The Foundation for PR-based Socialism
Discussion forum: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PRsocialism
Initiated by Steve Wallis: www.socialiststeve.me.uk, 07725 735255
NEW: Foundation newsletter 11
I, Steve Wallis, wrote a new Foundation for Proportional Representation-based Socialism newsletter on 5 May 2011, containing articles on Osama bin Laden (urging the unity of good Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-believers), turning the 30 June pension strike into a general strike, urging a vote for socialist/anti-cuts candidates in the 5 May elections and preparing for a Greece-style revolt, noting the panic the ConDem government has got into over NHS reorganisation, calling for an end to police violence and justice for Ian Tomlinson, an alternative policy to cuts (nationalise the banks so what is left of the bailout money can be used for the benefit of all and close all tax loopholes/havens), plus details of the Very Democratic Socialism Facebook group. You can download it as two sheets of A4 colour in PDF format suitable for Adobe Acrobat, and print/photocopy it and distribute copies if you wish.
Facebook group – Very Democratic Socialism
I, Steve Wallis, created a Facebook group in March 2011 called Very Democratic Socialism to discuss and work towards a very democratic form of socialism – in which the government is elected by proportional representation, there is workers’ control of industry and there is an element of “direct democracy” (whereby everyone in society can discuss and vote on important issues – perhaps by referenda initiated by a petition signed by some proportion/quantity of the electorate). Note that I have used the “open group” facility of Facebook which provides a much better interface than the Yahoo-based forum that I set up when I created the Foundation in January 2007, and (particularly importantly) it brings together hundreds of people and is being used for real debate which never really happened at the old forum. Click here to visit the group.
Basis for the Foundation
I recognise that conspiratorial organisations (some of which are part of the state like MI5 and the CIA but with others even more secretive and even less accountable) infiltrate left-wing political parties and other important organisations in society, not just to gather information but to undermine or help them from within. Each of these organisations has an aim (a particular kind of society it wants in a particular country or the whole world) and a strategy (how it hopes to achieve it or prevent change if the organisation favours the status quo). There is a complex web of such organisations because capitalism has existed for a long time.
I intended the Foundation for PR-based Socialism to be another conspiratorial infiltrating organisation when I set it up at the end of January 2007, consisting of this website (www.PRsocialism.org) and a discussion forum (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PRsocialism). As yet, the Foundation has not done any conspiring, but is an open virtual organisation. Suggestions of the way forward are welcome on the forum. I live in Manchester (England)
but want the Foundation to operate internationally.
I favour the Foundation remaining largely in hyperspace rather than becoming a hierarchical organisation which would be particularly prone to bureaucratisation and infiltration by hostile forces (a criticism I have of Marxist organisations and their conceptions of socialism). However, it may also have cells (of small numbers of conspirators collaborating together) or branches in some areas. Its official membership purely consists of the list of discussion forum members. Polls can be organised on the forum if there are any disputes on the policies or strategy of the Foundation, for which I proposed:
- Our aim is a democratic socialist society, with a government based on proportional representation (PR) by single transferable vote (STV) and with some level of workers’ control of industry – a middle road between capitalism and a Marxist conception of socialism.
- We are a revolutionary organisation, recognising that a sudden thorough change of society is necessary, not necessarily involving violence.
- We are a non-party political organisation whose members will participate in a wide range of political parties/organisations.
- We will cooperate with individuals and other organisations that share some or all of our ideas. [This includes secretive conspiratorial organisations, some of which may be based on similar ideas to those of the Foundation.]
The discussion forum is open to all who agree with or want to debate those issues, and other issues of relevance to socialists can be debated there too. It has a publicly viewable archive. I haven’t got the inclination to vet potential members of a more secretive forum, and think there would be little point in setting up a secretive forum if no vetting takes place, but Foundation members may set one up or discuss issues with each other off-list if they so wish.
[Note that some of you may be concerned that organisations like MI5 will find out about you if you join the forum; the best solution to that is to create another email address on the web. I recommend yahoo.co.uk for those based in the UK to avoid censorship which is a serious problem with some other providers, including all based in the USA (including Hotmail even with addresses ending “.co.uk”) due to the use of artificial intelligence programs designed to detect spam that also read and may censor some political emails under the orders of the US Department of Homeland Security.]
I have other views about the struggle for socialism and want the Foundation to be an arena in which I can put those views forward – on this website, on its discussion forum and in its leaflets/newsletters. Other members of the Foundation could have quite different views about achieving a PR-based form of socialism; some may want to join or stay in the Labour Party in order to encourage it to support PR or to try to get it to adopt socialist policies perhaps leading to a future split, others may be members of the Scottish National Party (SNP) to help the struggle for independence and prepare for a split (which is surely inevitable when independence is achieved). I want to encourage all genuine socialists with similar views on PR to get involved in the Foundation, whether they want to put forward their own ideas publicly and/or act secretly to help in the struggle for a democratic socialist world.
Arguments for proportional representation in a future socialist society
I have written a series of three letters for the Weekly Worker newspaper in a debate initiated by Nick Rogers (a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain and the London organiser of the Campaign for a Marxist Party). In those letters, I argued for the establishment of a form of socialism based on PR, in opposition to a Marxist conception of socialism based on hierarchies of committees
(known as “soviets” in the USSR). You can read the contents of those letters in full, in the first and second messages that I have sent to the Foundation’s discussion forum. The main points I made are as follows:
- Nick pointed out that hierarchies of committees are “eminently open to bureaucratisation”. I expanded on that point by pointing out that the bureaucrats could be potential ruthless dictators like Stalin or infiltrators from conspiratorial organisations on the side of big business like many of the leaders of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), which is a deeply hierarchical organisation, and suggesting the reason for that weakness of hierarchies
– it is mainly only people on the same committees who know who the dodgy people are and what they are up to, facilitating their rise up the hierarchies and enabling them to stay in power once they have got there.
- Marxists generally argue for a society in which the working class is in control, which denies a voice (or provides less of a voice) to middle class people. I argue for a society in which everybody is in control, irrespective of class, in contrast to a Marxist type of socialism or capitalist societies (in which big business is in control even if they are called “mixed economies”).
- Because a PR-based form of socialism is a middle road (arguably the only middle road) between Marxist forms of socialism and capitalism, it would be popular and less likely to lead to a minority coming to power or staying in power by violent means (for example using a “workers’ militia” that many Marxists argue for).
- The single transferable vote (STV) form of PR is preferable because it eliminates the need for tactical voting. A voter can specify who his or her vote would be transferred to if the voter’s preferred candidate fails to get elected, or gets more votes than necessary (in which case part of the vote would be transferred). I also made the point that there should be a fairly large number of representatives per constituency/ward, unlike with the local elections in Scotland that will be conducted for the first time using STV in 2007 but with only three or four councillors elected per ward, making the results less proportional and favouring the main parties.
- I am in favour of a certain amount of workers’ control of industry, but in as non-hierarchical a way as practicable and not as the dominant form of organisation that determines the government.
- I argued for the entire government to be subject to recall, using a petition signed by some proportion of the electorate, rather than giving the power to recall individual representatives to electors (which is not compatible with PR).
- I argued against the Marxist idea that socialism cannot come to power electorally, pointing out that there have been many election victories for presidential candidates and parties calling themselves “socialist” in Latin America in recent years. I also said that I am in favour of extra-parliamentary activity, using the example of the general strike movement in Bolivia led by Evo Morales who later became president with over 50% of the vote (unprecedented in that country’s history), with his supporters also receiving over 50% in elections to that country’s parliament.
I have now produced the following newsletters. Click on the links below for the newsletters in Micro$oft Word format (suitable for most word processors) or PDF (suitable for Adobe Acrobat or Foxit Reader):
- Newsletter 1 (24 February 2007), for an anti-war anti-Trident demo in Glasgow – Word format
- Newsletter 2 (30 March 2007), for a demo in Edinburgh in support of independence, and the subsequent Scottish parliamentary election campaign – Word and PDF formats
- Newsletter 3 (1 May 2008), for events around May Day – Scottish edition (Word and PDF formats), international edition (Word and PDF formats)
- Newsletter 4 (15 September 2008), for the Labour Party conference, Convention of the Left and anti-war demo taking place in Manchester, England (20-24 September) – A4 version (Word and PDF formats), A5 version for double-sided printing (Word and PDF formats)
- Newsletter 5 (31 October 2008), in support of Barack Obama's bid to become US president, plus articles on democratisation of the banks, renewable sources of energy and left unity (proposing an anti-capitalist network) – on two sides of A4 (Word and PDF formats)
- Newsletter 6 (1 July 2009), containing arguments on left unity, including a review of a critique of the British SWP by Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party, and arguments on reconciling PR with Marxism – on two sides of A4 (Word and PDF formats)
- Newsletter 7 (5 November 2009), concentrating on how socialism should work, with arguments on how to effectively campaign against cuts (arguing for nationalising all the banks and using what is left of the bailout money for the benefit of all), socialist carbon trading, electoral systems (against the Labour Alternative Vote con-trick), countering the British National Party on immigration plus support for the call for a new anti-capitalist party in Britain – on two sides of A4 (Word and PDF formats)
- Newsletter 8 (16 April 2010), concentrating on the 2010 UK general election, calling for a vote for Socialist, Green or Liberal Democrat candidates, plus preparing for a Greece-style revolt with suggestions for an alternative to cuts (nationalising all the banks, only compensating pension schemes, running them democratically from below, plus closing tax loopholes and havens) and finally presenting some proposals for real democracy under either capitalism or socialism – on two sides of A4 (Word and PDF formats). Note: The suggestion of voting for Liberal Democrats may be seen as a big mistake, given the coalition they formed with the Tories after the general election and their many broken promises, but it is difficult to see how a Labour government (or Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition) would have been a better outcome objectively, with such a government carrying out huge cuts. Besides, the Liberal Democrats had a generally more left-wing manifesto than Labour, so they deserved to do well!
- Newsletter 9 (23 March 2011), containing an analysis of the 23 March budget, a call for occupation of areas of London after the 26 March TUC demonstration against the cuts, plus details of the Very Democratic Socialism Facebook group and a debate on the Alternvative Vote referendum – on one side of A4 (Word and PDF formats) or for double-sided A5 copying and cutting (Word and PDF formats)
- Newsletter 10 (1 May 2011), about turning coordinated strike action by some public sector unions planned on 30 June into a general strike, calling for a vote for Socialist, Green or Labour candidates on 5 May (preparing for a Greece-style revolt), saying vote Yes in the Alternative Vote referendum, plus two articles taken from previous newsletters (on nationalising banks and closing tax loopholes as an alternative to cuts, plus details of the Very Democratic Socialism Facebook group) – on two sides of A4 (Word and PDF formats).
- Newsletter 11 (5 May 2011): After Osama, unite good Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-believers; turn 30 June pension strike into general strike; vote socialist/anti-cuts and prepare for Greece-style revolt; ConDems panic over NHS reorganisation; end police violence; no cuts (nationalise banks and close tax loopholes); very democratic socialism – on two sides of A4 (PDF format).
Click here to go to the Foundation for PR-based Socialism Yahoo-based discussion forum
Click here to go to the Very Democratic Socialism Facebook group