Tuesday 22 September 2015

Communism, Rebellion & Animal Farm

Despite the intent of the author, the book and film animal farm does not serve well as a criticism of communism & socialist revolution. The storyline of the book and film (for those who are not familiar with it) is based upon animals of a farm who overthrow the farmer who is mistreating them and under the guise of equality and liberation from servitude a rebellion against the farmer takes place (as a result of the provocation of not being fed) & the pigs take over and appoint themselves as the new rulers. The pigs then collaborate with other neighbouring farmers, and together they share the profits from the farm with the pigs as the visible rulers and the farmers, invisible abusers, who stay out of sight of the rest of the animals. This resembles the situation currently in most liberal-capitalist western nations; a government is separate from the wealthy minority, but it is run on their behalf thus they are in effect one and the same, despite formally being separate entities.
Despite the claims that this depicts the revolutionary transition from capitalism to communism, the storyline better reflects a revolutionary transition from feudalism to capitalism, in Marxian terms a bourgeois revolution, not a proletarian revolution. The distinction between the two types of revolution is the transition from a single absolute ruler (the aristocrat class), to a government whose power is supported by the capitalists (the former aristocracy) who together from what is now considered to be a societies ‘upper class’ or ‘the 1%’. In the story a specific pig (Napoleon) gains much of his influence through the exile and scapegoating his a fellow revolutionist (Snowball), this looks far more like the relationship which currently exists in the UK between our primary party of capitalists (the Tory Party) and the parties of the political left and allied trade unions, who the Tory party use as scapegoats. The inequality of resources within animal farm closely resembles the situation under the current government’s austerity programme; the workers are given less and less, while the rich who have become an elite class of masters sleep comfortably with full bellies.
According to the story at first there is a democracy, which gives way to a single ruler making unilateral decisions, the pigs begin breaking the laws which they themselves have written, and another pig Squealer is able to convince the other animals that pigs are always morally correct.
Comparing this to the demonization of the poor in Britain; we condemn those people who are out of work as lazy, even in areas where during the financial crisis beginning in 2008 large swaths of industry closed and new jobs were never created. We still demonise people born in different nations as criminals who steal what they want including the jobs of the British.
Is the pack of dogs mentioned in the story which Napoleon used to chase Snowball away so different to the right-wing press who would demonise and convince the people to ostracise any working class hero who would stand up for them? Is this so different from the trade union movement being blamed for lost work days when the number of days lost to striking workers is at an all-time low despite the abuses of our current government?
And with the electoral system, legal system, and degree of wealth inequality we have still alive and strong, are we not still living in a nation where adapting a commandment of animal farm “all people are equal, but some are more equal than others” representative of the nation and world we live in. The value of all people as people is equal, however when it is considered that we blame people who fall on hard times for their own misfortune, the legal system is so expensive to access for poorer people that legal remedy is not open to them are we really so far removed from the idea that all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others?
In order for animal farm to represent a socialist society (post-revolution) the society which emerged would not have had a political class, or governance in the form which appeared. For a society the size of a farm, democracy could have occurred on a show-of-hands (or paws) basis, so under the control of the workers or animals whether the society would be socialist, communist or anarchist is an academic distinction, because both communist and anarchist ideals (in there purest form) would not have resulted in one group in total control, having replaced one form of totalitarianism, but with each ‘trade’ (egg production, milk production, machinery operation) would have a representative in the governing body of their own choosing, who could be replaced at any time by the group they were supposed to represent.

The distinction (in my view) between whether the workers cooperative which the farm functioned as was effectively a self-sufficient micro-state (or commune) where the procedure was for internal consumption, which would make it communist, or whether it was for both internal consumption and trade with a network of other cooperatives with full internal democracy under direct control of the workers (the animals) which would make it anarchist it would be functioning as a part of a network of cooperatives without the oversight of a ‘state’ (the pigs) to rule over it.  

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Comrades: It's Time to Come Home.....

Hello again.
I has been a while I know since I’ve written a blog article about what I’ve been up to, so this one is going to double up as a confession. About an hour after Jeremy Corbyn was elected the leader of the labour party I joined the party and then I e-mailed the Green Party to inform them I was leaving.
The reason I joined the Green Party was actually simple; it was my way of telling the labour party off. The labour party had basically lost its mojo; Blair’s government was almost as right-wing as the Conservative Party, and up until a few days ago had been committed to political centrism believing the only way to victory was a programme of ‘small C conservativism’ rather than embracing Left-Libertarianism & Democratic Socialism as it’s way forward.
I joined the greens as I was becoming increasingly political since the ConDem government took over in 2010 and I could see the effects of their policies first hand, from friends who had been sanctioned, to poverty wages and now since the Conservative majority government’s attacks on trade unions, however I could not in good conscience join the labour party as it was failing to outright refuse to cooperate with the Conservative government’s austerity programme; a programme which has hurt the most vulnerable members of our society causing many people to die or commit suicide through reckless economic policies.
The fact that the labour party has since elected its most left wing candidate in its leadership election, and has its own surge of support shows that a great many people in the British public want an alternative to austerity and that they are more willing to support a left-wing labour party; myself included. As I said earlier I joined the Green’s to give the labour party a kick up the arse – I am myself the stereotypical labour party member; a working class northerner, and I joined the Greens because despite their reputation as a single issue environmentalist party there policies were far more socialist than the pre-Corbyn Labour party.
This is in my opinion what caused the green surge, the phenomenon where over a relatively short period of time the Green Party managed to quadruple its membership; not because people suddenly started believing that environmentalism would stop poverty, because they were socialists and the Green Party was preaching anti-austerity & social justice. Don’t get me wrong; protecting the environment is a necessity and to quote my barber “as the caretakers of this world we are doing a shite job”, but if someone is going hungry to feed their children then I highly doubt they will have the luxury of thinking of long term issues like wind farms & climate change (despite the fact that they are important issues). But with a red surge which has put the green surge to shame in terms of the numbers of members who have joined it is my view that it is now the Labour party who is best suited to represent the views of members of the British left & be the voice of trade unions in government as it was meant to do, while campaigning as the leader of Britain’s anti-austerity movement instead of leaving that task to minor parties.
The green surge served its purpose; it gave a platform to people who wanted to speak out against the conservative government who couldn’t bring themselves to do it on the labour party’s ticket, and it made it clear to the labour party that if it wasn’t going to listen to its supporters then it could be replaced. But now the desired effect has happened; a party which will once again be the voice for the voiceless & hold out a hand to those in need. But now I can’t help but think that those socialists who joined the green party, like myself, would now do better stepping sideways into the Labour Party. Come 2020 Labour is the party which will be able to mount the campaign most likely to unseat the conservatives and the more lefties which join now the more the members of the parliamentary labour party who might attempt a coup against its new leader Jezza will be deterred by the knowledge that a left wing party is absolutely most definitely the wish of the members and the British left.