Category: "Politics"

Against the anti-nuclear bandwagon

The left has taken a very anti-nuclear stance on how to develop Britain's electricity supply going forward.

A lot of this comes from misconceptions about nuclear power. Typically when one mentions you're in favour of a new generation of nuclear power stations you're instantly met with some nonsense about 500,000 deaths thanks to Chernobyl.

Firstly that argument is a complete non-sequitur. Modern reactors, and even Britain's existing nuclear reactors cannot fail in such a manner as one of the reactors at Chernobyl did in 1986. 85% of France's electricity is generated by way of nuclear power, and they've had no major incidents, proving that it is a reliable and safe means of power.

Secondly, the statement is factually incorrect, the number of deaths directly resulting from the meltdown stands at 56. Mostly workers at the plant, clean-up personal and firefighters, although 9 of which were children who died from thyroid cancer. More people die on Britain's roads every week.

Statistically one would expect from the dosage of radiation that out of the 600,000 people around the fallout areas an additional 4,000 people, and 5,000 from the 6 million people in the nearby areas would have a reduced life expectency. About how many die on Britain's roads in 3 years.

The next thing they talk about is the nuclear waste being a health hazard for millions of years to come. This also is no longer relevant, in old power stations it is true that a by-product was nuclear materials with an extremely long half-life however these materials were deliberately produced to use in nuclear weapons. Modern reactors can re-process a lot more nuclear waste leaving much less unused, and what little is unused has a much shorter half-life.

Wind power is the big alternative in Britain, after all we do have a lot of breezy days. However to get realistic we would have to cover a colossal amount of space with wind turbines to be able to reliably make a significant contribution to the country's energy supply. The environment impact I would argue would be far greater than building a new generation of nuclear power stations.

We also need to look long-term, we may only need to use fission reactors for a few more decades to come, progress with fusion is steady but forthcoming and with additional funding faster progress could be made, is it worth digging up half the country and building wind turbines to power us for a few decades? When we could just build nuclear power stations on existing sites, and replace them with fusion reactors when the time comes.

Don't get me wrong, I think wind is a great idea for maybe 20-30% of the country's total energy supply, but I don't think it can be used as the base of the country's energy supply, a modern economy requires a rock solid electricity grid, with enough energy to meet demands, and that is not achievable with wind power. If anything the government should be accelerating its timetable for building new nuclear power stations.

At last the socialist Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown has at last revealed his socialist side.

If the prospects for the least fortunate are to be as great as they can be, then they must have the final say—and that requires a massive and irreversible shift of power to working people, a framework of free universal welfare services controlled by the people who use them.

But socialism will have to be won also at the point of production—the production of needs, ideas and particularly of goods and services. And that demands ending the power of a minority through ownership and control to direct the energies of all other members of our society.

The market can no longer be seen as the efficient allocator of resources and indeed that the productive forces within our economy have outstripped the capacity of the market.

The more automation there is, the greater is the need to deal with the social consequences by increased public expenditure; yet the more the government raises in taxation, the more urgent is the need for more automation. Thus, increasingly, the private control of industry has become a hindrance to the further unfolding of the social forces of production.

What has often been cited as an irresoluble clash in socialist theory between regulating material production according to human needs and the principle of eliminating the exploitative domination of man over man can only be met through producers controlling the organisation of the production process.

In a society which is both mature and complex, where the total social and economic processes are geared to maintaining the production of goods and services (and the reproduction of the conditions of production), then the transition to socialism must be made by the majority of people themselves and a socialist society must be created within the womb of existing society and prefigured in the movements for democracy at the grass roots.

Fantastic stuff, I can't disagree with any of that. So when are we going to get this project under way Gordon?

Oh wait hang on, this was something he wrote back in 1975! Great, so what was it that turned you into a Thatcherite-neo-liberal-capitalist fan Gordon? Was it those big fat MP paychecks or something else?

Hat tip to Susan.

Inside or outside the Labour Party and Marxism-Leninism today

I was invited to attend the Yeovil Trades Council meeting yesterday. I was pleased to see the discussion was very open and it sparked a debate about being in or out of the Labour Party, one I've had with myself prior to joining for many years.

I wasn't able to get all of my thoughts out at the meeting on this, so here they are.

A couple of comrades brought up the point that because the Labour government was carrying out a neo-liberal agenda, which is perfectly true, such as moving the postal service in the direction of privitisation etc, they shouldn't have our support and we should attempt to form a new party.

Lenin said the Labour Party was a bourgeois-workers party, so we shouldn't be surprised that the leadership is carrying out a bourgeois program, with some concessions that is after all what they have been doing since it was founded.

It is a valid point to say that New Labour is far worse, and that Brown is even more right-wing than Blair. So we should look for an explanation why, I believe one possible candidate would be the state of socialists within the party. I believe thanks to all the people saying work outside the party, or attempting splits it has allowed the leadership to get away with far too much.

The state of the Labour Party is the way it is firstly because of the purges during the 1980s which weakened the left, largely thanks to the help of the media, Thatcher and the Labour leaders and their "longest suicide note in history" crap, and later because of so many people calling on their comrades to abandon the party.

If we lose the Labour Party, we lose the political wing of the working class. Instead of having the couple of dozen socialists in parliament we have nobody, 2.5 business parties sitting opposite each other. In effect handing the bourgeoisie total control of the parliament.

The fight for Labour isn't over, the next few years I think will be crucial, as a few comrades mentioned the possibility of losing the next election is something we need to be aware of, the polls are grim reading. But will an election defeat strengthen New Labour? Of course not it probably destroy it, it will end the one thing they've had going for them with all the moderates inside the party "we can win elections" doesn't amount to much when you lose an election.

Marxism-Leninism also cropped up, and how that the USSR and China are bad, oppressive and so on and so forth, Dave (Bridgewater TUC). How that has any relevance is beyond me, if anything it seemed more like an ad hominem against Ken (sorry I forgot your last name) from the Communist Party of Britain.

By the same logic one would attack democracy because George Bush declares he is for democracy - or any number of things. Marxists should not hand over our words just because Stalinist and Maoist revisionists like to use them.

Marxism-Leninism, or Bolshevism is important for the working class, the Labour Party is not capable of revolution, its a mass party of the working class, but still bourgeois which we should use to win progressive advancements for the working class. However when the time comes and the labour leadership are brought off on the edge of revolution, we need a revolutionary party to finish the job.

Save the Labour Party - damn right

So in the wake of this whole Abrahams thing, the New Labourites are plotting to destroy the Union link, something they've been keen on doing for years but have so far been unable to.

This will prevent Trade Unions from funding the Labour Party, their contributions would have to be dramatically reduced, and as such radically change how the Labour Party operates, it will force trade unionists to essentially make individual donations (and I can't see many doing that with how the government are carrying on)

Grimmer has been following this for the last few days (here and here).

She's right, if this goes ahead it'll be the final nail in the coffin of the Labour Party. Lenin said the Labour Party was a bourgeois-workers party, such a move would turn it into a bourgeois party, it would break its connection to the working class. A party unconnected to the workers is not something I want to be part of.

What now for Venezuela?

Chavez has admitted that the reforms have been lost "for now", after his 33 proposed changes lost 49.3% to 50.7%, with 45% abstention, and the other 66 changes lost 49% to 51%.

Minimum program for getting out of this situation should include:

1) Expropriation of all media outlets which in violation of electoral law encouraged people to stay at home because the outcome was obvious.

2) Expropriation of all media outlets which published blatant falsehoods about the reforms, including things like the state will own your children, and the reforms will turn the country into Cuba.

3) To make the country truly democratic, the ability of a handful of individuals to influence so many people by way of such nonsense claims must be stopped; the media must be taken out of the hands of the few and placed into the hands of the many.

4) Modify reform proposals; reduce presidential terms from the proposed 7 years to 5 years, etc.

5) Try again in 3 months time.

Maximum program:

1) End the class war by liquidating the capitalist class immediately by way of declaring private ownership of the means of production illegal, something that should of happened in 2002.

Comrade worker

When people like this, who make up 80% of the population can be defeated there are questions to ask about how democratic a society is.

How bourgeois

Defeated by this lot, the people who own the media, the people who have got rich at the expense of everybody else for decades. The people who wear suits that cost as much as a workers' wages for a year! How can a minority win an election?

Of course Chavez is playing it softly softly as usual. The class war has to be won Chavez, do it or go home, the tiny minority of bourgeois lackies cannot be allowed power.

Venezuela’s Constitutional Reform: for a YES vote

Our comrades in Venezuela are today going to the polls, the media in the west are of course going on about how Chavez is an evil dictator and so on and so forth, and this move is only to centralise power in his hands because it abolishes term limits (well guess what we don't have term limits here yet and the media don't complain about that).

So let's actually look at what is contained within these reforms.

The question posed in the polls is: "Are you in agreement with the approval of the constitutional reform project, passed by the National Assembly, with the participation of the people, and based in the initiative of President Hugo Chavez, with its respective titles, chapters, and transitional, derogative, and final dispositions, distributed in the following blocks?"

Let's go to Section 3 which I believe is the most progressive for the people of Venezuela.

Art. 64 - Lowers the minimum voting age from 18 to 16 years.

We see an increase in democracy thanks to the lowering of the voting age.

Art. 67 - Requires candidates for elected office to be set up in accordance with gender parity, reverses the prohibition against state financing of campaigns and parties, and prohibits foreign funding of political activity.

Good stops allowing external influences like the CIA to fund political parties within Venezuela. Increases democracy.

Art. 70 - Establishes that councils of popular power (of communities, workers, students, farmers, fishers, youth, women, etc.) are one of the main means for citizen participation in the government.

Good, gets people active in politics, so power will eventually rest within these workers' councils.

Art. 87 - Creates a social security fund for the self-employed, in order to guarantee them a pension, vacation pay, sick pay, etc.

Good, helps self-employed people.

Art. 90 - Reduction of the workweek from 44 hours to 36.

Good, lets people enjoy life.

Art. 98 - Guarantees freedom for cultural creations, but without guaranteeing intellectual property.

Good, intellectual property rights are insanely over the top these days.

Art. 100 - Recognition of Venezuelans of African descent, as part of Venezuelan culture to protect and promote (in addition to indigenous and European culture).

Good, it is important that this is in the constitution.

Art. 103 - Right to a free education expanded from high school to university.

Funny, if Venezuela can afford free university education for everybody, why can't we?

Art. 112 - The state will promote a diversified and independent economic model, in which the interests of the community prevail over individual interests and that guarantee the social and material needs of the people. The state is no longer obliged to promote private enterprise.

Good.

Art. 113 - Monopolies are prohibited instead of merely being "not allowed." The state has the right to "reserve" the exploitation of natural resources or provision of services that are considered by the constitution or by a separate law to be strategic to the nation. Concessions granted to private parties must provide adequate benefits to the public.

Good.

Art. 115 - Introduces new forms of property, in addition to private property. The new forms are (1) public property, belonging to state bodies, (2) direct and indirect social property, belonging to the society in general, where indirect social property is administered by the state and direct is administered by particular communities, (3) collective property, which belongs to particular groups, (4) mixed property, which can be a combination of ownership of any of the previous five forms.

Good, more over here. There are some I don't agree with and some that don't go far enough, but by enlarge this is an extremely progressive step forward. The bias of the media has been noted, and their opposition to a better life for the workers will be remembered. But well, we all knew that anyway.

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