Vestas factory on Isle of Wight OCCUPIED!

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baboon
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Aug 14 2009 19:30

If I might take a little time to respond to your posts Jason:

This tour will be about “sharing experiences” and “workers telling their story” within the framework, as organisers of the tour, that the RMT will – already have – impose on them. I suspect that this will be something of parading the workers around and a publicity/recruitment drive for the RMT. I base this not only on a political analysis of the trade unions but in line with the information and some of the analyses made in your previous posts amongst other information.
Confidence and organisation – if it’s to be effective – can only come in and through the struggle and not brought from the outside. Such a position ‘bringing consciousness from the outside’ I understand, is often called “Leninist”. Of course the unions will be involved in struggles of the working class, that’s their job, their main function and many militant workers will be union members and part time officials. Some of these, as often the most militant workers, will take the struggle forward, but at some stage the unions will have to derail and strangle the fight. The way to strengthen this fight is for the tendency to self organisation and extension to itself strengthen, and this can only come up against the union’s role and structure.

I don’t regard the unions as “bad”. That’s too simplistic. I was a rank and file activist, shop steward, and convenor and finally offered a full-time position all during 15 years of high levels of class struggle in this country. I was sickened to my stomach by the manoeuvres and cynicism of the unions, and my head was done in by the contradictions I found myself in. The political positions of the ICC on the unions clarified for me what I’d seen in practice. The unions are not “bad” but fundamentally anti-working class state structures. For me, this has been confirmed by all major outbursts of class struggle over the last 30 odd years: Steelworkers, France, Britain and Germany in the late 70s, Poland 1980, miners GB 84, public sector workers everywhere. Where the intact unions weren’t used against the working class through their divisiveness, “radicalisation” or taking charge of the struggle, “organising” it, they were created by the bourgeoisie to fulfil the demands of the situation, as in Poland 1980. This may seem a long way from the Isle of Wight (or a tour of Britain), but the principles are the same.

As to whether I think climate change is “man made”, the threat is undoubtedly a product of capitalism. If fact I would say that the threat, particularly the threat to all human life on this planet, is one of the fairly obvious hallmarks of decadent capitalism: socialism or barbarism on an unimaginable scale. I agree with the conclusions of the International Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in March 2009 (quoted in “The myth of the “green economy” on the ICC’s website): “Recent observations confirm that given the high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario trajectories (or even worse) are being realised. For many key parameters, the climate system is already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and economy have developed and thrives. These parameters include global mean surface temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant risk that many of the trends will accelerate, leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts.”
If it wasn’t so drastic the response of the bourgeoisie to this obvious and grave danger would be laughable. The money they’ve put up is less than peanuts to confront this problem. As is the nature of capitalism, it’s organised along competing national units. Not only can they not cooperate, but are forced, on pain of survival, to compete with their rivals – economically and militarily. If there’s not a profit in it, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell of capitalism saving the planet. Au contraire. Look at the monies and resources that go to the military; where they aren’t letting the planet go to hell, they’re pouring shit and bombing it. It’s an irrational system – it’s past its sell-by date.
There might be a few jobs to come out of the “green economy”, but even from their wildest statements (US, France, Germany, Britain et al) and most optimistic figures, these jobs wouldn’t go any way to replacing many of those already lost. What capitalism has done though – and here’s where the greens and the antics of the RMT come in, is turn this Climate Change question into an ideological attack on the working class. The message is a lie: “We can have a green capitalism”. Not only that, the Green campaign also covers material attacks on the working class. Under green ideology, all the major governments have hiked taxes and prices of the most basic commodities essential for the working class.

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Alf
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Aug 14 2009 22:04

Excellent clarification. Quite right to point out that we do not define the unions as being 'bad'. This would be moralism (which is not to say that there is not a deep-lying moral dimension to the trade union question, since these are organisations that have betrayed the class that gave birth to them). We are trying to understand their 'impersonal' role which is carried out to a large extent independently of the conscious intentions of those involved in running the union apparatus.

Also on climate change. Not only is 'man-made' (or rather 'capital-made') climate change real, it is accelerating to the degree that there is a growing alarm among the more intelligent strata of the bourgeoisie. But this awareness will not alter the fact either that more or less everything capitalism and the state do will tend to make the situation worse; nor does it mean that, as an increasingly desperate ruling class finds it necessary to make unprecedented attacks on working class living standards, it will be able to dispense with using 'green economy' ideology as an ideological cover for these attacks.

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Alf
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Aug 14 2009 22:05

http://en.internationalism.org/2009/ir/138/green-economy

Jason Cortez
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Aug 19 2009 12:25
Baboon wrote:
Confidence and organisation – if it’s to be effective – can only come in and through the struggle and not brought from the outside. Such a position ‘bringing consciousness from the outside’ I understand, is often called “Leninist”.

Well let me see if, I give my daughter encouragement to do something and this helps her confidence to attempt this, am I ‘bringing consciousness from the outside’, will her achievement be less 'effective'?

Alf wrote:
Quite right to point out that we do not define the unions as being 'bad'. This would be moralism

well I was being a little bit of a wind up merchant, but if I said that the film I saw last night was 'bad' would you go off on one about moralism or would understand me to mean I didn't like it?

baboon
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Aug 21 2009 19:17

I agree with your point about 'encouragement and confidence' Jason, as aspects of an active involvement and solidarity within workers' struggles, while I don't think that a parent's relationship to a child is quite the right analogy. The point is that from the beginning at Vestas there was a strong element of coming to the factory to 'organise the workers' - this substitutionism was well documented and analysed in your posts. If the workers don't do organise themselves then no-one can do it for them and though the leftist will try what we end up with is not workers' self-organisation but the derailment of the struggle.

If, in conversation, you told me that the film you saw last night was bad (or 'wicked'), I would ask you in what way, ie, what was the content of it that led you to that conclusion. Alf can defend himself, but I hardly think he's 'going off on one' regarding moralism in relation to the unions being something more than simply 'bad'. And, as he says, there is moral element to the whole question of trade unionism.

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Alf
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Aug 21 2009 20:17

I reacted to the idea that we see unions as 'bad' because it seems to fit in with the often repeated view that we see everything in black and white terms and that we see the unions and the left as 100% conscious of what they are doing, whereas in reality we are talking about historical processes which to a large extent determine the behaviour of social/political organisms without the actors involved in them being fully aware of what they are doing (see the discussion on ideology on a different thread).