Episode #43, our second of 2021, and it’s our most comprehensive episode yet! We chat to the incredible Robin Clapp about what is socialism, the current state of the political movement, its leadership challenges and why he’s still optimistic about youth in politics. Heads up, this is a long episode but if you’ve ever felt curious about socialism and want to learn more, Robin is a fascinating storyteller and the most knowledgeable guest we could have possibly found to discuss this topic.
Key Message: Socialism is a form of activism that’s necessary for a better world. We just need to go to where the workers are.
What we talk about in this episode:
- Robin’s political journey to socialism
- Why socialism
- What socialism is
- Break the ‘Us vs Them’ mentality
- Challenges facing socialism
- How do we get from Capitalism to Socialism
- Socialism as activism
- The importance of leadership
- Marxism & Capital
- Labour in the UK
- Youth in politics
- The Capitalist Crash and the New Challenges Facing Socialists
- Biden & The British Labour Party Leadership
- Global capitalism at most dangerous conjuncture since the 1930s
Who is Robin?
Robin has been a socialist since 1973 after witnessing his father lose 3 jobs in 12 months as a result of a massive recession. He currently sits on the National Committee of the Socialist Party of England and Wales. Full bio at Robin Clapp | Tom, Stu and You
You can follow Robin’s work at the below links:
- #TSAYQuotes Episode 43
RobinClapp: You need to listen to what ordinary people are saying. Some of the most inspirational things I’ve learned in my life have come from workers
- #TSAYQuotes Episode 43
RobinClapp: Socialism is about fighting for a world in which the people who produce the wealth, own the wealth, control the wealth, distribute the wealth in an equitable way.
- #TSAYQuotes Episode 43
RobinClapp: I want to see a world where a young person can say when I grow up, I want to be a scientist or a musician, and they can have encouragement and a pathway towards realizing that dream rather than the uncertainty of not being able to afford to…
- #TSAYQuotes Episode 43
RobinClapp: For many working people, they don’t need me to say to them what’s wrong with society, they can articulate what’s wrong with their life. What they doubt is whether anything can be done about it.
- #TSAYQuotes Episode 43
RobinClapp: We are an activist based organization. For socialism to be really relevant, it has to be seen by ordinary people as connecting to the issues they are concerned about.
- #TSAYQuotes Episode 43
RobinClapp: No social system gives up without a titanic struggle to retain its privileges. That’s why socialists need to be organized.
- #TSAYQuotes Episode 43
RobinClapp: If you do not take advantage of a favourable situation, the capitalist class, even if they seem down and out, will regroup, recover and will crush you.
- #TSAYQuotes Episode 43
RobinClapp: [re. youth] what they need to stay engaged is political ideas that can actually map a route to victory. We don’t want to be having this discussion again in 10, 20, 30yrs down the line.
- #TSAYQuotes Episode 43
RobinClapp: My brain rebels at the thought that this is the best the world is capable of being, that this is the best that human beings are capable of achieving. If I thought that, I really would pack it in tomorrow morning.
- #TSAYQuotes Episode 43
RobinClapp: We have to take back the common cause of humanity, which is that of creating a better world, a world fit for the 21st century.
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OK, well, welcome to the Tom, Stu and You Podcast Episode 43. My name is Robin Clapp and I am a member of the Socialist Party of England and Wales and sits on the National Committee of that party. I thank you all. Nice to have you. Nice to have you on the podcast. And thank you for taking the time to come on and discuss socialism with us. It’s something that we want to try to get by on the podcast, as have people who know more than we do and to present their ideas at the weekend.
And although we do try and so we hope that I can be kind of like an introduction to socialism, maybe some aspects of Marx and what he thought. I know that that’s hard to synthesize into a short space of time, but I guess we’ll just start with. And what is your work and experience and political experience and how did you get involved in socialist? I first became a socialist whilst a school, and what brought me to socialism was seeing the recession in the nineteen seventies, which was a very widespread and international breakdown in trade and a big increase in unemployment.
And it affected my own family and my father, who I’d hardly ever seen when I was growing up, because he was a building worker, a construction worker always working and up in the morning, very early, very late in the evenings, suddenly he lost his job. He managed to get another job working in a shipyard. He was made redundant from that within two months of starting. And I couldn’t fathom why it was that guy who had worked hard all his life, was now unable to find employment.
And I couldn’t fathom why he had gone from being someone who the Tories would have called a taxpayer and a hard working, upstanding member of the community without now being labelled a skiver because he was having to claim benefits from the government and it broke him. It really had a bad effect on his mental health. And I remember asking him, you know what? Why have you stopped my pocket money? Why am I not getting pocket money anymore? And he explained it simply didn’t have a very nominal amount in his pocket to give me.
And then I went back to school and I began talking to the teacher who was a socialist. I said to him, well, why is it the guy who builds houses is unemployed? Even though there are hundreds of thousands of slums in Britain that need cooling down and rebuilding, there are hundreds of thousands of construction workers who want to work. There were stockpiles of building materials in depots all over the country. Why can’t we put those three component parts together and build houses?
And it was things like that that made me realize that it’s not a question of individuals not being able to work because they don’t want to. It’s a systemic question. It’s a question that we live in a world which is run in the most absurd way by a tiny handful of multi billionaires who even in the last couple of days with Elon Musk’s comments about Bitcoin, have really indicated that there’s no longer any rationality in terms of how the world’s stock markets operate.
It’s all about simply chasing fictitious profits for fictitious capital. And I learned that lesson, therefore, a very early age, that something was wrong with the system. And although I have an enormous amount of understanding of Marxism at that stage, I was very keen to learn because I realized that it wasn’t enough to be angry. If you wanted to make a difference, you have to get involved. And all around me at that time with big strikes taking place in the UK and I could see that the Tory party was attacking the strikers.
So it was a no brainer that I couldn’t be on our side. And I could see that within the Labour Party, there were those who were prepared to march with the working class. But there were also those who stayed quiet, didn’t support working people. And I joined the Labour Party, young socialist, and very quickly came under the influence of Marxists in the young socialists who, if you like, gave me a vocabulary, whereas until then maybe I had emotion.
I was firing on anger and anger is not enough. You need anger. You need passion in the belly to fight the system, but you need political direction as well or otherwise you can get burned out or at the very least, you can become directionless. You can just become even angrier and end up in Dead-End situations, you know, taking on the police, for instance, with a brick in your hand, which might make you feel good. But when you’re you in to sell later on and you’ve got a big fine to pay, you realise you haven’t really changed the system.
What you’ve done is expostulated against the symptoms of the system, and I was more interested in getting to the root. So why are things like they are? How can we change them? So for a political journey I was 17 when I first got involved. I joined the Socialist Party predecessor organisation when I was coming up to my 18th birthday, and that was a few years ago now. And I’m still active there. Was passionate as ever, but hopefully now with a much broader understanding and a deeper understanding of what forces we’re up against and how we can employ most effectively the necessary tactics to both expose the system, but also show to other people young and not so young, like I was in 1973, that there is a point to fighting back and that that point is about getting involved and organised.
What are in your trade union or whether in a political party as well, which I would always say is is a very important step. If you do all of that, then you quickly realise that fighting the system is not such an overwhelming task as you might think it is, because you are alongside millions and millions of others across the world. And the key question is organizing around political parties that can be effective. So quite a journey. I’m still on that journey now.
I never stopped learning. And although I’ve been speaking for a while, I always say to my fellow socialists that you need a strong larynx to put your ideas across, but you also need a very acute pair of ears to listen to what ordinary people are saying, because some of the most inspirational things I’ve learned in my life have come from listening to workers on picket lines or in situations where they have been able to explain socialism, very simple language in a way that can.
Reach out to other people, and you don’t always have to regurgitate something you’ve read in a very dusty book, what you have to do is be prepared to listen and interpret. So, you know, that’s my journey, really, Tormenta. And it’s one that I’m still marching along. In fact, that sounds amazing, and you talk about listening to inspirational people on the picket lines, working people. I also agree that working people have been hugely important in our societies.
You know, I think that most of the rights that we enjoy have come from the agitation of the working class and poor people. They weren’t benevolent. We had handed down by governments or leaders or anything. And so trying to take those nuggets that you’ve learned over the years, what is what is socialism and what is it to you from a. I think in a nutshell, socialism is about fighting for a world in which the people who. Could use the wealth of new wealth to control the wealth and distribute the wealth in an equitable way.
There’s nothing radical about that concept when you stop and think about it, if you compare it to the world we live in today, where a handful of multibillionaires control most of the wealth in the world, play monopoly with real money, with real people’s lives every single day. Then the extreme system of capitalism, a system that turns its back on coming up with meaningful solutions to climate change, a system which perpetuates directly or indirectly racism, sexism, attacks on people of different genders and so on.
And most importantly, the economic nature of capitalism means that it is a system that. Inevitably produces enormous waste, enormous duplication, it destroys people’s lives and perhaps, you know, if you were putting capitalism in the top one of its biggest crimes, one of the things you could most levy against capitalism is the crime of destroying people’s aspirations, because especially in this period where we are going through a pandemic which has only hastened a recession that was very probable in twenty twenty, then within the last ten years, we’ve been through two economic catastrophes which have created a bigger division between the wealthy and the rest than ever seen in history.
We have a situation where people like Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have earned shitloads of extra money in the last 12 months, whereas for most people, the uncertainty that surrounds their futures is a source of endless concern for young people. Especially being brought up in the twenty first century, which could be a world of superabundance, given all the technologies we have and all the scientific progress we’ve made, instead, activism acts as a massive brake on economic progress, on social progress, but also in blighting people’s lives.
You just take the fact that while we are talking this evening. The second largest killer in the sub-Saharan African continent is measles. The pandemic may have put it now in third place, but measles entirely preventable disease. But a disease which is rampant in sub-Saharan Africa still, because under the dictatorship of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, many, many countries in that continent and indeed across the entire world have been put on austerity diets in the last 10, 20, 30 years really.
And many small countries in Africa have been told they have to rip up their indigenous medicine programs. They have to buy in pharmaceuticals from the US, obscenely inflated prices and facing austerity, facing death on a huge scale. Many of those countries have had to cut the health programs that would have enabled young people to be vaccinated. So as we talk tonight, how many young people and not just young people are going to go to bed hungry, are not going to have access to clean water, are going to go to bed without a roof over their head, without security, without the knowledge of what tomorrow may bring.
How many of those young people in turn could be potential artists, musicians, poets, engineers, scientists? But measles and diseases like measles will kill many of them before they reach the age of 15. And it’s issues like that that show the extremists in this society are those who defend that system using spurious arguments like, well, if you have socialism, then you take away individual initiative and you take away the expertise of people who make millions out of marketing products that they themselves have invented.
That’s a lovely myth because the truth is that there are armies of scientists and technicians behind every so-called successful millionaire, and they are the ones who put the gadgets together to give that millionaire his or her million. And therefore, you know, socialism, I would say, is about saying that in the 21st century, when we have technologies that even 20 years ago would have seemed straight out of science fiction, when we can send satellites into the solar system, when we can talk about in the future a manned spaceship to Mars, why the hell can’t we resolve these fundamental questions that affect people on the planet Earth?
There is no technical reason why we couldn’t have international cooperation to eradicate many of the diseases we see today. And of course, the current situation with the pandemic is an expression of that, where you have countries competing against each other, you have pharmaceutical companies competing against each other. It’s a real mess. And once it’s ordinary people who pay the price. I want to I want to see a world where a young person can say, when I grow up, I want to be a scientist, I want to be a musician.
And they can have encouragement and a pathway towards realizing that dream rather than the uncertainty of not being able in many places to go to university because they can’t afford to go to university or finding that they have to live in dead end jobs, earning extra money to pay for their their fees if they go to university. So capitalism is the extreme system and socialism, by comparison, is a very reasonable system. The people of Earth who make the wealth to control the wealth and the wealth.
Absolutely. That’s a very good summary because that itself has its own episode, I think, just to remind people what socialism is. That’s fantastic. I think like one of the most important pieces of what you’ve just mentioned then, I think is competition. It’s this whole us versus them mentality. So in an amazing example, you know, it’s it’s us being, you know, the more wealthy Western countries for the most part time that like, oh, no, we can’t give you our money.
Like, we worked hard for this money. We can’t possibly give you money and give you the support you need to break out of basically this. This indestructible position that we’ve like forced you into, you know, why should we fund the measles support that you need in your countries when, you know, we didn’t have that? And I think it’s the same with, you know, going clean energy. For example, we demand so much from these developing nations when.
The developed nations have had the chance to release all of the carbon into the atmosphere to fuel their growth in the past, but for some reason we put this expectation on Third World countries like, oh, no, you shouldn’t have that chance. You know, why should you be focusing on economic development? You should be going as green as we should be going. And then in the US, for example, it is an extreme example, but it’s in every country around the world.
Why should billionaires give up their money for the everyday working people who are the ones actually putting in the effort to produce the goods? So when so much of capitalism is is built into into our mentality, how do we break apart that mentality to even show people that socialism isn’t an extreme alternative, that socialism is actually the most appropriate, reasonable and compassionate solution that we have for so many of the problems we face in the world? When I first became politically active, the first piece of Marxist writing I read was the manifesto of the Communist Party, a Marxist pamphlet, which, in terms of its analytical method, is as fresh today as when it was written.
And I remember reading the penultimate chapter where Marx and Engels list a number of demands the communists should fight for and thinking to myself, well, many of those demands have been realized. They included very reasonable things like progressive taxation and public ownership of transportation and communication. And when I became active in the 1970s in the UK, all of those things existed relatively. There was a progressive taxation system. Big businesses paid 40 percent corporation tax or more. We had nationalised railways, we had nationalized buses, we had a nationalized energy sector and water was publicly owned.
When I read the Communist Party manifesto a couple of years ago, it struck me that many of those demands that Marx wrinkles were raising were now very relevant to the situation in the UK and many other advanced capitalist countries, because we have been through ever since the advent of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in nineteen seventy nine and nineteen eighty respectively. A period of pushback by the capitalist class where the post-war gains of the advanced Western countries, which saw a certain trickle down effect for working class people in terms of better living standards than had existed prior to the Second World War have all gone into reverse.
And so privatization has been the mantra of the capitalist class. For 40 years, we have had the eradication of progressive taxation. We’ve had situations where the super rich gets away quite brazenly with tax avoidance on a scale with which would not have been conceivable in the nineteen seventies, which we’ve seen so many periods of job losses without proper jobs and proper retraining taking place, that could enable people to continue to play roles in society. And to answer your questions.
I think the point is that all of those experiences. Lead people individually and collectively as well into beginning to question the system, Marx famously said the capitalist system creates its own grave digger in the form of the working class. Now, it would be marvelous if every worker drew the same political conclusions simultaneously about the failures of capitalism. That does not occur, but I think what makes people turn to socialism, what makes people look around for an alternative? Explanation of why things are as they are is first and foremost their own experiences.
And for instance, in the pandemic, I think millions of people, young people particularly, are questioning what is happening. Why is this happening again? Why why are we so skewed in terms of having university degrees and yet still only able to find zero hour contract jobs or precarious jobs? Why is it that the best we can aspire to is working for McDonalds, where they won’t even allow us to join a trade union and they closed down a franchise and people try to join a trade union?
So I think the job of a socialist like myself is to reach people who are drawing those conclusions and to explain why we need to become organized. Why do we need to fight back? Our job would be so much easier, however, if there were left parties like the Labor Party once was and like the socialist parties in Europe once were, that at the very least put forward some opposition to capitalism. But one of the. Fundamental tragedies of the last 40 years has been the continual rightward retreat by these former socialist and labor parties, which have embraced market economics, which have sought to justify privatization by saying that it’s the necessary step that needs to be taken.
And the working class has been left without a political voice. It’s almost like from the time when I got involved we’re in now there has been an attempt at mass political sensory deprivation, the wiping out of the hard drive of what went before when I was at school and about to leave school. We had all sorts of careers, people coming into school, offering us a career in the army or in engineering. But we had a visit from a trade union explaining to us that when we left school, it would be really important for us to join a trade union.
Now, if that were to happen in the UK today, if a school were to invite a trade union in to speak to 18 year olds, there would be uproar in the right wing press. And Labour Party leader Keir Starmer would probably during the uproar and say this is indoctrination. The reality is they stay silent about the indoctrination we face in school every single day. The fact that we learn the history of British imperialism, we don’t learn about the struggle of the oppressed people who suffered at the hands of British imperialism.
We don’t learn about the Vietnam War and the heroic struggle of the Vietnamese against American imperialism. We learn instead about 15th and 16th century kings and queens in Britain, and we’re fed the idea that history is made by great men and women, usually great men in their terms, because women were not supposed to be able to play great roles, with very few exceptions. And Marx makes the point in the Communist Manifesto that history is written by the pictures and the ruling ideas of any age tend to be the ideas of the ruling class.
And what socialism is up against, first of all, is those ideas which are embedded in the educational system, in the judicial system, in every part of the establishment. But the added challenge we face is that we’ve seen the departure of these labor and socialist parties into acquiescence with capitalism, which means that for many working people, they don’t need me to say to them when I meet them selling my newspaper, well, what’s wrong with society? Because they can articulate very, very eloquently what’s wrong with their life, how their kids can’t get jobs, how they can afford decent housing.
What they eat out is whether anything can be done about it. And I think the best antidote to those people who might think that socialism isn’t popular is just to look at the incredible effect that the election of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the Labour Party back in twenty seventeen had in motivating and mobilizing hundreds of thousands of young people and lots of young people who joined up to support ideas, which frankly weren’t terribly extreme. They would have taken us back to the 1970s, renationalise the railways, get rid of student tuition fees, not in and of themselves revolutionary demands, but such a refreshing change from the narrative that people had heard for the previous 10, 15, 20 years.
And the tragedy of that period was that unfortunately, Corbyn was, you know, like Julius Caesar, knifed by his closest associates who were not Labour Party members at all, but stooges in the Labour Party there to actually scupper his effective leadership. So we have a job to do. And the Socialist Party is a Marxist party. We follow the methodology of Marx, whereas Marxism is not a dogma. You don’t pick up Das capital, read it and then regurgitate it to people on the street corner.
We are people who analyse a society using the methodology of Marxism, which starts by pointing out that we live in a class society, that the irreconcilable differences between the owners of capital and those who are forced to work for a living are not able to be resolved through a step by step reformist approach to slow organic change. But the. Rather, we need to build strong organizations, both trade unions and political parties that can challenge capitalism. Now, that means being on picket lines.
That means supporting workers in very small struggles, as well as giving an explanation of the broader need for socialism. But in adopting that position more and more, I’m meeting people who are saying absolutely agree with you. That’s what I think I want to get involved. And so it is it is a slower process than it would be if there were already strong social democratic parties there offering a different narrative. But given that there aren’t even that they’ve all left the scene in a very important part of the Socialist Party’s agenda, is working with others on the left under an umbrella.
We call the trade unionist and socialist coalition to try and bring together the forces personally for an electoral challenge against right wing Labour councillors who continue to make cuts. But secondly, using the trade unionist socialist coalition as a as a means of pressurising the trade unions that still give their money to the Labor Party to say, look, why are you giving money to a body that actually condemns you and doesn’t support you and when in government didn’t take away any of the anti trade union legislation.
So this is a process of due process. We want to build our own forces to act to ensure that there is a strong Marxist core in in British politics. But we also want to draw in those people who may be at this stage are not convinced Marxists, but they are prepared to tackle capitalism. And we say to those people, come under this broad umbrella, the trade unionists, the socialist coalition, and let us begin the fight to defend local services, to push back against austerity, to keep hospitals open, libraries open and so on.
So we’re not doctrinaire socialists who, you know, stand stand aside from the day to day struggles that people are going through. On the contrary, we are rooted in those struggles. I kept a local library open at the bottom of my road five, six years ago when the Labor Party in the council tried to close them. And on the day that I went to the library, they sneakily announced the closure on the twenty third of December in expectation that no one would have the time to organize.
On the 2nd of January, I was down at the library. I was speaking to a pensioners group who used the library as a resource for their meetings and they had produced a handwritten petition with a dozen or so shaky signatures on it. And I said, Well, that’s a start, but I’m here to help you and I’m here to ensure that we can win. And at that stage, I couldn’t guarantee we would win. But what we did through the Socialist Party was go to every single house in the area, knock on every single door, build a petition of over five thousand signatures.
Luckily, I was also at the time involved in my local school as a member of the governing body of the school. I was able to get the school on board because lots of the kids use the library after school because they didn’t have computers, the home. And we were able to shame the council into admitting that the library only cost fifty thousand pounds a year to run, including staff salaries, the only employee to staff at any one time. It’s a small library.
And so we were able to go to the council and I spoke to the full council with a delegation of 50 people from my community behind me, and I had a real go Labour Party. And then the Tories started snickering and laughing because they thought they were off the hook. So I turned to the other side and pointed out I was coming after them as well. But as far as I was concerned, they were Tweedledee, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Them’s the parties in Britain, you know, the oh, you know, with blood on their hands in terms of austerity policies.
And we won. We kept that library open and it’s still open today. And we will have another fight this year, because when the Labour Party wins the council in May, if the elections take place, which is probably what will happen, then they will try again to close the libraries. When I go through my community now, people come up to me and say, you’re the guy who saved the library, and I always reply, No, no, we are the people who save the library is not one person.
It’s a community that’s like the library. But there’s no doubt that because the Socialist Party was prepared all during a very cold January to go door to door knocking, speaking to people, organizing meetings, we shamed those councillors. So. So long answer, but it’s an important point that we are an activist based organization, and I think for socialism to be really relevant, it has to be seen by ordinary people as connecting to the issues they are concerned about, not just talking abstractly about socialism, but making socialism root and branch part of what people’s own experiences are capitalism has helped us in in that sense, because it’s showing every single day its ineptitude, its inability to even run things like the pandemic response in an organized way.
So we go forward and we go after that and we never leave them alone. We expose them because these people have literally, in some cases, blood on their hands and none more so than this Tory administration in the UK, which has presided over one hundred and twenty thousand deaths now in a so-called advanced capitalist country. Incredible. Absolutely incredible. That was amazing, Robyn, so much that you, first of all, the example you gave of you, you all working together to keep the library, I think that’s fantastic illustration of what socialism could look like without being provocative.
But just something you think about in theory, reading Marx and pondering about it. You spoke about so many different things. I like all things that we saw in this podcast, the Labor Party, education, the history that we taught in schools, everything. And I was partly alluded to in your answer there. But one of the questions that I get often is how do you think people struggle to understand or see a way to get to a socialist system?
So how do we go about doing that? What is the end goal or what do you think it looks like? I think that, you know, like any journey, it has to be a first step. And first, for people who think the socialist is to get involved in a socialist party because very little can be achieved solely by individuals acting as individuals, collectively, we can make a big difference. Now, there is skepticism among many young people about political parties, and the idea of parties conjures up the idea of hierarchies and people who basically sell you out at the end of the day.
And I think we have to deconstruct that and say that actually the word party merely means an association of people. And what’s primary is not the organizational structure, but the political ideas around you, which you’re fighting. And you have to have a democratic structure as well. I mean, the Socialist Party has an annual conference. We elected a leadership to serve for 12 months every member of the Socialist Party who obtains a public position in a trade union or in the future as councillors or employees, will only be permitted to take the equivalent wage of those people they represent.
And any genuine expenses they incur will be paid back into the movement once they have been recompensed for, you know, train fares that they may otherwise not do for kids. But we’ve not only preached that abstractly in the 1980s, we have three employees in the British Parliament and all three of them were elected on the basis of a workers MP on a worker’s wage. One of those in nineteen ninety went to prison for refusing to pay the poll tax, which was a particularly iniquitous piece of local government legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Tories, which said that each person living in a household had to pay an individual community tax.
The effect was that in some households with four adults, the amount payable rose from five hundred pounds to two thousand pounds. And it led to a massive uproar in Britain. And again, the Socialist Party was at the very core of organising mass protest. We we organised a massive bill burning events in towns and cities across the UK. But we then began to organize street by street, community by community around the idea of mass non-payment, recognising that there were many who wouldn’t pay out of principle, but there were many, many others who would not be able to afford these bills.
And Margaret Thatcher had boasted that this would be her flagship policy. She would be remembered for. And we retorted, Yes, you will be remembered for it, but we will turn into your Titanic. We will sink your poll tax. Now, what happened was 18 million people refused in England, Scotland and Wales paid a poor tax. Even the Tories went stupid enough to impose it in Northern Ireland. But we presided over the most incredible two years of activism with the Socialist Party forming the All Britain Federation of Antipater Unions.
I attended a meeting ten minutes from my house, me and one other comrade. We it was held in a local school who we expected at about 20 people. And it was an information meeting where we were explaining how you could legally avoid paying the poll tax and what would happen if you were prosecuted. When we turned up, the first person we saw was a school caretaker who said, I’m going to have to close the meeting. And we said, why?
These are where there are two hundred people inside the classroom only takes 50 people and we couldn’t get inside. So we have to shout out to people, hang on, one of the speakers let us in. We’ve got into that meeting. We quickly realised that we could not have a meeting in a classroom. Luckily, it was a dry night. So my colleague went outside into the playground and he addressed the hundred people. One hundred and fifty people.
I stayed in the classroom and addressed the other 50 people that night. And in many other scenarios in that period, I saw ordinary people beginning to do extraordinary things. I saw ordinary people coming behind the idea that this is unjust. We’re prepared to fight it. And I think the trigger. Building a socialist movement will be similar to that most people reach a breaking point where they no longer feel that they can stay quiet. Now, interestingly here I spoke to someone who wants to in the Labor Party, the Socialist Party, I should say, yesterday, and she’s from Perth, originally in Western Australia, and she was a trade union activist.
They’re very, very active socialists, from what she told me. But she’s she’s landed in the UK, is now living here permanently in tiny little fishing village called Brixham. And she wants to get active again and she wants to engage with the fishermen about the way their industry is being destroyed at the moment. And she made the point to me that when she came to the UK, she wasn’t intending to get involved again. She felt she’d done her bit in Australia.
But looking at the injustice around her, he felt the old motivation creeping up again and realised that she needed to be involved. And she has joined this in the last twenty four hours. And I think to go from where we are today to where we need to go. We need to recognize that firstly situation that ordinary people face is only going to get worse. There is no possibility of a restoration of the post-war boom years that existed in countries like the UK, America and Australia between 1950 and nineteen seventy five.
We are facing now a period of chronic instability. Capitalism is no longer even fit for purpose in terms of carrying out its historical mission, which was to take the surplus value that it extracted from workers and use the portion of that surplus value in investing in new plant, new material, new technique in order to bring down the productivity of labor or rather to increase the productivity of human labor. Instead, capitalism, more and more is relying on fictitious investments through the world’s stock exchanges, through Bitcoin, through the hedge funds, the derivatives market, the credit default swaps market.
And you have the absurdity of the top on the stock exchange, betting on what the the wheat harvest is going to be like in twenty, twenty five in Canada. And, you know, they’ll make a bet. And then if they think that the wheat harvest isn’t going to be as high, they’ll take their money out of that and they’ll put it somewhere else. It’s an enormous skyscraper built on chicken legs and it will collapse. It collapse in two thousand seven.
It will collapse again. The current, you know, stratospheric growth in the stock market in Wall Street, in the UK, it’s all built on Sunday. It’s going to be the case that there will be another huge collapse. And it’s experiences like that which will grow more and more people into the realisation that this system isn’t working and we need to change. Now, the building of new mass workers parties is a very important component part of this project.
We we can’t we can’t as a socialist party, as a revolutionary Marxist party, we can claim to be that new mass workers party. We can, however, be a very important catalyst in helping to bring that about. And some people might say, well, wouldn’t you be losers if you did that because more people would join that party than with you in your party? But we don’t see in sectarian terms like that, we see it as being objectively necessary that workers have political representation, new left parties in which we will play a quite decisive role.
And through the genuine dialogue that we will have in part like that, hoping that they will have genuinely federal constitutions where different views are not only tolerated but encouraged, we will win more and more people over to the idea that actually the best form of socialism, the form of socialism that can actually result in, you know, the victory of socialism is is Marxism. Because one of the things that the last one hundred and fifty years have shown is that there is no reform is a road to socialism.
In some periods, workers, if they have strong organisations, can win games. They can win a national health service, they can win big pay rises. They can win better improvements in housing and education. But then in other periods, companies will come back and take those away again. There is no slow organic growth to socialism. It’s it’s as utopian as believing that you can creep into a tiger’s cage. Well, it’s sleeping on a pair of tweezers, start taking its teeth out one by one without waking up and biting your head off.
And obviously, anybody who’s ever tried that isn’t here to tell the story because they’re in a grave somewhere. But, you know, the whole lesson of history is no social system gives up without a titanic struggle to retain its privileges. And that’s why socialists have to be organized. We have potentially billions of people who will fight against capitalism in the future, but they have to be armed with a program. They have to be confident. They have to have organizations that are prepared to fight for them in which they trust.
And the revolution is not something that someone like myself or even Karl Marx, if he were here today to conjure up just by wishing it a revolution, is not. Caricature of a few people with bombs under their arms, blowing up the houses of parliament. A revolution is an elemental social movement of millions of people who reach that point of declaring that enough is enough. But then when you have the potential for a revolution, as Russia showed in 1917, without a revolutionary party that is prepared to go all the way, it is already rooted in the working class and could take those decisive measures in terms of expropriating the banks, the key companies, the energy companies and so on.
Then the capitalist will crawl back. I’ve just been reading material about the Egyptian revolution of 10 years ago, the Tahrir Square uprising, a magnificent uprising that the heroism of the young people in Tahrir Square was not to be questioned. They were prepared to go to the end and there were two or three weeks in which the state apparatus hung in the balance. The policemen had taken off their uniforms and pretended to become civilians. The soldiers had come over to the side of the people because most of the conscript army had friends and relatives in Tahrir Square.
Have there been a revolutionary party present in Cairo or the rest of Egypt as well? It would have been. Entirely possible to largely peaceably take political and economic power. The reaction would have come from the populist firing guns, not the working class, but because there was no political party, that revolution was in a vacuum for about three weeks. And as Mike said, you know, the pendulum of history doesn’t stay still if you do not take advantage of a favorable situation.
The capitalist class, even if they steam down and out, will regroup, will recover and will come back and they will crush it. We saw in Chile in nineteen seventy three when a left wing government led by a guy called Salvador Allende socialist government was was prevaricating, was not prepared to give the full support necessary to the working class in defending the revolution. And the Pinochet regime came in and brutally destroyed that revolution. Over fifty thousand Chileans, many young people died.
I I was in the Socialist Party then our predecessor organization. I was at a meeting on the on the night of the coup. And when the news came through, we had extremely heavy hearts, of course, because we had been desperately writing to young socialist in Chile, warning them that the Chilean working class needed to be armed against Pinochet, that a coup was coming propagated by America. Of course, as well as was the case across Latin America for a whole historical period.
But we we knew that that Allende regime was not lacking heroism. Allende himself was a heroic individual. But heroism is not enough unless you have a program that is prepared to go the whole way to change his party. You can’t stop halfway. It’s like standing in the middle of the road. You get run over. You either decisively decide you are a revolutionary and you’re going to fight to change society and you set about building the forces and ultimately the millions that will carry that through.
Or you end up thinking that your ambition can go no further than simply winning a pay rise for a group of workers or keeping a local library open. Those are important battles, but they are not the the most important battle. The capital estate St. talked about it in many, many of his writings, the capital state, the army, the police, the judiciary, those are ultimately the defenders of the capitalist system. If you took Elon Musk, Zuckerberg and all the others, all the big capitalist in the world, you could put them in a football stadium and still have half the stadium empty.
That many of them. A few thousand people control the world, but for them to control the world effectively. They pay for a state apparatus, they pay for the army, the police, and of course, you know, not every soldier is a fascist. We don’t we don’t buy that argument. You can even win over policemen. If the police think the revolution is serious, some of them will come over to the revolution if they think the revolution is dithering and maybe the revolutionaries aren’t serious.
Why should the police come over until they’ll take their orders from their officers in that case? So, you know, we don’t we’re going to see with or without socialist revolutionaries. We’re going to see revolutionary explosions across the world in the next decade or two decades like we saw in Egypt, like we have seen in other countries. The key question, though, is will there be parties built with Marxist programs that are able to take that opportunity and carry through?
But will those revolutions be stillborn? Will those revolutions be defeated bloodily now? You know, that can seem a very distant period from where we are today. And where we are today is in building the political understanding necessary to raise these ideas. But whilst we are in the trenches today fighting against job cuts and poor pay increases and everything else, we always have to link those issues to the bigger picture. The capitalism in the 21st century cannot be allowed to stay in charge.
We face an environmental crisis of unparalleled threat. Now, you know, the everyone’s cheering. Joe Biden says he’s going back into the Paris Accords, but the Paris Accords are useless. They have no teeth. They put no demands on individual governments, which find a million ways to wriggle out of commitments. And a treaty on a piece of paper is not the same as an international decision to do something effectively. Now, I read that the scientists say that it’s not a question any longer of appearing to be cutting the carbon just by a certain amount.
We need bigger we need bigger cuts. We have to put the tundra in. Siberia is beginning to melt. We have the development of methane leaks and methane is 10 times more dangerous in carbon dioxide. This is what capitalism does. Capitalism pontificates. All the governments come together. And they said, oh, this is terrible. We must do something, we must do something. And then they look around and they say, well, who’s going to go first?
And there’s a lot of than just like Davos. And, you know, it was interesting a few years ago, one of them at Davos, he actually made a speech in which he said, unless we do something, it’s going to be like the French Revolution. The pitchforks will be coming for us. And everyone agreed, you know, and I’m sure the Zuckerberg and all the others, they were all saying, yeah, yeah, he’s right, he’s got a good point there.
Something has to be done. But the problem is that the system they preside over is the problem and they’re going to dismantle their own system. It’s like the capitalist hypocrite who goes to church on a Sunday and gives to charity and Christ genuine tears when he or she hears that the poverty in Africa. But then on Monday morning, they go back into the office and they play Monopoly with real people’s lives and they are responsible for that poverty. But they sell off their conscience on Sunday morning by giving a few quid to a charity, which they then got back on tax relief probably anyway.
So it’s like, you know, it’s not a question of whether these people are nice individuals. Most of them are hard nosed couples you don’t have, even if they get tough scruple, it’s about the fact that the system of capitalism corrupts and it corrupts people in an organic way and therefore it is unarguable. We need to change it. We got a lot to think about that, which is absolutely brilliant. Let’s go to Markstein and Castle. I understand that it’s going to be really difficult to synthesize synthesisers work in such a short space of time, but we want to try and make it by size and accessible to our audience who may be thinking about how we talk, the labor theory of value from Smith and Recorder and things like that, and maybe the money trick and things like that.
Can you advise us what the main points that we should take from such a work? I think that’s what Marx explained more clearly than had been understood before by any of the classical economists, was that value. Is produced by the working class surplus value is the extracted value to the top, the list takes from the labor power of the working class. To take a very simple example. If a worker works for 10 hours. Per day. At the end of the week.
Having worked for 50 hours. The worker gets in on these are purely arbitrary figures, the worker gets a hundred pounds in wages, so the worker thinks, well, I’ve worked for 50 hours, I’ve got one hundred pounds in wages. But the trick is that in those 50 hours, by adding his or her labor power to the raw materials and the machinery, the workers produce not one hundred pounds, but maybe a thousand pounds. The figure is arbitrary and the worker works there for only some of the week to replace his or her wages.
The rest of the week is surplus. Labor surplus value and surplus value is then taken by the capitalist and divided between rent, interest and profit. And the net profit that the capitalist ends up with is that capitalist to do what he or she wants to do with. Now, historically, the only justification for capitalism as an advance on a feudal system that preceded it was that it was able to develop the means of production. It was able to create a world market.
It was able, through reinvesting surplus value back into industry, to increase the productivity of human labor, to produce more consumer goods. But as I’ve already said, you know, that system has largely come undone. Now we have a situation where historically productivity levels in the US are lower than they’ve been for 50 years. There has hardly been any increase in productivity since two thousand in the United States. Now we live in a society today where, of course, many of the industries that Marx wrote about do not exist in the same form as they did in his day.
But one of the key things that Marx also talked about was the growing monopolization of capital. Something was further developed by many in his party to join imperialism, that the laissez faire model of a small individual producers that Marx mainly observed in Britain were gobbled up by larger companies. Monopolies grew out of those companies. And because of the fact that the capitalist market at any stage in its history is made up of competing national interests, but also within each nation state, competing sectional interests and competing private interests, there is no capability to produce a plan of production.
There is no desire to produce a plan of production. So, you know, if the three of us were to decide that we were going to cash in on the latest skateboard craze, for instance, we might all live in the same city, but I have no knowledge of each other. So we would all start producing skateboards. We would reach a point where we were in competition with each other. We began to realize there were other people in the market so we would increase the intensification of labor of our workforce to try and make them produce more skateboards in the same amount of time so we could undercut the price.
Ultimately, one of the three of us would go out of business and probably the other one of us will be bought up by the most successful of the three, creating a huge waste and dislocation to a spear of the economy, which in the case of skateboards, is not the biggest economy. But this happens in food. This happens in textiles. This happens in every sphere of economy. And so you have in capitalism, Marx, explain these periodic crises of overproduction, which which is an absurd concept, because in all previous societies, human beings struggled to produce enough food, to produce enough shelter and so on.
Capitalism, for the first time in human history has the potential to create these surpluses. But instead of those surpluses being regulated or planned, in which case they wouldn’t be vast surpluses, which end up being a very severe thing. In the case of surplus food, you end up with these crises of overproduction where the companies sell the commodities they produce, where they therefore lay off workers. They are forced out of business, the working class. Essentially, never is able to buy back the full product of its labor power.
The worker works for 40 hours or 50 hours but doesn’t get the full value as explained, because that’s appropriated by the capitalist, the surplus value. And therefore, that coupled with the fact that there is no check on market production methods, means that inevitably intrude into the capitalist system is this so-called boom slump cycle. And we are in a phase of capitalism now where historically low growth rates, particularly in the US, but even in China, compared to the period, the period of nineteen eighty two thousand, means that we are seeing the capitalist try and find other means of making value and returning to fictitious values.
The stock market, the bitcoin, the the other things I’ve already mentioned, Treasury Tingle’s said in 1890 that the rule of stock markets best is to provide a resource for the companies to to borrow in order to reinvest, retool and so on. But he also pointed out that there were a whole army of people whom he called coupon clippers who effectively don’t produce anything. They’re not capitalists in an industrial sense, but they’re hangers on. They profit from surplus value created by the working class now.
And the market would be astonished if they came back today and saw just how many of these coupon clippers there are and how they have proliferated and what scams they have developed. You know, the giant Ponzi schemes, the fraudulent schemes that frequently hit the financial pages, usually in the Financial Times, they sneer at the fact these Ponzi schemes exist in. Neocolonial countries, but actually they came from the advanced capitalist countries, the model for all Ponzi schemes came from the UK, came from America, and I think therefore Marx’s capital is its, first of all, an analysis of the historic growth of capitalism.
Marx was not sentimental about capitalism. He said famously that capitalism came into the world dripping with blood from every pore. It came into the world, at least in part aided by the slave trade and the vast profits that were made by merchants in the UK in terms of the slave trade. But Marx also made the point that in its inception, despite those horrors, capitalism played a revolutionary role in an economic sense in breaking up the narrowness of the feudal fields, of opening up the beginning at least of a world market.
And he makes the point in capital that wherever capital goes, it creates its own image. All the national identities are trampled upon, all the national traditions are trampled upon, and the capitalists, particularly the richest capitalist countries, then move into the imperialistic phase, the scramble for Africa in the late 19th century and so on. And many of those imperialistic developments were accompanied by direct colonialism. But of course, imperialism doesn’t have to be associated with direct colonialism.
If you look at American imperialism, it doesn’t nominally station its soldiers in other countries who are paying a point for workers to work harder to make more money for imperialism is the domination of finance capital before the growth of monopolization and the domination of finance, capital and the banking sector. The export of capital tying developing countries into. Prison rules really forced to borrow from the Western banks, but at a price that the price of destroying their own materials. So when the British government, for instance, in West Africa, the last thing the British Empire did, the last great act of help to the Ghanaian people was to smash up every single factory that existed in Ghana.
And going hotrod, even before British enslavement of the developed economy compared to a lot of other African countries, the same was true in India that the British smashed up all the textile industry, the indigenous Indian textile industry, in order them to force them to buy back from Britain. So imperialism is a ruthless machine, but the starting point is that understanding of the labor theory of value of Marxist everything has a dual value use value and an exchange value. The use value is determined by whether someone wants what you’ve produced.
If they don’t want it, you won’t sell it. But it isn’t the use value. It creates surplus for the capitalist class. It’s the exchange value. Is the act of a product becoming a commodity? A product is something you produce. Doctors can produce or you can produce it as an individual. But once you can modify those products by selling them on the market, if they have had labor added to them in the act of production, then necessarily you are making a surplus because you’re capitalizing upon the difference between what you have to pay your workforce and what you actually pocket by selling that commodity at its at its exchange value.
So the system is is. Not an effective system is made even more complicated by the existence of rival nation states and rival power blocs, we stay a very good example over the last few years with Trump introducing tariffs against China, but also turning his back on the EU, turning its back on all those post-war organizations like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and even the World Health Organization. And we’re entering into a new era of greater and greater protectionism between capitalist countries.
We’ve seen a more recent example in the spat between the EU and the UK over the allocation of the vaccines. And all these things show that this is not a tranquil growth period of world capitalism. This is a period which increasingly resembles some of the features that were seen in the 1930s, which are obviously not period led inexorably to war between the different imperialist nations. And and so, you know, I think, like I said right at the beginning.
It’s it’s really important to study Marx’s capital. It’s it’s not the most suggestible piece of work. People who don’t feel confident about economics, the entire first chapter is 60 or 70 pages describing the two. Site of a commodity of having both use value and of exchange value, the Marxist method in capital is to go over and over the points. So he drives home. And once you realize that, you can actually glean from the first 10 pages of the first chapter what he’s getting at, but the other material and capital, particularly the chapter on the working day, it could have been written yesterday.
The exploitation of workers, the terrible conditions it alteration of food, getting something we’ve seen one of the very first acts of Margaret Thatcher in nineteen seventy nine was to lean on the food industry and pass legislation giving them permission to take some of the nutrients out of bread. And because the bakeries were complaining that the price of bread was was being driven too high because of all the vitamins and nutrients they had to put in it. So Thatcher gave them a pass and said, OK, you can be adulterate the bread and not talks about that.
He talks about the extension of the working day under capitalism, how some workers were working 18 hours a day to survive. Now, when I first read Capital, I probably thought, you know, we’re not in that place anymore. But then you look around and, you know, I know people personally who have poor jobs. They have a cleaning job in the morning. They work in a supermarket or a kid’s school. In the later morning. They can do another cleaning job in the evening.
And then on top of that, they do a babysitting job. And all of that doesn’t give them a decent living wage. So it is unbelievable, but it’s things like that they bring home to the. You know, Marx’s method has not been superseded by any theory, which more accurately describes the reality of the class struggle that exist in the 21st century. As Leon Trotsky, the Russian revolutionary, once said, if there was a theory that had superseded Marx, then it would be the duty of every Marxist to embrace that theory.
If we all want a quicker route to socialism, we don’t we don’t have a hang up about Marx being a genius. I think he was a genius in terms of an analytical understanding, as was Engels. But the reality is there has been no more modern theory. Periodically, politicians like Tony Blair come up with what they think is a unique new theory. Blair came up with a third way. And then you have proponents of things like modern monetary theory today who say, well, why can’t governments just continue allowing deficits to get bigger and bigger?
They can always pay those deficits. But those questions avoid a central question, which is that they’re trying to find fixes within a capitalist society. And ultimately, there will not be fixes that both benefit capitalism and the working class. They are mutually exclusive, the working the working class. Marx begins the Communist Manifesto with the famous phrase that the, you know, the existence of all previous societies is the existence of class struggle and. A class struggle takes different forms and different ages, but the class struggle between those who have the means of production and those who have to work to earn a crust has been a constant throughout all recorded history.
And he also says that for they say that the very first societies that the tribal societies, which NGOs inelegantly calls barbarian societies, I don’t think that’s terminology we would use today. But, you know, there’s a point to be made there. I mean, not every word the NGOs or Marx wrote, you know, was historically completely accurate. And NGOs in one of his writings speculates on why it is the parrots can speak. And he comes up with some very, very strange ways which which have been disproved now.
And we know the pilots are mimics. And if you take them out of their social situation, they they appear to mimic the voice they hear now is angles to be made redundant because he got that wrong. Well, no. I mean, the entire development of science, the entire development of human knowledge has meant that, you know, people who’ve come later, who’ve had great scientific insights and techniques for looking at science, have been able to modify what went before.
Darwin was a revolutionary thought. Darwin was not the last word. Darwin like the basis for all the modern developments. But in terms of the essence of Marxism, it’s not a dogma, it’s a method. And it’s still the best method for understanding the world we live in. But it has to be added to and it has to be updated in those areas where you change circumstances, the existence of computer technologies and so on mean that we have to look at how the role of labor value applies in this field as well.
But those are often used as examples. But people who want to harm Marxism say, well, Marx got it wrong. There are no absolutes as as much this as we see, the only the only absolute is constant change, like constant change through contradiction. And what we are always trying to do in evolving our political map of where we want to get to is is examined perspectives, examine what’s happening, what’s the likely next development, what we can never be absolutely 100 percent certain about that history will throw up sudden explosions.
And like sometimes you will get a volcano in dormant for centuries and it can start reactivating to do those respond. Those new situations based upon the methodology that we use, where we’re scientific socialists, we’re not simply reactors, you know, there are plenty of people react to the accomplished fact. But as as Leon Trotsky once puts it, the advantage of Marxism over other theories is the advantage of foresty over astonishment, and that foresight doesn’t give you an infallible crystal ball.
But what it does do is enable you to map out the broad terrain on which you’re fighting. And for us, key point is capitalism is not in a state of historical development at the moment. It is riven with contradictions. Western capitalism is very weak. America no longer enjoys the unique. The unilateral sort of primacy in terms of the imperialist countries, even China, is astonishing turnaround in China in the last 40 years. But even China, by adopting a more pro capitalist road or the state capitalism introduced into its body politic.
All the contradictions of capitalism will it will introduce the political virus into its system. And we’re beginning to see that there are millions of peasants who’ve been brought into the cities and have become workers. And yet what has that created? It’s created a massive strike movement in China. We unfortunately don’t learn about that much of the time because it’s repressed. It’s never mentioned in the Western press, but we have, you know, people in China who tell us what is happening and they have to smuggle out information, but.
What we’re seeing in China is what we saw perhaps in the U.K. in the 19th century, the opening up of these huge new work forces where a trade union consciousness can grow very quickly, albeit underground, because it’s not legal to be a proper trade. Unions in China have to belong to state trade unions, but therefore there is no corner of the world. Let’s look at Australia. Australia went through a 30 year boom, largely as a result of the export of minerals to East Asia and to China particularly.
But now Australia is feeling the chill winds of recession as China begins to adopt a kind of spiteful rebuke to Australia for criticising its policies. And therefore, Australian workers, generally speaking, avoided recession in the last period they will to become acquainted with the reality of capitalism. I just want to add one point, which is that it’s not just recession itself that creates revolution is the oscillation between, you know, big recessions, small recoveries and the uncertainty that creates in people’s lives.
That’s the that’s the yeast, if you like. The crease begins to create the revolutionary consciousness that we can’t carry on like this. Things have to change. I’m sure lots and lots of stuff to think about. Robyn, thank you for breaking the hot Marxist thing down into more manageable chunks. I hope the audience can watch it. Can we speak a little bit about you alluded to earlier both the left and the Labour Party because you spoke about Jeremy Corbyn, the National Front runner.
I will come on and talk about her work with Labour together in a previous episode. So my own personal view on the Labour Party is that they have my support. When Jeremy Corbyn was leader and I thought the as I said, what he was suggesting was not too radical. It was I thought it was the right direction that we need to go in. And so I was certainly a supporter of what I wanted to do. What are your thoughts on the Labour Party as it currently is on the storm?
And do you think that maybe the future of politics on the left lies outside of the Labour Party? Maybe. I think that Stoermer is taking the Labor Party back to a Blairite position, and by that I mean the neo liberal embrace of the market characterized the Tony Blair Gordon Brown years. I think that the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour Party illustrates how far Starmer is prepared to go to appear to be a loyal lieutenant of capitalism. I think the fact that the Labour Party think tanks have come up with this wonderful idea that the way Labour is going to win working class voters by surrounding itself with the Union Jack fanatism patriotism and attacks tax on immigration all indicate that the Labour Party is in free fall and is reversing back to the Blair agenda.
And I think therefore. There is no mileage any longer in expecting the Labor Party to be won back again by the left. Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the Labour Party completely by accident. He was only put on the ballot paper by right wing MP who added his name in order to humiliate what they thought was an insignificant and dwindling labour left. What they didn’t factor in was a social upheaval. On the ground across the country, the discontent with the Tories, the anger at the Liberal Democrats and the betrayals they had made in the Cameron government, and nobody was more surprised probably than Jeremy Corbyn when he became the leader.
Really not expecting to be the leader. We we spoke with Jeremy Corbyn immediately after he became leader. And one of the first things we asked him was to allow the Socialist Party to moderate to affiliate to the Labour Party. We pointed out that we had been in the Labour Party in the 1960s, 70s and 80s before being expelled. And we said to him, look, we we have your back. We will be the forces in the Labour Party who will be most loyal and determined to ensure that new policies are coming through.
We also gave them a warning. We said that there are people in the Labour Party, particularly in the parliamentary party and in the council chambers, who will stop at nothing to destroy your project. And he agreed with us. He said, well, I would like to readmit Socialist Party back into the Labour Party. But if I do that, there will be resignations, there will be threats. The Labour right will move against me. And from that moment, we knew, therefore, that there was going to be a mother and father of all battles in the Labour Party.
Now, where momentum was set up, we were very pleased. Initially, we we saw it as a left wing pressure group. I was invited to speak. At the first moment, a meeting in Bristol from the floor, not from the platform and Socialist Party members went along and I pointed out that personally, I had been in the Labor Party for 20 years as a Marxist. I had sat on the regional executive committee of the Labor Party for four years, that I was chair of the Young Socialists for three years.
And I said, look, we support everything that Jeremy Corbyn stands for. But we have to be realistic and recognize that there are those in the Labor Party who will sabotage him, and when he was then challenged by a right wing candidate, Owen Smith, he won a handsome victory, became leader for the second time. And again, we tried to warn him through a whole series of articles in our paper and through communications with our former Labor MP.
They managed to beat a colleague, Jeremy Corden’s, in the Labor Party for a number of years, a member of the Campaign Group of Left-Wing Labor employees. We tried to warn him that he didn’t have unlimited time. We actually said that he should take measures against those people in the shadow cabinet who were sabotaging him, even being prepared, if necessary, to expel them from the Labor Party because they were not labor. And when John MacDonald then called and said that he thought Labor councillors were doing a great job and they have no alternative but to carry through austerity policies, again, the writing was on the wall because what that was, was John MacDonald saying, look, we’re not prepared to take on right wing Labour councillors and we’re going to go down the road of trying to pacify the right and hope that we can convince them that we are good guys.
But unfortunately, and I may have used this analogy before, but, you know, it’s it’s akin to being a child in a school playground and being confronted by a bully who demands your pocket money. And you give that bully the pocket money and you hope the next evening the police and come back tomorrow. But invariably the bully does come back and the bully comes back the next day and asks for more and asks for more. And you want to have to get assistance from a third party to deal with that bully or you have to deal with the police.
And it was exactly the same. You know, it was like having a situation where you were in a sports team and you find out that when the game starts, half the team are playing for the other side. You know, you can’t win in that situation and no amount of compromise. This by Jeremy Corbyn. No amount of political integrity and honesty and appealing to their better natures was ever going to stop them from going after him. And of course, they they made allusions to the fact he had been a communist spy that didn’t really cut much ice.
But then they tried to say he was soft on terrorism, that he’d been, you know, a defender of extreme Palestinian groups that didn’t cut much ice. But then they hit upon the allegation of anti-Semitism completely, falsely. You know, they ignored the fact that in Jeremy Corbyn, the constituency, the rabbi and the local synagogue came out and said what a fantastic role he’d always played in defending Jewish interests against racism and so on. But, of course, you know, you expect the Daily Mail and the right wing media to attack you if you’re Jeremy Corbyn, when the majority of your parliamentary party is attacking you and councillors all across the country are attacking you.
And when you start there on the Labour front bench. Is a Trojan horse for the right wing and is meeting with them secretly before every meeting to unnerve Jeremy Corbyn. Then you have a problem. And the problem was exacerbated by the fact that the Labour Party tried the first two ways on the question of Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn is an instinctive opponent of the European Union, as it’s currently constituted. And we we argue to him he should come out and is colours to the mast and actually make the case for a post Brexit explaining that he would be prepared to do a renegotiation with the EU, but only if that were taking away all the anti trade union legislation and so on that the EU had imposed upon Britain and every other country.
But at the same time, to the ordinary worker, Labour seemed confused. Labour’s split. So now we think it’s time to recognize that the Labor Party understand this is no longer the organization in which to fight, Corbyn has formed a new organization or a project, really, you know, to Peace and Justice Project. I don’t want to be unkind, but in a certain sense, it’s like a retirement statement. You know, it’s going to involve lots of people writing lots of very dirty papers about injustice and oppression, particularly in other countries, all of which is worthy, but none of which actually deals with the fundamental questions here and now about what socialists in Britain should do.
And I think that’s. You know, the best thing Jeremy Corbyn could do and we’ve said this to him is he could be suspended from the Labor Party. As you know, the best thing he could do is announce that he’s going to stand in the London mayoral election as an independent socialist and he could get elected by a landslide in London, standing as a principled socialist, as Ken Livingstone did many years ago. Livingstone then quickly rejoined the Labour Party.
But Jeremy Corbyn would actually. You a great service to young people and workers who supported him in the years when he was leader, if he stood for the London mayoral seat, whereas I’m afraid the Peace and Justice Project is very amorphous, it won’t appeal to the ordinary worker on the shop floor. It won’t mean anything. They might agree with the laudable aims. They might agree with the aspiration of a better world. But we have to go beyond just wanting a better world.
We have to know how to fight for a better world. So I think now we’ve noticed in the Socialist Party, we’ve had a whole series of people join us from the Labor Party, some of whom are or most of whom are brilliant, actually. They’re really, really engaged, energetic young people, but. What is the great tragedy of the korbin years is the wasted opportunity. There was an opportunity to strike out on a new path. But unfortunately, as I said right at the beginning, even Jeremy Corbyn, for whom I have a great personal admiration, I’ve met him, I’ve spoken with him and so on.
Jeremy Corbyn, you know, it isn’t enough to be a nice guy in this era. You know, the people, the people who are successful or people who have a clear agenda, whether that’s on the right people like Donald Trump, who really went for what he wanted, did what he wanted. The left has to have leaders like that, obviously not in the sense of fighting the same arguments that the left has to be at the Stella Bowles socialist ideas in simple language that engages people.
When he spoke around the country at the mass rallies, he did that. He spoke in Bristol, my city, and it was fifteen thousand people in a midweek lunchtime came to hear him speak. The trouble was he was being sabotaged all the time. He was OK speaking at rallies. You’re being killed by your own side. You know you’re not going to win. And so on. The media. Yeah, but the media we take we take this read the right wing media always give you a rough time.
You’ve got to find ways. And for me, I mean, I spent 20 years in the Labour Party as a Marxist organiser, proudly making it plain who I was. And I never won many resolutions in many states. But those were days in which the Labour Party was still abroad and would be tolerant of different views. Eventually, I was expelled from the Labour Party for organising a campaign against the aforementioned poll tax. The local Labour Party leader said.
I was inciting people to break the law, which was just bullshit. I mean, what I was saying to people was, you know, if you can’t afford to pay the poll tax, we will defend you. We’ll protect you will organize local community groups, stand together to stop bailiffs coming into your house and taking your possessions or something. If, Joe. But I think this pattern of what we saw with Jeremy Corbyn, unfortunately, is a repetition of the pattern we’ve seen in other countries, and in particular in Greece with the Syriza government.
Because, you know, the series of government, Alexis, Alexis Tsipras and Varoufakis and others, they were sincere guys and they actually went to the Greek people and they got a mandate from the Greek people to stand up to the European Commission and to refuse the carry through austerity policies. But then within twenty four hours of going to the European Commission has submitted himself. They were browbeaten. They would they were blackmailed. They were told they had to carry through cuts.
And Syriza squandered an enormously favorable opportunity. And this is where reformism ends up in this era because, you know, in a period of capitalist boom in the 50s and 60s, it was a place for negotiating concessions. A lot of the capitalists would give you a big pay rise because they didn’t want to go through the hassle of a strike. They could afford a pay rise. They were making super profits. In this era of neoliberalism and globalization, the capitalists are playing hardball and they will not allow or tolerate left wing Social Democratic Party to threaten their interests if they think they can frighten that social Democratic Party into retreating.
And that’s why, ultimately, despite his personal qualities, Jeremy Corbyn will go down in history as a man who gave us a glimpse of the forces that could be one to socialism also through his own passivity. And it is is being outmaneuvered by the right, squandered that opportunity. And the sad thing is many of those young people who joined the Labour Party were never given any guidance as to what they should then do is the next step. If I have been in the Labour Party, if I’ve got all these young people together in my local area and I said, look, we’re going to go to the next Labour Party meeting, we’re going to pass a motion of no confidence in the right wing MP and we’re going to demand and fight for a campaign to deselect that right wing MP and replace her or him with someone who is a Corbyn.
That would have been a bloody battle, we might not have won it, but it would have engaged young people and made them see to. But it wasn’t enough just to pay five pounds to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. You had to go into the party to to operate. That’s what I hope the momentum organisation would be, an organisation that through the left together and produced a battle plan, if you like, for winning the fight against the right. But momentum became frightened of its own shadow.
It spent all its time organising kind of workshops on how to canvass for right wing Labour candidates in elections. And we went to one of those early on. We took a couple of young people and they were so bored out of their skulls, they fell during a tea break. They refused to stay in the meeting. They said, we support Jeremy’s politics. We’re not interested in all this business about, you know, how to canvass for a right wing MP.
Why should we come up with a right wing MP? So that was an episode, that episode we have to learn from. And we we now have to build a new left forces. And like I said earlier, the trade union trade unionist and socialist coalition doesn’t purport to be the new workers party. We want the unions to break with New Labour, but it’s a step in that direction that we’re engaged in that dialogue because workers, the workers expect and demand better.
We can carry on making the same mistake. The last thing I would say is that, you know, there are a number of good people still in local labour parties who can’t bring themselves to resign even now, to hope against hope that Jeremy is going to come back. They have no idea how that might be possible. Let’s put it this way. The right wing won’t make that same mistake twice and putting him on the spot. But, you know, I respect that each person has their own journey.
And I’m in I’m in dialogue with a lot of Labour Party members across the south west of England. And I always say the same thing to them, which is that, you know, whilst I respect the fact that they don’t feel able to leave the Labour Party yet, they have to ask themselves honestly what they are doing in the Labour Party that is making a difference in terms of building the left. And one of the people that you might even have been at the meeting, Tony, but one of the people who attended a regional meeting of ours recently online said to us, there’s no way I’m leaving the Labour Party.
It’s my party and they’re not going to force me out. The following week, she was suspended from the Labour Party for complaining about the way that Jeremy Corbyn was being treated. And the week after that, he joined the Socialist Party. So for some people, you know, the actions of Starmer will be the catalyst in bringing them to us. But we would say to those people, learn the lessons. Don’t forget what went wrong. But let’s now move on because there’s a more important project than just the kind of abstract peace and justice project.
There’s a project to actually build socialism and that must be rooted in working class communities because Labour Labour is viewed cynically by a lot of working people. Now it’s seen as being a kind of London based party of professional types in suits and power dressing. And, you know, workers think what is. Yeah, and what we’ve got to do. It is the ethos of everything I’ve been saying really is real socialists. I have to go where the workers are in.
It is very famous work, left wing communism, an infantile disorder. Vladimir Lenin used that phrase Marxist go where the workers are. And we go there not as kind of, you know, creatures who come in from the outside to teach workers, we come in as fellow workers. The only difference between me and millions of people who are listening to your blog tonight is that, you know, people. People will have in the future may join a socialist movement, I joined an earlier stage that doesn’t make me special and doesn’t make me more intelligent.
It simply means that I drew conclusions that many others are calling now a long while ago. And so it’s incumbent on people like me to ensure that that that passion that I had wanted to fight for a better world is is bequeathed to this new generation of people. I have great confidence in young people today because they’re constantly being put down by the system. They’re constantly being blamed for spreading coronavirus by going to illegal raves and all this stuff. The truth is, the young people I meet are really, really connected to politics.
So they don’t use that word. If you say to them, what about politics? They say, no, I’m not interested. But you actually talk about the issues of climate change, of racism, Black Lives Matter, and they’re really, really engaged generation. What they need to stay engaged and what what they need to do is, you know, political ideas can actually map a route to victory because we don’t want to be what I won’t be here in 60 years time, but we don’t want to be having this discussion again, 10 years, 20 years, 30 years down the line saying on, you know, we didn’t win this time.
What can we do next time? We got to forge the energy of young people who want to make change to ideas that can make that change. And then we should be unconquerable, I think. Yeah. So building on that, I think that’s one of the challenges, I guess, for a lot of people, especially as you’ve mentioned a lot, is that there is no other alternative that we can say right now that isn’t that leadership that we we need to show the people that like, hey, socialism isn’t this scary big thing off in the corner that goes against everything we’re told is rife in the world.
Socialism is the most reasonable explanation and support for the Democrats in the US, for example, the Liberals or NDP in Canada, Labour in the UK seems largely to be justified by being the lesser of two evils, more so than any sort of ideological connection. You know, at least Trump still isn’t in power. Seems to be something that I see a lot on social media, and it’s usually in response to some sort of critique of the modern government.
For example, my issue with this is that just letting the conservatives and the capitalists define what we allow is permissible in society each day. You know, I read a quote online by a US socialist Hatakeyama here, who joked, If I wanted us to vote for Miss, they need only put him up against Hitler. And I think it’s this sense of lesser evil ism which seems to be stopping us from imagining how good our world could be, how just it could be if we just followed a completely independent program like socialism.
But for a lot of people, they say socialism is too much of a risk, you know, too far outside the comfort zone. And so meaningful change is hard to come by. You know, we see A.S.A. in the squad, in the US politics saying I can’t possibly push their socialist agenda because it’s it’s too far away from what we’re used to. You know, like we just have to filibuster right now. We can’t possibly do all these progressive policies that people are asking for and desire.
But because of that lack of leadership and that lack of. Maybe willingness to risk their political careers or willingness to go against this huge big power struggle between billionaires and the government that we’re seeing.
I think you’re absolutely right. I agree with everything you’ve said. I’ll give you an anecdote, which I think sums up the US situation quite well. Four years ago, I was I was doing a debate at a university with a number of people who were arguing that Trump was going to be a fantastic president. And I was opposing that motion, obviously. But one of the things I was debating with was a member of the Republican Party, Young Members National Committee.
He was studying the extra university. So he was quite high up in the Republican Party. And we didn’t have a lot in common. We didn’t agree. But I thought, as sometimes is inevitably the case, you stop and have a drink and chat, because I never liked leaving those kinds of debates straight away because it makes my opponents think they frighten me away. You know how I always make sure I’m there until they have to argue? Yeah, exactly.
But this guy came up to me and he said, you know, his family were from Kansas and they were Republicans. But he said how Bernie Sanders being the candidate, his family would seriously consider switching their vote to Bernie Sanders because they liked what he said about jobs and they liked what he said about speaking out for ordinary people. And this was a guy from the Republican Party talking to me. So I think, you know, Biden, unfortunately, you know, has a track record going back decades of not only being a Democrat compromiser, but a hard line Democrat who in the 1960s actually gave tacit support to segregationists in the South.
Biden is not going to be the magic man who transforms America. What Biden will do over the next four years, even with a nominal majority in the Senate, is enormously disappoint. The American electorate and from him in one form or another will continue to strengthen. And whether in four years time, Donald Trump or Donald Trump, Junior or Ivanka Trump or one of the people cut from that cloth stand for president, then we could find ourselves once again with a right wing Republican leader.
And, you know, I’ve I’ve spent all my life hearing leftist reformist. And of course, the Democratic Party isn’t a socialist party in the way that the European social democracies are at all is a big business party. I’ve spent all my life hearing left wing reformists say. We mustn’t criticize now because we have to win the next election, and then if they win the election, their narrative changes, too. We mustn’t criticize now because we are in power and we have to be loyal.
And people like to see, as you mentioned. Are you doing no service to the cause of socialism, if indeed she considers herself really to be a socialist by staying quiet? And is the tragedy the four years ago, Bernie Sanders, when he was outmaneuvered for the Democratic nomination, didn’t stand as an independent socialist? You know, opinion polls in the US tell us that 50 percent of young people in the US, when asked the question of whether they think socialism or capitalism is a better system, say they think socialism is a better system.
Now, they don’t have a clearly defined view necessarily, and they may be, in lots of cases, just responding to Trump ism and capitalism as manifested over the last four years. But that could be such an important building block to start from, you know, to take socialism down into the the working class. And another example, a two to three years ago, teachers in West Virginia went on strike. Now West Virginia has the reputation of being a redneck state by state.
And so our co thinkers in the US, because we are an international organization in Canada as well, but our co thinkers in the US went down to West Virginia to intervene on the picket lines and they got a very frosty reception on the first day because many of these men and women on the picket line were wearing some badges and they were wearing Trump hats. And yet there they were on a picket line demonstrating against the Republicans in West Virginia who had cut teachers wages and conditions.
But through patient engagement with these teachers within 48 hours, they were saying to us, well, you guys are amazing. You call yourself a socialist, but you actually sound like us. How can you be socialist? And we were saying, well, what did you think Socialist looked like? So we began to break down barriers and in fact, we actually recruited one of those teachers. From being a Republican supporter over to becoming a socialist, and I think that, you know, the same is true, as you rightly say, with the NDP.
I mean, I remember back in the 1980s, you know, hearing about the left in the NDP and the challenges that they were offering. But all of these parties have capitulated to the market in the last 20 years. People since the collapse of the Soviet Union, which was the decisive moment, they’ve kind of accepted the. George Bush senior narrative that communism is dead, the market has triumphed. It was ludicrous in 1990. The historian Francis Fukuyama saying it’s the end of history that you could ever reach the end of history.
You had George Bush saying America is now the super unipolar power. You know, we can do whatever we like. We pointed out actually the collapse of the Soviet Union, which took place for reasons we don’t have to go into tonight. And we were no defenders of the one party rule and the dictatorial approach that characterized the Soviet Union. But we pointed out that actually this would open up a new period of frenetic competition between the superpowers, that America was inexorably becoming weakened compared to the position it enjoyed in nineteen forty five.
And in countries like Canada, the NDP till ended this process of moving and shifting away from being prepared to argue for socialism towards trying to find a third way, a middle ground, if you like. And there is no middle ground. As I said before, and you saw some spectacular disappearances in Italy, the Socialist Party collapsing and completely disappeared. In Spain, the Socialist Party is in government, yet they’re not socialist in any way. They’re a party which is power through neoliberal policies and actually joined in the attacks on the Catalan people when they sought the right of self-determination, as sadly it Podemos, the sort of left party in Spain.
One of the things that actually has characterized the emergence of new left parties in the last 20 years has been how quickly they’ve gone from espousing so-called socialist ideas to actually capitulating to the market. So whether you talk about the left party or going further back, you know, the the the party in Brazil under Lula’s presidency or whether you look at the emotional Syriza, all these parties which, you know, attracted young people and started off by saying that they wanted to be different from the old hierarchical parties.
They wanted to be horizontal parties and practice primitive democracy. That was all a nonsense, because what happened is because they didn’t have local sales and local branches. And so the decisions were still being made by leaders who then effectively put those decisions out the plebiscite. But, you know, knowing that most members wouldn’t vote in this plebiscite. So like I said before, it’s not the idea of the party that’s wrong. It’s it’s what kind of party is and what ideas it’s based upon.
And, you know, you’re absolutely right. I mean, I, I think in four years time in America, Biden’s name is going to be thirt and, you know. Tropism has not been vanquished, Trump, Trump will not be prosecuted, but by the Senate, impeachment will fail in four years time. Know he might have croaked, so he may not be on the scene. But this is his son who will stand until Donald Trump Jr. is just as nasty a piece of work.
And there’s a whole group of them now. So. The far right are also a threat, we haven’t talked about them tonight, but, you know, the other danger of there being a vacuum where the left once stood is that workers can be seduced into far right politics because the easiest thing in the world is to appoint someone with a different color skin or someone who speaks a different language and say they are the problem. Scapegoat ism has always been one of the features of a capitalist class society, term term workers away from looking above the puppet masters and us towards looking to the side, the person who’s got to divide and conquer.
Exactly, exactly. And, you know, we’ve got a huge lesson in that in the U.K. in terms of Northern Ireland. And we see it across the world, you know, in every country where imperialism at its bloody fingers, you know, they rule through a divide and conquer the breaking up of the Indian subcontinent, creation of Pakistan, the Middle East, Iraq and so on. So, again, you know, capitalism in this era is running out of steam.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to fall by the wayside. It has to be overthrown. And when I say overthrow, that has to be through the building of mass movements of millions in every country. So the Socialist Party is part of an international organisation, the Committee for Workers International. And we organize everywhere from Israel Palestine to the United States to Chile to Brazil, Malaysia. We have a very, very small base in Canada at the moment, but we we’re confident we can grow.
And in Europe, we’re strong in France and Germany, in Ireland and so on. And the issues in different countries will be slightly different the different times, obviously. But the methodology with which we pursue our politics is the same. We go where the workers are. We we intervene on the picket lines in the communities where they’re struggling against the closure of a service to protect services against privatisation. The sector organisations that can reach out to young people who are being exploited by zero hour contracts and who don’t have support from official trade unions that seem to think it’s too much of a bother to organize young people.
When one of our members in Plymouth, England, has become, well, about two years ago became a zero hour contract worker working for a computer game company. Fifteen people in his workplace all really badly exploited, all on zero hour contracts, one of them was subject to sexual harassment by the boss. So what did our comrade they’ve got the work force together on a Sunday lunch time in a local pub away from the prying eyes of the management. He gave them all union cards.
He then went to the union. He had to really find find them because they didn’t meet in Plymouth. They met in some obscure little village. And when he walked in, this guy of twenty twenty seven, they’re like, how did you find us? Who are you? What do you want? He’s like, I want to join the union. By the way, here’s another 15 people want of doing well is now completely transform that workplace. They’ve got really good conditions.
They’ve got a strong union and he’s standing currently for a national executive position in the union to cover the south west of England. There’s a fair chance he will win. And we’ve taken his campaign into every supermarket that has union members in. It is very difficult in the long term to leaflet supermarkets. And as you can imagine, but we we’ve taken the campaign in and we hear on the grapevine the right wing leaders of that union are so petrified about Brian maybe getting elected.
They’re putting all their efforts, even though there were elections for the whole country, they’re putting all their efforts into trying to stop them getting elected in Plymouth now. Leon Trotsky famously said, you know, if you have in 1917 Bolshevik in a regiment, then you can win over that regiment to the revolution and it’s the same with the workplaces. We have a conference, the secretary of the National Shop Stewards Network, which is a body of trade unionists, and we are trying to build that one socialist in a factory, one socialist in OpenOffice, one socialist in a hospital or whatever.
And given the period we’re in and all the issues and questions that are being raised by workers, one person in the workplace can be the catalyst in winning somebody else and then a third person and then a fourth person. And, you know, that’s that’s the position our party take coming. We roll up our sleeves, we get stuck in and we go where the workers are. I mean, it’s it’s it’s crazy, really, that Tom and I still haven’t met and I feel sure that we will.
But, you know, there’s no place in England where we can set up a store and sell our newspaper. The last time we went to Saulsberry, which is a city which isn’t noted for its revolutionary militancy, which we saw twenty five papers in the morning and Saulsberry and got donations totaling I think another 20 pounds. And people were coming up to us and not necessarily all saying I’m a socialist, but they were coming up to us and saying it’s really good to see you campaigning against the threat to close local hospitals.
And so you begin to make that connection on that level. And then you you do it out into a wider discussion about, well, it’s not just the hospital. We want to say we want to publicly run hospitals. We want workers control and management. We want an end to obscenely high rents in the housing sector. And then you say to all that we need to change society. And the next step is maybe for you to join us and get involved and then to begin organically to build the forces.
We have people who say to us, you know, socialism frightens me. I’m put off by the concept. We’re not going to recruit all of those people at this stage. But what we have to do is try very simply to deconstruct the word and turn it into aspirations, turn into things that make a difference to people’s lives, that that’s why we don’t call ourselves communists. Marx and Engels called themselves communists. Unfortunately, the word communist was was used and besmirched by capitalist class in the media.
But we are genuine communists, genuine Marxists. But the word socialist is, you know, an easier bridge across digestible for people to say, yeah, so that’s great. That’s that’s important because that’s what we try. What you just said there is what we try to do with this podcast. Basically, it’s about reaching out to people of informed and respectful discourse, which is something that is one of the reasons why we started podcast in response to one of the elections that was that was going through what you just have one side of the right and one side on the left, and they’re just throwing cross over and no one’s listening to each other.
And that’s why I’m reaching out. Will not reply to which is my word. Laughter and making common ground, which is my which is my word for this year. And so it is amazing. Robyn, I realized we take a lot of your time and we can’t thank you enough for coming on the podcast on sharing with us all your stories or your personal stories, the insight that you have into socialism and Marxism and for breaking that down for people.
I hope people really get something out of listening to this episode. If we want to get in touch with you, the Socialist Party, where can they where can I find you think they can contact us on our website, which is w w w e the Socialist Party, the UK. And, you know, that’s probably the best way to reach us. And if anyone has thought about any questions they have specifically based on what I’ve said, my phone number is on that website and they can contact me there.
I’m sure most people want to take up an international phone bill, but it’s been it’s been a pleasure. And like I said at the beginning, I could talk. But that wouldn’t be reasonable, I think, as I’ve got older, I’m sixty five this year and I’ve been working for the Socialist Party since I was 22. It’s not a positive for the financial rewards, as you can appreciate, but I have never regretted a single moment of how I have spent and will continue to spend my life because of the last thing I’ll leave you with.
This is the idea that. My brain repels that, the thought that this is the best the world is ever capable of being. This is the best that human beings are ever capable of achieving. If I thought that, I really would pack it in tomorrow morning, because that would be an extremely depressing. So I think what the coronavirus has illustrated is the ludicrous nature of the world we live in today, the vast inequalities that are not just permitted, but encouraged by the system and the fact that there is an alternative in any stage of history when human beings have been fighting oppression, there will be many times when they look around.
And so will it ever change? Can it ever change the people who led the struggle to overthrow feudalism, the people who fought against American imperialism in Vietnam, the people who are fighting for national liberation or recognition of their rights, the heroic youth who were on the streets of Myanmar at the present time, standing up to the army, people in Hong Kong who are going on to demonstrations, young people with their wills written in their pockets because they expect they could be shot from those demonstrations.
Human beings have a great capacity to struggle. Thankfully, as a species, when we face oppression, we don’t resort to to mass suicide. We struggle. And struggle is the locomotive for change. And the most successful struggle is the struggle where you have a clear program, a clear objective and confidence in the working class. But also you have to have that determination. You have to recognize that there are pitfalls along the road, that you won’t win victories on every occasion you go into battle.
But really, each skirmish we engage in creates that report and that report becomes greater and greater. And therefore, I’ve never been more confident in the capacity of ordinary people to struggle. I think a new generation are coming onto the political stage. They’re not prepared to put up with the bullshit spouted by men in suits, usually men, sometimes women as well. Of course, they all wear dresses. Well, those those politicians they have besmirched. The reputation of politics and for me, politics is not about men and women or people of other genders arguing in national parliaments about things that don’t concern us in our day to day lives.
Politics is about jobs. It’s about homes, is about a decent future education, even decent pensions. Something more on my mind these days than would have been when I started out. And that’s what politics is. And it’s socialist can be the glue that make the connections between all those disparate issues and the confidence to engage and fight for something better. Like I say, if I thought that we didn’t have the capacity to build a better world, it would be a depressing time.
Utterly convinced we can. I’m actually convinced we will. And tomorrow morning, I’ll be no doubt answering emails from people who’ve applied to join the Socialist Party that they will be talking to some of them on the phone at length. And I thought tonight, because otherwise they got too high. But, you know, we never stop talking and sometimes we can win over the most unlikely people. I refuse to think that all those people who voted Trump in America, for instance, are neo fascist or conspiracy theorists.
There are many just downtrodden working class people who have been sold the same kind of the people in America have always been called you had in the 19th century the snake oil salesman who turned up in the old Western town and said, you know, drink this and it will make your hair grow. It will make them more virile, will make your land more fertile. You can always be those people on an equal in hopeless situations. Plus, desperate solutions will go after working class people in America and Canada, in Europe, across the world, in Asia, there is no no go area for socialism.
The only limit is the limit of our numbers. And that’s why we obviously urge people not just to listen to a podcast, but to become engaged with you as a Socialist Party member or in a different capacity, fighting for socialism. That isn’t ultimately the most important thing. We don’t claim we’re the only your socialist on the planet. Of course not. We want to meet and we do regularly meet groups of people who contact us and say we want to get involved and how can we collaborate and so on.
So we have to take back common cause of humanity, which is that of creating a better world, a world fit for the 21st century. Nothing, I hope tonight that this thing will really be all that, you know, maybe it’s time now for them to take small baby steps towards getting involved in something. Many will be involved already, I’m sure. Absolutely no water. I’m not as possible as well. And there is there’s things to be positive about, like the youth movement and things that you said.
And that is I take heart in the fact that all the rights that we enjoy will come about from working class legislation and things like that. And so I hope that people will enjoy this, say, tonight. And if you can if you did and you want to get such a huge audience.
Yeah, absolutely. If you have any questions for us or open at all, it’s high at Tom, Stu and You Podcast. You can also follow us on Instagram. And Facebook is just at time showing you, Robin, this has been an absolutely incredible and exert your passion and your extensive knowledge on all things socialism and the common good has truly astounded me, that’s for sure. This is by far the most comprehensive socialism based episode. But I know Tom has a bazillion more questions and I have plenty more as well.
So we really do hope you’ll come back on the podcast at some point in the future, because I think you have so much to share. And we we truly do appreciate your time tonight. It’s my pleasure and I’d be very happy to come back on our unstitched in any way and, you know, I don’t claim to be responsible knowledge, but what I do claim is always listen and little have something to say. Hopefully it will be positive and constructive.
So it’s been a pleasure for me. Real pleasure. And, you know, thanks very much for thinking about inviting me on and giving me this opportunity to talk about my socialist journey, which hopefully will strike a chord with a few other people, either just beginning their socialist journey or a few grizzled veterans like me being on their own journey. But ultimately, I may never meet you. We may be in different corners of the world through in same boat and probably appreciate your time.
And it’s all next on Larry and I.