A comment on the Spring ’21 Spectre

Spectre Spring 2021, #3

Another very interesting issue! Mostly very good politically.

Race , Class and the Left in Britain raised important points. It showed how much of the Left identifies the working class with white workers, often older , who live in the midlands and the North. It explains that London, far from being just the home of the middle class, is the most proletarian city in the UK. Much of that working population is immigrant and non-white. The cities voted to stay in the EU. The highest percentage of Leave voters were in rural areas and mapped closer to the white population. The geographical/class mapping of Leave as working class and Stay as middle class was off. The article also noted that those in the North and Midlands who voted Leave were more likely to be home owners and pensioners, i.e. older. All of this is a true corrective. The article however seems to dismiss any resentful class element in the Leave vote among white workers. It attributes Leave support to English nationalism/racism. It rightly points out that the Left has often touted the nationalism of the Irish,Welsh and Scottish as causes of the Stay vote but ignored the English nationalism that accounted for a lot of the support for Leave. This is important to point out. The article lays the basis for a total rejection of the Lexit strategy. Its complete rejection of any working class resentment as a basis of Leave ,however, is too strong. In some ways Leave is parallel to the Trump phenomenon. Yes it was based on the middle class. To the extent that workers bought into it , it was often on the basis of racial resentment, loss of status and often older workers. Yet some of it WAS based on rejection of Democratic neo-liberalism which increased the decline of workers’ living standards. Leave and Trump seem to be similar in this .

EcoSocialism in the Shadow of the Pandemic was a rich and interesting discussion. It outlined the problems with technological fixes, especially when exercised within the capitalist system. It stressed the need to overturn capitalist social relations. It implied that even Ecosocialism will need to make tough choices. At this point some of the renewable solutions require continued destructive mineral extraction. We are unlikely to be able to have a world of electric cars based on lithium batteries. In the current situation, massive increases in high speed rail for example requires large amounts of fossil fuels. Of course , this will be less so as renewables are ramped up. The panel leans toward the idea that an ecological transformation will require less overall use of energy and rejects Jonathan Neale’s idea that global energy consumption can expand rapidly. In the panel there is an ambiguity on the role of the capitalist state. Though they explain the capitalist logic of the state, they seem to agree that in the short term necessary for the transition, activists will have to push the state to do at least some of the right things, since a revolution is not on the offing anytime soon. This seems to be partially true. However, the panelists downplay the need to finally smash the state and replace it with a workers’ state transitional to socialism to actually SOLVE the crisis. There is a bit of an air of pessimism in part because of this weakness

Beyond Electoralism: Mass Action and the Remaking of the Working Class. Fascinating and mostly very useful analysis of electoralism as a strategy. It goes into excellent detail on why mass movements are the way to win reforms . It explains how the logic of movements is different than the more conservative logic of elections. It is a bit overly pessimistic on the effect of neoliberalism on the consciousness and organization of workers. It is obviously true that union density in the US has declined precipitously. However, neoliberalism and economic crisis have created massive polarization. Though working class organization has declined, left wing consciousness has grown. Unfortunately , so has right wing organization and consciousness. Polarization is advanced. Yet polarization is mostly to the left. The article’s call for class struggle and creation of durable mass organizations is marred by its failure to address the need for a revolutionary workers’ party. Without this discussion , there is no consideration of how the specifically revolutionary left should organize at this time.

Struggle and Justice After the Amazon Union Drive — Very interesting panel on the future of union organizing after Bessemer. What are the lessons? What can be done differently?

Anti-Semitism and Deracialization: The Case of Algerian Jews — -fascinating account of how Jews in the West have been incorporated as defenders of Judeo-Christian culture and how this has impacted Anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism has been a largely right-wing phenomenon. Today it is falsely weaponized against supporters of Palestine. The separation of Jews from other oppressed groups in the case of Algeria divided the liberation movement and resulted in the near total transfer of the Algerian Jewish population to France. The French government prepared for this by making Algerian Jews citizens while refusing to do so for Muslims. The article has direct implications for Anti-Semitism today but also for racial politics in general.

Decolonial Struggle and History: A Critical Commentary on Nandita Sharma’s Home Rule — — Very important discussion on the constitution of nations and indigenous populations. Does the nationalism of colonized people inevitably head in a regressive direction? Must it exclude migrants? Did imperialism destroy the possibility of liberatory rebellion against it? What is the relation of nationalism to the fight for a global commons? Important questions for the Left !

Black Women’s Centrality to Class Struggle — -Interesting examples in history and theoretical antecedents of the current debate on the Left on intersectionality

Steve Leigh is an active member of Seattle Revolutionary Socialists and the Revolutionary Socialist Organizing Project. 50 years as a socialist organizer

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A Marxist View of Current Events

Steve Leigh is an active member of Seattle Revolutionary Socialists and the Revolutionary Socialist Organizing Project. 50 years as a socialist organizer