Saturday, November 29, 2008

A "Fantasy" Musing On The Auto Bailout- Ford, GM, Chrysler Workers Seize The Factories


Everybody is now familiar with the heart-rending plaintive cries of the cash-starved Big Three automakers whose heads have recently come to Washington (via their private jets- very definitely a bad public relations move, but par for the course), hats in hand, looking for a $25 billion dollar bailout from the government. That means public tax money (you and me, radical or conservative, it does not matter) for their private use. We have become inured to the facts behind this increasingly familiar scene over the past few months as it has become patently obvious that the capitalist lineup that runs the corporations of America has run out of steam, ideas and anything else except the capacity to beg for alms. The hard reality though is that, frankly, we as workers, don’t (or shouldn’t) give a damn. Let these behemoths go under, along with their museum piece historical curiosities-the SUV’s and over-sized trucks that have clogged the highways the past few years.

But wait a minute. What about the fate of the auto workers who will be unemployed and left to dangle in the wind if the American auto industry closes down? Well, here is my “fantasy” solution. The worker militants in the auto industry have no interest in the capitalist nationalizing of this bankrupt industry any more than we had an interest in the de facto nationalizations of the banks and credit markets that have occurred in the recent past. Worker militants also have no interest in some bogus “worker control” of industry under the current capitalist regime that we have no hope today of having lead to a workers government. Therefore the only alternative is for those who produced the wealth, productively used or squandered, should seize the factories and other auto assets, sell them off and distribute the proceedings among the workforce. Preposterous, you say. Well let me give you the capitalist “alternative” scenario-one or more of these monsters goes belly up and either some other auto company buys into the mess or THEY sell the assets for themselves, their creditors and their stockholders. I believe that the expression is carpe diem, which seems about right under the circumstances.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Welcome To Thalia- The Early Work of Larry McMurtry


The Eyes of Texas

Hud, starring Paul Newman, Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas, directed by Martin Ritt, UA, 1963

The last time I have had a chance to mention the work of Larry McMurtry, whose novel this movie is adapted from, was a recent review of his The Last Picture Show trilogy (a must read, by the way) concerning the coming of age, mid-life crises and struggles with mortality of a cohort of small town Texas characters, especially one Duane Moore. As usual when I get ‘high’ on an author I like to run through most of his or her work to see where he or she is going with it. Thus, this review of a lesser work turned into an exceptional film is something of an introduction to themes that McMurtry likes to give a work out in his literary efforts. Apparently, when it comes to bring to life the Texas of the 1950’s and 1960’s either cinematically or in book form your first (and maybe last stop, although I would give Horton Foote some play) is at Mr. McMurtry’s doorstep.

Okay, so what is the big deal? Take one young, world weary, cynical handsome and well-built ne’r-do-well 1950’s cowboy Paul Newman, complete with Cadillac and cowboy hat (and an eye for the ladies, needless to say). Take one old-time rancher father of said Hud, Melvyn Douglas giving the performance of his life as a man out of step with the times as oil-rich Texas is passing him by. Take one sultry (yes, sultry in a country sort of way) substitute mother as the household cook and drudge. Add, for generational purposes, a young teenage grandson the prototype for later characters that we shall see again in other Texas scenarios by McMurtry. Put them all together with all kinds of family, personal and social tensions and a ranch crisis brought on by an epidemic of cattle hoof and mouth disease. Film it in black and white (a natural medium for 1950’s- 1960’s modern cowboy movies-think the Misfits) and place it in small town Texas with all its pride, prejudices and customs. Then take a couple of hours to see how a well-written novel and a well-thought out film can mesh as one. This is the Texas of Larry’s dreams and ours. Kudos.

Horseman, Pass By, Larry McMurtry, University of Texas Press, 1961

I will concede that I have been on something of tear concerning the works of Larry McMurtry lately. That is just the way I operate when I find that rare novelist that “speaks” to me. Gore Vidal, the great American historical novelist, is another whose works you will be seeing reviewed more in this space. That said, the particularly purpose here is to compare McMurtry’s Horseman, Pass By with Hud, the cinematic version of this novel, that starred the recently deceased Paul Newman as a misbegotten, angry modern cowboy, a very talented actor from my youth. I, frankly, like to make such comparisons to see how close the film comes to the novel.

Some films, as I recall from an article that Joan Didion wrote in the New York Review of Books concerning one of her books, move very far away from the author’s intent. That happened in her case and she had to abandon the screenwriting of the film version of one of her books in the interest of her own artistic integrity. Some cinematic presentations, even more egregiously, pay bare homage to their source. That occurred in Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and To Have Not. Here the situation is something of a happy mix between the need to highlight the 1960’s blue-eyed heart throb Newman’s role as the errand, self-centered cowboy “angel” Hud and the coming of age story of his teenage nephew Lonnie that McMurtry is trying to portray here.

Naturally, as McMurtry’s intent is to show not only the ruthless way that the modern cowboy, Hud, has to deal with the world in order to survive but the vagaries of his nephew Lonnie’s coming of age in rural West Texas in the 1950’s (in the mythical town of Thalia the scene of more than one of his efforts) the screenwriting must reflect director Martin Ritt’s concerns to keep the story moving. Thus the book, unlike the movie, concentrates not on the action of the various events in ranch (the problem with the cattle that have to be destroyed) and small town life (the booze, dances and Last Picture Show movie house) that drive the film but the sheer struggle against loneliness and meaningless that every teenager goes through but more so here. Those feelings, described so well here (and in The Last Picture Show) do not translate well onto the screen.

There are a number of other characters and events in the book that do not make it to the screen. The family relationship between Grandpa Homer Bannon and Hud is different (although the generational tensions are still present). Grandma Bannon is still alive (as Homer’s second wife and Hud’s mother) and the housekeeper is black not white like in the film. Needless to say Newman’s sexual assault of the housekeeper (played by Patricia Neal) in the early 1960’s era film subject to more taboos than today is much less graphic than in the book. But a good suggestion here is to watch the film for the performances of Newman, Neal and Melvyn Douglas (as Homer) AND read this novel. This is McMurtry’s first effort at being the “king” of Texas story tellers (New West version and Old West version, as well). The pair of efforts compliment each other. That is a rare feat.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

*The Real Question Of The Day- Who Will Win The National College Football Championship?

Click on title to link to the "USA Today" pre-season college football ratings for 2008

*The Real Question Of The Day- Who Will Win The National College Football Championship?


This running commentary was started on August 29, 2008 and will continue until January 2009. Each week I am making my comments on the previous week and making my selections for the upcoming week in the comment section. Of course, using the power of the Marxist scientific method (or maybe dumb luck) to enlighten one and all on this earth shaking struggle.

Well, folks now is the lead-up to the first real weekend of college football and time once again for this unrepentant Marxist to use his materialist concept of history to predict the trends of the season. But let us back up for a moment to last year’s (yes, I know ancient history but with blog history available, such as it is in this case, it can be pulled up in an instant) zany season and this forecaster’s ill-advised choices. One knows things are not right when upstart Appalachian State takes Michigan in the first week. It went downhill from there. The next couple of paragraphs taken from a review of Hunter Thompson’s Hey, Rube and a postscript tell the tale when the deal went down.

A run through the ups and downs of Thompson's previous seasons' (2000-2003) gambling wins and loses, however, does not date well. Hell, I can barely remember last week's bets. But the real problem is that, as in politics, we listen to different drummers. I am a long time fan of `pristine and pure' big time college football and would not sully my hands to bet on the NFL so his whining about the San Francisco 49'ers or the Denver Broncos is so much hot air. However, I will take Ohio State and 3 points against LSU in the 2007 college championship game. That's the ticket. I miss Hunter and his wild and wacky writing that made me laugh many a time when I was down and needed a boost but not here. Enough said.

Postscript: May 15, 2008. Needless to say there is a strong difference between my uncanny powers of political prognosis and the rather mundane ability to pick college football champions. Obviously, only a fool would have bet on the Buckeyes of Ohio State against a real SEC team like those Cajun boys from LSU. Right?

...Obviously, at the end of this year’s football season I will have to make better use of the delete key. But all of that is so much hot air and ancient history. Today we start as fresh as new born babes. That, after all is the beauty of this kind of madness. Here goes.

A Democratic convention with a historic black candidate for a nominee. Ho hum. A Republican convention coming up with the same old same old. Yawn. Today, or at least the time it takes me to write up this commentary, all that ‘real’ news is so much hot air. Why? This weekend marks the first serious collegiate football Saturday and the time to make my predictions about who will win this year’s coveted national championship (Jesus, I better stick to politics, this line sounds like something out of the late legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice. Somebody please stop me if I start writing about the 'mythical' national championship). I admit that I got waylaid last year when LSU seemingly came out of nowhere at the end to deliver Ohio State its second consecutive national championship lost. But that was last year. This year is as fresh as the driven snow.

On the first weekend of September it would be pointless (and foolhardy, as well) to name the winner. One of the virtues of following the Top 25 in the college football ratings is that, more so than in professional sports, the most precise calculations can blow up in your face. Witness last year’s unlikely defeat of Michigan by Appalachian State. So with that precaution in mind here is my Top Four which reflects the strength of the top conferences in the scheme of things. Pac-10- Southern California (no-brainer out West). Big 10-Ohio State (here I finally like them so they probably will tank out on me). Big 12- Oklahoma (although I like that quarterback McCoy from Texas, if he ever stops throwing interceptions) and the home conference of last year’s national champion’s, the SEC- Georgia who came on like gang busters at the end of last season (no, no repeat for LSU. Yes, I like Florida's Heisman Trophy Tebow but is the team around him strong enough?). For all you Clemson(ACC) and/or West Virginia fans (Big East). Get real-again!

I promise to do better updating the weekly commentary. Hell, all there is as an alternative is this misbegotten presidential campaign so I should have plenty of time on my hands.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"I'd Rather Be The Devil Than Be That Woman's Man"-Some Random Notes On The Obama Transition


As always when I use the headline above, courtesy of the legendary old time country blues singer Skip James (who apparently had been unhappy in love, among other personal problems), in order not to offend my feminist friends who attempted to do “great and grievous bodily harm” to me the first time I used it, in a commentary concerning former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I have placed two versions of that thought below. Needless to say after reading some of the points listed below one will not have to guess which version is appropriate for this commentary.

“I’d Rather Be The Devil Than That Woman’s Man”- “Devil Got My Woman”, old time country blue singer Skip James’ version

“I’d Rather Be The Devil Than To Be A Woman To That Man”- “Devil Got My Woman”, modern feminist blues/folk singer-songwriter Rory Block’s version


For those who regularly read the commentaries in this space, as at least one reader has informed me, there has been a glaring lack of commentary from this blogger about the bourgeois election process now that the misbegotten 2008 American presidential campaign has run its course. Well, I confess, and do so willingly, that I have suffered from Post Election Deprivation Syndrome (PEDS). Although it is a curable disease with time the symptoms are a result of too closely following political events that is then followed by “ennui” that can only be described as “don’t give a damn”. That last phrase basically sums it up, however, since I am getting back on my feet and am going to need to sharpen my claws (as we all must) after this Obamian transition period is over let me offer a few random points for your perusal.

Obama And The Question Of Political Incest

Look, I was up late on the night of Tuesday November 4, 2008 just like every other political junkie in the known universe. Why? Well, to find out about the fate of some local referendum questions on the Massachusetts ballot, for one thing. However, after two years of following this bizarre American presidential campaign, from outside the process to be sure, I always have an interest, if only a sporting one as here, in such outcomes. Long gone are the days when I would sit up until the wee hours to see whether so-and-so won the 28th Congressional District in California to insure a Democratic majority in that body. But, damn Electoral College counting, that hoary old undemocratic beast which should be abolished posthaste, is still interesting.

So what did I learn from this experience? Well, the top thing immediately is that America will have its first black imperialist commander-in chief. As a veteran of the old civil rights movement and a keen observer of the racial atmosphere in this country for half a century that fact alone is significant. I, along with a myriad of others, if asked by you whether such an event would occur in America by the political year 2008 would have dismissed you out of hand and called for your immediate medical assistance.

In the long haul, given Obama’s publicly stated positions and based on my “feel” for his personal demeanor that means that we leftists will have a little more room to maneuver and can breath a little easier after eight hard Bush years of having had these Nazi manqués try to shove every thing that they could at us and expect us to like it. Moreover, from the “feel” of the Obama campaign and what it generated among the young the expectations of positive change are palpable. I commented in some earlier blogs posted this summer that a little fresh wind, like that of my youth around the campaign of John Kennedy in 1960, seemed to be blowing. In the final analysis, that experimental atmosphere cannot do anything but help us when the hard realities of capitalist politics get hammered down on them. While history does not repeat itself exactly and we, in any case, do not need (or want) a repeat of the 1960’s (if for no other reason than we lost that battle) the capitalist system itself will force the issues.

In the short haul, though, we leftists will be isolated, especially in the foreign affairs arena as Obama will be given at least here a very long “honeymoon” period both because of the utter destructive nature of the Bush years and because, frankly, he is black. Among the black population that “honeymoon” will, as should be expected, last a very much longer time. By analogy, in the old days those of us who grew up Irish Catholics always gave the Kennedys plenty of room and plenty of support, especially when the WASPs got on their cases.

Of course, this is all by way of preface to the “real” news of the transition period- the impending announcement that one New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Democratic presidential contender, and a woman whom I believe still has plenty of “fire in her belly” to be president is to be named Secretary of State. This is only the tip of the iceberg of Obama appointments of former Clinton (Bill, that is) Administration personnel. This “team of rivals” is going to be more like a cathouse by the time this thing is over.

I will finish this section with two points on this for now. First, in several blogs in 2007, well before this election cycle was in focus I mentioned that any country that could not come up with a better political combination than alternating the Clinton/Bush quinella deserves all the trouble that it gets. I will stand on that statement here. As for the second, I refer the reader back to that comment made at the start of this commentary about my motivation for the headline of this blog. Enough said (for now)

Iraq and Afghanistan and always Iraq and Afghanistan

On noon of January 20, 2009 one Barack Obama will be swore in as the 44th President of the American imperial state. Although this may be my ham-handed way of putting the description of that event it underscores the point that I want to make in this section. On that day we will start our opposition to the start of the Obama Administration’s responsibility for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Get use to the idea now because the news out of Washington, Chicago, Baghdad and Kabul does not promise any quick ending to our now seven year opposition to this madness. Here’s why.

Obviously, the selection of the unrepentant “hawk” Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to be the next American Secretary of State does not portent well for withdrawal from Iraq. More ominous still are the recent “shotgun” negotiations between the Bush Administration and the Al-Maliki government in Iraq. Those negotiations posit a three year extension of American (and Allied, if there really is such a thing there now) troop presence. With that safety valve in place expect that an Obama first term will move very cautiously and despite all previous avowals to the contrary keep troops there to the bitter end under one pretext or another. The joker in the deck is Sadr and his Madhi Army who have been making some noise on the “Arab street” to get the Americans out now. Some of that is grandstanding for the home crowd but, to the extent that popular opinion in Iraq is moved by that slogan, we, of course, support THEIR efforts to get the American imperial army out.

More threatening though is the situation in Afghanistan. This IS Obama’s war and he may wind up staking his presidency on the issue. Obama is publicly and unequivocally committed to “beefing” up the American troop presence in Afghanistan. He never claimed to be a pacifist or some sappy “peace at any price” monger so we best take him at his word. In this regard we best take seriously his commitment to Afghanistan escalation, as exemplified by the rumored selection of ex-Marine Commandant James Jones as his national security advisor. General Jones has commanded troops in Afghanistan. General Jones is a ‘true believer’ that the situation in Afghanistan can be pacified by increased troop levels. The best thing that we can do now is get out the old banners, get out the old posters and write this on them for January 20, 2009- OBAMA- IMMEDIATE UNCONDITIONAL WITHDRAWAL OF ALL AMERICAN TROOPS FROM IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN! That is the new political reality. Be ready

Monday, November 24, 2008

Once Again, Cops Are Not Workers


The following is a letter published in Workers Vanguard August 28, 2008 that addresses the always thorny and ill-understood question of the role of police in capitalist society. That role is not as the vanguard of the working class but the rearguard of the bourgeois class. This lesson has to be constantly addressed to avoid problems when we get on the barricades. (Hell, you don't have to wait that long, just check out the strike lines - then you will know what all orthodox Marxists know almost instinctively. They are on the other side.) Read, once again, as an example, Trotsky's comments on the Bolshevik (and most militant Mensheviks, as well) attitude toward the police in 1917 in his classic History Of The Russian Revolution. Their role has gotten no better since that time. (One could argue that they have actually become more like para-military forces). I find that political people who have an equivocal attitude toward the police and their role in society have usually never been confronted by that force personally. It ain't pretty.

Northern Ireland

Socialist Party Champions Former H-Block Warden Turned Security Guard

Security Guards Out of the Unions!

We reprint below a letter published by the Spartacist League/Britain, section of the International Communist League, in Workers Hammer No. 203 (Summer 2008).

26 May 2008

Dear Workers Hammer,

Over the last few months a number of articles have appeared in the newspapers of both Irish and British reformist organisations about a hunger strike by “airport workers” in a legal battle against the leadership of UNITE, the trade union that organised them. The articles describe how these “workers” have been betrayed by the union leadership, and now face legal bills arising from the period when they were being organised into the union. This all sounds like the sort of fights workers have faced time and time again. However, it is only further on into the articles that the reader finds out these are not “workers” but security guards from Belfast airport demanding the union pay their £70,000 legal bills. Security guards are not workers but hired company thugs! It is an outrage that UNITE was organising these thugs in the first place. It would also be an outrage to use genuine workers union dues to pay their bills!

The most vocal defenders of these security guards in their battle against UNITE is Peter Taaffe’s Socialist Party. The Socialist Party has long proclaimed these guards “workers,” in fact it played a central role in organising them into the trade union. To add insult to injury, these reformists are now calling on trade unionists around the world to support the bosses’ hired thugs. Knowing full well that security guards are not necessarily popular with workers, they have been circulating a petition which simply refers to them as “workers” and “shop stewards,” omitting what they really did for a job. Lying and hiding basic truths is nothing new to social democrats like the Socialist Party, who are committed to trying to convince workers that the capitalist state can be made to act in their interests.

Even more disgusting, they and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), have also completely disappeared the fact that, prior to patrolling Belfast airport, one of these “workers” was a prison warden at the infamous H-Block/Maze prison! According to the Belfast Telegraph (13 April), Madan Gupta was for years part of the murderous regime that beat and tortured [Irish] Republicans. He was an overseer during the Hunger Strike in 1981! By championing such thugs, the Socialist Party and SWP are spitting on the memory of heroic men like Bobby Sands and the nine others who died on hunger strike that year.

The Socialist Party’s support to security guards is of a piece with their notion that cops and prison guards are part of the workers movement. This includes elements of the Northern Irish security apparatus such as H-Block prison wardens. As Marxists we have a duty to expose and politically combat these cowardly frauds. This is part of the struggle to achieve clarity in the workers movement, in particular on the nature of the capitalist state, which at its core consists of cops, prisons and courts. Prison guards and cops in capitalist countries are not workers, but the hired thugs of the capitalist state. The state is not some neutral arbiter above all classes, as the reformists would like to portray it, but simply the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Cops and security guards are used against workers during class struggle, beating pickets and protecting scabs. Indeed, around the world airport security is at the very front-line of the imperialists’ ongoing “war on terror” targeting, in particular, Muslims. As usual, the Socialist Party cares little for the plight of the besieged Asian communities in Britain or the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland, seeking instead to rally the working class to the defence of the very cops, security and prison guards that are used to beat, torture and imprison them.

There are few places in the Western world where the precise nature of the state and its “special bodies of armed men” is clearer than in Northern Ireland. Since its inception in 1921 as an Orange statelet, the local capitalist class and their British imperialist masters in London maintained their rule through naked anti-Catholic terror. The heavily armed RUC [Royal Ulster Constabulary] and “B-special” auxiliaries tortured and murdered with impunity, in particular targeting Republicans or anybody that dared question Orange rule. When a mass civil rights movement, supported both by the majority of Catholics and many Protestants, erupted in 1968 demanding an end to the daily discrimination of the Catholic minority, the Orange state and their Loyalist terror groups responded with increasing violence. By 1969 the British government decided to “stabilise” the situation by pouring in thousands of imperialist troops onto the streets of Belfast and Derry. Soon, the army and the RUC were filling internment camps with hundreds of “suspected Republicans” without even the facade of a trial. Innocent civilians were gunned down on the streets—on one day alone paratroopers murdered thirteen in Derry, the infamous Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972.

In contrast to the reformists, the ruling capitalist class makes no apologies for its state and the actions it takes to defend it. To this day, the British ruling class has refused to admit that the troops murdered innocent civilians on Bloody Sunday. The fact that the slaughter of the unarmed civilians is on film, and dozens of eye witnesses have testified, is irrelevant to the arrogant imperial masters. Their message to the population is quite clear: we rule! This is the same message sent out when cops executed Jean Charles de Menezes in July 2005 in London, and repeated in every denial of any wrongdoing. And it was the gruesome message that Thatcher’s government sent to the world when it provoked the Hunger Strikes in 1981. After years of protests against the brutal and demeaning regime under vicious wardens, Republican prisoners led by Bobby Sands insisted on regaining the status of political prisoners, as indeed they plainly were, including the simple rights to wear their own civilian clothes and to organise educational pursuits. The British state saw an opportunity to provoke the threatened hunger strike. It not only refused to listen to the demands, calling Bobby Sands and the others “common criminals” but began reneging on earlier agreements. Thatcher looked on gleefully as Bobby Sands, aged 27, and the others suffered slow, painful deaths.

At the height of the hunger strike, Sands was elected to the House of Commons and, fellow hunger striker, Kieran Doherty to the Dáil [Irish Parliament] as part of mass protests against the system slowly killing them. Both the British and Irish states quickly introduced new laws banning prisoners from running for election—making it clear to all that bourgeois “democracy” is nothing more than a veneer. A veneer that the likes of the Socialist Party hold in the highest of regard.

Because reformists hold that the capitalist state can change its spots and that socialism can be achieved without any need for a workers revolution, i.e., the smashing of the capitalist state and the need to establish a workers state, they must deny the very class nature of this state. By lying to workers that their interests can be served within capitalism, they provide cover for the bourgeoisie. The Socialist Party holds that once the reformists win a majority vote in Britain, laws can be passed in Her Majesty’s Parliament bringing about workers rule. That is, a bourgeois government—for any government administering the capitalist state is bourgeois—will bring workers rule to Britain! The idea that the gentlemen from the City [London financial district], and their friends in Sandhurst [military officer academy], will simply step aside because of a plebiscite and a piece of legal paper, is muck the Socialist Party consistently tries to rub in the eyes of the working class.

It is their reformist programme that inevitably leads the Socialist Party to become craven apologists for cops and prison guards. Their disgustingly chauvinist line on members of the brutal security apparatus in Northern Ireland is nothing new. They have rightly earned themselves the title “Her Majesty’s Socialists” among leftists and Republicans in Belfast and Dublin. The Socialist Party on both sides of the Irish Sea has for decades been proud to refuse to call for British troops out! They defend the “right to march” of the Orange Order, whose annual “marching season” consists of months of anti-Catholic provocations. In 1995, the Socialist Party infamously hosted Loyalist UVF killer Billy Hutchinson, who had been convicted of the murder of two innocent Catholics.

Of course, the Socialist Party is not so “touchy-feely” when it comes to the Catholic minority and Republicans in the North. [Socialist Party leader] Joe Higgins, ex-TD (MP) in Dublin, regularly used the Irish Dáil to denounce Republicans and anybody standing up to Loyalist terror. Higgins seized on the brutal killing of a young Catholic father, Robert McCartney, by members of the IRA, to compare the IRA to Hitler’s SS (see Workers Hammer No. 190, Spring 2005)! And when working-class youth and Republicans bravely fought off riot cops for hours to prevent a Loyalist mob marching through the streets of Dublin, Higgins was quick to join every bourgeois politician in the Dáil to denounce the anti-Loyalist protest as a “sectarian riot” (see Workers Vanguard No. 866, 17 March 2006).

The Socialist Party is the antithesis of the revolutionary workers party, that is a Bolshevik party, that the Spartacist League is fighting to build. We demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of the 5,000 British troops in Northern Ireland. We stand for the defence of the viciously oppressed Catholic community in Northern Ireland against Loyalist/state terror. At the same time, we oppose Sinn Féin’s nationalist perspective of a capitalist united Ireland in which Protestants would become an oppressed minority, a prospect that only serves to consolidate the Protestants behind Loyalist bigots, laying the basis for communalist terror, which is antithetical to a polarisation along class lines. In this situation of interpenetrated peoples and fratricidal nationalism, there can be no equitable solution short of the destruction of capitalism and the institution of workers rule. Our perspective is proletarian and internationalist: for the revolutionary overthrow of British imperialism and the clericalist state in the South—which is hideously oppressive of women, Travellers and workers—and the sectarian Orange state.

At a recent Socialist Party meeting in Dublin hosting Peter Taaffe, a speaker for the ICL laid out our perspective while exposing the anti-revolutionary programme of their international, the Committee for a Workers’ International, from their support for “workers in uniform”—including an ex-H-Block prison warden—to their scabbing on the Chinese deformed workers state (see Workers Hammer No. 202, Spring 2008). Many Socialist Party members in the audience, including one who was a security guard, vented their fury at our insensitivity to the plight of these thugs, in particular the lowly security guard, and our call to oust them from the unions. Taaffe’s summary, in particular in response to the ICL, was a ten-minute lesson in just how dirty a business reformism is. After explaining that, as a result of the betrayals of New Labour, it is the task of the Socialist Party to build a “new mass workers party” which is explicitly not revolutionary (i.e., Old Labour), he went into a long rant on the glorious struggles of the British prison officers. He painted a picture of the Socialist Party’s new mass workers party: column after column of uniformed prison officers at the head of the working class! The Socialist Party actually dreams of building a “workers party” based on the brutally racist, BNP [fascist]-ridden, thugs from Wormwood Scrubs and the Metropolitan Police!

Such a reactionary, Labourite perspective, and such deadly illusions in the capitalist state need to be vigorously combated within the workers movement! Cops, prison wardens and security guards out of the unions! The Spartacist League seeks to build a multiethnic revolutionary workers party, a party that will act as a tribune of the people, fighting to mobilise the working class against every manifestation of injustice, racist oppression and state tyranny: Down with the racist war on terror! Full citizenship rights for all immigrants! For free abortion on demand! What is necessary is a revolutionary party that fights for the understanding that, as Lenin explained, “the working class cannot simply lay hold of the ready-made state machinery, and wield it for its own purposes”; that the liberation of the working class cannot come about “without the destruction of the apparatus of state power which was created by the ruling class” (The State and Revolution). These words were written on the eve of the Russian Revolution, the first, and to date, only successful proletarian revolution. Under the leadership of the Bolshevik vanguard party, the working class smashed the capitalist state and established a workers state, consisting of the “special bodies of armed men” necessary to defend the revolution against the deposed ruling class. That revolution makes clear the kind of party the working class needs to once-and-for-all throw off their chains. And it is our task to build this vanguard party!

Derek M.