Friday, April 01, 2005

Weekly Worker 570 March 31st 2005

This Weekly Worker has a front cover picture of the Make Poverty History rally in Trafalgar Square from earlier in the year: the crowd is big, diverse and look like they are in a pretty good mood. The headline is 'They say Make poverty history. We say make charity history.' There's no contest: I'm with that crowd.

Let's see what's inside: 'Peace activist' Sarah Young has an article entitled 'Networks of resistance' in a replyto something by Mike McNair. This indicts the whole strategy of STWC for more-or-less complete failure due to a reliance on the existing political structure and limits of 'legitimate protest'. Instead we needed effective industrial action and direct action, which the SWP and STW were determined to stop. Behind these failings is the culture of the entire establishment left, which is part of the state, led by the 'pale, male and stale'. STW hasn't made the next war more difficult for the British government. Continuity of STW is a step forward, but not much. We need a linked peace, environmentalist and anti-globalization movement, eventually linked to workplaces. Hmm, there is room for critique of STW, but not starting with the achievements of the mvement makes this all just 'revolutionary' noise to me. There is a pamphlet ('Thinking allowed') available from AKPress.

Mike McNair has a couple of pages on 'Communists and the popular front', basically designed to show that the CPGB's line towards Respect is correct. The most interesting point is the emphasis on the USSR's diplomatic policy towards Germany between 1921 and 1933 consisting of secret military relations with German nationalists, with the Red Army helping secret rearmament and Germany giving substantial assistance to industrial development in the Soviet Union. The 'Third period' partly came out of this with the USSR using the Comintern to distance itself and oppose the German social denmocrats. With Hitler's rise to power they expected this Rapallo policy to continue and it was only by 1934 was it clear that the old relationship was at an end, leaving the Kremlin with the need for a new foreign policy. This they hoped would be an alliance with Entente powers against Germany, but those powers weren't too unhappy about Hitler's Germany. The 'people's fronts' were to play a role in pushing for a bloc of democracies against fascism. This is very useful and challenging: I've had too much of a Comintern centred focus on these issues, seeing it as a matter of different political strategies, with the Third Period emerging from the internal political battles in the USSR (i.e. doing down Bukharin and the right) rather than being rooted in foreign policies of the Soviet state. Food for thought.

Mark Fischer has another coule of pages on 'Solidarity, not charity!', taking up the theme of the cover. There is an intersting history of charity - and working class rejections of charity, including the entertainingly subversive Skeleton Army and its efforts against the Salvation Army. However the whole thing is both sectarian and fallacious. The CPGB seems to think that it's ideological campaign against Tsunami relief at the start of the year is a winner and they're sticking with it, even when it gets totally inappropriate. The Make Poverty History campaign isn't charity, for all its faults (including dependence on celebrity advertising) it's staple NGO pressure-group activity to change government policy, i.e. get genuine debt write-offs. This doesn't go far enough and its clear that MPH is being offered as an altenrative to Stop the War by the Labour left. Weekly Worker says 'Genuine Marxists want to make charity history, not constitute its left wing', but no; genuine Marxists want to be an active part of the movement, working with people who have illusions in Gordon Brown, or even Oxfam, so that their criticisms of the limitations of the movement have credibility. The CPGB have no credibility on this.

And there is also one of those special coloured-paper supplements that used to mske The Leninist so entertainingly tedious. This is on 'The spectre of communism and the relevance of the Communist manifesto', with lengthy contributions from the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP), Jack Conrad and Hillel Ticktin. One for the files.


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