unions such as PCS will have no conflict of interest in supporting a demonstration due to not being politically affiliated. Not to mention anarchists, who reject electoralism and political parties and have no lost love for Labour.

But this kind of split is precisely why opposition to the conference is important. Not to lobby the Labour Party to act in our interest - we know that they won't - but to drive home the point that it only matters that we act in our own interests.

Currently, the Labour Party in Liverpool are making £91 million of cuts to jobs and services. They are set to make another £50 million next year. People have lost their jobs and suffered as a result of this, and yet council leader Joe Anderson was able to lead a march and justify his position at the start of the year with the massed ranks of Unison standing behind him. Unison are at the same time the biggest union in the public sector and the biggest obstacle to the entire sector coming out on strike at once, for which their affiliation to Labour must no doubt bear its share of the blame.

Likewise, whilst the Socialist Party and others talk of a "new workers' party," this idea is heavily dipped in nostalgia for the myth of a Labour that never was. It is also a significant factor in encouraging and maintaining the illusions in electoralism that allows the Labour Party to go on. At yesterday's Liverpool Against The Cuts meeting, hearing Socialist Party members talk about urging the City Council to "act how a Labour council should act" only underlines this point.

That's not to say I think the left can be persuaded to think otherwise. There is no magic argument that will at a stroke win everyone over to anarchism, and I doubt that anybody is convinced otherwise. But it's not the full-timers, the loyalists, and the die-hard apparatchiks we want to reach. It's the people that they are aiming their propaganda at. The Labour Party, like the tiny far-left sects which feed off it in various ways, makes considerable capital of there supposedly being no realistic alternative to what they offer. This pulls a lot of people into their ranks, and if it doesn't chew them up and spit them out then it makes the next generation of recruiting sergeants and careerists out of them.

It is to those people we need to be targetting. And, as Liverpool Solfed have previously said, the message is simple;
Some see the current attacks on our jobs, services and living standards as merely Tory cuts or Lib Dem sell-outs. This is fundamental mistake. In reality the attacks constitute a total onslaught by the entire political and economic elite on the working-class as a whole. As chancellor, Alistair Darling promised to implement cuts that would be “deeper and tougher” than during the Thatcher era if Labour won the last general election. Labour politicians were first in line to milk the expenses system, tax pensions, send young working-class men and women to fight neo-con wars, enact increasingly authoritarian laws, privatise public services through the back door, as well as introducing university tuition fees despite promising not to, and the list goes on. The fact is, the career politicians of the left are no better than those of the right, they both play the same corrupt and grotesque party political game. Right now, both conservative and supposedly socialist governments around the world are inflicting austerity measures on their citizens, making them pay for an economic crisis they did not create.

The cuts will not be defeated through the ballot box by voting for candidates offering voters lukewarm reforms and a few more crumbs from the tables of the wealthy. They will be defeated through mass, self-organised campaigns of direct action on the streets of our local communities, on the student campuses and on the picket lines. The current struggle must also be part of the longer-term fight against all forms of exploitation, wage slavery and social injustice. As anarcho-syndicalists, we believe a new society must be built based on workplace and community self-management, without bosses or bureaucrats.

For too long, the parties of the reformist and revolutionary left have suckered in and neutralised the efforts of decent working-class militants. By now it should be clear that these parties offer nothing but false hope and inevitable betrayal. Only when we take matters into our own hands as a class, and shun those who seek to lead and control us, will we have any chance of bringing about radical social change.
The Labour Party are the enemy of the working class as much as the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. When they come to Liverpool for their conference, we would do well not to forget that and to respond accordingly.