Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pass the Sick Bag - United Left's Permanent Revolution circa 1979

In case some UNISON comrades wondered what United Left is really all about...(it’s on blogger and in wikipedia so it must be true!)...

Permanent Revolution is a revolutionary Trotskyist group which was formed after 24 people were expelled from the League for the Fifth International (L5I) in July 2006. It takes its name from Leon Trotsky's theory of permanent revolution.
The group was founded after a two year struggle against the perspectives adopted by the L5I at its
2003 Congress [1]. It had first organised as a tendency then as a faction.[2]
The split followed a discussion of how to assess the impact, on class politics in general and the level of class struggle, of two changes:
the effect of the
restoration of capitalism in the former degenerated workers states in 1990
and of the defeats of the
working class movement in the 1970s/80s, particularly in the USA and United Kingdom.
The group gathered together a minority which argued that, almost without exception, the international left had undertaken no serious rexamination of world perspectives and economy since a "stagnation phase" in the 1970s and 1980s.
[3] It felt that as a result, the international left had been unable to explain either the marginalisation of the left or the failure of important protest movements against capitalism (such as the anti-capitalist movement, anti-war movement and Social Forum movements) to sink significant roots into the world working-class.[4][5]
Permanent Revolution argued the L5I perspectives adopted at their Sixth Congress in 2003, that the engine of the world economy had “halted”, that world capitalism was in a “period of stagnation” and as a result the world faced a “pre-revolutionary period,” were fundamentally inaccurate and the refusal of the L5I to correct these perspectives in the light of experience, proved they had decisively broken from the method of revolutionary Trotskyism. In contrast Permanent Revolution argued that the integration of the former workers states into world capitalism, when combined with the defeats of the working class in the 1970s/80s, had allowed capitalism to revive itself through globalisation.[6]
Furthermore, it argued that while the working class movement was no longer in the counter revolutionary phase of the 1990s, the movement had still not fully recovered from those defeats and rather was in a transitional period, with uneven struggles, not yet usually generalised or sustained [7].

Yawn, yawn, yawn and yawn...God, these people are so boring and so full of themselves. What on earth are they going on about? What does this rubbish mean? it's a tendency, then a faction, they are all L5I, who are these degenerated workers? What are they on? and of course, what on earth are they trying to do to our union? (we can guess)


Charlie Marks said...

Urm, dunno.

Gizza clue!

From the website: "We are a group of activists who believe that UNISON and the trade union movement at large needs to be rebuilt from the grass-roots, encouraging maximum participation and control of unions by members and giving workers the confidence to fight collectively for their own interests in their workplaces."

Oh, the horror!

Look, John, whatever the odd views and awkward terminology, the fact remains that these folks are part of our movement - just as much as members of the Labour party (even members who were once in the Liberals!)

John Gray said...

Hi Charlie
Nah, there is no room in the Labour movement for the Ultra Left. They are (on the whole - there are of course exceptions to the rule) a bunch off of obsessive lemmings whose childish delight in fractional infighting and shouting, demanding, finger pointing, undermining, disorganised, pointless oppositional “politics” have done the unions so much harm. They help destroy our credibility with employers, the government of the day and most importantly our members.

While I think the Labour Party for all its faults is still (and will always be so in my view) the political arm of the Labour movement.

The key dividing issue is that the movement does embrace those who do want to go much further than the Labour Party is ever likely deliver. However, they are willing to put the best interests of the union membership first above their own personal beliefs. This is something the Ultra Left will never, ever do.

I do wish they would go off and form some of debating society to keep them happy and leave the grownups to get on with the job.

Anonymous said...

Well done for exposing them John. Don't usually agree with you but I do on this one. They all live in a different world am afraid...

Anonymous said...

Also noticed a blog by the permanent revolution mob (3 of them I think called lambeth militants..) where they publish the election results from the Lambeth Unison AGM. They are trying to present the result as a victory for their permanent revolution ( or is it boredom) amalgamation as a victory when in fact they lost the four key positions. As far as I know Katrina Hogendam and Rafe are also Labour party members so the 4 Labour party members seem to have demolished the permanent boredom grouping? (if that's what they are) still what else is there to do in a cold winter.. lol

Anonymous said...

The 'pass the sick bag' gang in the lambeth AGM also I hear withdrew at the last minute from the Secretary and Treasurer elections . Same old student politics then ?

Anonymous said...

I am informed they withdrew from contesting the Secretary position as they didn't want to be humiliated, which is strange as they must be used to humiliation by now??

Tom said...

I think there's room in the labour movement for them, but god forbid they ever control a union - also, Labour shouldn't let them keep membership.

John, aren't there about five of this lot?

John Gray said...

Hi Anon’s
I couldn’t comment but I like the Permanent Boredom tag. If the cap fits...
Hi Tom
I suppose they have a use as subs fodder? But actually they cause far more trouble than they are worth and it is out of all proportion to their numbers. I found your post about an organising model on your blog very interesting. However, how can you effectively organise in a union when all some activists want is constant strikes and confrontations for confrontations sake?

ps - I also enjoyed your "guide to blogging" on Labourlist

Anonymous said...

Considering you know nothing what is going on in the Lambeth Branch that doesn't seem to stop you ranting on. How can you post stuff like this and then accuse others of being childish?

Lambeth Activists has stewards from various groups and none (including independent socialists, the Green Left, the AWL, Workers Power and Permanent Revolution). And more stewards have joined since the AGM.

Considering we stood at late notice and we are a totally new formation standing against an established leadership I think our votes were extremely credible (ranging from 38% to 60%) and we lost out on membership officer by two votes. Hardly "demolished" is it now. I also suspect that although this was a challenge from the left that someone like Jon Rogers in the LRC would have little in common with your politics.

However at least Lambeth Activists stood on a proper political manifesto and not just an empty sound bites like "United in UNISON" stood on.

We got a lot of encouragement after the AGM with members saying new blood was need and that the branch needed a kick up the backside. The AGM also gave large applause to people who pointed out that the union should serve its members and not New Labour. Given that UNISON is led by people in the Labour Party you can hardly blame the left for the terrible state the union is in. The organisation in UNISON is terrible with a total lack of rank and file structures and hardly any input from the wider membership.

Anonymous said...

So why didn't you challenge for the branch secretary seat? Jon Rogers can hardly be your cup of tea, being a mealy-mouthed reformer rather than a revolutionary. Cowards.


Anonymous said...

Well well... the permanent boredom brigade are obviously upset... or are they lambeth militant tendency or militant lambeth something? Can't remember what my Lambeth contact said. They lsot 2 elections and the winners in those elections got 68% the figures speak for themselves. In the real world losing by such a large margin would be described as a total defeat? But then they are not in the real world..The only position they got was that of publicity against a socialist party member and they lost against 4 labour party members? In other words all labour party members standing won? Anyway they obviously have no work to do and would rather spend time fantacising about castles in the sand. They lost and they can't deal with it.

Anonymous said...

We didn't stand for branch secretary because the candidate in question thought it would be better to concentrate on Assistant Branch Secretary. We are also a new formation. The support we got in the circumstances was extremely good, as has been the reaction since. But if you want to childishsly brand things "cowardly" that you know nothing about then go ahead....

Lambeth Activists won the publicity officer by 60% to 40%. We lost the membership officer post by two votes (89 to 87 votes). For branch secretary we got 37% and for chair we got 39%. As said given we were standing against long standing branch officers who already present themselves as "left" then this was an extremely good result.

And as said again I doubt LRC members like Jon Rogers would welcome support from people such as yourselves. I'd also add that the slate/manifesto they stood on said nothing about the people being in the Labour Party (knowing it would be a vote loser) and was totally apolitical.

Anyway I'll leave you to your childish banter and get on with real work of building the branch. You'll be glad to know that it has been Lambeth Activists who in the last year have produced a UNISON newsletter, put up notice boards and set up workplace union meetings all of which haven't been seen for years in many workplaces.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry "Lambeth Militant" but that really is the most pathetic answer I've seen in a long time.

A revolutionary grouping ducking a proper leadership challenge on a Labour Party incumbent? What did you stand to lose? You would certainly have gained a feel for the strength of members against the current leadership and may have swayed the Rogers/Venedi lash-up to the left if you lost but had achieved a significant vote.

You know the branch has halved in size. It your duty to challenge the status quo, and especially those in charge of the Lambeth branch's decline.

You should be ashamed of yourselves
- no ambition, no leadership, no hopers.

And, I say again, cowards.


John Gray said...

Hi Andrew
How can you be so rude about our dear, dear comrades in Lambeth Malignant? Also who on earth are the awful reactionary “incumbent branch bureaucracy” they are fighting against and what horrid stooges in the workers movement they are?

Frankly, I think you are just being discriminative against middle class boarders from expensive public schools. They have the absolute class given right to take over all public sector unions.

Shame on you for even questioning the right of our masters to tell us what to do!

Anonymous said...

I’m sorry you find the response pathetic, luckily members haven’t seen things the same way in Lambeth and we’ve had a lot of support since the AGM. As said we will continue to take up the nuts and bolts issues as well as trying to show that socialist politics are the best way to take the union forward.

Andrew you seem like you’re a tad melodramatic, maybe try and calm down a bit.

As for the middle classes I think you’ll find that nearly all the people involved in Lambeth Activists are working class. Unlike most Labour Party activists.

Anonymous said...

Now the Lambeth Militia really have lost the plot! How on earth can they claim most Labour Party activists are middle-class? Unless there's some brand new definition of middle-class they've dreamed up while they were sucking on a pipe somewhere?

Anonymous said...

A couple of questions just for clarity - are Lambeth Militant and Lambeth Activists the same group? I'm getting confused. Also are they saying John Rogers is middle class? I really am interested in an answer to both questions.


Anonymous said...

I’ve made no comment on Jon Rogers either way. And as his politics are far better than the shower of people on this website I have no intention of doing so.

Nearly all the Labour Party activists I’ve met are middle class, the same goes for the councillors. Also have a quick look at the Labour Party cabinet, full of poshos. Tony Blair couldn’t have been much more upper crust. How can you criticise other organisations when your own leadership is packed full of the middle and upper classes.

Lambeth Militants is a blog set up by people in Lambeth Activists. The group that stood in the Lambeth AGM are called Lambeth Activists.

Anonymous said...

Well Lambeth Unison seems to be a subject of great interest here? In perspective -that branch has had contested elections in the past -two years ago a white male stood against Rogers for Branch Secretary -and got a respectable vote -without standing on any platform. Some years before that a woman stood against Rogers too. There have been contested elections -that is the point of AGMs and democracy. Anyone can stand if they want to.

Has that branch lost members -yes, in common with many areas of the public sector there has been major externalisations -but it also has to be said that Lambeth Unison branch managed to bring back in the privatised Housing benefits -not by going on strike and waving banners but by reasoned negotiation and emphasis on best value ( plus the private contractor being singularly useless).

On use of noticeboards -other areas outside of the small grouping of the 'militants' work areas have -I hear -regularly been used to advertise unison services events etc -perhaps they need to get out more? Perhaps be less defensive and more constructive?

On the news sheet -yes, this may indeed be the news sheet that caused a degree of controversy in the branch and criticism from rank and file members due to its scaremongering stance at times. I did hear that the sheet was suspended because of its potential for libel?

Anonymous said...

This will be my last post on here as there are better things to be getting on with.

It terms of branches losing members this isn’t common with all the public sector. Two unions, the RMT and PCS, have actually gained members. And it’s not coincidence that they’ve taking a fighting stance in support of their members. Even “strikes and waving banners”. I mean who would think a union would go on strike, how outrageous, far better for the “reasoned negotiations”. I mean looking how far they got us with London Weighting, the pensions dispute and the recent pay dispute.

I don’t think I said that other directorates haven’t put up notice boards have I? I just said that where Lambeth Activists are based we have held work place meetings and put up notice boards and this hasn’t been done for years in those areas. Not being defensive and indeed we are now helping other work areas do the same thing.

On the news sheet to be honest any complaints (and I never heard any) were dwarfed by positive feed back from members. And why wouldn’t that be the case given their hadn’t been a directorate newsletter for years. This year we will produce a branch newsletter on a regular basis. This is the kind of nuts and bolts work that needs to be done across all UNISON branches, something which is badly lacking at the moment.

John Gray said...

Hi Everyone

I didn't post any comments since I was too busy plotting this week. But I did enjoy the bun fight.

I hope to post "Pass the Sick Bag" 2 soon.

Anonymous said...

John - your lack of knowledge of socialist organisations in the UK and total failure to carry out cogent political analysis is an embarrasment!

Also, you should also look up the definition of ultra-left and then realise that as is often the case with bureaucrats, on both the left and the right, these activists are not it, but instead simply challenging the status quo inhabiting UNISON's insitutions, not painting them as irrelevant...