About Steve Wallis, the Maggie Thatcher of the Left

Hi from Steve Wallis, a political activist (ecosocialist) living in Greater Manchester, England.

I am currently working on updating my personal website, www.socialiststeve.me.uk, which is very out-of-date at present. Therefore, if you want to find out my current views on a particular subject, I suggest you search for it in the search box on this blog (which should be towards the top right) rather than visiting that website!

I set up this blog shortly after Maggie (Margaret) Thatcher’s death in 2013. I was inspired by hearing in the news about how she shifted the centre ground of British politics (to the right) rather than simply accommodating her politics to it, and the main purpose of this blog is to help shift the centre ground in the opposite direction.

I am a revolutionary socialist and believe that inspiring people with the vision of a better world is far more effective than piecemeal reforms (which tend to be taken back in times of recession anyway). Note, however, that I advocate peaceful change including general strikes where possible (see next paragraph). I also support standing in elections as part of a strategy for achieving change, but don’t think that elections should be relied upon to achieve socialism and think that it is well nigh impossible for socialists to come to power in the UK under the extremely undemocratic (misnamed ‘first-past-the-post’) electoral system in this country.

I am a member of Left Unity, a new force in British politics that already unites a significant number of organisations within a broad socialist party. Some, in particular the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), regard Left Unity as ‘reformist’, but I proposed and spoke in favour of an amendment at the founding conference (on 30 November 2013) saying “Going on strike (including mass/general strikes), occupying workplaces and solidarity between workers (in different unions and/or workplaces) can be effective tactics in winning individual disputes and changing society”, and it was passed by a show of hands. For information about this, and another amendment of mine that wasn’t passed, go to the post Compromise between the Left Party Platform and Socialist Platform: Justification for my amendments to LPP. [Another amendment, from Camden branch, got Left Unity to adopt a position of aiming to “end capitalism”.]

Back in 2006, when I was living in Glasgow, I created a Facebook page for a Revolutionary Platform Network, with the idea of uniting revolutionary socialists within broader organisations/parties (particularly the Scottish Socialist Party). When I came to the conclusion that Left Unity has become the best broad organisation to operate within, I put out a call for a Revolutionary Platform of Left Unity (on this blog and elsewhere on the internet including in comments on the Left Unity website). At a meeting (the only meeting) of the Socialist Platform of Left Unity, in the run-up to the founding conference, it became obvious that it was effectively revolutionary (despite some of the wording not being quite so clear) and could become a revolutionary pole of attraction within a broader socialist party, and I decided to drop my own platform (that could only have reached the minimum of 10 supporters by allowing a very small but big enough Marxist sect whose leaders were interested to join en masse in which case they could have outvoted the rest of us) in favour of it. An attempted takeover by the ultra-left Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) of the Socialist Platform (who later set up a Communist Platform based on their proposed amendments) effectively sabotaged it, and the only person who posted any messages to its google groups has so far been myself! It remains to be seen as to whether there is any appetite for such a platform after the conference (bearing in mind there wasn’t much beforehand)…

I have created several Facebook groups and pages including Very Democratic Socialism – which outlines the sort of socialist society I am in favour of, involving some amount of workers’ (and users’) control of industry/services but also a government elected by proportional representation (PR) and direct democracy (maybe using the internet). If socialists can’t win majority support in a democratic election after taking power, which nowadays should entail a fair electoral system (i.e. some form of PR), then the revolution is doomed anyway.

The last thing the left should want is a repetition of the abolition of the Constituent Assembly in Russia, which the Bolsheviks called for when the capitalist provisional government wouldn’t allow any form of democracy, but the Bolsheviks abolished after they lost elections to it (along with their allies, the left Socialist Revolutionaries) after coming to power. The “dictatorship of the proletariat” (rule just by the working class) wasn’t democratic in a semi-feudal country – where workers had more representation than peasants in the soviets (workers’, peasants’ or soldiers’ committees) despite there being far more peasants than workers – and it is vital to oppose those who would make the same mistake in the 21st Century. Lenin’s call “All power to the soviets”, when he returned from exile, was disastrous in 1917, and it has led to people calling themselves “socialist” or “communist” being regarded as undemocratic by many people for nearly 100 years since!

A letter I  had published in the CPGB’s Weekly Worker newspaper, reflecting on the Communist Platform of Left Unity seemingly adopting a position of PR under socialism (after I had persuaded the CPGB through previous letters to support PR under capitalism but failed to even persuade them to publish arguments in favour of it under socialism), is on my blog page Proportional Representation versus “a workers’ state”, and Left Unity. It also prompted me to set up a Facebook page Socialism with Proportional Representation based on Republican Democracy (because their other proposals for “republican democracy” are quite different from, albeit compatible with, proposals raised by my group Very Democratic Socialism).

It has been remarked upon that, despite mass movements largely by the working class in Greece, with the economic crisis in the Eurozone temporarily stalled due to quantitative easing (“printing money”) by the European Central Bank, and with the far left Syriza coming close to becoming the biggest party in the Greek government, there is no sign of soviets being formed in that country. One of the good things about Left Unity is that “working class” has not been emphasised too much (internally or externally). If, for example, it was seriously proposed that the SWP should shift its position away from the emphasis on workers, reflected by the name of the party and newspaper Socialist Worker, there would probably be a massive crisis leading to a split. Instead, they split (twice) in 2013 over the alleged rape of a teenage member and alleged sexual harassment of another member by their former national secretary (Martin Smith aka Comrade Delta), who I may have played a role in forcing to resign/be pushed.

I have been involved in various struggles in recent times, including the bedroom tax and “new poll tax” (the introduction of council tax payments by the very poor), and trying to get unions to call a general strike, but Greater Manchester Left Unity members including myself are particularly opposing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) with what happens at Barton Moss in Salford potentially key to its future in the UK. My review of 2013 and perspectives for 2014 are contained in 2014: Economic & social chaos? A general strike in Britain at last? Prospects for Left Unity. Of all of my blog posts, this is the one I particularly encourage you to read, to the end without skim-reading preferably (although it does have links to other posts you may be interested in). There is a bit of information about fracking and alternatives (renewable sources of energy – particularly tidal power in Britain and concentrating solar power in countries with more suitable sunlight) in that blog post, but I have written others since. Go to the home page thatcheroftheleft.wordpress.com and scroll down or search for “fracking” (in the box at the top right) to find relevant articles and select the title of one you are interested in.

I have created the Facebook pages No fracking worldwide, particularly in or near towns/cities and Nationalise energy production & distribution, a million climate jobs, and the groups Bring Down Cameron – millions cannot afford to wait until 2015 and $21 trillion hidden by rich global elite – close all tax havens, loopholes.

I have the following social media accounts:

I am in a band Fruity Frank and the Frisky Freaks, based in Rochdale. The band’s name was inspired by a computer game I wrote for Amstrad and MSX platforms in the mid-1980s (with my brother Sean providing the graphics) called Fruity Frank. There are now emulators available for PCs and Macs, including one implemented in Java that can be run simply by visiting a particular web page – for details visit the Fruity Frank website www.fruityfrank.net. Some of the band’s songs are downloadable from that website, and you can play all of them from our SoundCloud page http://soundcloud.com/fruity-frank.

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