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 Post subject: Re: ICC leaflet for TUC march, 20 October
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:13 pm 
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Thanks for those comments - not sure I agree with all of them but they are certainly food for thought. Maybe you are right that too much has been crammed in but I was also conscious of everything that was left out. Have you seen the TUC pamphlet? it is truly dreadful and in so many ways. http://afuturethatworks.org/wp-content/ ... ooklet.pdf

Now that you mention it, I did see Zizek make that point about the real utopians in an interview on a programme called Masters of Money - about Karl Marx. How the unconscious moves in mysterious ways.....


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 Post subject: Re: ICC leaflet for TUC march, 20 October
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:41 pm 
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So, the demo turned out to be a big one. That at least shows that there is real discontent. But I’ll come back to that question later. For the moment I am just going to describe it from my own experience.

At 10.30 am I arrived at the park next to the Imperial(ist) War Museum. I wandered over to the Solidarity Federation group who seemed to make up most of the Radical Workers Bloc and had a short conversation with the Solfed comrade who posts on libcom as Can’t Do Cartwheels, who I sometimes talk to about local class struggle developments in the area of London where we both live. I listened in to members of Solfed answering questions by what I took to be interested newcomers, for example about how long has the group been around, is it new? The answer was that it’s been around for a fair while – before that there was a group called Direct Action Movement. And the Syndicalist Workers’ Federation before that, I thought, but lacked the confidence to chime in with this, lest people brand me a clever ****. A small group, looking very young and not Solfed, turned up in ninja blacks and masked up when the march began.

In the middle of the park Labour and green types were already holding a mini-rally with speakers and everything. There was a rumour that Harriet Harman her very self was speaking. Most of us milled around this meeting but justifiably no one felt that this was a good moment for a confrontation with the Left of Capital.

I met up with Blake’s Baby and a couple of comrades from the CWO, and joked about the Left Communist Bloc. BB had come down to London to assist both organisations and hand our their literature: our leaflet and the CWO’s A3 printed hand-out Aurora. We spent some time distributing our stuff, then the CWO comrades parted from us to go to another point in the demonstration.

Can’t Do had told me about the plan to go to Oxford Circus and demonstrate against workfare. I expressed interest but I couldn’t go along to it given the scarcity of ICC members available to distribute our leaflet.

BB and I joined up with the Radical Workers’ Bloc as the feeder march set off, but we were not sure how to engage with it. We did however have a brief conversation with a group of Polish anarcho-syndicalists working in the UK, who produce their own paper for Polish workers.

It’s been a while since I had seen BB in person and we spent most of the time on that first part of the march in an intense discussion that continued on and off throughout the day, one that corresponds to one of his main preoccupations: how do we work towards the unity of the communist left and the development of a form of organisation which can encompass all the various groups and currents that are revolutionary and internationalist - and of course ‘stray dogs’ (his expression, borrowed from an Italian phrase used by Battaglia comrades) like himself. The need for discussion and joint work between the ICC and the ICT is an issue that he is particularly concerned about.

One other conversation when we joined up with the main march stands out in memory: with two friendly comrades from Solfed, who took the leaflet. One of them began to read it and fixed straight away on the question of ‘growth’ being the problem not the solution, saying that this is what she had been getting at on a previous occasion. Unfortunately there was no time to develop this discussion as the march was about to move off.

BB and I decided it was time for a lunch break. We got the train at Temple and emerged at Victoria. We availed ourselves of a Pret a Manger. BB bought the coffees and we sat outside where we could eat homemade sandwiches.

When we got to Hyde Park the march had already started to arrive, and it then became very obvious that it was big. It took a long time for the demonstrators to file through the gates, and many of them had come from outside London. Many groups of public sector workers, often in union bibs (1). Green contingents, some in green hard hats, some in funny outfits. Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair bearing a sign: “Take me to the Hague”. Samba bands, brass bands, semi-Punjabi bands, one man DJ’s with sound systems on bikes, members of the Socialist Workers Party and other leftists demanding the TUC call a general strike and lots of people declaring that they were proud to be plebs. There were union stewards in bright day glo overalls telling people handing out leaflets not to get in the way of the marchers and telling the marchers to carry on to the union rally. On the way home, one of the ICC comrades I met up with at Hyde Park recounted that she had seen this: someone had made a hand-made sign saying “Solidarity with the Marikana miners” and was trying to attach it to the gate. The steward told them to take it down or the police would be called.

Apart from a leaflet which said on one side in very big letters “Let’s face it, capitalism must go”, from the Maoist CPB(ML), the majority of the literature handed to people as they came through the gate was
from proletarian groups: ourselves, the CWO, and the SPGB (despite their ‘parliamentary road’ to socialism being anything but a proletarian position). As usual many people refused to take leaflets for the usual reason: they are inundated with stuff on the day. Many politely used the phrase “I’ve got that one” – although in this case, it was occasionally true. However, generally speaking it was not so difficult to give out the leaflet because a lot of people seemed to be looking for literature and were making small collections of leaflets and papers. BB also remarked later on that he found that people were more willing to discuss at this demo than on previous ones.

Probably only a minority of the people who take your leaflet will actually read it during or after the demo, so what with all the refusals it could be argued that leafleting such demos is a complete waste of time and paper. I certainly don’t think that giving out leaflets or selling papers is the only activity that revolutionaries can aim to get involved in during demonstrations, but given our very limited resources on the day there wasn’t much chance of doing anything else. BB had brought a megaphone and had our numbers been greater and our planning better, and above all had we had we been able to organise together with other internationalists, we might have tried to call an ‘alternative’ meeting. That’s something for another day. But to get back to the leafleting: on balance I think it was worth doing. Against all the ideological clamour promoted by the unions and the left, all the claptrap about taxing the rich and making the bankers pay, and defending the nationalised sector, some people at least would have been able to read and reflect on a critique of the false programmes of Labour and the TUC from a communist perspective. Very modest. But not nothing.

Later on I heard that the crowd at the rally had booed Miliband when he said that there would have to be some cuts, and cheered Bob Crow of the RMT and Mark Serwotka of the PCSU when they said we need a general strike. As I said at the beginning the numbers who turned up - a TUC spokesperson said “it was better than had we had expected given our half-hearted preparations” (I made up the last bit, but it’s still true) – and this apparent enthusiasm for further action indicates that within the working class there is real dissatisfaction with and even indignation about state austerity. But a demo like this also shows the continued ability of the unions to organise large scale actions whose function is to allow workers to blow off steam, and to reinforce the unions’ organisational and ideological domination, their monopoly on the class struggle. This demo, unlike previous ones in the last couple of years, was not connected to a real movement but seems to have been called more in anticipation of future movements, a pre-emptive action which will probably have the effect of increasing the current feeling of disarray that seems to prevail in the working class and which is preventing discontent turning into overt resistance.

(1) Aurora made this comment on this new fashion: “The TUC’s recent policy of having workers’ ‘march’ in their union bibs and colours to emphasise their sectional loyalty is worthy of the old Stalinist parades in eastern Europe or China”(‘Unions and the Labour Movement, the enemy within’)

Links: Radical Workers’ Bloc: http://www.libcom.org/forums/announceme ... er-tuc-mar
Anti-workfare action: http://www.solfed.org.uk/?q=north-londo ... ord-circus. There is also this assessment: http://www.libcom.org/blog/what-october ... t-21102012
ICC leaflet: (http://en.internationalism.org/icconlin ... revolution
Aurora: http://www.leftcom.org/en/publications/aurora-en
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