Dreamers and workers

THE CROWD that gathered in St Paul’s churchyard last Saturday were fully united in one thing — their abhorrence at the way advanced finance capitalism is making one per cent of the global population unimaginably rich while impoverishing and oppressing the remaining 99 per cent of the world’s population.

And it is part of a worldwide movement that is growing spontaneously. For some romantic revolutionaries it is a long-awaited dawn of the ultimate freedom fight. And it is a big step forward that so many citizens are at last standing up to the capitalists.

But old hard-headed Marxist-Leninists like us know that there is a long and painful process ahead before we can reach any kind of socialist utopia.

We want to encourage this movement but we also need to inject a scientific, rational perspective. We know it is not enough to be united against capitalism; we have to be united in what we are for and have some idea of the necessary steps to achieve it.

If we asked any one of the people in that square they would all say they are for freedom and democracy but they hold as many different ideas of exactly what those words mean as there are people there. And they have equally as many versions of the ideal society, from a return to Iron Age agriculturalism to urban bohemian hippy communes. The bourgeois ideals of maximum individual freedom would conflict with the working class need for collective collaboration.

Some see democracy as an eternal, harmonious consensus. Others know, especially those with experience of the idealistic hippy cultures of the 60s and 70s, that in such a situation the best educated and most articulate soon dominate and can be just as intolerant and dictatorial as those they seek to overthrow.

Some look upon structured democracy, with proper voting, as bureaucratic and “Stalinist”. But is does give everyone in the group, especially the less articulate, less well educated (in other words the children of the working class) the same level of actual political power as the children of the intelligentsia. And the workers inevitably outnumber the rest.

There are even a few voices in the crowd who equate the hated bankers with a Jewish plot to dominate the world. These people are very dangerous but they have to be defeated politically, with rational argument.

In other words, as Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin Mao Tse Tung, Castro and Kim Il Sung all said over and over again — it is vital that the movement is led by the organised working class, not the bourgeois intelligentsia.

At the moment in Britain the people best placed to inject the working class perspective into the movement are the trade unions. And they have a wealth of knowledge and experience, inherited from generations of organised workers, in the practicalities and logistics of organisation and basic democratic centralism.

In the United States the trade unions are already heavily involved in the Occupy Wall Street camp — and the dozens of other similar occupations around the country.

In Greece the movement against the bankers has been well led from the start by the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) and is very class conscious and has a clear idea of where it is going.

In fact all around the globe working class perspectives are strong within the movement against global capitalism. It is only in Britain and a few other western countries — where young workers are now a couple of generations divorced from strong labour movement culture and traditions — that the words “socialism” and “communism” are hardly mentioned. These words are particularly unpleasant to bankers’ ears. We must use them a lot and communicate what they mean to our young people.