The following article has been written by Terry Pearce, one of the TU officers of the CNWP, on how the process towards forming a new mass workers' party may unfold and the tasks facing those of us who are fighting for such a party.
For a prolonged period we have seen international capitalism in the ascent in the class struggle, especially in the US and UK. Blair and Bush believed that capitalism faced a golden future with deregulated economies and a flexible de-unionised work force. Whilst it is true that the working class has suffered defeats, it is also true that the working class has not been crushed during this period. In the UK we have seen a slump in trade union membership to around 6 million and a number of sections of workers such as the miners driven back to work following the bitter strike of 1984 - 85. We have seen similar set backs for workers around the world, including in the USA. However in spite of these problems the working class remains intact and is beginning to show signs of starting a fight back, at the same time international capitalism is being rocked by a crisis in its banking system and the US is now officially in recession.
There never was a golden future for capitalism. Together with a looming crisis, there is the growth in competition from China and India as well as a potentially revolutionary situation developing in their own Latin American back yard. Added to this the unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a totally unstable situation for capitalism on a global scale. We see both the US and UK governments pumping billions of dollars and pounds into their faltering financial institutions and the markets swing around wildly. Whether we are facing a real crisis of the capitalist system is hard to determine at this stage however one thing is certain the hoped for golden future is turning a very dark shade of grey.
The question for us is how do we react to this fast moving situation, how can we work to build militant resistance to the inevitable attacks on workers wages and conditions by the New Labour government as it seeks to solve the problems of capitalism at the expense of the workers. One thing is certain to me - we must build a political alternative to New Labour and the Campaign for a New Workers Party is a good beginning. While a minority on the Left say that workers will never turn their backs on the Labour Party, the reality is the Labour Party has turned its back on workers. This is a process we have seen elsewhere over the last period and we are now seeing signs that workers in a number of countries are breaking from the pro-business ex-social democratic parties.
Recent Regional elections in Germany and France have shown that an increasing number of workers are fed up with the rightward drift of the ‘traditional parties’. In Germany, De Linke has united a number of left wing factions including disillusioned activists from the SPD along with ex-Communist Party members from the old East Germany. They have seats in the German Parliament and recently won up to 14% of the votes in Regional Elections, in several Regions winning seats and holding the balance of power. This has shaken the SPD leadership so much that they are making left noises in an attempt to shore up working class support. Whilst De Linke is far from being a revolutionary party it is stirring up memories in the minds of many SPD members of a more militant past before its leaders totally capitulated to class collaborationist politics. It is not clear at this stage where De Linke will end up politically, however at this moment it is beginning to attract support from an increasing layer of activists disillusioned and angry at the role of the SPD leadership.
In France it can be said that French President Sarkozy and his right wing policies have enjoyed one of the shortest political honeymoons in history, almost as short as the one he enjoyed with his new wife. Not only hit by a wave of strikes he has now suffered a shattering defeat at recent regional elections. This is not just at the hands of the so-called Socialist Party but also from a growing Left vote. The votes for the LCR were quite significant in some areas of the country, and are as much a judgment on the Socialist Party and their rightward political trajectory as they are of Sarkozy. With the virtual collapse of the French Communist Party there is a political void on the Left, and with the move to right of the SP a new political party of the working class must be built in France.
Whilst we cannot of course make precise comparisons in the UK with developments in Germany and France, it is clear that workers are becoming disgruntled with the old worn out ex-social democratic parties that have become in many cases so pro-big business as to appear no different to the Conservatives. In the UK workers have no mass party that represents their interests and at this time there has been no significant left split from the Labour Party, however hundreds of thousands have left the Labour Party in disgust and this situation could change rapidly as tensions grow over the next period between the trade unions and New Labour. Whilst there are always dangers of a move towards the far right at times of capitalist crisis I believe that we will see a revival of militancy amongst organised workers as well as a growth of angry campaigning in local communities as services are slashed and privatised. The CNWP must intervene politically in all of these developments with our arguments for a new workers party that is totally opposed to the pro-business policies of New Labour. The developments in Germany and France could be the music of the future; we must make sure we play our part in building a fighting political socialist alternative to capitalism and the establishment parties in this country.