Canada will be celebrating itself as a fully fledged, if somewhat junior, member of the imperialist fraternity this weekend. The winter Olympics begin in Vancouver, British Columbia. Protests have already begun against the corporate festival. Where the Olympics go police repression, privatization and gentrification are sure to follow.
Canada’s First Nations and supporters are protesting that no treaties, even those signed under duress, have ever been agreed to ceding native territory in British Columbia to the Canadian state. The Olympics are being held on, legally speaking, stolen land. The Canadian Olympic Committee has brought in certain native community leaders to provide window dressing by allowing native cultural symbols to be exploited in the promotion of the games and Canada. Celebrating your “national identity” by promoting victims of your genocide is pretty rich Canada.
As someone who has paid keen attention to the ups and downs (mostly downs) of the Irish revolution over the years I couldn’t help at being a little stung with the news that one of the chants during this week’s general strike in Greece was: “we are not Ireland, we will resist!” Ouch. Well, true enough I suppose. The Irish trade union misleadership was faced with a similar situation in which the ruling class sought to make the working class to pay for its crisis through massive public cuts. They made some noises, held a rally where they ensured their members they would fight…and then rolled over and gave it all up with a wink.
The Greek working class is more conscious and the left there is, by Irish standards (or the standards of just about anywhere else), big, well-organized and militant. Not that the leadership of the left and the trade unions in Greece aren’t without their own problems; Stalinism and Social Democracy still hang on in Greece to play their pernicious role, but it has been heartening to see a militant working class put its foot down and say den ypervaínei! The next day of general strike will be on February 24th. I think it should have begun Wednesday and lasted until victory or defeat. This, as the ruling class knows all too well, is a battle with major stakes. The working class in Greece is perhaps better equipped than any other in Europe to engage in this battle. A whole lot depends on it.
With what is going on in the British far left blogosphere you would think that the central questions of the European class struggle weren’t being played out on the streets of Athens, but in the Central Committee of the SWP as there is all kinds of hullaballoo over the resignation of long-time leader of the Socialist Workers Party Lindsey German. Apart from the actual politics of the split, which are buried in references to various goings on in Britain over the years that I don’t get, what has been illuminating is the glimpse into the internal regime of the SWP allowed by the crisis.
It’s been a long while since I was in the kind of left group where one member could say to another member, without tongue firmly in cheek, something like “I’m Central Committee and what I say goes.” Oy vey. That any “leader” of a self-described socialist organization would believe that the discipline of a revolutionary implies a docile acceptance of “leadership” is not becoming of a Marxist or a revolutionary. It should be said that this kind of leadership is apparently the practice of both parties of the dispute.
For those interested Socialist Unity, Belfast’s Splintered Sunrise and the SWP’s own Richard Seymour have gigabytes of discussion on the topic. Madam Miaow, at the receiving end of the SWP’s organizational practice some years ago, would rather watch baboons fuck. I know it’s a big deal and the SWP is an important group, but I can’t say I blame her. A little lower-primate promiscuity beats the hell out of the violent screwing of our fellows we Great Apes get up to on occasion. Here’s hoping something positive can come of it all, because there is no joy in watching a once formidable leftist organization fall in on itself.