Working class/communist demands

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jef costello
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Jul 6 2007 08:50

Yes John. I was pointing out that the national bourgeoisie has very little to gain from buying new missiles and it would probably serve its interests better to invest it in another way. Which I think is what I already said.

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Lazy Riser
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Jul 6 2007 09:23
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I was pointing out that the national bourgeoisie has very little to gain from buying new missiles

Very little apart from social status and second homes.

Dust
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Jul 6 2007 14:08
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Maybe I'm misinterpreting this, but lines like "used to benefit all of the people in Ireland" seem to be nationalist. The demands laid out here aren't class demands at all.

It should be pointed out that these aren't our demands, rather the section you are quoting from is our minimum points of agreement for constructing a campagin with other groups and is part of our "short term perspectives". If the campagin grows some of the groups involved may not have the same class analysis as ourselves and as we hope this will develop into a large campagin i'd consider pretty pointless to make a correct class analysis a prequesite for getting involved. It was also deliberately phrased in such a way to avoid the "people of Ireland" and use the "people in Ireland" to try and escape such natioanlist phraseology.

Our actual position is the motion below which, as a part of it, clearly states "We do not see the simple call for nationalisation as a solution to this problem. State ownership does not equal workers’ ownership. We know that even if the revenues from these resources were still in state ownership, spending them on provision of public services such as education and health would not be a priority for the government."

There is already a thread on this by the way so it might be better to continue this there rather than derailing this one.

Dust
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Jul 6 2007 14:58
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And People in Ireland is just as nationalist, it's just a more open civic nationalism.

Neh, i think you are actually sorta right there. However, It is an attempt to avoid the "people of ireland" type thing, which i see to be a nebelous concept, and simply says that the resources of Ireland should be used for the benefit of people who live in Ireland. I don't consider it to be a particulary controversial concept execpt in the irrelevent sense that when we have an international anarchist system i don't think individual regions should have full control of their resources to the detriment of others.

As i said before this is far from a "maximum" demand, its simply one of things we would see as a point of agreement in any future campagin.

Quote:
so why push a demand of nationalisation then?

For people who are interested in reading the full motion its at http://www.wsm.ie/story/454 and is point 4.18 in the short term section.

The motion goes on to say "However we recognise that if these resources were in state ownership it would make more possible the type of political campaign which might force the government to spend the moneys in the interests of the working class."

My personal view is that while this is true i think there is more to it than that,

I think that there will be a number of crises concerning natural resources and the implications of them being held in private ownership over the next fifteen to twenty years. As such it is an issue that can be organised around and hopefully, if a mass campagin is built, won. Such a campagin would out of necesity have to involve tens of thousands of people. The experience of such a campagin and if won, the subsequent increase in confidence in the idea of collective action, would provide a basis to build further struggles.

It is impossible to say if such a campagin can be built or won at this very early stage. This is something that we will only learn in the process of working around the issue during the coming years.

yoshomon
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Jul 6 2007 15:05
Dust wrote:
Neh, i think you are actually sorta right there. However, It is an attempt to avoid the "people of ireland" type thing, which i see to be a nebelous concept, and simply says that the resources of Ireland should be used for the benefit of people who live in Ireland. I don't consider it to be a particulary controversial concept execpt in the irrelevent sense that when we have an international anarchist system i don't think individual regions should have full control of their resources to the detriment of others.

So you're arguing that people who live in Ireland have a common interest as Irish? How is that not nationalism? What does this kind of thinking have to do with class struggle?

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Devrim
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Jul 6 2007 15:43
Dust wrote:
It is impossible to say if such a campagin can be built or won at this very early stage. This is something that we will only learn in the process of working around the issue during the coming years.

Other WSM people have said very clearly that it is winable, and is not a transitional demand.

Devrim

Dust
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Jul 6 2007 15:43

Dust

Quote:
It simply says that the resources of Ireland should be used for the benefit of people who live in Ireland. I don't consider it to be a particulary controversial concept execpt in the irrelevent sense that when we have an international anarchist system i don't think individual regions should have full control of their resources to the detriment of others.

As i said before this is far from a "maximum" demand, its simply one of things we would see as a point of agreement in any future campagin.

vs.

Yoshomon

Quote:
So you're arguing that people who live in Ireland have a common interest as Irish? How is that not nationalism? What does this kind of thinking have to do with class struggle?

Revol 68

Quote:
ah right so youse are just looking out for the state, y'know making sure it's able to afford to pay for working class demands, how very decent of anarchists.

vs.

Part of a larger WSM motion

Quote:
"However we recognise that if these resources were in state ownership it would make more possible the type of political campaign which might force the government to spend the moneys in the interests of the working class."

Dust

Quote:
I think that there will be a number of crises concerning natural resources and the implications of them being held in private ownership over the next fifteen to twenty years. As such it is an issue that can be organised around and hopefully, if a mass campagin is built, won. Such a campagin would out of necesity have to involve tens of thousands of people. The experience of such a campagin and if won, the subsequent increase in confidence in the idea of collective action, would provide a basis to build further struggles.

Joe Black earlier

Quote:
Finally central to what I'm saying is that we can't make the final call based on what we would "be happier demanding". In this context we'd be happier demanding socialisation but reckon that while a mass campaign might be built around a call for nationalisation and that this demand would be winnable the call for socialisation would not be understood and in any case in relation to the oil industry would not be winnable this side of a revolution. Its precisely because we reject the transitional program approach of tricking people into fighting for what we think cannot be won in order to make them revolutionaries that we are not building around the 'socialisation' alternative as an immediate demand for reform.

This is why i don't argue on libcom. It's like a fuckin school debating club.

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Steven.
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Jul 6 2007 15:43

This nationalisation of oil thing is the single most ridiculous thing I've ever heard a class struggle anarchist group say. I'm surprised they're not getting more shit about it, it is just fucking unbelievable.

yoshomon
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Jul 6 2007 15:49
Dust wrote:
[ the resources of Ireland should be used for the benefit of people who live in Ireland.

I'm sorry if this comes off like a school debating club, but how is that not nationalist?

Dust
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Jul 6 2007 15:53
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DEV Other WSM people have said very clearly that it is winable, and is not a transitional demand.
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Dust It is impossible to say if such a campagin can be built or won at this very early stage. This is something that we will only learn in the process of working around the issue during the coming years.

I don't really see your point to be honest dev. My quote in know way implies it is a transitional demand. I'm pretty sure in any organisation when a campagin is embarked there will be differing views in the organisation regarding the potential for success. Some people will be more optimistic than others. I think it has a potential to be won, but it's unlikely. I would like to be proved wrong though and am willing to support the campagin and see how it develops/

Dust
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Jul 6 2007 15:57

Yoshomon, it strike me as a school debating club because words are twisted deliberately to suit the political point people are trying to make.

I assume you agree that the people of America have a shared interest in not being hit by a nuclear bomb. Does this make you a nationalist? (A abusrd example i know but just to illustrate a point)

Dundee_United
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Jul 6 2007 15:59
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This nationalisation of oil thing is the single most ridiculous thing I've ever heard a class struggle anarchist group say. I'm surprised they're not getting more shit about it, it is just fucking unbelievable.

I think the hysteria this eminently sensible and reasonable demand has generated is indicative of much wider problems in that people's politics have become so abstract that concrete winnable demands which represent an advancement for the condition of workers in Ireland, fought for with a campaign which would clearly build a significant degree of unity and 'movement' and hence advance the struggle more generally, is rejected because it would represent something actually attainable.

Dundee_United
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Jul 6 2007 16:01
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I mean why can't youse just support working class demands without worrying how exactly the state plans on funding it?

Maybe because that would be reckless, unstrategic?

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Joseph Kay
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Jul 6 2007 16:06
Dundee_United wrote:
I think the hysteria this eminently sensible and reasonable demand has generated is indicative of much wider problems in that people's politics have become so abstract that concrete winnable demands which represent an advancement for the condition of workers in Ireland, fought for with a campaign which would clearly build a significant degree of unity and 'movement' and hence advance the struggle more generally, is rejected because it would represent something actually attainable.

how does a change of owners of an oil deposit "represent an advancement for the condition of workers in Ireland"? it doesn't, it might allow them to fund some, if there was a movement capable of forcing them to. but so could a bond issue or a re-jig of the tax system, what interest do communists have in doing the bosses financial planning for them?

Dust
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Jul 6 2007 16:12
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Dust I don't understand your annoyance at my post.

Youse explicityl say that nationalisation would allow political campagins around how the profits were spent, that would imply that youse think it's your role to make sure the state has the money to pay for working class demands.

Sorry revol, i was too quick to condemn.

No, my understanding of it in the context of the motion is that a succussful campagin for the nationalisation of resources would create the political climate and organisation necessary to push further.

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Devrim
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Jul 6 2007 16:17
Dust wrote:
I don't really see your point to be honest dev. My quote in know way implies it is a transitional demand. I'm pretty sure in any organisation when a campagin is embarked there will be differing views in the organisation regarding the potential for success. Some people will be more optimistic than others. I think it has a potential to be won, but it's unlikely. I would like to be proved wrong though and am willing to support the campagin and see how it develops/

To me it sounds like a transitional demand, but people have denied it is. The whole concept of building a campaign in this mannar is exactly what people do around transitional demands. I am not saying that you shouldn't make transitional demands*, but you should acknowledge what they are.

I don't think this demand is winnable in the present climate, and I don't think nationalisation has anything to do with working class interests anyway.

Devrim

*At least not in this post though I would if you asked me about it.

Dust
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Jul 6 2007 17:20
Trotsky wrote:
This bridge should include a system of transitional demands, stemming from today’s conditions and from today’s consciousness of wide layers of the working class and unalterably leading to one final conclusion: the conquest of power by the proletariat

To me this is the crucial element of the transitional program and it is not something we are doing here. My understanding of a transitional demand, in the trot sense, is one that sounds reasonable but cannot granted by Capitalism so the struggle to win it necessarily pushes the workers towards socialism. This isn't what we are saying at all.

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Jul 6 2007 17:32

Devrim,
I'm not pro-nationalization in general. But what about healthcare? In the US I think turning the private healthcare system into a public healthcare system would do a lot for the working class. I don't know that that would have a communist content necessarily, but the healthcare system here is atrocious. It has major health and financial impact on loads of people.

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Jul 6 2007 18:13

Nate,
It is very clear that privatisation in recent history has been used to launch attacks on the working class. The restructuring of an industry has been used to attack workers living standards, and also, as is the case with healthcare the social wage.
What is often forgotten, possibly because it happened longer ago, is that nationalisation has been used in exactly the same way.
What we as communists, and workers should oppose is attacks on working class living standards, and as I say before there is no denying that these often come along with privatisation. The situation in health care is a pariculary difficult one for the working class to defend itself in(here I am thinking of the ongoing privatisation, and cuts in the health systems of Europe, not the system that exists in America of which I know little). Primarily because workers are being attacked as consumers of a product, and not as producers. It is quite clear that it is easier for a group of workers to build action when they are bound together in a collective already, rather as 'individual consumers'.
I think that the role of communists in struggles like those going on around health care is to emphasise when taking part in these struggles that the attack on living conditions, and the social wage is the important thing, and this is something that has to be resisted whether it is as part of a private, or nationalised system.

Nate wrote:
but the healthcare system here is atrocious.

As I said, I don't know much about your health care system, but the nationalised systems in many European countries are also atrocious, not only in an absolute sense, but also much worse than they were in the 1970's for example.

Nate wrote:
In the US I think turning the private healthcare system into a public healthcare system would do a lot for the working class.

There are two points here. First do you see there being any possibility of the US healthcare system being privatised in the near future? I personally don't. But as I said before I know little about the details. You are on the ground there what is your opinion? If the answer is no, then any campaign built around this is not a campaign in defence of workers interests, but a campaign in building leftist political groups. This is exactly what I see a transitional demand as, calling for something that you know isn't going to happen and building a political campaign around it. I think that the WSM activity around the nationalisation of the gas industry is very probably like this.

Of course, we could argue about whether, or not this is a good tactic. I will leave that to a latter post if you want to continue along this line.

The second point is if you believe it is possible, do you think that it would be done without finding ways to attack the social wage?

Dundee_United talks a lot about living in the real world, and concentrating on real practical issues. On this we are agreed with him. It leads us to very different political conclusions though.

Back to the subject of workers in America, we would be in full support of workers at a company demanding that the company pay their insurance premiums, or resisting them being withdrawn. Yes, of course it is a very fragmented resistance, but that is the state of the class struggle today, and we support all workers struggles for their own interests on a class terrain, no matter how limited.

As for a campaign to 'nationalise the Healthcare industry', we don't believe that this would be a campaign in defence of real workers interests.

Devrim

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Jul 6 2007 18:30

NB Devrim the healthcare here is already privatized.

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Devrim
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Jul 6 2007 18:46
OliverTwister wrote:
NB Devrim the healthcare here is already privatized.

Thanks, I have edited it. I meant to write nationalise.
Devrim

Dust
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Jul 6 2007 19:08
Devrim wrote:
This is exactly what I see a transitional demand as, calling for something that you know isn't going to happen and building a political campaign around it. I think that the WSM activity around the nationalisation of the gas industry is very probably like this.

Thats amazingly different than my understanding of a transitional demand. Apart from that i get the feeling from your post that you believe we have some sort of secrect plan that only members know. Our collective position is as we state it, my individual position is as i state it. If you believe different i don't think we can discuss anything. Anyway...

To put it in context (keep in mind i don't know much about natural resources)
In the late 80s and early 90s Ireland saw the sell of sell of oil and especially gas reserves by politicans who have been revealed to be completely corrupt. These reserves have subsequently been discovered to be of far greater value than originally thought. We recently saw a struggle in Rossport in county mayo concerning the processing of the gas. In the next decade or so we expect that many more struggles like this will spring up around the country. In this context we hope that these struggles will link together and also take on a more political character, ie that the ownership and use of the resources becomes an issue rather than simply where a terminal should be built . Thats what this campagin hopes to do.

It's impossible to tell at this stage the scale of these struggles or the development of the campagin from them. What we are doing at the moment is preparing our organisation for these struggles and also, with others, try to help establish an campagin that links them. From my understanding the campagin will also involve itself with highlighting heating costs, fuel poverty etc.

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Jul 6 2007 19:09

hi Devrim,
Thanks for the substantive response. I don't think we disagree on any matter of principle. As to what will happen in the US, I'm not sure at all. The existing healthcare system is really quite terrible. It's definitely worse than that in Canada and the UK, which I'm somewhat familiar with. Among other things, medical debt is the #1 reason for declarations of bankruptcy in the US. The US government spends more money on healthcare than any other country in public dollars for healthcare, mainly because prices here are tremendously inflated and it's a give away to healthcare and health insurance companies. And that's only public spending, private healthcare spending is really high here. Health outcomes also suffer greatly, especially among lower strata of the working class, which means a lot of pointless pain and in some cases people dying. There's not a mass movement around this. There's occasional rumblings from big companies outside the healthcare and health insurance industries, because the healthcare situation raises costs and lowers productivity for them. Given the current climate, I think nationalization of healthcare if it happens will be at best a mixed bag for many workers here. I do think it's possible that a mass movement around healthcare could come about and if that happens the climate could change and nationalization of healthcare would be less mixed.
Nate

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Jul 6 2007 20:16
Quote:
I think that there will be a number of crises concerning natural resources and the implications of them being held in private ownership over the next fifteen to twenty years. As such it is an issue that can be organised around and hopefully, if a mass campagin is built, won.

Firstly, nationalisation is private ownership, as is worker-ownership. I mean the Military is nationalised, "MOD Land, Keep Out". Secondly, winning the nationalisation of this-or-that is like winning a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Quote:
I'm not pro-nationalization in general. But what about healthcare? In the US I think turning the private healthcare system into a public healthcare system would do a lot for the working class.

The German model is privatised, but is as accessible as the UK’s.

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Jul 6 2007 20:38

I think the SEIU/WalMart partnership for public healthcare shows how there could be a 'public' healthcare which would probably not be worth much to the working class.

Terry
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Jul 6 2007 20:48

Meh...to me it is curious that folk who don't seem to know much about the republic of Ireland, or the situation in regard to natural resources there, can speak authoritativly about it....more interestingly I'd like to ask Dust what nationalisation means in this context, what the grounds are for thinking that there will be more resource extraction conflicts in the future, and if there was any discussion about linking this to struggles around the underfunding of public health care.

Terry
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Jul 6 2007 20:52

...and John your claim that the WSM position on this is the most ridiculous thing you have ever heard an anarchist group come out with would be a little stronger if you actually responded to my post setting out the sense of the 'nationalisation' demand.

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Jul 6 2007 20:59
OliverTwister wrote:
I think the SEIU/WalMart partnership for public healthcare shows how there could be a 'public' healthcare which would probably not be worth much to the working class.

Please expand.

Dust
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Jul 6 2007 21:11

Hey Terry,

In the context of the motion nationalisation means state ownership, or at least thats what i assumed.

As i said i wouldn't know as much as yourself or others about the natural resource issue. I was thinking Dunquin and other potentially valuable fields off Donegal, Wexford and in Cavan/Leitrim. As i was saying though the hope is to shift the emphasis from extraction to ownership and control. I amn't one of the comrades active in the campagin though and it's mainly through conversations with Sean Mallory that i think things are likely to develop in the future. Apart from that i think it is looking at the organising aroud the broader issue of "natural resources" (not just hydro carbons) though i am not sure where the current thinking is at in relation to that.

There was discusssion in relation to linking the sell off of resources to the underfunding of public services, although health wasn't mentioned specifically apart from a general "the state handing billions to corporations while the health system is underfunded" type propagandha. To be honest i am simply trying to clarify our position here, if you are interested in the details i would say talk to S Mallory, Alan M, or Guydebord.

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Jul 6 2007 21:20
Dust wrote:
Thats amazingly different than my understanding of a transitional demand.
Dust wrote:
My understanding of a transitional demand, in the trot sense, is one that sounds reasonable but cannot granted by Capitalism so the struggle to win it necessarily pushes the workers towards socialism. This isn't what we are saying at all.

Actually, Dust I agreed with your basic explanation of a transitional demand. The thing that I you differ from is one of what I think is the results of it.

Dust wrote:
Apart from that i get the feeling from your post that you believe we have some sort of secrect plan that only members know. Our collective position is as we state it, my individual position is as i state it. If you believe different i don't think we can discuss anything. Anyway...

No, I don't think that at all. Can I draw an analogy, albeit a very loose one?

When I was working in London in the late 80's it was quite normal to hear Trotskyist groups calling for a general strike. I think the slogan was "TUC" get off your knees, call a general strike". Now, in my opinion it was quite obvious that the TUC wasn't going to call a general strike. Whatever your opinions of the unions, it must have been quite clear that if it hadn't happened in 84-85 during the miners strike, it wasn't going to happen afterwards. So did they believe that this was something that was possible? I don't know. I am sure that some of them did. I am quite certain they couldn't all have believed it. Maybe, people that new better ended up convincing themselves. In the final analysis, it didn't really matter. Objectively, the call for a general strike was something to build their organisation around, and acted as something that convinced some militant workers to put their energies not into developing their own struggles, but in trying to force the leadership to act. Something that I think was worse than useless as it turned attention away from the real issues.

Now, I am not comparing the WSM to the WRP, but merely pointing out that some people in the WRP must have, at some level, known that this was nonsense. Did they do it in order to build their party? (Is there anything wrong with this anyway?), or did they talk themselves into believing it on some level. As I said before, it doesn't matter. That is what they did.

Back to this campaign, now I admit that I haven't read all of the stuff about it, and of course I haven't been privy to your internal debates, but I see there being three basic possibilities.

1) The WSM believes that this is a winable demand. I believe that it isn't. I am the first to admit that it I don't know all of the details, but in looking at the general international situation, it looks improbable to me. Only time will tell. If you are proved to be right, and gas, and oil are nationalised bringing a significant improvement in workers living conditions, I shall look rather foolish. In that case, please don't feel hesitant about using these comments to completely ridicule our ideas.

2) The WSM knows it is not possible, but has somehow convinced itself that it is. Deceiving oneself is always foolish.

3) The WSM sees it as an issue to develop political ativity around, and build your organisation, and spread your ideas. Now I think this is a bit cynical, but I am not condemning it on any moral basis.

In reality, this is a simplification, and the WSM is not an individual, but an organisation. I presume that all three of the above attitudes are present, and in some cases even in the sane person.

I think more than anything it shows a difference in our attitude towards demands, which after all is the whole point of this thread.

Devrim