Wednesday, 5 May 2010

We Are European Socialists

by Robert Edwards (European Socialist Action No 27)

Since the internationalist Labour Party ditched socialism in the form of Clause Four of its constitution (the people should own the means of production, distribution and exchange) for another internationalism, that of global capitalism, then the need today for a revived form of true socialism has never been so evident. It is the only antidote to the creeping encroachment of world capitalism and the possession of the world’s resources into ever increasingly fewer hands.
Socialism has taken many forms over the last hundred years or so, a subject that does not require much elaboration here. We need only think of Hitler and Stalin, to name just two. Used for good or bad, its appeal has always been one for social justice and support for the oppressed. Comparisons with the teachings of Christ have sometimes been applied to it.
Socialism as a generic term, however, has led to its use and abuse to such an extent that definitions seem boundless, sometimes depending on the intensity of class hatred, and ultimately leading to distortions of various kinds. The far-Left has always been a caricature of that disturbing phenomenon.
Oswald Mosley first adopted the phrase European Socialism in a speech to Union Movement on May Day in 1950, two years after the founding of the Movement. It is not so surprising given his earlier career within the Labour Party of Ramsay MacDonald when he sought to apply ‘socialistic ideas’ to curing the great problem of mass unemployment in Britain. He took those ideas with him into the New Party and then into the British Union of Fascists. He later remarked when being interviewed by James Mossman on a BBC Panorama programme in 1968 that, “I exhausted every means in the Labour Party of getting my policies accepted before I left. First of all, the Parliamentary Party; secondly the Conference. And not until I was rejected and defeated in every attempt to get the Labour Party to accept it did I go over with precisely the same policy — and this is so curious — and start the fascist movement. Having been denounced as the wild man of the Left by Snowden and others, I was then supposed to become a right-wing reactionary. But my policy was precisely the same”.
To Mosley, true socialism meant doing something for the people but especially for the good, honest working man. At the core is the idea of syndicalism as the alternative to the bureaucratic nationalisation of the old Labour Party, which, in reality, was simply the transfer of control from private hands into the hands of state bosses ... the workers having no direct say in the running of their industries, whatsoever. Syndicalism means workers’ ownership, a completely different type of ‘socialism’ in its unique form of industrial democracy, whereby the workers control their own means of production. Is not owning the means of production one part of the classical definition of socialism? Do we not represent that principle in its purest form, more so than the international socialists who had so long subscribed to ideas of bureaucratic state control?
Mosley proposed a synthesis of syndicalism and private enterprise which meant reconciling apparent opposites for very practical purposes. The creative individual is encouraged to contribute and to be rewarded for his endeavours. When a man or woman first creates a company or industry, it is left unhindered and encouraged to grow. However, when it reaches a certain size it is regarded as ready for syndicalisation. The original creator of the enterprise is rewarded generously for his past efforts. The spirit of service to the nation is paramount for this to work effectively.
European Socialism is very different to the old International Socialism in that ours has a solid and richer foundation on which to build. The expression National European alludes to the dimension while European Socialism is the creed. They are essentially two aspects of a single idea.
We reject, completely, the idea of an international proletariat, which is the basis of several strands of far-Left thinking ... principally that of Trotskyism. Rather, we understand the importance of kinship and culture within the European family of peoples and on that we can build our own form of socialism far removed from far-Left internationalism and notions of ‘the brotherhood of man’, which would reduce us to the level of economic units without soul.
We recognise cultural differences between peoples which should be respected with all the means for encouraging their development, preserving their roots and celebrating their existence. We have a European culture for which only complete unity can guarantee its survival in the globalist morass that currently surrounds us.
Class war divides a people and can only lead to social fragmentation, harmful to any nation. That is why we reject all theories of Marxian ‘historical class struggle’ and their deterministic ‘inevitability’. Mosley was a pragmatist and not a dogmatist. That is why he insisted on European Socialism being flexible enough to meet all circumstances for purely practical purposes. He was a technocrat who wanted to make things work.
By the 1960s, Mosley stopped to reflect on the term ‘European Socialism’ in his book, Mosley - Right or Wrong (Lion Books 1961). In answer to the question, what is ‘European Socialism’, he replied, “Any man has a right to call himself a socialist if he works for motives of public service rather than for private gain. That is why we used this phrase. Because our people have certainly proved that they work selflessly for the public good and it is this spirit which is needed for the building of a new European system. But I am not going to use it in future because it has led to misunderstanding. British people in general think that socialism means the nationalisation or bureaucratic control of industry, that it means the Labour Party policy which was a concept of the last century [nineteenth century]. But Union Movement has never stood for anything of this kind”.
Many of my comrades in European Action want to re-adopt the phrase European Socialism and for them they have always been European Socialists in the way Mosley first intended it to be used. What we need to do is continue where others left off, defining and redefining this great idea while maintaining core principles, that is to say, truly socialist principles.
Our use of the term is even more relevant today because what were once mainstream socialist parties of the Left, throughout the world, have since abandoned any pretence at being ‘for the workers’ but have all sold out to global capitalism. New Labour is the best example of this in Britain. Every one of them has adopted the principles of what is now talked of as the ‘global economy’ — international capitalism and predatory Finance, ruining the lives of millions within a system wide open to exploitation and unfair competition.
These parties have abandoned the people and now serve a global banking system, causing enormous pain and suffering everywhere you look.
Here is a new opportunity to explain our position very clearly in direct contrast to the sham that is the party political system of the old order of things.
The only other groups that continue to use the socialist label are of the far-Left ... groups that pursue causes such as anti-fascism. In fact, they now call themselves ‘anti-fascist’ before even considering raising the standard of socialism. Mainly Trotskyist (the Stalinist communists are miniscule and factionalist and no longer relevant without the Soviet Union), they are a mirror-image of global capitalism in that they do not recognise frontiers, cultures, races and religions but want a ‘rational’ world economy with all men as mere economic units. This is why many of the neo-cons in the United States, pursuing a policy of global imperialism on behalf of the World Bank, were once Trotskyites in their student days. The goal is the same — the domination of the globe, meaning the complete subservience of all mankind. That is not a conspiracy theory but a conspiracy fact!
We, however, offer the only viable alternative to rule by Money and the perpetuation of an international exploitative way of conducting the affairs of the world. We want the people to be free to run their own lives within their own economic area. But more than that, we want the people to have their own identity as European workers, producing for themselves within a self-contained area large enough to be self-sufficient.
This is the only way you can realise that concept of the people owning the means of production, distribution and exchange, the only way you can have socialism in the way Mosley first understood that term all those years ago.
After the Conference of Venice in 1962, Union Movement adopted the slogan, ‘We Are National Europeans’, emblazoned on the propaganda boards at meetings in Trafalgar Square. In fact, we are both National Europeans and European Socialists — not only interchangeable terms but each to be used according to the context in which they are used.
We should also consider the advantages of any misunderstandings caused by the use of the term European Socialist. If this causes confusion for some then we have the golden opportunity for explaining ... over and over again, if necessary. This is an essential part of the propaganda war and we should hammer it home with all the faith and confidence we possess. It would also serve to draw attention to ourselves, which we desire.
The first point to be made is that we are neither left nor right. European Socialism transcends the old dichotomy of an out-dated parliamentary system based on the seating arrangements of the elected assembly convened after the French Revolution. We want a new democracy without an out-dated party political system that is now exposed so clearly today as a ‘gentlemen’s club’ full of hot air and bad wind, regulating themselves privileges in the form of exorbitant expenses claims, with several Members now being pursued under the Theft Act. Why not nick the rest of these scoundrels and throw them out? Did someone say we need another Cromwell?
It all goes to show that our wonderfully democratic politicians are only out for themselves, each riding on the back of a political party little different to the party next to them. That is why we oppose this party political system and not because we want to do away with them in order to set up a dictatorship. No, we want to return democratic values and principles to the people in order that the people rule and not the political parties, which only follow their own agenda. The alternative to this pseudo-democratic plutocracy is a system of representation known as Occupational Franchise. This is very easy to understand with the briefest of explanations.
In place of the old political parties, we would have an elected House comprised entirely of Members representing trades, professions, women (for example) and various social and economic groupings. You elect a candidate that will represent your occupation. He represents you as an essential part of society and not a party machine. No political party, of left or right, can do this because the party has its own priorities which consist entirely of securing its survival in an infantile game of point scoring — if one jumps up to say the earth is round then his opposite number must jump up and pronounce it flat. This silliness goes on and on with every issue and point of policy. Farmyard impressions abound. The purpose of the ‘opposition’ is to con the people and give the impression that something important is going on when, in fact, it is played out according to an old boy’s tradition going back to the days when only the upper crust could sit. Then, it was truly a privileged club when the rules were created by its Members with complete impunity. It seems the old days are returning and never was a change to the system more needed with leadership restored because we have no true leadership, only mediocrity and politicians that speak like bank managers and with as much passion and conviction as the contents of a bucket of plankton.
Oswald Mosley and others led the way with a great alternative:
For example, point six of the European Declaration agreed at Venice in1962, stated, “That industries already nationalised will be better conducted by workers’ ownership or syndicalism than by state bureaucracy, but the system of the wage-price mechanism will, in full development, make irrelevant the question of the ownership of industry by reason of the decisive leadership of elected government, and will bring such prosperity that workers will have no interest in controversies which belong to the Nineteenth Century”.
This was to be part of a future system agreed on by brother Europeans, part of a new Europe that will one day sweep away all the decay and corruption.