This is a report from the ISL national meeting 16-17 June 2018 which discussed the IWL pre-world congress documents, the UK national situation, our programme and tasks of the ISL. In the next issue will highlight some further issues we discussed at the meeting.
International Socialist League
The UK economy is growing the slowest of the G7 capitalist economies, as productivity has slowed to under 1% a year.
In the first quarter of 2018, the UK economy grew by just 0.1% in real terms. This was the lowest growth rate in over five years.
Household spending rose the least in over three years and business investment shrank the most in nearly three years. Britain is not heading into a recovery but towards deeper problems.
British capitalism is a ‘rentier’ economy, where surplus value increasingly comes from extracting ‘rents’ and financial profits from productive sectors in other parts of the world.
In fact, total UK investment to GDP has been lower than most comparable capitalist economies and has been declining for the last 30 years.
The election of Jeremy Corbyn in 2015, the referendum Brexit decision in 2016, the deepening and permanency of austerity, the rise of new unions in London, the renewal of the national question and the dominance of bourgeois democracy are fundamental questions for the working class, the International Socialist League and all who want a better world.
The UK/EU Brexit negotiation is portrayed as based on a conflict over democracy and the protection of the people rights in the UK.
However, both the EU and UK governments stand for neo-liberalism, rising inequalities, environmental destruction and neo-colonisation of countries like Greece and Portugal and others. Brexit is a product of inter-imperialist conflicts.
The centre of the conflict is an attempt to protect UK banks and the City of London in its cut-throat fight for control of financial sectors, economy and trade that also dominate important parts of the world.
Powerful forces in the City of London backed Brexit, and cynically used the effect of austerity on sections of the working class to play the race card and win support for a “better future”.
We said that no type of Brexit was a way out for the working class nor was remaining in the EU. The alternative will have to come from the mass mobilisations of the working class in the UK linking with the mass mobilisations in Europe.
The capitalist system of production for profit has to be replaced by planned investment under common public ownership, workers control and a workers’ government. Neither reformism nor the EU can solve these fundamental issues.
In or out of the EU only the master will change – choosing either the Troika (the EU commission, ECB and the IMF) or the banks, the British parliament and the Monarchy is no choice for workers. The only way out is to destroy the EU and defeat the Tory government on the streets.
UK political situation
The world is characterised by instability and continues with a weak recovery from 2008/09, which has an important impact in the UK.
The UK economy is not a stable, and it is declining in relation to the US and Germany, who are also fighting to maintain their position in the world and their profits.
The UK is declining as an economic power on a world level.
As the crisis over Brexit continues and over the custom borders, a deep crisis has been created inside the Tory and Labour parties.
The UK is not in a position where it can offer economic and social concessions to the working class or many sections of the middle class.
On the contrary the policy of austerity is permanent and the government is trying hard to bring about the end to the Welfare state.
UK capitalism is unstable
The ruling class cannot continue in the old way based on accommodating to the Welfare state – they have to destroy it and attack many democratic and workers’ rights.
The ruling class cannot find equilibrium through Brexit, they are taking Britain out of the EU because they face a future of increasing problems at a European level, as all governments deepen the austerity attacks.
In this situation the working class cannot continue living in the same way with such deep austerity attacks, which is why new unions have begun to emerge with longer strikes taking place in a number of unions.
Young people have to fight
The future for young people continually worsens, they have no future under capitalism except by working casual jobs and unemployment where it is impossible to plan a future. The youth will have to fight for their future.
The only reason there is not a prerevolutionary situation in the UK is because of the Labour and trade union bureaucracy.
If the TUC called a general strike, and national strikes were called to save the NHS the government could be defeated and removed in a short time. But since 2011 they have refused to follow through the demands that come from the rank and file.
The TUC and Labour Party are pillars of the existing order, but they could not prevent new non-TUC unions from emerging, nor the increasing length of some strikes.
However, they continue to act as a break that the working class will have to overcome.
Trotsky said, “In the processes of history we find stable situations which are altogether non-revolutionary. We find likewise situations which are obviously revolutionary. And again, there are counter-revolutionary situations (we had better not forget them!). But the most striking features of our epoch of capitalism in decay are intermediate and transitional: situations between the non-revolutionary and the prerevolutionary, between the prerevolutionary and the revolutionary or the counter-revolutionary. It is precisely these transitional stages which have a decisive importance from the point of view of political strategy.” (Whither France?)
Changing political situation
Britain is not in a stable nonrevolutionary situation and some features go towards a pre-revolutionary situation.
How quickly the new features will develop more widely and strongly depends on the interaction between the objective situation of British capitalism and the subjective factor of working class leadership that can release all the pent-up hatred of austerity and the cause of it: capitalism.