The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 16th March 2007
Protesters leave their mark in
Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition
Please feel free to use this material provided the New Worker
by Daphne Liddle
AROUND 95 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
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.
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
“The facts are that it is exorbitantly expensive, totally useless
against terrorism and a green light for proliferation.”
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!
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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