Thursday, 31 October 2013

Reciting Reactionary Rhetoric

Socialist Party Scotland Cheer-leading to the Grangemouth Abyss  
LEN McCluskey and Unite have delivered us glorious disaster in their handling of the Grangemouth dispute last weekend.  Last Friday on Any Questions on Radio Four Bob Crow of the RMT said that this would not mean the end of trade unionism as we know it.  On the 29th, October after a long silence the Socialist Party Scotland issued a long-winded rationalisation for the delivery of a serious disaster for the British trade union movement – perhaps the most significant defeat since the collapse of the miners strike in 1985.  
Could it have been different?  Will this be a turning point for trade union rights?  Will Len McCluskey become another dishevelled Arthur Scargill figure in the 21st century – a tired and forlorn politics?  
The Grangemouth débâcle beautifully underlines the hopeless reactionary rhetoric of British trade unionism and what has come to called the left in Britain.  Practically the whole of the left in this country and particularly the British trade unions are ruled by a reactionary instinct.  Analysing the Grangemouth failure the Socialist Party Scotland declares [29th, Oct. 2013]: 
'In the absence of a fighting strategy by Unite to save the plant, including the occupation of the site and the building of a mass campaign across Scotland to demand that the Scottish/ UK governments nationalise Grangemouth, the pressure proved too great for the shop stewards to resist.'  
The left in Britain, as represented by the trade unions, protest movements and left parties, has long been a reactionary force in so far as it has always tended to react to an agenda set by the establishment, the government or the employers.  It does not have an agenda or serious strategy of its own.  Thus when the current coalition government enforced cuts the left because it has no plan of its own is forced to go on the defensive and fight the cuts with umpteen fragmented organisations – this Pavlovian Dog reaction by the Socialist Party resulted in the disintegration of the National Shop Stewards Network [NSSN] in 2011.  This automatic and mechanical quality of the British left stems from something special detected in some of the north European organised working class by such writers as Ignazio Silone and George Orwell:  Silone in his book 'School for Dictators' links it to 'Zumarcherien' (a marching together approach to class war) – a kind of mechanical politics of the German and British worker founded in the kind of work in big factories – Silone uses this concept of the north European worker as automaton to explain the better performance of the Spanish and Catalan workers in resisting the imposition of Fascism in 1936:  the Spaniards with their different cultural and political background rooted in the peasant and the artisan were better able to use their initiative and trade unions to challenge authoritarian regimes than those left-wing parties and trade unions with a more Prussian and Germanic mentality in north Europe.  
Today, the Socialist Party Scotland explanation to what went wrong at Grangemouth is to blame the Labour Party  and Ed Miliband personally: 
'This shows yet again that today Labour does not support workers in struggle and that Unite should come out clearly in favour of a new mass workers' party, public ownership and a real political alternative to the austerity agenda.'  
This statement is an example, yet again, of the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the British left and our national trade unions.  The Socialist Party Scotland is reassuring: 
'Socialist Party Scotland completely rejects the idea put about by the crowing capitalist media that the union has been smashed at Grangemouth.  Unite has made a big mistake in singing up to a three-year no-strike deal at Grangemouth... Against the backdrop of a no-strike agreement it is vital that Unite rebuilds its strength and its membership at Grangemouth...'  
This is voice of despair, the voice of the politics of the automaton of the unthinking 'mass-party man' steeped in a kind of Prussian totalitarian mind-set to which Orwell and Silone often referred.  These people have yet to learn the lessons of Arthur Scargill and the defeat of the miners in 1985:  Thatcher then had a transformation strategy then in the Ridley plan, and Scargill and the miners were fighting to defend the pits and save the status quo, essentially a conservative position which Scargill fought tactically.  Today the battle at Grangemouth was a tactical from the beginning and it was one that Unite couldn't win.  Wee must wait to see if the Socialist Party continues to back Len McCluskey in future.  Over two years ago Bob Crow the RMT leader and a political crony of the Social Party was treated to a fish and chip lunch by the Financial Times famous 'Lunch with the FT' column and he declared that the flat fish 'haliburt is good for your brains', well the British left is desparately short on brains so perhaps the Socialist Party and McCluskey should stuff themselves with haliburt in future.


tonydj said...

I am reminded of the scene in the 1952 Marlon Brando film "Viva Zapata" where a group of downtrodden peons optimistically say "A leader will come again". This produces an angry response from a former Zapatista "No! Lead yourselves!"

Leaderless Resistance perhaps?

bammy said...

The English and the left are reasonably good at moaning, protests, and socalled resistance to proposals or the agenda set by the government, establishment or bosses. What they are not so good at is putting up alternatives or planning a strategy to confront the present regime.