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A talk I gave to the Canterbury branch of the SWP on 15/8

A while ago I wrote a response to an anti-Trotskyist leaflet1. It claimed that, by rejecting the possibility of ‘socialism in one country’, we try to put down “those who have the temerity to go on and build socialism”. It was a Stalinist group that put out this leaflet, but an orthodox Trotskyist could easily have written it.  One of the groups I spoke to at the Marxism festival was the International Bolshevik Tendency2, who are supporters of the theory that the Soviet Union (along with many other countries) was a “deformed” or “degenerated workers’ state”. Their spokesperson wagged a finger at me and told me about how awful it is that the SWP looks at the Hungarian uprising of ‘56 positively, rather than as an act of counterrevolution, and how we think a socialist revolution still needs to take place in North Korea.

So although as part of this talk I won’t be going over the arguments of the most uncritical Stalinists, I will be going part of the way to addressing that position, since the so-called Orthodox Trotskyists are themselves so often counterrevolutionary and apologists for Stalinism. It sounds like nonsense to say that a Trotskyist could be guilty of this, but Cliff explained well how it happens, and how it comes from following Trotsky dogmatically but losing his essence, and abandoning classical Marxism3.

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Today I got to be a first-time voter, in the Kent County Council elections. I was very excited Imageabout this, despite being in a very conservative area and having no real faith in our parliamentary democracy. This is a similar contradiction to watching England play football. For me an ideal world is one without states and borders, but every so often I can suspend this and become patriotic for 90 minutes.

I voted for Jo Kidd, the candidate for the Green Party of England and Wales. There are a ton of socialists and closet-socialists in the Green Party so I’m hoping it might go that way, rather than social democracy. In some places I might have voted Labour, if there was a good trade unionist running, or possibly in Whitstable, I would have voted for the Labour candidate Rita O’Brien, who leads the East Kent Keep Our NHS Public group. But the Labour party doesn’t look like it will reverse its rightward trend any time soon, nor is it likely to take more effective action on environmentalism than Blair or Brown. Climate change really needs to be more in the foreground now, as well as the jobs that will be created by green energy.