Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Big Society - I agree with David!

I am happy to echo Cameron's calls for the shrinking of the State and the development of the Big Society.

In fact I would go further - let's get rid of the State all together!

Of course anyone who knows their Marx knows that the Big Society is the ultimate aim of the Progressive Left, along of course with the withering away of the State.

The difference is however, that we actually mean it. The representatives of global capital can not allow the abolition of the repressive structures of the State, existing as they do to protect the thieves and charlatans of International Capital from the attempts of the workers to regain what is rightfully theirs.

In the absence of the police etc. then the people of Egypt would, last week, have wrested the stolen billions from Mubarak and his cronies, along with the political freedoms they seem to have won.

No, the only parts of the State that Cameron wants to abolish are those which provide socialised Healthcare, Education, Housing and Welfare, the very reforms hard won by the working class after the murderous global conflicts that Capitalism plunged them into in the first part of the 19th Century. From the Capitalists' point of view these reforms, whilst expensive, have at least blunted the anger felt by the working class and prevented the sort of revolutionary upheavals felt in other societies where the money is spent instead on oppression to the same aim.

The reality is, of course, that it is actually cheaper to spend billions on repressing people, than it is to provide decent Healthcare, Education, Housing and Welfare, and that is why it is the preferred course of Capital in countries like Egypt, Tunisia etc. and why, in the face of dwindling returns and the global crisis of Capital, that even in the UK we see cutbacks on Social provision and an increase in the repressive apparatus of the state along with Police Tactics of Kettling, calls for Water Canon etc.

If Cameron can talk about sweeping aside the laws protecting children from Paedophiles and breaches of Health and Safety, "if someone wants to help out with children, we'll sweep away criminal record checks & health & safety" (fifth paragraph), then how much easier will it be to ignore the laws protecting demonstrators from police excesses and to deal with the unrest resulting from the abolition of social provision?

The reality of Cameron's Big Society will be a return to Victorian England so well described by Dickens, where only the wealthy can afford unfettered access to the Law, Healthcare, Housing and Education, and Charitable provision by do-gooders, with the time and wherewithal to salve their consciences, was all that was available to the poor and dispossessed. At the same time the oppression of the poor, the criminalising of the desperate, and the crime of deportation will be echoed by the growth of repression.

The alternative is for the real beneficiaries of the putative Big Society to organise it - the workers taking control, running society and the engine of the economy for the benefit of all. Only when we have reached this truly Big Society will the State be unnecessary and can finally be abolished.

Forward to the Socialist Revolution and the real transformation of Society.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Where next for the Egyptian Revolution?

I have been totally absorbed by the unfolding events in Egypt in the last few weeks. My usual online jousting with comrades involved in the UK anti-LibCon cuts movements has been suspended as all my spare seconds are spent watching al-Jazeera English and reading the twitter streams from Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt.

The emotional rollercoster is palpable reading the expressions of revolutionary courage, hope, and bravery, along with the raw anguish and murderous rage agains the barbarism employed by a true military industrial combine desperately clinging to power in the attempt to hold on to the Billions of Dollars wrung out of the Egyptian workers and peasants.

Numerous times I have failed to tear myself away from the continuous stream of information and emotion to try and spend time on my work, with my family, or even to write this post.

At every turn, there has been a reminder of the history of revolutions long since fought: the betrayal by 'Western Democracy' of once trumpeted ideals which are now exposed as secondary in importance to the supply of oil and the security of Egypt along with other interests of organised global capital; the rapid development of street power with committees organising the day to day life when the state bows out; the use by the so called 'Father of the Nation' of the worst dregs of society to try and cow the revolution and the bystanders into submission; the importance of workers' control of the press to cut across the lies being fed on Egyptian State TV and other media - the list goes on.

Every day is like re-reading another passage from Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution with the absence of one thing - an organised working class leadership.

No one doubts the revolutionary zeal of the students and middle class youth who have fought bravely against heavy odds, and in some cases paid the ultimate price. But some of them are now starting to draw class conclusions about the need to be in control of the media; the relationship with the army; the wealth stolen from the people by the regime's cronies; asking questions about the involvement of Sawaris in the negotiations; the attitude of street committees in better off areas towards the revolution.

The ability of the revolution to unite all layers of society in Tahrir square, from all ages and all faiths and none has been a real testament to the fact that this is not just a political revolution but a social revolution. But the question on everyone's lips is 'what next?'.

The need for leadership has become apparent even among the youth who started with a natural distrust of leadership. According to blogs and interviews, structured decision making process has developed in Tahrir square; leaders for specific tasks have been elected.

Whatever the outcome of the current standoff, with a liberal capitalist government in place, there can not be much of an economic outlook for the great number of Egyptians. Without taking control of the large monopolies currently owned by the generals - stolen from the nationalised assets of Nasser's legacy; without taking a lead from the workers who in a small number of areas have expropriated their workplaces; without demanding real participation in decision making, rather than the ability to vote once in 5 years for which careerist politician to send to parliament, or to control their union, further contradictions will be generated to lead to another convulsion for Egyptian society.

Forward to a true social(ist) revolution!