This year’s gay pride march and music event in central square were attended by hundreds of people. Stalls included Unison, Unite Against Fascism and the North East Refugee Service.
Stop the jobs massacre: Save Our Steel
Date and Time: Monday 21st of December, 7pm
Venue: Corus Sports and Social Centre, 33 South Avenue, Redcar TS10 5LZ
Speakers include: Corus steel worker, Labour councillor, workers from Visteon/Vesta, Youth Fight for Jobs.
Meeting Supported by Right to Work, North East Shop Stewards Network, Youth Fight for Jobs
“Steelmaker Corus has confirmed it will curtail production at its Teesside Cast Products factory, putting 1,700 people out of work.” The full story is carried on BBC.
The SWP calls on the government to nationalise the steel works, if it is good enough for the bankers it is good enough to save 1, 700 jobs and a community.
The Vestas and Visteon workers showed the way when they occupied their respective workplaces when it was annouced they were shutting down.
Occupy Corus for Nationalisation
Members from Middlesbrough SWP attended the recent Historical Materialism conference in London hosted by the journal of the same name. The event attracted around seven hundred people from across the world. The first meeting we attended was a debate on the economic crisis lead by Alfredo Saad Filho, Ben Fine, Hugo Radice and Dick Bryan. Fine emphasised neo-liberalism as the state intervening for the benefit of the elite while Saad Filho critiqued Post Keynesian theories that seek to reform the system rather than overthrow it. It went downhill from here with Radice repeating an idea that should be redundant after the bailing out of the banks I.e that the state isn’t important for capitalism anymore. Bryan meanwhile focused his attention on the big business opportunity that involves selling security for risky financial trading. The entire panel rubbished the idea of the “tendency of the rate of profit to fall” without giving much justification for their views. This left a gap in all their theories, namely why did Capital and states move to financialisation if profit could be made in the so called “real” economy of industry.
The next meeting was a highlight with leading member of the SWP Alex Callinicos launching his new book Imperialism and global political economy. Callinicos chose to focus on some of the problems of Lenin and Bukharin’s theories of Imperialism for example the idea that they do not integrate an adequate theory of economic crisis. Drawing on David Harvey’s work Callinicos emphasises Imperialism as the relationship between geo-political and economic concerns with one not being determinate. This got some stick mainly from other SWP member Colin Barker who would prefer to establish one logic of Imperialism rather than the two logics Harvey outlines (Territorial and Capitalist logic). I asked the question whether Harvey’s theory of “accumulation by dispossession” could lead to economic determinism in terms of finding motives for wars (Afghanistan for pipelines). Callinicos answered it could, however Harvey does not use it in a deterministic way.
Other highlights included an entertaining speech by Feminist Hester Eisenstein. Hester spoke about elites trying to use feminism to sell policy that hurts the working class (women included). For example she talks about how the UN does not attempt to implement economic development in countries but instead focuses on “developing women” with the use of micro credit etc. She also spoke about the use of supposed feminist themes to justify the invasion of Afghanistan; her response to this was what she called “self determination with women’s rights”. The overall message was that any feminist needs to take class and Imperialism into account and fight on all fronts. There was a tribute to recently deceased leading member of the SWP Chris Harman that combined personal stories of his eccentricities with a presentation of some of his ideas. His main books were laid out at the meeting which is when you realise the impact he has made on Marxism. Simply a great loss for the left as a whole.
The final talk of the event was by Fredic Jameson, leading cultural critic and theorist. He focused on his new book based on Marx’s Capital volume 1. Jameson starts by saying he will ignore the first chapters on commodities in Capital and move on to talking about the “form” of the book. He states that Capital is primarily a book about unemployment that has two alternate endings, the heroic and the comedic. The heroic ending occurs when the expropriators are expropriated, a workers revolution. The comedic ending is that capitalism dissolves itself. As Jameson points out this is more popular with Anarchist’s and followers of Deleuze (pretentious people). Jameson ends by introducing the idea that a focus on politics is reformist and a focus on economic change is revolutionary. He speaks of Utopian theory in which a future society is worked out as reformist as we cannot conceive the future socialist society under capitalism. The Utopian Impulse is what will take us to this unknown future. His ends with the lines “cynism of the intellect, utopianism of the will”. Make of that what you will??
Lowlights included leading state theorist Bob Jessop. He gave a dull talk that highlighted that the crisis has actually further centralised power into the hands of the bankers etc. Andy Higginbottom presented his idea of there being a third value (one being absolute surplus value and the other being relative surplus value). His argument was basically Imperialism is very important, the whole system is based on imperialism; we need to rewrite Marx’s Capital as Lenin would. This Andy assured us is a new debate that needs to be opened and he wasn’t deterred when an audience member pointed out the debates on “unequal exchange” that occurred in the 70’s. Higginbottom’s ideas negatively highlight the twin danger of ignoring class divisions when talking about Imperialism and the other extreme of ignoring Imperialism all together.
All in all the historical materialism conference should be a date in every lefties’s diary.
It is with great regret that we heard of the death of Chris Harman, leading member of the socialist workers party. Chris Harman has been a committed revolutionary for half a century, combining extensive theoretical contributions to Marxism with day to day engagement with the class struggle.The international and broad nature of the tributes to Chris Harman give a glimpse of the impact he has had on the Left.
Tributes can be found in the Guardian and the Socialist Worker.
Welcome to the Tees Socialist Worker Party site
The SWP fights for a society based on human need rather than profit. We are involved in all the major battles facing the working class today from the post workers strike to opposing the war in Afghanistan. The site aims to bring together those on Teesside that want to see a fight back against a government that has put the interests of the rich above the majority.
Victory to the Post Workers
Troops Out Now