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Journal of Critical Pedagogy
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65 Dave Hill

6,700 words 27may20

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Coronavirus, Capitalism and Socialism: a Marxist Response:

 

Dave Hill

 

Abstract/ Summary.


In this article I describe and analyse from a Marxist perspective the Coronavirus Crisis in the UK in terms of the film `The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ (1966) `The Ugly’ is Capitalism, not just Austerity Neoliberal Capitalism, but Capitalism itself. `The Bad’ is the UK government response-typical of many other Capitalist states, but worse than most, its response to the Outbreak, the Lockdown and the Exit from the Lockdown. `The Good’ is the glimpses of a collective and socialist resistance to capitalism. Here, I attempt to set out a Marxist analysis of the ideological and political context of the Pandemic, and to conclude with suggestions about a Marxist political strategy and policy.

 

KeyWords: Coronavirus, Capitalism, Marxism, Gramsci, Rosa Luxemburg, Reform, Revolution

 

Introduction: The Ideological and Political Context of the Coronavirus Pandemic-

 

In Lenin’s words (1918), `there are decades when nothing happens. There are weeks when decades happen’.

 

Decades are happening now. The class nature of capitalist society is stripped bare before our eyes- and is now understood so much more nakedly than before the pandemic. It has become obvious to most of the population that Capital would rather have them / their children and their elderly die rather than allow business to suffer a temporary fall in profits.

 

This is capitalist economics and its politics of death. The contrast between `Wall Street’ and `Main Street’ is so extreme that it is now obvious, contra the 45 year old message that there is no alternative to austerity, that `there is not a magic money tree’. What is now clear is that when capitalism is threatened, there is a magic money forest! Or, to return to the metaphor of Sergio Leone / Clint Eastwood `Spaghetti Western film `The Good, The Bad, The Ugly’, there are indeed  treasures of gold there to be opened up. It is now patently obvious to millions, to perhaps a billion, that Austerity is and has been a political choice, a political tool. A choice by the capitalist ruling class that leads to an early graveyard for millions of workers globally.

 

What will be the result of this pandemic crisis? Will it be renewed austerity, pay cuts, cuts in social wage, renewed degradation and dispossession for layers of the working class globally and in `the rich West’. Or can this crisis be transformed into the graveyard of capitalism and a springboard to socialism, to eco-socialism, and, ultimately, to communism?

 

The Ugly: Capitalism

 

Capitalism is Class War from Above (Harvey, 2005), a war that since the Reagan-Thatcher-Pinochet initiation of neoliberal capitalism in the 1970s, has resulted in an ever quickening intensification of the exploitation of the labour power of workers and the intensification of inequality- of wealth, income, housing, health, life, death. (By `workers’, or working class, I mean all the levels/ layers/ strata of the working class, from Unskilled through to Professional. and Supervisory workers),

 

In the richest countries on the planet there are millions homeless, sleeping on the streets or in tents, millions using food banks and food charities. And the poor die younger and younger. How long you live, how sick you get is related to social class- there is an 18 difference in healthy life between the richest and the poorest in the UK (Lydall and Prynn, 2013; Hill, 2018, 2020).

 

In the UK (Equality Trust 2019),

  • the five richest families own more wealth than 13 million people.
  • The richest 1% of people in the UK owns the same wealth as 80% of the population, or 53 million people.
  • 14 million people, a fifth of the population, live in poverty. Four million of these are more than 50% below the poverty line, and 1.5 million are destitute, unable to afford basic essentials.

This is the `story of Ferraris and foodbanks. The rich live longer and their children get the best education, the best jobs and a leg up on the housing ladder. The UK’s economy delivers billions for a few and poverty for millions’ (Equality Trust, 2020). One example is Willie Walsh, the boss of British Airways boss, sacking/ dismissing up to 12,000 workers. He has taken has more than £30million since 2011.

In the USA, Paul Street (2020) excoriates US capitalism powerfully setting out`23 ways in which it’ (the Coronavirus pandemic) `is a crisis of and by capital and its class rule profits system’, including such capitalist principles as: there is `No Profit in Proper Public Health Protection; Wage Slavery and Expendable People; and Massive Bailouts for the Already Rich.’

Globally, Oxfam has shown that by 2020, the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet’s population, that, for example, the 22 richest men in the world have more wealth than all the women in Africa (Oxfam,2020),

Coronavirus has thrown into stark relief, highlighted the class nature of society, and, particularly, the raced and classed nature of Capitalism- with the poorest layers of the working class, black (BAME-Black and Minority Ethnic, the official UK descriptor) and white workers dying more than other groups in society. People who live in Britain's poorest areas are twice as likely to die from the disease as those in the most affluent. (Gray, 2020). `If you are Black, Asian, disabled or a low paid worker you are four or five times more like to die that the rest of the population’ (Kellaway, 2020). As Pashkoff (2020) points out, `we cannot ignore the impact of low wages and poverty and underlying medical conditions that impact people’s health thereby making them more vulnerable to stronger versions of this virus (poverty causes that co-morbity that is so dangerous). The intersections of race, class and gender are extremely relevant and cannot be ignored’.

There are millions of workers, black, white, men, women, who bear the scars and bruises inflicted by an uncaring and punishing society. Those who suffer disproportionately, are the working class, whether in the Coronavirus-19 pandemic, or the pandemic that is Capitalism. This is a `raced’ and gendered class issue. In particular infecting and killing, globally, the landless day labourer, the precariat, the poorest layers of the agrarian and urban working class.

 

The Bad: Boris Johnson and the UK govt response

 

The UK government response to the pandemic is such that it is globally notorious-- lax, uncaring, lying, criminally negligent. The number of `Excess UK deaths’ in the Covid-19 pandemic on 20 May 2020 topped 50,000. As I write this (27 May) it is up to 60,000 deaths, the third highest in the world, as measured in deaths per million population (Quinn, 2020). Official figures from statistical agencies are far higher than government’s coronavirus tally, which stood at 32,065 in mid-May (Financial Times, 2020). There are repeated calls for an inquiry as the UK reports the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe amid widespread criticism of the Government’s handling of the pandemic (Campbell et al,2020) Opinion writers from Italy to Australia have attacked the `stupidity’ of the Johnson government approach and labelled Boris Johnson incompetent, with epidemiologists in Greece, for example criticising the UK government’s initial embrace of a `herd immunity’ policy. (Henley, 2020)

The catalogue of cruelty, the incompetence, the `culling the herd’ strategy are all well documented (see, for example, Kellaway, 2020; RedFlag,2020). The UK government has been criminally irresponsible, guilty of what Engels referred to in 1845 as `social murder’. We are seeing the more or less deliberate, or at least, condoned, killing of many thousands of old, frail, sick, economically unproductive citizens.

This is the social eugenics, the Ayn Rand philosophy and the Friedrich von Hayek of `let the poor and the weak die’- this is the officially denied but transparent policy of `Herd Immunity’- letting the pandemic spread.

 

On 31 December 2019 Chinese authorities had informed the World Health Organisation of a respiratory illness in the city of Wuhan.

On 5 March 2020, the day of the first coronavirus death in the UK, Boris Johnson, the Conservative Prime Minister claimed that, in respect of the coronavirus, the British people could perhaps `take it on the chin’.

On Friday 23 March  `the lockdown was announced in Enland and Wales. What happened in the UK is described by Dominic Minghela (2020) as `11 wasted days’

12-23 March, days in which the government decided to all but give up contact tracing and do, well, nothing. Mass gatherings were still allowed; concerts and racing and Champions League football; pubs and public transport. The over-70s, it must be conceded, were advised to avoid cruises. (Minghela, 2020) This, incredibly, was Boris Johnson’s first advice on how people should respond.

Two months later, now, when Boris Johnson says, currently (27 May) that he is happy to ease lockdown measures what he is telling us is that he is happy for many more people to die. the relaxation of the `Lockdown’ announced on 10th May 2020 is an acceptance that front-line workers such as bus drivers, care assistants, will continue to die. Similarly with schools. Through mid- and late May 2020, Johnson has been advising that state schools can open. But there is absolutely no sign that elite private schools will open, no pressure on Eton, or Harrow or Roedean to do so. Schools were closed on 20 March: on that day there were 36 deaths. On18 May 2020, with schools being urged to re-open, there were 545 deaths, more than ten times as many. (ITV News, 2020)

 

Do people seriously think that a Government who slashed Sure Start centres, slashed free school meals, slashed benefits for families with more than 2 children, slashed school funding, slashed NHS funding is really thinking of our children when they say they want them to return to school?.

The Good

 

With the lockdown, nationally and globally, there is, undoubtedly a nicer, cleaner environment. We can hear birds singing, breathe fresher air, feel less pollution. Many of us are, for the first time, recognising and learning the names of trees, of birds, of flowers in our neighbourhoods. Yesterday, for the first time ever, I could clearly see Worthing Seafront 10 miles away from Brighton seafront. Many cities in Britain and globally are installing more cycle lanes. And, for some workers (though not for hands-on manual workers) there will be some other long-term benefits, such as more working from home, less time spent travelling and polluting. Just one example is that Twitter is to allow 5000 employees to work from home permanently. The company is allowing continued remote working long after the pandemic has passed in a dramatic change to work practices (Paul, 2020).

 

But I now want to turn to Marxist analysis. Firstly, Marxist of the ideological and political context of the Coronavirus crisis, and, secondly, as the final section of this paper, Marxist analysis of political strategy and of policy.

 

Marxist Analysis of the ideological and political context of the Coronavirus Crisis

 

The Mask is slipping- the mask of the inevitability and efficiency and desirability of neoliberal capitalism- `the market knows best’ is being spattered with the blood of the dying and the tears of their families. Following from Gramsci we can see that the permanent `Culture Wars’ between different views of the world, different ideologies, different ways of understanding the world and our place in it, how society was, how society is and how it should be, is undergoing a massive shift.

 

Hegemony

 

Using Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, we can see what Gramsci (1971/2000)) called the cultural hegemony (or dominance) of the ruling capitalist class, for example, the belief propagandised by the Mainstream media and by state apparatuses, that `dog eat dog competitive consumerist individualism’, is being challenged by the material circumstances, the actual lived experiences of millions. Instead of the `TINA’, `there is no alternative’ to capitalism and austerity, to capitalist barbarism, we are currently seeing the end of public acceptance of and belief in neoliberalism.

 

The ideological hegemony of neoliberal ideology and policy was and is that human potential is released and served by competition, individualism, and `the small state’. Yet now, the dominant, hegemonic, capitalist ideology is being challenged by an (ideological) understanding and the actual, practical, lived experience of a shared collective effort, society, economy. Ideology is always contested.

 

At a macro-level, at the level of mass consciousness, billions are seeing that citizens can and do take local collective and solidaristic action, that, Millions, perhaps billions, globally, are understanding that neoliberalism, `leaving it all to the market’, is inferior to state planning (not that `statism’, for Hal Draper (1966) `socialism from above’ as opposed to `socialism from below’ is necessarily socialist). And that local collective action, the thousands of local community groups that have sprung up to help vulnerable neighbours for example, are working from an ideology, a belief in, community service, not in profit taking and profit impelled private enterprise.

 

As Noam Chomsky has pointed out (2020), we are in our millions, becoming aware of `the pathology of the contemporary socioeconomic order. Market signals were clear: There’s no profit in preventing a future catastrophe. In our millions we are seeing that `the emperor has no clothes’, the nakedness of the neoliberal system which responds only in terms of market profitability, not the common good

So many things are now becoming clear, brutally clear. That `key workers’ are cleaners, porters, care workers, supermarket workers, delivery drivers. These are now regarded widely, as key workers- not the billionaire tax exiles, the company bosses dismissing workers, the financial profiteers, the hedge fund investors. This crisis is absolute proof that it is the labour power of workers that drive the economy, not the braying captains and ‘giants’ of industry- without workers they are nothing. As one of the posters in France from the ‘68 uprising put it- `the boss needs you. You don’t need the boss’ (Le patron a besoin de vous. Vous n’avez pas besoin de lui).

We are seeing a greater awareness that, in the words of The Communist Manifesto. `Our epoch. . . has simplified the class antagonisms.. into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.(Marx and Engels, 1848/ 1978: 35—36). This is the objective analysis of Marxism. For increasing numbers it is now, crucially, the subjective awareness and understanding of class society, of capitalism, of the Labour-Capital relation.

Febrile Times

We live now in such febrile times, where, to repeat Lenin’s (1918) dictum, `there are decades when nothing happens. There are weeks when decades happen’. With `the world turned upside down’, we can see the possibility and feel strengthened in our struggle for, a better world. Past revolutions- the 1789, French Revolution, the 1871 Paris Commune, 1905, the abortive Russian Revolution, the 1917 Russian Revolution, the 1968 French uprising, the 1974 Portuguese Revolution, the 2011-12, Greek pre-revolutionary situation, erupted with little immediate warning but resulted from steadily increased dissatisfaction, polemic, anger, outrage, at the existing state of affairs. (Other revolutions, the English Revolution in the 1640s, the Cuban Revolution of 1953-1958, the Chinese Revolution of 1945-49, were also building on widespread will to change the existing order, but were more protracted, achieved through civil war).

Each revolution was stimulated by crisis, each developing class consciousness- a class consciousness that evokes the scene in the revolutionary film `Soy Cuba’ (1964/2002), where Che Guevara tells the Batista general who offered to swap sides in the Castro-led insurgency, - `comrade, this is not a coup d’etat, this is a revolution’. `We don’t just need to change `the suits’ at the top, we need to change the whole system’.

Gramsci on `Good Sense’ and Marx on Class Consciousness

 

Can, will, the situation `return to normal’? perhaps with a different set of suits in government?- with a more austere and brutal version of the neoliberal normal. A new barbarism?  Or can hegemonic ideology shift from what Gramsci (1971) called `common sense’ into `good sense’, to what Marx in `The Poverty of Philosophy’ (1847), describing class consciousness, referred to as a belief that the working class is `a class for itself’ not just `a class in itself’. There is a class war, a permanent class war, in the material and in the ideological domain.

 

Organic Crisis of Capitalism

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear."⁠ Gramsci’s theory of `organic crisis’ analyses a crisis touching on almost every sphere of the capitalist system: economic, (geo-)political, ideological, epidemiological, cultural, environmental, etc. Such crises lay bare fundamental contradictions in the system that the ruling classes are unable to resolve, weakening hegemony and marking historical transitions between non-revolutionary situations and potentially revolutionary situations. As Booth puts it `we are in an epoch of capitalist decay, facing an organic crisis of capitalism- one in which the system is caught in a vicious downward spiral; where falling employment leads to falling demand which in turn leads to falling investment, and thus a further fall in employment, and so on and so forth’ (Booth, 2020. See also; Sewell, 2015a, 2015b).

Booth continues, `The current slump, then, is no mere ephemeral episode. Rather, it represents a fundamental turning point in world history; in the development – and decline – of capitalism. This hard truth, if it hasn’t already, will soon burn itself onto the brains of even the most thick-skulled of the capitalist class. And it is a revolutionary reality that we, the Marxists, must fully recognise also’.

David Harvey and Socialist Imagination and Marx on Wealth

Harvey (2020) asks,

Is there some way to organise the production of basic goods and services so that everybody has something to eat, everybody has a decent place to live, and we can put a moratorium on evictions, and everybody can live rent free? Isn’t this moment one where we could actually think seriously about the creation of an alternative society?

 Looking at an imaginary communist society, Harvey quotes Marx in Grundrisse (Marx, 1858/1973): `Truly wealthy a nation, when the working day is 6 rather than 12 hours. Wealth is not command over surplus labour time ... but rather disposable time outside that needed in direct production, for every individual and the whole society.’

This is the point that Marx is making again and again and again: that the root of real individualism and freedom and emancipation, as opposed to the fake one that is constantly preached in bourgeois ideology, is a situation where all of our needs are taken care of through collective action, so that we only have to work six hours a day, and we can use the rest of the time exactly as we please.

To give the fuller quote from Marx, in The German Ideology, (1847)

For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.

I will return to this question of a Marxist response, going beyond analysis, in the final section of this paper.- that we could be seeing `the death agony of capitalism’ (Trotsky, 1938/1981).

Marxist Political Strategy

 

Strategy: Types of Reform and Programme

 

In terms of government and party programmes, we can have

 

Minor Reforms, defences, protections, such as Health and Safety at Work legislation

 

Major reforms protections regulations, such as setting up a National Health Service

 

or Revolutionary Changes, that change the economic and social system, that change from capitalist economic and social relations of production, to those that are socialist or, ultimately, communist, such as nationalising or otherwise collectivising capitalist industry and agriculture.

                                                                       

Some major reforms could be termed as Trotsky (1938/1981) termed it, `a transitional programme’, a programme that seems so `good sense’ that it has mass support, but which capitalism could not countenance without its self-destruction.  Such as David Harvey’s suggestions above.

The Role of Revolutionary Marxists

How to get from here to there, from the current mass destabilisation and changes in awareness and consciousness?. It doesn’t happen by magic. And revolutions do not, like apples, fall off trees. Class consciousness does not follow automatically or inevitably from the objective fact of economic class position. Marx’s The Poverty of Philosophy (1847) distinguishes between a ‘class-in-itself’ (an objective determination relating to class position) and a ‘class-for-itself’ (a subjective appreciation of class consciousness). In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852/1999) Marx observes,

In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions of existence that divide their mode of life, their interests and their cultural formation from those of the other classes and bring them into conflict with those classes, they form a class. (Marx, 1852/1974: 239)

The Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels, 1848/2000) explicitly identifies ‘the formation of the proletariat into a class’, that is, a `class for itself’ as the key political task facing communists’.

Reform or Revolution: Party, Vanguard, Programme and Organisation (Luxemburg, 1899/1999; Hill, 2017, 2019)

I am a Marxist, a Revolutionary Marxist who wants to supplant / replace capitalism by socialism (and then, ultimately, into communism). Social Democrats, social democratic parties, such as the Labour Party in the UK, want not to replace capitalism, but to make it nicer, to manage capitalism better, to make it more benign, a bit more equal, to improve the lives, health, education, working conditions, social and welfare benefits and provision for working people. And leaving the capitalist class in power. In times of Capitalist growth, in `the boom’ years, in times where the working class and its organisations have won concessions from the ruling capitalist class, real improvements and regulations are introduced and implemented, such as in the post-war, post 1945, years.

 

Only to have those gains snatched back by the capitalist class whenever there is a crisis of capital/ for capital(ism). Thus the 1930s `Great Depression’, the 1970s and 1980s recession, and the post-1908 `Bankers’ Crisis’ of finance capital. Each followed by cuts in `real pay’ for workers, cuts in social provision.

 

Our role, while supporting, acting for reforms, both defensive and offensive, is to teach, to persuade, to propagandise that Capitalism must be replaced by socialism and that change is revolutionary

 

Social Democracy

 

I want to emphasise here that social democratic parties and politicians, such as PSOE and Podemos in Spain, PASOK and Syriza in Greece, former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and the majority of the Labour Party membership in the UK, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes in the USA, do not want and have never wanted to replace capitalism- they just want to manage it better, to regulate it, to reform it- to make it work better, with more `social justice', and with what Lenin called `trade union demands', for increasing the social wage and the individual wage and collective wage of workers, with ‘better management of capitalism’ understood to mean the more equitable distribution of surplus value. As Pavlidis (2015) puts it `workers spontaneously can develop only a trade-union consciousness, which does not exceed the horizon of their individual claims within the framework of the bourgeois society, and signifies `the ideological enslavement of the workers by the bourgeoisie'' (Lenin, 1902/2008).

 

In classical Marxist analysis capitalism is never acceptable, whether regulated, reformed, social democratic or not, because it is the exploitation (economic, therefore political, cultural, social oppression) of humans by humans. Hence what defines classical revolutionary Marxists is a belief, an analysis, that capitalism must be replaced per se/ in itself, regardless of the degree or sustainability / non-sustainability of reforms under capitalism.

 

The link between workers' consciousness and socialist revolution is to teach against, to subvert, this `ideological enslavement', in order that workers of the world can unite, as `a class for itself' and break the chains that bind them. Class-consciousness does not follow automatically or inevitably from the fact of class position. The Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels, 1848/2000) explicitly identifies the “formation of the proletariat into a class” as the key political task facing the communists.

 

Therefore, what is needed is a revolution to replace, to get rid of, the capitalist economic system with its capitalist economic relations of production and its capitalist social relations of production- the ownership by capitalists of the wealth and the power in society.

 

An elected socialist government would not be able to bring about much change which went against the interests of the capitalist class because the military, judiciary, police and corporate hierarchy are not democratic. The national and global capitalist class use state violence, and/ or the instruments of global or US capitalist economy or military to stop Socialism.

As Rosa Luxemburg (1899) sets out, while social democratic parties and trade union activism and membership can indeed, as with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party (2015-2019), stimulate class consciousness among the working class, engineer a wholesale move to the left in public discourse and subjective understanding, cannot, ultimately, create a socialist society. Rosa Luxemburg explained how `superficial and temporary changes to the economy did not constitute a fundamental break from the past. Socialists cannot, Luxemburg argued, choose between reform and revolution as if they were choosing different sausages from the buffet of history (Cox, 2019).

To quote Rosa Luxemburg ‘Those who declare themselves in favour of the method of legislative reform in place of and in contradistinction to the conquest of political power and social revolution, do not choose a more tranquil, calmer and slower road to the same goal, but a different goal’.

In terms of whether revolutionary Marxists should be members of social democratic parties or not, that is a matter of analysis of any particular conjuncture, on, in any given place, at any given time, the balance of class forces – the existing organizational, numerical, ideological strength and preparedness of the anti-capitalist, revolutionary formation(s). This will vary from state to state, from time to time. My current judgement, is that the Labour Party is where the mass of socialists and Marxists in the UK are currently located, So I am a member, currently, of the Labour Party, with more than half a million members and of its current most Left groups, such as Forward Momentum. But I am also a member of a grouping of Marxists and Socialists that straddles membership and non-membership of the Labour Party, the Labour Left Alliance (with 2,000 + members).

 

And I am a member of groups outside the Labour Party, such as the Fourth International, in particular its Greek section (OKDE-Spartakos) and its UK section (Socialist Resistance).And for decades I have been supporting unification or coalition moves, unity moves embracing the Marxist Left- parties such as the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party, elements sometimes of the Communist party of Britain, Socialist Resistance, such as, since 2001, in Britain- the Socialist Alliance, Respect, Left Unity. Thus I worked in TUSC (the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition for whom I fought UK parliamentary elections in 2010 and 2015).

 

Circumstances, and political analysis changes. How long Marxists such as me can remain, or be allowed to remain (i.e. not be expelled- there is a wave of expulsions of Leftists going on) in a rapidly, post-Corbyn, rightward moving Labour Party, remains to be seen.

 

In states with strong Marxist/ Communist political parties and traditions such as Greece, Brazil, Spain, then I would put my adherence into the revolutionary left. In states, such as the USA, where the Tweedledum- Tweedledee two alternating parties of government vie with each other in their imperialism, militarism, pro-capitalist policies and practice, then where there is no separate meaningful social democracy, I think it worthwhile attempting to join up the myriad local small Marxist forces, perhaps on the same coalition basis as Antarsya, in Greece- within a coalition such as Antarsya in Greece ) (Hill, 2012) with each constituent group retaining its separate organisation

 

To return to Rosa Luxemburg (1989/1999), for her, reform and revolution had never been opposites: they complemented each other. She opens her major pamphlet, Reform or Revolution, with the paragraph, `

 

Can we counterpose social revolution, the transformation of the existing order, our final goal, to social reforms? Certainly not. The daily struggle for reforms, for the amelioration of the condition of the workers within the framework of the existing social order, and for democratic institutions, is for social democracy indissolubly tied to its final goal. The struggle for reforms is its means; the social revolution, its goal.

 

And she calls for `The union of the broad popular masses with an aim reaching beyond the existing social order, the union of the daily struggle with the great world transformation’.

 

Revolutionary Transformation of Economy and Society need to be preceded by and accompanied by a Class Programme, Organisation, and Activism

 

A major point of difference between Marxist and non-Marxist radicals is that in order to replace capitalism, Marxists have to actually work to organize for that movement, for that action. Thus a duty as a Marxist is activist praxis, within the limits of one’s ability and competing demands. Most Marxists move beyond proposal into activism and praxis- praxis is action guided by theory, or theory in motion. As focuses on activity within formal teacher education courses and its wider education structures. As Marx (1845/2002) notes, `philosophers have only interpreted the world. The point is to change it’.

 

Marxists, recognise that political organization, programme development, and political intervention are necessary. They have to be fought for and developed - and defended. And a particular type of activist praxis is called for, to the extent of one's capabilities, that is, for Marxist activists to act as, to be, to become, in Gramsci’s phrase (1971) `organic intellectuals'. As Lenin, in `State and Revolution’ (1918/1999) wrote, socialist revolutions have to be fought for by activists- and defended by activists. And as `organic intellectuals’ as a theoretical and activist vanguard, we engage in the work of permanent persuasion and argument to spread better `theoretical consciousness’, a class consciousness.

Policy

Among Marxist and Communist parties and groups and media in the UK, groups there have been many sets of immediate and long-term policies advanced. Just to take two examples, Red Flag (2020) Counterfire (Panting,2020), and, indeed, a classic left reformist set of policies, the Corbyn led Labour Party Manifesto of 2019 (Labour Party, 2019a). I highlight here what seems to me to be three clear policy demands:

1.Control of Industry and Finance and Social Provision Key industries and Finance institutions should be nationalised or placed under oher forms of social control, such as by locally directly elected bodies, with compensation being based only on proven need. including those related to care, infrastructure and supply lines. Private hospitals should be integrated into the state system. As should private schools. This control should be based on a multiplicity of models from profit sharing co-operatives to workers’ control to nationalisation.

2.Massive transfer of wealth and income to working people and our families, a transfer based on and funded by taxing the rich and their profits. There should be a maximum wage with a ratio, initially of 10 to 1, whereby in any industry or enterprise or collective the highest paid should take no more than 10 times the lowest paid worker. This ratio to reduce gradually over a period of time. Social security such as Old Age Pensions and Disability Benefits should be increased so that it is possible to live on it.

3.Draconian anti-strike laws to be lifted.

4.Dismantle the socially destructive military-corporate complex, and the redirection of its massive budget to socially-progressive purposes. This means, in the UK, cancelling the nuclear submarine Trident programme.

5. A Green New Deal. (see `The Green New Deal explained’, Labour Party, 2019b; Thornett, 2019) embracing, for example, phasing out fossil fuels (decarbonising the economy), massive investment in renewables, providing free integrated public transport,

Conclusion

Here, to return to the film metaphor, we see `The Good’, shooting down the Ugly, leaving behind `The Bad’. We see `the Good’ providing a hangman’s noose, for `The Bad’. To pursue this metaphor, we see that the struggle, the current struggle- ideological and material, can provide the noose for capitalism. And we see, in an eco-socialist imagination, and in a vision of a future communist society, the treasure- the treasure that is our planet and that is our people, our humanity. But, as we ride into the sunset, we must make ensure that we do not reprieve `The Bad’; and allow the resuscitation of a vengeful Ugly of Capitalism. This, the current struggle, is not a film with a happy ending- unless our discipline, our organisation, our Marxist analysis strain together to ensure it so.

 

References

Raisa Ahmed (2020) UK’s national scandal: time for accountability and change. Counterfire, 14 April. Online at: https://www.counterfire.org/articles/opinion/21102-uk-s-national-scandal-time-for-accountability-and-change.

Jonathan Calvert, George Arbuthnot and Jonathan Leake (2020) Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster, Sunday Times, 19 April. Online at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/coronavirus-38-days-when-britain-sleepwalked-into-disaster-hq3b9tlgh

Denis Campbell , Frances Perraudin, Nicola Davis, and Matthew Weaver (2020) Calls for inquiry as UK reports highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe. The Guardian, 5 May. Online at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/05/uk-coronavirus-death-toll-rises-above-32000-to-highest-in-europe

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Dave Hill (2018) Education and social class: a Marxist response. In R. Simmons and J. Smyth (eds.), Education and Working Class Youth. London: Palgrave MacMillan. Online at: http://www.ieps.org.uk/media/1140/hill-2018-education-and-social-class-in-r-simmons-and-j-smyth-education-and-working-class-youth-pre-publication-proofs.pdf

Dave Hill (2019) Marxist Education and Teacher Education Against Capitalism in NeoLiberal/ NeoConservative/ NeoFascist/ Times. Cadernos do GPOSSHE On-line, Universidade Estadual do Ceará Fortaleza, Brazil  (Grupo de Pesquisa Ontologia do Ser Social, História, Educação e Emancipação Humana). Online at https://revistas.uece.br/index.php/CadernosdoGPOSSHE/article/view/1524/1275?fbclid=IwAR349OKt6lL5HRD1SiJK-6Iv7EwlQLoJpbNlVQqrjvH-LW89JHT5fAeXdFA

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Dave Hill is a Marxist Political and Trade Union Activist in Britain and in Greece. As well as being highly active in direct action movements such as The Anti-Nazi League, and in official and unofficial strike action, he has fought 13 local, national parliamentary and euro-parliamentary elections, for, at various times, the Labour Party, and left of Labour Marxist and Socialist coalitions such as the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. He is a former `shop steward/ trade union representative for ten years, and an elected trade union regional Chair. He is an Emeritus Professor at Anglia Ruskin University, England, and Visiting Professor/ Research Fellow at the National and Kapodistrian University in Athens, Greece, and at Wuhan University, China. He has published/ edited/ co-written 23 books and over 100 articles and chapters. He edits the online Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, www.jceps.com, which has had around one and half million `views’ since he started it in 2003. With Kostas Skordoulis, he initiated and co-organises the annual ICCE conference since 2010 (The International Conference in Critical Education).