It’s impossible to say whether the extreme destructiveness of Hurricane Irma was due to global warming, but its intensity demonstrates the forces we can expect to be unleashed now average global temperature is above that 125,000 years ago during the last interglacial. During this interglacial, when homo sapiens was confined to Africa, the Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps melted. The current interglacial which we are now living through began only 11 thousand years ago. The Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps have yet to melt, but, accelerated by human CO2 emission, this is now happening. When the Greenland and West Antarctic ice caps melted 125,000 years ago, sea levels rose some 4 to 6 meters above the current level. If they melt again, as is expected, sea levels will again rise by a similar amount.

No one knows for sure how quickly the ice sheets will melt or where the process will stop. A completely ice free world would result in a drowned world with sea levels some 70 metres above current levels. Unless a tipping point is reached first, this is currently thought unlikely in this century, but the direction of travel given our dependency on fossil fuels and the profits that can be derived from their extraction is clear enough.

Can humanity cope with increases in sea levels of 4 to 6 meters or more? Go to http://flood.firetree.net, feed in your own predictions and fears and judge for yourself the effect on shorelines and how you and yours will be directly affected. But the amount of currently dry land that will be below sea level is only part of the problem. As Hurricane Irma and recent floods in Texas, the Caribbean and India demonstrate, water moves and it is surges, precipitous rainfall and wind that cause the real damage rather than the slow encroachment of the sea. Living a few hundred feet above sea level will not secure your future or that of your children – unless, that is, you are part of the capitalist elite.

One reason for the lack of enthusiasm in tackling CO2 emissions – look for example at how the issue was ignored in reaching the decision on Heathrow expansion – is that capitalists, those who own the means of production and thus don’t have to sell their labour to live, are pretty confident that they will survive the coming global climatic catastrophe. They are strengthened in this view by robotisation, the accelerating substitution of labour by machines, giving them an implicit belief that they can become self-sufficient provided they are supported by a servant class. The 1% need, say, 2% to serve them, leaving the 97% superfluous to their needs.

Scared? You should be. Global warming is probably unstoppable even if the political will existed to try. But that doesn’t mean that it cannot be slowed or that our world will shortly (i.e. by the end of the century) become uninhabitable. The choice is between: letting the 3% survive and the rest of us perish; and starting out on the road to building a communist society which meets the needs of everyone. Given where we are starting from, that means building the Communist Party – now, in Croydon and everywhere.

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STRONG AND STABLE?

We are used to right wing bias in the capitalist press. The hysterical response of the Daily Express to news that we would not be putting up candidates in the forthcoming general election was an extreme but not untypical example. Tory MPs were quoted by The Express as warning that our support was a sign of how extreme Labour had become under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. Amanda Milling, the nervous Tory MP for Cannock Chase (majority only 4,923) bleated:

“Let this sink in: Jeremy Corbyn has been endorsed today by a party who want   to close down businesses, leave the protection of Nato and hike up  taxes to a level never seen before in this country.”

One and a half out of three, Amanda!

Yes, we do want to quit Nato whose original purpose was to contain the former USSR and whose purpose now is to confront Russia by rolling our tanks and missiles up its borders. Yes, we want to hike up taxes on the likes of Richard Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers, who employs trusts and holding companies located in Guernsey to avoid paying UK tax. No we don’t want to ‘close’ businesses, but we do want to see their employees treated fairly and with respect, represented by trade unions with negotiating rights and given a say in the running of the business, with public ownership as an option where the so-called ‘business’ is actually a public service.

Jeremy Corbyn is a decent, principled politician with deep socialist convictions, but he’s not obviously a Marxist; and he’s certainly not a communist. Our programme would go much further as it’s aimed at creating a society run by those who do the work, not those whose families have accumulated the proceeds of other people’s work. Corbyn may not share our entire world-view; but compared with a prime minister who wants to starve state education while promoting grammar schools, privatise the NHS and who confesses to being willing to commit mass murder by launching a retaliatory nuclear attack, he’s well worth supporting.

Strong and stable government under May? For the few, perhaps, but not for the rest of us.

The Future of the NHS and the role of the Independent Left

The news, suppressed until the Tory Party Conference had ended, that NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts have gone nearly a billion pounds in the red in just three months did not come as a surprise to the Communist Party and others such as Keep Our NHS Public who have been waiting for the figures. Make no mistake, the Tories intend to destroy the NHS and replace it with a US style private insurance based scheme, not stop at merely tendering out services. The outsourcing of Croydon University Hospital’s A&E service, now shambolically and expensively run by Virgin, is just the start. As a step to achieving their aim, the Tories, naively supported by the Lib Dems for the first five years, engaged in a programme of inadequate funding and enforced ‘efficiency savings’. But these alone will not enable them to bring their plans to fruition. For all their bluster, they know they lack enough support across the country to enforce a complete privatisation of the NHS. Not even the backing of the capitalist press and sympathetic coverage by a BBC cowed by the prospect of charter renewal will be enough to force it through. They need a TINA argument – There is No Alternative. They are looking for continued membership of the European Union and ratification of TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, to provide this.

From where will the opposition to the Tories’ plans come? Jeremy Corbyn deserves our support following his election as Labour Leader, especially in his struggle with a sullen Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) – many Labour MPs resent the power exercised by new members and supporters in electing him and will seek to oust him as soon as they can. The NHS cannot, however, be saved by parliamentary opposition alone; nor should everyone on the independent left, especially those in the Communist Party, tear up their membership cards and pile into the forthcoming internal struggle inside the Labour Party. It will take time to clear out the PLP (assuming it can be done) and, meanwhile, we need to organise independently in the trade unions and trade union councils, support what’s left of our free press (the Morning Star and the internet) and campaign on the streets and in our community groups. Even more important than the next meeting of Croydon Constituency Labour Parties is the next public meeting of the Croydon Assembly. This is a genuine, bottom-up democratic initiative by Croydon TUC and will take place on Saturday 7 November at Ruskin House, 23 Coombe Road, Croydon CR0 1BD. Confirmed speakers include John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, and Christine Blower, the NUT General Secretary. Such grass roots initiatives, conducted independently of the current struggle within the Labour Party, are essential if continued membership of the European Union on unsatisfactory terms and ratification of TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, both essential steps in the destruction of the NHS, are to be opposed. We cannot rely on an internally divided Labour Party to do this for us. We must do it ourselves.

WHY WE ARE STANDING

The Communist Party will be standing in a handful of constituencies across the country in the forthcoming general election, including Ben Stevenson’s candidacy in Croydon North. Why make the effort when this intervention is unlikely to influence the outcome?

The large Parties, the ones that will form, alone or in coalition, the next government, are, with the exception of the Greens, essentially election machines. They are under the control of their leaderships, have little internal democracy and exist to secure for these leaderships high office.  The leaderships are dependent on funding from commercial interests – i.e. ‘capital’ and thus, reflect the requirements of these interests – consciously by the more self-interested from amongst their ranks and unwittingly by a few mistaken idealists. This illustrates the function of ‘democracy’ under capitalism: to manage the system in the interests of capital while giving the impression that the ‘will of the people’ is being expressed. The Greens, on the other hand, are in a transitionary situation. They still reflect the interests of their members who are fired with idealistic intention. They seek to promote a number of important and progressive policies, especially the vital need to curb global warming – an issue the other big parties choose to ignore as it conflicts with the commercial interests on which they depend. The problem for the Greens is that idealism is not enough. As they grow, they will face a choice: either allow themselves to be penetrated by commercial interests; or fuse with the only significant counterbalance to those interests in capitalism – the organised working class. Meanwhile, attractive as many of their policies are, voters need to be careful that voting for them in particular constituencies does not let the despicable Tories in.

Where does the Communist Party fit into this political structure? Our sole purpose, as originally set out by Karl Marx in the Communist Manifesto, is to provide leadership to the working class including the trade unions and that residual element within the Labour Party which retains an interest in representing ordinary working people. It is not to manage the capitalist system better. We are not interested in promoting our leadership, even our splendid candidate in Croydon North, Ben Stevenson, to positions of personal power within an unchanged system; and we distance ourselves from the tainted and conditional support so readily available from the capitalists. Nor are we interested in coalitions. The fate awaiting the benighted Lib-Dems demonstrates the price of joining a coalition as a junior partner and trading cabinet seats for election promises.

So, given this background, why are we standing? First, we are a democratic party and the members have decided that we should contest some seats. The intention is that, by this intervention, we will shift the debate leftward and strengthen the resolve of Labour candidates to support progressive policies such as stopping TTIP in its tracks, saving the NHS, abolishing the anti-trade union legislation, saving the environment and the other issues raised by Croydon TUC which I described in my blog last week. More important, however, for the Communist Party, unlike the other parties standing in this election, this is just the start of our campaign. The next government, whether it is the Tories, Labour, a coalition or even UKIP, will have no idea how to address the issues we face  other than by squeezing workers, their families, the unemployed, the sick and disadvantaged even harder than they have been doing for the last five years. Under the next government, even a majority Labour administration, inequality will continue to grow, the NHS will continue to disintegrate and our economic woes will continue to escalate. But the Communist Party will still be here: on the streets; speaking to you through the pages of the Morning Star; on the internet; in the trade unions; and. locally but not least, by helping to organise the Croydon Assembly which will reconvene at Ruskin House on 6 July. Watch this space!

Seven reasons to join the Communist Party!

A reflection by Nigel Green

Our three Communist candidates each got only around 50 and 80 votes at last week’s local elections in Croydon. This was, of course, nowhere near enough to win, but our campaigning on a left, socialist platform nevertheless helped radicalise an otherwise lacklustre election.

Our efforts to raise the level of debate in the campaign was not unhelpful to Labour, the eventual winners, and we contributed to the outcome in which Croydon voters shunned the Tories, UKIP and the neo-fascist BNP.

Despite the difficulties we face under our first-past-the-post electoral system in which mass media, from which we are largely excluded, brings in the votes, not local campaigning, there are still seven good reasons for working people and trade unionists to join the Communists in Croydon, right here, right now:

1. Economics/Political economy – Communists characterise the present system as ‘State Monopoly Capitalism’, where the economy is dominated by a relatively small number of privately–owned, profit driven conglomerates. A key function of the capitalist state is to defend the interests of these giant monopolies and the neo-liberal market system that enables them to thrive.
2. Workplace issues and priorities – Communists in our programme ‘Britain’s Road to Socialism’, argue that trade unions must be at the heart of the opposition to austerity and workplace attacks. We campaign within unions for their leaderships to adopt a militant but very realistic campaign on pay, pensions and jobs.

3. Organising to win – Communists always advocate and adopt a collaborative approach to campaigning and seek to involve other organisations where we can – trade unions and grass roots organisations. We campaign to win but we are not sectarian in the way we go about this!

4. Political campaigning and the Labour Party – Communists say that Labour governments under rank and file union pressure have enacted some important reforms, but have never challenged the capitalist system. This is where Communists come in – we are fighting to end the capitalist system and establish a socialist and ultimately, in the more distant future, a fully communist society. We agitate on this all the time!

5. Internationalism and anti-racism – Communists stand in solidarity with workers in many countries. We are part of the international communist movement and there are very few countries where we do not have good contacts with our sister parties. We oppose fascists of every kind, wherever they reside, and we campaign for pay parity and full rights for migrant workers.

6. We campaign to exit the European Union in a socialist direction – we seek its dissolution because it is the main instrument for imposing big business, neo-liberal policies on member states. That is why, along with other socialists and the RMT union, we called for a vote for ‘No2 EU’ in the Euro elections the other week. On the other hand, we totally oppose Ukip for the racism lurking beneath its surface and its right wing agenda hostile to the interests of ordinary working people.

7. The environment – The current capitalist-made devastation of the earth’s climate and ecology is the most important issue ever faced by humankind. Communists put defence of the environment at the heart of everything we do.

Seven reasons to join the Communist Party! The eighth is that, by joining, you will make us a bigger party and thus more effective in pursuing these aims. Read our fighting socialist daily newspaper, the Morning Star, join our local Marxist education programme (details at http://communistuniversity.wordpress.com), but, most importantly, e-mail office@communist-party.org.uk and say you want to join the Communist Party. Now is not the time to hold back!

Nigel Green

LABOUR TAX SHOCK: WHO ARE THEY KIDDING?

The Croydon Guardian appears to have splashed over its entire front page this week the shock-horror headline “Labour Spending Plans = 27% Council Tax Rise”, followed by an article explaining that this estimate is arrived at by costing up all the proposals in Labour’s Croydon Manifesto. Only in very small letters on the front page does the word “advertisement” appear, and nowhere on this page can one find who the advertiser is. Only on closer examination is it apparent that the Tories have paid for an entire four page, full colour wrapper.

This raises an interesting question. It is not whether Labour’s manifesto, on the whole a mild and timid document that does not seek to reverse, or even halt, the savage cuts in services, would really result in a Council Tax rise of 27%. If the estimate of the tax rise necessary to fund Labour’s plans were accurate and reliable, it would say more about the extent to which cuts have undermined Croydon Council’s services than about the profligacy of Labour.

The interesting question is how can the Tories afford to pay for such publicity.

The Tory party can afford to spend huge sums on electioneering because it is essentially a conspiracy against the people. It receives vast sums of money from big business and wealthy individuals and rewards them with the laws, regulations and tax breaks they require to make more money and give further donations. That’s where the money to fight the forthcoming local government elections and, on a much, much bigger scale, the general election next year comes from. Furthermore, with breath-taking guile, they have even managed to seduce the hapless Lib-Dems into their conspiracy, getting the Lib Dems to prop them up in parliament for five full years in return for a few meagre ministerial posts, which have been filled ineffectually, and the promise of a referendum on proportional representation (which they lost).

Such is the success of the Tory election-money machine that Labour essentially adopted the same strategy –Tory-lite or, as they called themselves, New Labour. The best argument for voting Labour in the forthcoming elections is not the hope that Miliband will reverse the New Labour sell out, it is the same old argument we have heard for years: vote for us, we are not as bad as the Tories. For how much longer Labour can get away with this dispiriting argument remains to be seen.

In parliamentary democracy, with its two, or two and a half, party system, there is no real choice. Vote for Tweedle Dum or Tweedle Dee. Even then, unless you happen to live in a marginal constituency, most votes don’t count. There is no way of fixing this with PR. Even if the ultimate winner receives the most votes, or is, say, the least unacceptable candidate, the system is run by career politicians on behalf of big business and the wealthy. The mass media is, in consequence, controlled by these same interests and ensures that left wing alternatives, particularly the Communist Party, are shut out. Communists, however, aspire to something better. A society run to benefit ordinary working people, employing direct democracy so that they, not career politicians, have responsibility for decisions and where the mass media is owned by the readers and viewers, not a few media moguls with their own agendas. Meanwhile, however, and despite our lack of funds, Communists do stand in elections if only to give a few voters in a few constituencies and wards a real choice; and we do, where possible, enter electoral alliances such as No2EU – yes to workers’ rights. But never be fooled into thinking that this is democracy. That must await a communist future.