There has been an ongoing debate simmering in the Communist Party of the United States of America over its future direction. There have been sharp differences of opinion over the correct attitude to and significance of Obama’s election, and how the CP should try and address itself to ongoing developments. There has been talk that some within the leadership would like to change the name of the Party, or to go into a broader left formation, while others remain wedded to the more traditional view of what the CP is, and what it is for. It’s not clear where all this is going, but Sam Webb, the Chair of the CPUSA, has recently published an article outlining his personal views on some of these questions, A Party of Socialist in the 21st Century: What it Looks Like, What it Says, and What it Does. Needless to say, it makes for interesting reading. Although it is clearly addressed to the situation in the US, it raises issues for the left everywhere. It makes arguments regarding both theory and practice that challenge traditional assumptions among communists. It’s a long document made up of 29 different points, but what does it boil down to?
Archive for February, 2011
Trade unions must die. Not (this time) the sentiments of the Sindo, but quite close to the call from the UK Institute of Directors for union rights to be curbed for public sector workers in the health and education sectors. This call forms part of a list of “freebies” that are
a mix of immediate measures to boost private sector growth and long-term commitments aimed at creating a positive vision for the UK
These include such great ideas as handing the green belt over to developers, reducing government spending as a percentage of GDP while simultaneously handing over huge amounts of money to private construction companies through “key national projects”, make it easier to sack people, and reduce workers’ rights generally. Not for nothing did the TUC describe this as a “Thatcherite fantasy world”.
This may well be the wish list of a bunch of right-wing nutters, but the danger here is that such ideas may gain traction with the coalition. We have seen just how right-wing the Lib Dems really are, and the Tories are hell-bent on restoring the capitalism of the nineteenth century. What we are seeing here are the opening shots in an ideological war to further erode workers’ rights, and to break up and privatise as much of the state sector as possible. The list is a joke. The intentions behind it are not. One need only look at the list of demands, and then look at the behaviour of the Dublin government over decades, and see how realistic the danger of a right-wing joke becoming a disgusting reality is.
Education. The key to social mobility, the big society, a fair Britain, and whatever other buzzwords you can think of from the Con/Dem coalition. Unless of course you slash budgets, and force councils into drastically reducing their services. North Ayrshire Council in Scotland is responding to the order to make cuts by considering cutting the number of school days to four, and delaying children starting school until the age of 6. Think of the consequences of this for parents suddenly needing to fund extra child care, not just one day a week, but for a whole year as well.
Carol Kirk, the council’s education director, said any plans to alter the current system would be “fully investigated and discussed”.
“The option for children to start primary school at age six has been widely discussed by education professionals across the UK for several years now and is already in operation in many other European countries,” she said.
“The option to deliver the statutory 25 hours of education per week over four rather than five days is also being explored by other local authorities in Scotland.”
I guess that the aim of returning the UK to Victorian times is going swimmingly then.