II.2. SPEW/CWI: The Hidden Patriotic “Socialists”

The Socialist Party of England and Wales (SPEW) is a right-centrist organization and the parent section of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI). It traditionally adapts to the reformist labor bureaucracy which results in its crude theory espousing the possibility of a peaceful transformation to socialism. One of its positions, for example, is that police men and women are not enemies of the working class but rather part of it (“workers in uniform”). SPEW also refuses to defend semi-colonial countries against the military attacks of imperialist powers; and it offers pro-Zionist support for a “socialist” Israel at the side of a Palestinian state. [1]

From the beginning of the No2EU movement, SPEW has been part of it together with the Stalinists. This is by no means fortuitous, since SPEW adapts to the “UK First” chauvinism of Stalinism. Naturally, as a formally Trotskyist, internationalist organization, it refrains from such openly advocacy of the pound against the euro or of presenting Britain’s exit as a kind of “self-rule.” Essentially these right-centrists advocate a “lighter” version of the national-centered conception of Stalinism is summarized within the slogan “the devil resides abroad.”

Reforming the British State?

Similar to the Stalinist propaganda, SPEW/CWI one-sidedly stresses the capitalist character of the EU as “a bosses’ club.

The EU is, in the final analysis, a bosses’ club , with different wings of capitalism collaborating – like thieves chained together in the same cart – while also striking blows at one another, only differing on how best to defend their own ‘national interests’ and their system.[2]

It never occurs to these centrists that Britain too is “a bosses’ club” – not an inch less than the EU! It is somehow embarrassing to have to explain to so-called Marxists, that the imperialist nation state is no more than an instrument of monopoly capital. Lenin was absolutely clear on this:

In explaining the class nature of bourgeois civilisation, bourgeois democracy and the bourgeois parliamentary system, all socialists have expressed the idea formulated with the greatest scientific precision by Marx and Engels, namely, that the most democratic bourgeois republic is no more than a machine for the suppression of the working class by the bourgeoisie, for the suppression of the working people by a handful of capitalists[3]

SPEW/CWI stresses again and again that the EU cannot be reformed: “This summarises the position of the left advocates of EU membership: why not try and ‘reform the EU’ in the interests of the working class? What is never explained is how this is to be achieved.[4]

While their position vis-à-vis the EU is obviously true, the tragedy is that SPEW/CWI truly believes that, in contrast to the EU, the imperialist nation state, such as Britain, can be reformed. Peter Taaffe, the central leader of the SPEW/CWI, defended this idea explicitly. In an interview he gave a few years ago in response to the question if there will be a revolution to overthrow capitalism, Taaffe answered:

Well yes, a change in society, established through winning a majority in elections, backed up by a mass movement to prevent the capitalists from overthrowing a socialist government and fighting, not to take over every small shop, every betting shop or every street corner shop — in any case, they are disappearing because of the rise of the supermarkets — and so on, or every small factory, but to nationalise a handful of monopolies, transnationals now, that control 80 to 85% of the economy.[5]

And in an educational pamphlet which the CWI publishes on its website another central leader, Lynn Walsh, repeats this idea:

Our programme presented the case for “the socialist transformation of society” – a popularised form of ‘socialist revolution’. We use this formulation to avoid the crude association between ‘revolution’ and ‘violence’ always falsely made by apologists of capitalism. A successful socialist transformation can be carried through only on the basis of the support of the overwhelming majority of the working class, with the support of other layers, through the most radical forms of democracy. On that basis, provided a socialist government takes decisive measures on the basis of mobilising the working class, it would be possible to carry though a peaceful change of society. Any threat of violence would come, not from a popular socialist government, but from forces seeking to restore their monopoly of wealth, power and privilege by mobilising a reaction against the democratic majority.[6]

As we see, the CWI doesn’t understand the nature of the bourgeois state with its huge machinery – built top down without any democratic control from below – which serves and can only serve the capitalist class. The bourgeois state exists and can only exist to implement the class interests of the bourgeoisie and enforce them against the resistance of the working class and oppressed. The CWI doesn’t understand that such machinery is incompatible with serving the working class on its road to socialism. This is why Marxists say that the bourgeois state cannot be reformed but must be smashed by a violent revolution, as we cited above in several quotes taken from Lenin.

So, from adapting to the reformist thesis that the instruments of the bourgeois state can be utilized to introduce socialism, SPEW/CWI concludes “logically” that the imperialist nation state is preferable to an imperialist federation like the EU. Consequently, they defend the British imperialist nation state against the EU as a “lesser evil.” [7]

It is certainly true that the formation of a bourgeois nation state in Western Europe was a progressive development. But this was in the early epoch of capitalism when this mode of production had an historically progressive character compared with the feudalism of the middle ages. But this was a long time ago! Today, as we live in the epoch of decaying capitalism, the imperialist nation state has no progressive meaning at all! As we showed above, Lenin made this very clear as early as 1916 when, referring to imperialist countries like Germany, France, and England, he wrote:

In these countries, which hitherto have been in the van of mankind, particularly in 1789-1871, the process of forming national states has been consummated. In these countries the national movement is a thing of an irrevocable past, and it would be an absurd reactionary utopia to try to revive it. The national movement of the French, English, Germans has long been completed. In these countries history’s next step is a different one: liberated nations have become transformed into oppressor nations, into nations of imperialist rapine, nations that are going through the “eve of the collapse of capitalism”[8]

Does SPEW Suggest Socialists Should Become Better Nationalists?

Shamelessly, the SPEW/CWI goes even further in its adaption to Stalinist patriotism and flirts with the idea that Britain is a country which somehow is oppressed and exploited by the European Union. In a recently published lengthy article in which the Taaffeeites attempt to justify their support for the NO campaign, they even went so far as to compare the current situation of Britain with that of Germany in the 1920s after the Versailles Treaty.

Under the chapter sub-headline “Vacating the field to the right”, Clive Heemskerk from the SPEW/CWI explains why socialists should not leave the campaign for Britain’s exit from the EU to the right-wing populists and fascists.

Days after the Front National won the 2014 European elections in France, its leader Marine Le Pen claimed she had a mandate to demand that president François Hollande nationalise Alstom, the builder of high-speed TGV trains, “contrary to the rules of the European Union, to save this strategic company” (The Guardian, 28 May 2014).

How would supporters of the EU in the workers’ movement respond? By urging workers to accept ‘EU rules’? An appeal to the European Commission for ‘permission’ to save workers’ jobs? Or Lenin’s advice, not to be bound by treaties that the working class have no responsibility for? (…) [T]he bigger danger is vacating the field to the right within the national terrain. The horrendous debt burdens placed on the workers of Greece and other countries after the crash of 2007-09 – policed in the eurozone by the EU institutions – are not incomparable, as a percentage of GDP, to the burdens imposed by the world war one ‘victors’ on the German working class and middle classes by the ‘war reparations debt’ clauses of the Versailles peace treaty. This sense of being ‘punished’ by the Entente powers of Britain and France was a feature of mass consciousness in Germany and needed to be taken into account by the workers’ movement.

Writing in the early 1930s, before the victory of the Nazis in 1933, Leon Trotsky criticised the argument of the Stalinist leader of the German Communist Party (KPD) Ernst Thälmann that what was involved was “primarily a matter of national liberation” as Germany “is today a ball in the hands of the Entente”. “France also, and even England”, are ‘balls’ for the US, wrote Trotsky. “This is why the slogan of the Soviet United States of Europe, and not the single bare slogan, ‘Down with the Versailles peace’,” is necessary (The Struggle Against Fascism in Germany, p102). But, Trotsky insisted, the working class cannot abandon the field to the nationalist right, as its mass organisations – the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the KPD – did in December 1929 when a referendum was promoted by the German National People’s Party (DNVP – led by the media baron Alfred Hugenburg) to reject the Young Plan re-affirming German war reparation debts. The KPD abstained in the referendum while the SPD deputies voted for the Young Plan in the Reichstag, ‘in support of international law’.

The Nazis participation with the DNVP in the referendum campaign – the first time an important section of the capitalists had collaborated with Hitler – was a factor in their phenomenal surge from 810,000 votes (2.6%) in the May 1928 general election to 6.3 million (18.2%) in September 1930, against the backdrop of the 1929 crash. Analysing the election results, Trotsky concluded that the working class had been given yet another “chance to put itself at the head of the nation as its leader”. Its failure to do so, following the missed opportunities of the previous decade to show it could “change the fate of all its [the nation’s] classes, the petit-bourgeois included”, was paving the way for a terrible reaction (ibid, p59).

The Versailles treaty debts were, of course, backed up by external military force, with French troops invading the Ruhr in 1923. This is not the case with the EU treaties; although the ‘unattributed briefings’ by EU officials that Grexit would necessitate a ‘state of emergency’, invoking spectres in a country with experience of military coups, are an ominous warning of how internal reaction could be ‘legitimised’.” [9]

We apologize to our readers for reprinting this long quote from the SPEW/CWI article, but we deem this necessary to demonstrate their political argument. Obviously the SPEW/CWI considers the example of Germany in the 1920s as relevant not only for Greece but also for Britain today and to justify its tactics in the EU referendum. This in itself is a monstrous absurdity! While Germany was an imperialist country in the late 1920s and early 1930s, it was certainly a victim of British, French and US imperialism who imposed the draconian Versailles Treaty on it. Under this treaty Germany was forced to pay billions of pounds to the victorious powers. The same treaty served as justification for the military occupation of the Ruhr district in 1923.

While the present situation in Greece indeed includes parallels to Germany at that time, this is not at all the case with imperialist Britain! Britain is a profiteer from the EU, not its victim!

But even if one would accept the SPEW/CWI analogy of Germany in the 1920s with Britain today, the whole logic of the article remains an embarrassing scandal! The author relates the initiative of the extreme nationalist DNVP and the Nazis for a referendum about the Young-Plan (which, in contrast to Britain’s relation with the EU today, was indeed a Western imperialist plan to squeeze more money from Germany as war repatriations). He explains how successful this initiative was for the right-wingers since they experienced massive growth in the period after the referendum. He reports that the Communist Party abstained at the referendum and concludes with a quote from Trotsky “that the working class had been given yet another “chance to put itself at the head of the nation as its leader”. Its failure to do so, following the missed opportunities of the previous decade to show it could “change the fate of all its [the nation’s] classes, the petit-bourgeois included”, was paving the way for a terrible reaction.”

In other words, the SPEW/CWI author suggests that the Communist Party should have not abstained in the referendum but should have supported the Nazi initiative by voting against the Young Plan!

As a matter of fact, Trotsky argued exactly the opposite. The last quote from Trotsky – about the need of the working class “to put itself at the head of the nation as its leader” – is taken from another article which doesn’t deal at all with the Young referendum. Nor does it state any need for communists to support a referendum initiative by right-wing chauvinists. [10] It is simply a quote which SPEW/CWI takes completely out of context and misuses to justify its adaption to British chauvinism.

In contrast to SPEW/CWI, Trotsky denounced the Stalinists for declaring the foreign imperialists as the main enemy of the German working class instead of recognizing that the “main enemy is at home,” i.e., that the main enemy of the German working class is the German bourgeoisie. This would have become obvious if the author would have also quoted what Trotsky wrote immediately before and the quoted statement:

The fact is that the former revolutionary worker, Thaelmann, today strives with all his strength not to be outdone by Count Stenbock-Fermor. The report of the meeting of party workers at which Thaelmann proclaimed the turn towards the plebiscite, is printed in Rote Fahne under the pretentious title, Under the Banner of Marxism. However, at the most prominent place in his conclusion, Thaelmann put the idea that “Germany is today a ball in the hands of the Entente”. It is consequently a matter, primarily, of national liberation. But in a certain sense, France and Italy also, and even England, are “balls” in the hands of the United States. The dependence of Europe upon America, which has once more been revealed so clearly in connection with Hoover’s proposal (tomorrow this dependence will be revealed still more sharply and brutally), has a far deeper significance for the development of the European revolution than the dependence of Germany upon the Entente. This is why – by the way – the slogan of the Soviet United States of Europe, and not the single bare slogan, “Down with the Versailles Peace”, is the proletarian answer to the convulsions of the European continent.

But all these questions nevertheless occupy second place. Our policy is determined not by the fact that Germany is a “ball” in the hands of the Entente, but primarily by the fact that the German proletariat, which is split-up, rendered powerless and degraded, is a ball in the hands of the German bourgeoisie. “The main enemy – is at home!” Karl Liebknecht taught at one time. Or perhaps you have forgotten this, friends? Or perhaps this teaching is no longer any good? For Thaelmann, it is very obviously antiquated, Liebknecht is substituted by Scheringer. This is why the title Under the Banner of Marxism rings with such bitter irony![11]

As we see, Trotsky’s argument is diametrically opposed to what SPEW/CWI wants us to believe. While SPEW/CWI suggests in its discussion of the Nazi referendum against the Young-Plan that revolutionaries should not “vacate the field to the right”, Trotsky argued that German communists must not support a referendum initiated by right-wing chauvinists against foreign imperialists. They must rather see the German imperialists as their main enemy.

Trotsky’s approach was exactly the opposite of what SPEW/CWI is advocating today. Yet the latter unabashedly try to falsify Trotsky’s writings to support their own position. SPEW/CWI views EU imperialists as more dangerous enemies than British imperialists. Likewise, the German Stalinists viewed the British, French and American imperialists as more dangerous than their German colleagues. This is why SPEW/CWI supports Britain’s exit from the EU as the German Stalinists supported Germany’s rejection of the Young-Plan. This is why SPEW/CWI supports the NO campaign even though this campaign is the initiative of and is controlled by the right-wing Tories and UKIP. However, the Stalinist Communist Party of the time did not dare support such a reactionary policy as does that support by SPEW/CWI today, but rather and correctly called for a vote of abstention in the referendum – even though the Young Plan did represented a direct attack on the German working class and was not “simply” a referendum about membership in a imperialist federation. While the Stalinist bureaucracy later condemned the KPD’s refusal to take part in the Young Plan referendum as an error, Trotsky and the Fourth International never did so. [12]

Predicting the Imminent Collapse of the EU … for Four Decades!

Peter Taaffee and his CWI have traditionally supported the preference of imperialist nation states to a European federation. They called for Britain’s exit from the then federation in the 1975 referendum and have opposed the entry of all European countries into the EU since then. For decades four decades (1) they have hoped to underpin their position by predicting the imminent collapse of the EU and later of the Euro! As we showed above, they incorrectly cite Lenin, like the Stalinists, by acclaiming that any form of European unification is utopian.

The EMU [European Monetary Union] project will break down in fact. (…) It is not a question of ‘if’ the euro will break down, but only of ‘when’ and ‘how’.[13]

The Single European Act (‘the single market’), various EU legislation and uniform regulations, tax-harmonisation, etc. have acted as means of stimulating further integration inside the EU. This, together with the political consensus established throughout Europe during the 1990s, has given rise to the illusion that EU is on its way to become a ‘super-state’. This is certainly not the case. The new global crisis has already to some extent halted the process of globalisation.[14]

17 years after these words were written – and SPEW/CWI has made this dire prediction many times before and after then – the EU and the Euro not only still exist but have substantially deepened their political and economic integration.

In his recent programmatic statement on the EU referendum, SPEW leader Peter Taaffee repeats the same argument without answering why his groups’ prediction have not materialized in the past decades.

This even generated the illusion amongst many, including some Marxists, that unification of the continent was possible on a capitalist basis. But the Socialist Party insisted that the European capitalists could never succeed in completely overcoming the barrier of private ownership of industry on the one side and national states on the other.[15]

However, Taaffee & Co not only predicted that “the European capitalists could never succeed in completely overcoming the barrier of private ownership of industry on the one side and national states on the other.” They also predicted the imminent collapse of the EU and the Euro.

With the self-confidence of a political autist, Taaffee writes that the EU and the Euro are already about to break down:

This was reflected in a spiralling of growth that lasted for an unprecedented 25 years between 1950 and 1975! The advent of neoliberalism – characterized by colossal intensification of the exploitation of the working class, low-paid part-time jobs instead of high paid and permanent jobs, etc – greatly reinforced this process. Many were thrown off balance by this development and swallowed the illusion that capitalism could complete the process and unify Europe. The establishment of the eurozone seemed to reinforce this. But the onset of the economic crisis, as the Socialist Party predicted, saw the exact opposite take place with the re-emergence of national divisions and nationalism with a pronounced tendency towards the eventual breakup of the eurozone itself. The introduction of the euro was utopian in its aim of establishing a lasting common currency, something that could only be possible on the basis of a ‘political union’, which has not and will not happen.[16]

This is complete nonsense. Taaffee obviously assumes that his readers are not aware of his “predictions” during the past decades. He writes that the EU could only deepen its integration in the period of the boom. Once the boom ended, the EU and the eurozone became doomed. (“the onset of the economic crisis, as the Socialist Party predicted, saw the exact opposite take place with the re-emergence of national divisions and nationalism with a pronounced tendency towards the eventual breakup of the eurozone itself”). But the end of the boom was as early as the early 1970s, as Taaffee’s organization themselves loudly proclaimed many times. Since the 1970s the integration of the EU has deepened, contrary to Taaffee’s fanciful “predictions.” 13 years after the introduction of the Euro, Taaffee still proclaims it as “utopian”! And he proclaims that a political union of the EU “has not and will not happen”. But why should the stronger European great powers (like Germany and France) and the monopoly capitalists not be able to “unite” parts of Europe or even most of Europe – of course not on the basis of equality but on the basis of subordination and domination?! Why should this be excluded IF the alternative for the other European capitalists is annihilation on the world market and IF they would lose much more in the case of a collapse of the Euro and the EU than in the case of deepening the integration?!

SPEW/CWI still tries to downplay the EU simply as a temporary agreement or treaty.

The EU, fundamentally, is only an agreement between the different national capitalist classes of Europe, with the aim of creating the largest possible arena for the big European multinational corporations to conduct their hunt for profits with the least possible hindrance. Each treaty, from the 1957 Treaty of Rome that created the European Economic Community (EEC) onwards, has developed and enhanced a Europe-wide market, with pan-European regulations and commercial law.[17]

In fact, the EU is not only a commercial project but a project for a political, economic, and military federation. What SPEW/CWI and many others don’t understand is that the European integration, i.e., the formation of a political and economic federation (a “super-state”), is the only chance for the European monopoly capitalists to withstand the increasing pressure of rivaling great powers on the world market and in global politics. As we have explained elsewhere, this is the fundamental cause of the overwhelming drive of the monopoly bourgeoisie in the main imperialist countries to advance the EU integration. [18]

What we have always and continue to insist on is that the EU could of course potentially collapse and split into its nation state components. This would naturally constitute a tremendous economic blow for the European states, given the overwhelming competition of the US, China, Japan, and perhaps even Russia. Yet another possibility is that the EU will indeed split apart but be replaced by a smaller variant of European unification – a kind of “core Europe” coalesced around Germany. Or, in fact, Germany and France may succeed in bringing about the creation of a pan-European super-state. Naturally steps in this direction of a (smaller or bigger) European imperialist super-state will go hand in hand with vicious attacks on the working class – as would happen no less so if the nation states which leave the EU and are forced to survive alone on the world market.

Similarly, it is clear that any unification of Europe (or parts of it) would not be an organic, harmonious process. Rather, as we already pointed out some time ago, such a process would be undemocratic in character and would be linked with the creation of a Bonapartist pan-European state apparatus

The process of European unification cannot be a “spontaneous” process – either on the political or on the economic level. Left to the market there will be no spontaneous emergence of a pan-European capital. We do not live in a period of rising capitalism where nation states are formed and capital first and foremost expands with them. We live in the era of globalization and neo-liberalism. Left to the market, the process of Europeanization of capital would be constantly disrupted and negated by mergers and acquisitions carried out by Japanese or US companies. Today, in the imperialist epoch, under the conditions of global capitalism with its enormous competition and rivalry, any organic formation of trans-national capital is an illusion. Let’s not forget: the most multinational capital blocs are those of the leading world powers – the Americans and, on a smaller scale, the British, as the former leading world power, who were able to open the markets with their huge combined economic, political and military power. Such a process is impossible inside the European Union. No power is strong enough to enforce its will and subordinate the others. So, European unification and the creation of pan-European capital have to be the result of a conscious intervention by a pan-European imperialist state apparatus. However, that, too, has first to be created and since, unlike any other state, it will not be the political instrument of an already existing ruling class, rooted in a national society, its creation can only result from the conscious decision of the existing imperialist states within the EU. That requires at least the major powers to each accept that its own interest lies in ceding power to the higher, pan-European body. Only the certainty that the alternative would be economic ruin could force them to this decision and, thus, it is precisely the overwhelming superiority of the US, by comparison with any individual European power, which is the principal unifying force in European politics. The need for a unified political EU state apparatus becomes even more evident if one looks at the meager role Europe plays in world politics, not to mention its inability to play any role as a world policeman or to impose its interests around the globe.” [19]

Hence, we concluded:

So, in effect, the new Constitution creates an imperialist EU state apparatus on the basis of bourgeois parliamentarism but with a strong Bonapartist element in the form of the European Commission.” [20]

However, SPEW/CWI is incapable of understanding this process because it has always viewed the existence of the EU (respectively its predecessor institutions) as an unnatural agreement which was destined to quickly collapse. Thus, Taaffee and his collaborators have a lot of explaining to do regarding why this “unnatural agreement” has now held out for more than 60 years – if we take the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952 as the beginning – and is increasingly deepening its integration.

SP’s Defense of Immigration Control

The opportunistic adaption of SPEW/CWI to the imperialist state is not only reflected in its campaign for Britain’s exit from the EU and its spreading of illusions about the possibility of a peaceful transformation towards socialism. It also becomes obvious in its support for immigration control by the imperialist state. They justify this adaption to chauvinism using classically opportunistic arguments: the majority of the workers do not currently support such anti-immigration slogans. With such an opportunistic approach, revolutionaries would also have to refrain from standing up against nationalism and arguing for a consistent internationalist line! As it is well know, opportunists of all sorts justify their capitulation to imperialism by claiming that a principled “demand would alienate the vast majority of the working class.” German social democrats likewise used this argument to justify why they had to support the imperialist war in 1914. Here is how SPEW explained its stance in a resolution put forth in a congress in 2013.

Of course, we have to stand in defence of the most oppressed sections of the working class, including migrant workers and other immigrants. We staunchly oppose racism. We defend the right to asylum, and argue for the end of repressive measures like detention centres. At the same time, given the outlook of the majority of the working class, we cannot put forward a bald [?] slogan of ‘open borders’ or ‘no immigration controls’, which would be a barrier to convincing workers of a socialist programme, both on immigration and other issues. Such a demand would alienate the vast majority of the working class, including many more long-standing immigrants, who would see it as a threat to jobs, wages and living conditions. Nor can we make the mistake of dismissing workers who express concerns about immigration as ‘racists’. While racism and nationalism are clearly elements in anti-immigrant feeling, there are many consciously anti-racist workers who are concerned about the scale of immigration.” [21]

It is therefore no coincidence that SPEW/CWI also justifies their support for Britain’s exit from the EU with their opposition to free movement within the EU. As Peter Taaffee states:

The alleged benefits of the ‘free movement of labour’ are in reality a device for the bosses to exploit a vast pool of cheap labour, which can then be used to cut overall wage levels and living standards.[22]

And on the website of the No2EU-Campaign, of which SPEW/CWI is a member like the Stalinist CPB, the following statement appears:

To reverse this increasingly perverse situation, all nation states must have democratic control over their own immigration policy and have the right to apply national legislation in defence of migrant and indigenous workers.[23]

Naturally, such a position is deeply hostile to the principles of Marxism or even consistent democracy and internationalism. As we have elaborated elsewhere, the revolutionary workers’ movement has a long tradition of opposition to immigration control. [24]

Communists don’t claim that migration is the cause for lowering of wages and lay-offs but rather these are caused by the capitalists and their system of profit. Communists oppose immigration control because this binds workers to their imperialist nation state and undermines the international solidarity with foreign workers. The solution is to struggle to organize migrant workers in trade unions and other organizations of the workers’ movement and to fight for equal wages for all workers in a given industry – irrespective of their skin color or passport.

The Communist International took such an internationalist perspective – which includes opposition to all forms of immigration control – and made it mandatory for its sections in the imperialist countries.

The communist parties of the imperialist countries, America, Japan, England, Australia, and Canada should not restrict themselves, in face of the threatening danger, to propaganda against war, but must make every effort to eliminate the factors which disorganize the workers’ movement in these countries and make it easier for the capitalists to exploit the antagonisms between nations and races. These factors are: the immigration question and the question of cheap coloured labour power. Even today the contract system of indentured labour is the chief means of recruiting coloured workers on the sugar plantations of the south Pacific area, to which workers are brought from China and India. This induces the workers in the imperialist countries to demand legislation prohibiting immigration and hostile to the coloured workers, both in America and Australia. Such legislation deepens the antagonism between the coloured and white workers, and splits and weakens the workers’ movement.

The communist parties of America, Canada, and Australia must conduct an energetic campaign against laws prohibiting immigration and must explain to the proletarian masses of these countries that such laws, by stirring up race hatred, will in the end bring injury to themselves. The capitalists on the other hand are prepared to dispense with laws against immigration, in order to facilitate the free entry of cheap coloured labour power and thus lower the wages of white workers. Their intentions can only be successfully frustrated by one thing—the immigrant workers must be enrolled in the existing trade unions of white workers. At the same time the demand must be made that the wages of coloured workers must be raised to the level of the wages of white workers. Such a step by the communist parties will expose the intentions of the capitalists and at the same time clearly show the coloured workers that the international proletariat knows no race prejudice.” [25]

Ultimately the whole debate about open borders and migrant workers is a repetition of the discussions on female labor in the First International. The petty-bourgeois socialist adherents of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon argued against female labor since it was said to be “unnatural” and that it would reduce the employment chances for male workers. Of course, on a superficial level, it was true that women workers got jobs more readily than men since their wages were lower – just as it is the case with migrants and white workers today. But Karl Marx, and all socialists since then, explained that the problem is not women (or migrants) entering the labor market and seeking employment. The problem is the capitalists’ ownership of the means of production. The task is to organize the women (or migrant) workers together with their male or white colleagues and to counter the capitalists’ desire to divide the working class by fighting for equal wages.

Hence, the RCIT – in contrast to SPEW/CWI – consistently opposes immigration control as we call for in our program:

The right to stay and immediate legalisation of all illegal migrants and asylum seekers! Right of asylum for those fleeing war, oppression and poverty in their countries! Open borders for all![26]

For the very same reason true Marxists opposed the chauvinist strike of 2009 which was conducted under the chauvinistic slogan “British Jobs for British Workers.” At that time British workers at the Lindsey Oil Refinery wanted to stop the hiring of migrant workers. It is a shame that many British left-reformists and centrists – like the Stalinist CPB, the CWI, IMT etc. – supported this strike. Until this very day, SPEW/CWI even proudly boasts that one of its members was a leader in this strike! [27]

Equally unsurprisingly, SPEW/CWI joined the chorus of the reformists and centrists who denounced the August Uprising of black, Asian, migrant and poor white youth in 2011, instead of supporting this as a justified spontaneous insurrection. [28]

While we cannot go into great detail on the issue of migration here, this is as a key question for all imperialist countries in the present period and in particular for Britain. We simply refer to the fact that, according to the latest official census of 2011, national and ethnic minorities constitute 1/5 of the population of England and Wales. In London, only 45% (3.7 million) out of 8.2 million usual residents were white British, i.e., national and ethnic minorities already constitute the majority. In Leicester, the share of the white British is 60% and in Birmingham 65%. [29]

Hence, implementing a correct, Marxist line on the issue of migration is a central requirement for any revolutionary organization in Britain.

[1] For the RCIT’s critique of the CWI see e.g. Michael Pröbsting: The Great Robbery of the South, Vienna 2013, chapter 13, http://www.great-robbery-of-the-south.net/great-robbery-of-south-online/download-chapters-1/chapter13/, Michael Pröbsting: The CWI’s “Socialist” Zionism and the Palestinian Liberation Struggle. A Reply from the RCIT, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 27, 15.9.2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/cwi-and-israel/, Michael Pröbsting: Five days that shook Britain but didn’t wake up the left. The bankruptcy of the left during the August uprising of the oppressed in Britain: Its features, its roots and the way forward; in: RCIT: Revolutionary Communism No. 1, (September 2011), http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/britain-left-and-the-uprising/

[2] Peter Taaffe: European Union referendum: No to a capitalist EU, Yes to a socialist Europe! Socialist Party General Secretary, The Socialist newspaper, 3 June 2015, http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/20815

[3] V.I. Lenin: Theses and Report on Bourgeois Democracy and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (1919); in: LCW 28, p. 458

[4] Clive Heemskerk: Britain: Socialists and the EU referendum. How should socialists approach the in-or-out EU debate? Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), in: Socialist Review Issue 190 (July/August 2015), 3.7.2015, http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/7267

[5] The Socialist Party’s history – The Militant Tendency, The Socialist, 29th June 2006, http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/html_article/2006-446-militant

[6] Lynn Walsh: The State – A Marxist Programme and Transitional Demands; in: Marxism and the State – An Exchange by Michael Wainwright and Lynn Walsh, http://www.socialistalternative.org/literature/state/

[7] From the same reformist logic SPEW/CWI also claims that police are “workers in uniform” and that it is sufficient to call for their “democratic control” instead of advocating the formation of self-defense units which can be transformed into armed workers and popular militias in revolutionary situations. Unsurprisingly SPEW even has members among the trade union of the prison officers – the Prison Officers’ Association – like the then POA General Secretary Brian Caton who joined the SPEW in 2009!

The position of SPEW/CWI is clearly wrong, contradicts the classic Marxist position, and is entirely inconsistent with the experience of the labor movement over more than 150 years. The only role of the police is to control and oppress the working class – like low-level managers in a business. Neither low-level management nor the police directly or indirectly creates or distributes value in any form. They are paid parasites and thugs of capitalism. They are part of the middle layers and not of the working class. It doesn’t matter if the origins of an individual policeman or policewoman are in the working class. Not the past but the present and the foreseeable future are what is decisive. This is why Trotsky thought any idea of police being “workers in uniform” is ridiculous:

The fact that the police was originally recruited in large numbers from among Social Democratic workers is absolutely meaningless. Consciousness is determined by environment even in this instance. The worker who becomes a policeman in the service of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker. Of late years these policemen have had to do much more fighting with revolutionary workers than with Nazi students. Such training does not fail to leave its effects. And above all: every policeman knows that though governments may change, the police remain.“ (Leon Trotsky: What Next? Vital Questions for the German Proletariat, http://marxists.architexturez.net/archive/trotsky/germany/1932-ger/next01.htm#s1)

[8] V. I. Lenin: A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism; in: LCW Vol. 23, p.38

[9] Clive Heemskerk: Britain: Socialists and the EU referendum

[10] The quote is taken from Trotsky’s article The Turn in the Communist International and the Situation in Germany, September 1930.

[11] Leon Trotsky: Against National Communism! Lessons of the ‘Red’ Referendum (1931), in: The Militant, Vol. IV No. 24 (Whole No. 83), 19 September 1931, https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1931/08/natcom1.htm

[12] Jane Degras: The Communist International 1919-1943. Documents. Volume III 1929-1943, p. 101

[13] CWI: Resolution on World Relations (1998), in: Global Turmoil. Capitalist Crisis – A Socialist Alternative. Resolutions and conclusions of the 7th World Congress of the Committee for a Workers International held in November 1998, CWI Publications, London 1999, p. 26

[14] CWI: Resolution ‘Europe at a turning point’ (1998), in: Global Turmoil …, p. 107

[15] Peter Taaffe: European Union referendum: No to a capitalist EU, Yes to a socialist Europe!

[16] Peter Taaffe: European Union referendum: No to a capitalist EU, Yes to a socialist Europe!

[17] Clive Heemskerk: Britain: Socialists and the EU referendum. How should socialists approach the in-or-out EU debate?

[18] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: ‘Americanise or bust’. Contradictions and challenges of the imperialist project of European unification (2004), in: Fifth International Vol.1, No.2, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/eu-imperialism-americanise-or-bust/; Michael Pröbsting: Die Frage der Vereinigung Europas im Lichte der marxistischen Theorie, …; Michael Pröbsting: The EU Reform Treaty: what it is and how to fight it (2008), in: Fifth International Vol.3, No.1, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/eu-reform-treaty/

[19] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: ‘Americanise or bust’ …, p. 9-10

[20] See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: ‘Americanise or bust’ …, pp. 12-13

[21] Socialist Party: British Perspectives 2013 (Congress Document), http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/partydoc/British_Perspectives_2013:_a_Socialist_Party_congress_document/16413

[22] Peter Taaffe: European Union referendum: No to a capitalist EU, Yes to a socialist Europe!

[23] Alex Gordon: Social Europe is a con, http://www.no2eu.com/?page_id=263

[24] See Michael Pröbsting: Marxismus, Migration und revolutionäre Integration (2010); in: Der Weg des Revolutionären Kommunismus, Nr. 7, pp. 38-41, http://www.thecommunists.net/publications/werk-7. We have published a summary of this study in English-language: Michael Pröbsting: Marxism, Migration and revolutionary Integration, in: Revolutionary Communism, No. 1 (English-language Journal of the RCIT), http://www.thecommunists.net/oppressed/revolutionary-integration/

[25] Jane Degras: The Communist International 1919-1943. Documents. Volume I 1919-1922, pp. 391-392

[26] RCIT: The Revolutionary Communist Manifesto (2012), p. 51, http://www.thecommunists.net/rcit-manifesto/fight-against-oppression-of-migrants/.

[27] For our position on these reactionary strikes we refer to the resolution of the statement of the at that time still revolutionary organisation Workers Power: No to the nationalist strikes, 1st February 2009, http://www.workerspower.com/index.php?id=47,1821,0,0,1,0 and an article the author of these lines wrote in German-language: Einleitung der Liga der Sozialistischen Revolution zur Stellungnahme Britannien: Nein zu den nationalistischen Streiks!, 5.2.2009, http://arbeiterinnenstandpunkt.net/phpwcms/index.php?id=25,579,0,0,1,0

[28] See on this Nina Gunić and Michael Pröbsting: These are not “riots” – this is an uprising of the poor in the cities of Britain! The strategic task: From the uprising to the revolution!, 10.8.2011, http://www.rkob.net/new-english-language-site-1/uprising-of-the-poor-in-britain/; Michael Pröbsting: The August uprising of the poor and nationally and racially oppressed in Britain: What would a revolutionary organisation have done?, 18.8.2011, http://www.rkob.net/new-english-language-site-1/august-uprising-what-should-have-been-done/; Bericht der RKOB-Delegation über ihren Aufenthalt in London 2011, http://www.rkob.net/international/berichte-uprising-in-gb/; Michael Pröbsting: Five days that shook Britain but didn’t wake up the left. The bankruptcy of the left during the August uprising of the oppressed in Britain: Its features, its roots and the way forward; in: RCIT: Revolutionary Communism No. 1, (September 2011), http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/britain-left-and-the-uprising/

[29] Office for National Statistics: 2011 Census: Key Statistics for England and Wales, March 2011, p. 4 and 11. See also our article Laurence Humphries: The General Election in Britain on May 7th 2015: Vote Labour- But No Illusions in the Milliband Leadership! RCIT Britain, 20.3.2015, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 34, http://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/europe/britain-elections-2015/

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About RCIT Britain

What the RCIT stands for Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT)is a revolutionary combat organisation fighting for the liberation of the working class and all oppressed. It has national sections in a number of countries. The working class is composed of all those (and their families) who are forced to sell their labor power as wage earners to the capitalists. The RCIT stands on the theory and practice of the revolutionary workers’ movement associated with the names of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Trotsky. Capitalism endangers our lives and the future of humanity. Unemployment, war, environmental disasters, hunger, and exploitation are all part of everyday life under capitalism as are the imperialistic oppression of nations, the national oppression of migrants, and the oppression of women, young people, and homosexuals. Therefore, we want to eliminate capitalism. The liberation of the working class and all oppressed is possible only in a classless society without exploitation and oppression. Such a society can only be established internationally. Therefore, the RCIT is fighting for a socialist revolution at home and around the world. This revolution must be carried out and lead by the working class, for only this class has the collective power to bring down the ruling class and build a socialist society. The revolution cannot proceed peacefully because a ruling class never has nor ever will voluntarily surrender its power. By necessity, therefore, the road to liberation includes armed rebellion and civil war against the capitalists. The RCIT is fighting for the establishment of workers’ and peasants’ republics, where the oppressed organize themselves in councils democratically elected in rank-and-file meetings in factories, neighbourhoods, and schools. These councils, in turn, elect and control the government and all other statue authorities, and always retain the right to recall them. Authentic socialism and communism have nothing to do with the so-called “socialism” that ruled in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and which continues to do so in China and Cuba, for example. In these countries, the proletariat was and is dominated and oppressed by a privileged party bureaucracy. Under capitalism, the RCIT supports all efforts to improve the living conditions of the workers and oppressed, while simultaneously striving to overthrow this system based on economic exploitation of the masses. Towards these ends, we work from within the trade unions where we advocate class struggle, socialism, and workers’ democracy. But trade unions and social democracy are controlled by a bureaucracy perniciously connected with the state and capital via status, high-paying jobs, and other privileges. Thus, the trade union bureaucracy is far from the interests and living conditions of its members, based as it is on the top, privileged layers of the working class – a labor aristocracy which has no real interest in replacing capitalism. Therefore, the true struggle for the liberation of the working class, the toppling of capitalism and the establishment of socialism, must be based on the broad mass of the proletariat rather than their “representative” from the upper trade union strata. We also fight for the expropriation of the big land owners as well as for the nationalisation of the land and its distribution to the poor and landless peasants. Towards this goal we struggle for the independent organisation of the rural workers. We support national liberation movements against oppression. We also support the anti-imperialist struggles of oppressed peoples against the great powers. Within these movements we advocate a revolutionary leadership as an alternative to nationalist or reformist forces. While the RCIT strives for unity of action with other organizations, we are acutely aware that the policies of social democrats and pseudo-revolutionary groups are dangerous, and ultimately represent an obstacle to the emancipation of the working class, peasants, and the otherwise oppressed. In wars between imperialist states we take a revolutionary defeatist position: we do not support either side, but rather advocate the transformation of the war into a civil war against the ruling class in each of the warring states. In wars between imperialist powers (or their stooges) and a semi-colonial countries we stand for the defeat of the former and the victory of the oppressed countries. As communists, we maintain that the struggle against national oppression and all types of social oppression (women, youth, sexual minorities etc.) must be lead by the working class, because only the latter is capable of fomenting a revolutionarily change in society . Therefore, we consistently support working class-based revolutionary movements of the socially oppressed, while opposing the leadership of petty-bourgeois forces (feminism, nationalism, Islamism, etc.), who ultimately dance to the tune of the capitalists, and strive to replace them with revolutionary communist leadership. Only with a revolutionary party fighting as its leadership can the working class be victorious in its struggle for liberation. The establishment of such a party and the execution of a successful revolution, as it was demonstrated by the Bolsheviks in Russia under Lenin and Trotsky remain the models for revolutionary parties and revolutions in the 21st century. For new, revolutionary workers' parties in all countries! For a 5th Workers International to be founded on a revolutionary program! Join the RCIT! No future without socialism! No socialism without revolution! No revolution without a revolutionary party!
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