Beware of the “erratic Marxist” Greek bearing his toxic gifts

An antidote to the corrosive effects of Varoufakis’ snake oil on class sonsciousness

We keep coming across this performer of conjuring verbal tricks Yanis Varoufakis and his latest snake oil branded “cure against techno-feudalism”. After his Guardian-acclaimed numbers as an acrobat somersaulting in the Eurogroup’s stage and his melodramas as “erratic Marxist” shunned by the Brussels baddies (which brought millions of Greeks to real tears),Yanis embarks on the role of his career as juggler of Communist allure. Continue reading “Beware of the “erratic Marxist” Greek bearing his toxic gifts”

Tatar Club, Arabic and Latin script, Moscow, 1935

“Soviet Union-Style” Decolonisation Means True Historical Emancipation

The Universities minister and conservative MP for Chippenham, Michelle Donelan, compared recent widespread campaigns by universities to ‘decolonise’ their curricula to “Soviet Union style censorship.” (Universities minister compares ‘decolonisation’ of history to ‘Soviet Union-style’ censorship, The Independent, 28/02/2021)

Speaking to a Daily Telegraph podcast, Ms Donelan said: “It just doesn’t work when governments try to remove elements of history. Look at the Soviet Union, look at China. There are multiple examples where it’s been tried. It doesn’t work.”

The Minister’s words come in response to calls by some of the more vocal IDPOL students scattered across the country to remove certain study materials from the curriculum that are considered “triggering” to ethnic minorities for their glorification of the empire and white-washing of Britain’s blood-soaked history.

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Intersectionalism

Against Intersectionality: A Warning to Young Communists

Against Intersectionality: A Warning to Young Communists

In the last few years communists have struggled against the bourgeois academic onslaught of identity politics, with us, the CPGB-ML, going so far as to pass a motion at the last congress making open advocacy of identity politics grounds for expulsion. The reasoning of this is simple: identity politics is bourgeois and divides groups of people, particularly workers, through dichotomy, pitching black people against white people, men against women, able bodied people against disabled people, etc.

This dualistic dead end does not unify workers on common ground, namely that of class, and by extension socialism. Furthermore, it lends itself to leaving the common enemy of workers, the bourgeoisie, utterly unscathed. In fact it merely operates as a means of deflecting the blows of working people away from capitalism and instead leads them to the path of entrenching chauvinism, prejudice and cannibalising their own class, rather than uniting it upon economic lines.

The further danger with identity politics, including intersectionality, is that, whilst utterly depending on bourgeois content (i.e. the prevailing capitalist cultural and academic concepts and ideological framework), it all too often dons the garments of socialist form, yet obscures, relegates or outright discards class.

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Education: demand better!

Below Red Youth reproduce a speech from Zeno Casella, coordinator of the Swiss Independent Union of Students and Apprentices, made on behalf of the Communist Party (Switzerland). In the speech, made at the Cambiare il mondo conference in Italy, he reveals the common issues in education across Europe, namely that it is becoming ever more narrow and limited for the working class, not to mention the degredation brought by privatisation.

See the communists’ latest resolution on education for more.

Dear camarades,

I would like to thank the comrades of Fronte Popolare on behalf of the Swiss Communist Party for their invitation to this important conference.

The bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx is not an opportunity to exhume a thought two centuries old, but to account for its validity and relevance. Scientific socialism as enunciated by Marx and Engels is not an old-fashioned and shabby intellectual tool, but a theory apt to guide a practice of social action. This is what binds us together here today: to grasp from the past the lessons and the method necessary to understand and act in the present.

My speech will therefore focus on a theme that is not very explored but extremely relevant for guiding some important struggles over the years. My role as coordinator of the Independent Union of Students and Apprentices (SISA) in Canton Ticino gives me the opportunity to find, in Marx’s texts, some valuable information on school and education in general.

1.

All the excerpts that I will quote are taken from the 1st book of Capital. The root of the educational problem is to be found for Marx in the division of labor typical of the capitalist mode of production:

“Manufacturing generates in every trade that seizes a class of so-called workers without skills, which was strictly excluded from the conduction as artisan type. (…) The relative devaluation of the labor force, which derives from the disappearance or the reduction of training expenses, immediately implies a higher valorisation of capital”

The devaluation of the workforce has extremely important consequences on the capabilities that a man must possess in order to perform his function in the productive apparatus. Marx writes:

“While simple cooperation leaves the individual working mode unchanged on the whole, manufacturing revolutionizes this way of working from top to bottom, and takes the individual workforce at its root. It cripples the worker and makes a monstrosity by favoring, as in a greenhouse, the ability to detail, by suppressing a whole world of impulses and productive dispositions.”

However, the very development of the productive forces creates a crucial contradiction in the formative needs of capital. With the words of Marx:

“For the big industry it becomes a matter of life or death to replace that monstrosity that is a miserable working population available, kept in reserve for the variable need for exploitation of capital, the absolute availability of man to vary the demands of labor; substituting the partial individual, the mere vehicle of a social function of detail, the totally developed individual, for whom different social functions are modes of activity that change one another”.

On the other hand, however, instructing the masses poses the problem of social control to the bourgeoisie: Marx reports in this regard the revealing words of Mr. Geddes, an English glassmaker:

“In my opinion, the greatest amount of education that has been used by the working class in recent years is harmful and dangerous, because it makes it too independent.”

Capital is therefore prey to a contradictory dilemma: is it necessary to instruct the masses to have available to the skilled labor force, or rather to keep them in ignorance so that they are more docile?

2.

The words of Mr. Geddes unfortunately correspond to those of the current ruling classes of the entire continent. After the massification of the studies of the second post-war period, dictated by the productive needs and by the more favorable relations of force to the workers’ movement, the neoliberal revolution began to dismantle the social progress achieved in the educational field. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and with it the need to support a “social” confrontation with respect to the socialist bloc, public education has been severely attacked, from the school network to scholarships, while education itself becomes a commodity on the market .

The student union in Ticino did not fail to relaunch the fight against education cuts, especially as regards scholarships: on Wednesday itself, as part of a national day of mobilization, SISA organized protest actions in seven high schools of the canton. Now we continue to demand from Parliament the examination of our petition delivered last April, which calls for a policy to strengthen aid, in contrast to the cuts of recent years.

On the other hand, the new conditions of the global economy, constantly revolutionized by an impetuous and uncontrollable technological development, need a flexible and easily relocated labor from one sector to another.

What to do then? Assure complete training, at 360° on human knowledge, to every worker to ensure that he can be “reallocated” in the event of delocalization or automation of production functions?

Well, no: capital has succeeded in formulating and imposing new pedagogical paradigms that are strictly functional to its objectives: the famous “teaching by skills” allows to “equip” students (that are future workers) with a set of attitudes and skills practices through which they can be easily and quickly adapted to each new production task.

In this perspective, the so-called “knowledge” is no longer strictly necessary and should be omitted, as easily perishable in a context that is constantly changing and just as easily recoverable in a computerized society like ours.

At the end of the day, both to be a rider, an Amazon storekeeper or a McDonalds cashier, you need to be able to manage an electronic interface, to work in a group, to speak verbally in one or two languages, but you certainly do not need to know when America was discovered, what is the chemical composition of water, or what the basics of computer programming are.

The new curricula, drawn up on the guidelines of centers of global capitalism such as the OECD or the EU, are therefore increasingly focused on the “skills” to be developed during schooling and put aside the teaching contents, which however constitute the main knowledge that the popular classes can take in their lives (as they are almost never intended to do higher studies).

The struggle for an emancipatory education thus also passes through the resistance to these new pedagogical trends: SISA has had to face the introduction of a new Study Plan focused precisely on teaching for skills. A pedagogical revolution challenged by a few, including some deserving magisterial associations of social democratic tendency but with some Marxist reminiscences or the Communist Party itself. In this regard, our deputy Massimiliano Ay sent a question to the cantonal government, which pointed out the various critical aspects of this approach to teaching (whose disastrous consequences have already been observed in the United States, where it is a reality from beginning of the 2000s). We are still waiting for an answer.

3.

In conclusion, I would like to draw your attention to some reflections developed by Marx in his work and to draw some “features” for a socialist education.

From the Marxian observation of the contradictory development of modern industry, an extremely interesting perspective for the student movement and more generally the scholastic movement was born. Marx writes:

“From the factory system was born the germ of education of the future, which will connect for all children over a certain age, productive work with education and gymnastics, not only as a method to increase social production, but also as the only method to produce men of full and harmonious development. ”

The author of the Capital states here what in the Communist Party Manifesto is defined as “the unification of education and material production”. A polytechnic education that reconnects education to productive work, to train fully developed men.

This perspective is however far from the forms of exploitation of young people such as those introduced in recent years: neither the Italian school-work alternation (often without any educational value) nor the Swiss apprenticeship (in which cultural education is completely left out, and in which the poor wages often do not correspond in the least to the production made).

We must fight against these forms of juvenile exploitation, against the deformities they have assumed, but without repudiating the educational value of productive labor, which must be combined with theoretical formation for a complete education of man. This is the perspective to be recovered and on which to work to found a popular, emancipatory, democratic school, in the wake of the socialist experience of the last century.

Red Youth solidarity with Venezuela

Over the May bank holiday weekend Red Youth participated in a weekend of discussion and debate on V I Lenin’s text The State and Revolution with specific reference to Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution. We were very pleased to be joined by two comrades from Venezuela; Marcos Garcia and Helena Menendez. In total, four sessions over two days debated Lenin’s teachings on the State and the challenges facing the Venezuelan masses.

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Marxism-Leninism: Is it for Young People? – The Question of Education and Employment

One thing Red Youth needs to establish if it wants to be a genuine Marxist youth organisation is whether or not, and if so why, Marxism-Leninism is what the young people of Britain need today. Naturally, we would argue that Marxism-Leninism is exactly what the British youth of today need – and in this article we’re going to use education and employment as two major reasons as to why that is.

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Academies: One Step Further to Losing Our Education

It is important in the face of the government’s malicious project to downsize the NHS to the point of forced privatisation, that we don’t forget the other major attack currently being launched against the working class of this country – the academisation of our education system. The ruling class’ plan for “all schools to become academies”, as was announced in the 2016 Budget, and then clumsily retracted, is not a plan that is going to disappear for long; it is inevitable under capitalism. State education costs far too much for the government to manage, and it is much more profitable for them to hand over the responsibility to school ‘sponsors’. However, simply doing so in the public eye would never work, so they have hidden behind words like ‘academisation’ to disguise what is really going on here: privatisation.

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The Easter Uprising & the October Revolution

Gerry MacLochlainn, prominent Irish Republican, relates the significance of the 1916 Easter uprising, in Dublin, Ireland, that was a pivotal moment in the struggle of the Irish people for independence from British imperialism.

Speaking in Saklatvala Hall, Southall, at a meeting of the CPGB-ML to celebrate the 99th anniversary of the October Revolution, Gerry says that both the Great October 1917 Russian Revolution – which marks its centenary this year – and the 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland, were part of the same great world-wide anti-imperialist struggle to free the working peoples of all countries from the pernicious grip of imperialism.

“The October Revolution and the Easter Rising were two of the most seismic events in humanity’s struggle for liberation.” Continue reading “The Easter Uprising & the October Revolution”

Stalin writing

CPB advance line of J V Stalin

Congratulations are in order for the CPB Education Organiser Bill Greenshields who has worked a veritable miracle, giving hope that Marxist-Leninist education may yet be brought to the remaining honest and hardworking political orphans who remain inside that Party rather than joining the mass party of Labour along with everybody else.

As preparation for a CPB “Secretaries’ & Cadres'” meeting an excellent document has been produced on the topic of Dialectical & Historical Materialism. The basis for this “study guide” is J V Stalin’s masterpiece Dialectical and Historical Materialism which provides the student with the most excellent summary of Marxist philosophy available anywhere.

Dialectical and Historical Materialism

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Stalin and the USSR – myth and reality

“We have faced almost a century of all-out ideological war from the bourgeois camp and their petty-bourgeois agents. they are determined to neuter the revolutionary potential of the working-class, to erase the achievements of the people struggling and working for the benefit of the majority, and to obfuscate the path to socialism.”
Continue reading “Stalin and the USSR – myth and reality”