The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 16th March 2007

Protesters leave their mark in Scotland

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by Daphne Liddle

rebel Labour MPs last Wednesday voted against their own government’s proposals to replace the Trident nuclear missile system with a new nuclear weapons system, costing at least £20 billion but estimated as nearer £80 billion by many.

 They voted in support of an amendment tabled by backbench Labour MP Jon Tricket that would have deferred any decision on Trident until after the next general election.

 But the amendment was defeated, by 413 votes to 167 because the Tory party backed Blair’s position on Trident. The Liberal Democrats voted with the rebels.

 In a second vote, taken on the substantive motion to opt for the Trident replacement, the Government won by 409 votes to 161 – once again relying on Tory support to win.

 “How does it feel to be part of the Tory opposition?” Channel Four News presenter Jon Snow asked the government spokesperson Kim Howells MP.

 This is the biggest backbench rebellion since the vote in 2003 to endorse the illegal invasion of Iraq.

 The rebels included four junior government ministers who had resigned their posts in protest at the Government’s determination to go ahead with the Trident replacement. They were deputy leader of the House of Commons Nigel Griffiths and government aides Stephen Pound, Jim Devine and Chris Ruane.

 Nigel Griffiths handed in his resignation on Tuesday “with a heavy heart but a clear conscience”. He said he took his inspiration from the late Robin Cook, who resigned as Foreign Secretary in 2003 in protest at the invasion of Iraq.
for peace

Griffiths added: “After reading the White Paper entitled the Future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent, I have concluded that it has no future; that this country has to become a country for peace, not a country for war.”

 On Tuesday evening, the day before the parliamentary debate, Greenpeace activists foiled a heavy police presence and scaled a crane next to Big Ben. The protesters had arrived by boat and found a crane barge near Westminster pier
 They unfurled a 50-foot banner with the slogan “Tony loves WMD”. And they claimed that from the top of the crane they were phoning MPs, “urging then not to support new weapons of mass destruction”.

 A spokesperson for Greenpeace said police attempted to stop the four campaigners – two men and two women – as they began their climb. “The four volunteers aim to occupy the crane until the vote takes place,” he said. And they did.

 On the ground in Parliament Square a huge protest demonstration assembled on Wednesday as the vote drew nearer. Some were arrested after chaining themselves to concrete models of Trident missiles.

 The protesters had the support of trade unions. Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said: “Today the Government is publishing a Bill which underlines the need for action to save the planet, yet tomorrow they intend to force through plans to spend billions on nuclear weapons that can help destroy it. The £75 billion that could be wasted on new Trident could go a long way to helping Britain reduce carbon emissions, build some of the transport infrastructure we desperately need and bolster our public services.

“Forcing Trident through with the help of Tory votes in the face of public opinion shows just how divorced from the real world the Government has become.

 “Blair took us into an illegal war over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t even exist, and now he wants to tear up the nuclear non-proliferation treaty to build some new ones of his own – there is only one word for that, and it is hypocrisy.”

  John McDonnell, who is set to challenge Gordon Brown’s succession to Blair as the next prime Minister, said the votes would be “a defining moment” for the Government. “It’s time,” he said, “for people to stand up and be counted on this issue, and that includes those ministers who we know either do not support this it who have serious doubts about the untimely decision-making process the Prime Minister is forcing on us.”

 Harry Cohen, Labour MP for Leyton and Wanstead, said: “It is a fiction to pretend the new Trident is right for Britain when it is plainly wrong.

 “The facts are that it is exorbitantly expensive, totally useless against terrorism and a green light for proliferation.”
no enemy

Michael Meacher, MP for Oldham and Royton, said: “We’re in the post cold-war environment, when there is no nuclear enemy in sight and the Ministry of Defence cannot actually suggest any nuclear enemy in the foreseeable future which might require nuclear weapons as a security.”

 The Government won its vote; that was never in doubt. But having to rely on opposition votes to do so was a betrayal of their electoral mandate – such is bourgeois democracy!


The trap

ADAM CURTIS’ BBC2 documentary The Trap shown last Sunday (the first of three parts) on modern western ruling class thinking and policy-making revealed a cold, bleak world where the powerful trust no one, especially not each other.

 Curtis showed how this thinking began in the Cold War when American military scientists were trying to anticipate when and how the Soviets might attack them. They had made a fundamental wrong assumption – that the Soviets wanted to attack them. Their own intelligence services had told them this was not so but they ignored this.

 Instead they developed strategies based on “Game Theory”, invented by mathematician John Nash – later diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic – at the Rand Corporation. This aimed to maintain a balance of power that would prevent a Soviet attack out of fear and self-interest. These were the only motives that the American military could comprehend. Then Nash produced mathematical formulae to calculate exactly how many Soviet cities would have to be nuked to discourage them from retaliating.

 Then they tried to apply these principles and formulae to the whole of human behaviour – reducing the whole of society to numbers that could be fed into computers to predict exactly what people would do. It was the crudest possible form of mechanistic materialism. Nash claimed that humans were naturally calculating and always seeking an advantage over their fellows and this led to equilibrium. This system could only work if everyone behaved selfishly. As soon as people started co-operating together, instability ensued.

 Nash and his colleagues tried tests, using secretaries as guinea pigs. Contrary to expectations, the women preferred to cooperate with other people rather than try to cheat them – but he ignored the results which proved that the instinct to cooperate is innate within all of us. The human race could not have survived any other way.

 The Austrian-born bourgeois economist Friedrich von Hayek took up Nash’s principles and applied them to economics, declaring that altruism was a bad thing because it was unpredictable and so led to instability. The only human traits that could be relied on were fear and greed; society could only be safe if everyone was allowed to act upon their own greed and this would lead to a natural balance of forces. Curtis forgot to mention that this applied only to the bourgeoisie – as soon as the workers started acting in their own interest, Hayek and his followers wanted trade unions banned in this new “freedom” they sought.

 Hayek was Margaret Thatcher’s inspiration when she declared that “greed is good” and “there is no such thing as society”.

 Curtis then skipped to the theories of psychologist RD Laing, who discovered that spending time talking to young women diagnosed as schizophrenics had a better success rate than giving them insulin-induced comas or electric shocks – but that they relapsed when sent home. He then studied how the pressures inside narrow bourgeois nuclear families, when they function badly, can have a disastrous effect on the mental health of vulnerable members of the family.

 The followers of Nash and Hayek took this as a vindication of their extreme individualism and proof that the family, like the rest of society, was full of individuals motivated only by fear and greed and that love and affection were merely tools used to manipulate others – rather than evidence that the extremely narrow nuclear family in bourgeois society isolates some people from the moral support of wider society. Once again they tried to analyse human behaviour with special questionnaires; the results fed into huge computers which decided who was mad and who was not on the basis of number crunching. Once again it was pure mechanics applied to human behaviour where an understanding of dialectics was most needed. The computers concluded that most Americans were mad to one degree or another. 

 But the disordered thinking exposed by Curtis is the logical conclusion of capitalism. It is not the ugly face of capitalism because capitalism does not have a good face – certainly not at this stage of its development. Curtis examined it from a bourgeois perspective that finds itself disappointed that the efforts of Nash and Hayek have changed the world but not for the better and that the “freedoms” they preach have led to wars and disasters like Iraq. Communists and socialists were telling them that from the start – but the whole programme ignores any left-wing perspectives.

 The contradictions within capitalism have rendered it dangerously insane and it will render the human race extinct if it is not stopped. Fortunately all around the world there are millions of people who have no private property to be obsessed with; who know they depend on each other and how to cooperate – the true proletariat of the world and they are not taken in by this lunacy. Socialism is growing in Latin America, Asia and Africa. It is recovering in Europe and America. Capitalism will be swept away like a bad dream.

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