Tuesday, 24 November 2020

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From The Liberty Wall – National Liberal Trade Unionists – Restore The Guilds (Part 2)

WELCOME TO part 2 of Restore The Guilds. Written by Gary Dorrien for the Plough Quarterly,a US-based ‘magazine of stories, ideas, and culture to inspire faith and action’, the article – https://www.plough.com/en/ topics/justice/social-justice/economic-justice/restore-the-guilds – provides an excellent history of Guild Socialism (referred to as ‘Christian socialism’ in the article). This article should be read directly on from part 1: http://nationalliberal.org/from-the-liberty-wall-%e2%80%93-national-liberal-trade-unionists-%e2%80%93restore-the-guilds-part-1

As we’ve previously noted, we National Liberal Trade Unionists – NLTU – are neither of the ‘left’ nor the ‘right’. In fact, we feel that these terms are somewhat redundant as there’s barely a fag paper between the Tory ‘left’ & the Blairite/Social Democratic ‘right’ of the Labour Party. Indeed, who would’ve ever thought that any Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer – currently Rishi Sunak (1) – would be spending money like it was going out of fashion? (It’s just a shame that it’s taken Covid-19 to loosen the purse strings.)

We also view ourselves as ‘beyond class’ as we feel that to describe people solely by class is very restrictive. In fact, why should we effectively be forced to label ourselves according to the dictats of capitalism?

All of the above should make it very clear that the NLTU is interested in ‘alternative’ – and especially co-operative – economic systems. This is especially so when it can transcend the two traditional ‘sides’ of the economic equation – employers & employees. We feel that one way of doing this could be the introduction of a modern Guild system – Guilds, as described by the Encyclopaedia Britannica, being ‘an association of craftsmen or merchants formed for mutual aid and protection and for the furtherance of their professional interests’ (2).

As always, we invite our readers to share their thoughts when this article is reproduced on the NLTU Facebook site – https://www.facebook.com/groups/277840098977231/ - or the National Liberals Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/groups/52739504313/ It goes without saying that there are no links between Gary Dorrien, Plough Quarterly, the NLTU and the National Liberal Party. We’d also like to point out that whilst the article is written from a Christian perspective, the NLTU and NLP welcome members & supporters from all religions and none. Please note that the NLTU has kept the original US spellings and phrases as they are.

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Restore The Guilds – What today’s labor unions, democratic socialists, and mutual aid societies might learn from the colorful history of Christian socialism in Britain

(Top left) Robert Owen (1771–1858) was a Welsh manufacturer turned social reformer. An early advocate of utopian socialism, he put his ideas into practice with the establishment of his New Lanark mills in Lanark, Scotland. A visionary, he instituted social & industrial welfare reforms including the opening of Britain’s first infant school. (Top right) Charles Fourier (1772–1837) was a French utopian socialist who believed in a cooperative form of society where workers would live in communities he called “phalanxes.” He was also an early supporter of women’s rights. (Bottom left) George Douglas Howard Cole (1889-1959) was a noted anti-fascist libertarian socialist who developed & popularised the theory of guild socialism. He formed the National Guilds League in 1915 and published several books on guild socialism as well as books about Robert Owen & William Morris. (Bottom right) Arthur Penty (1875–1937) was influenced by William Morris & John Ruskin and is credited with formulating Christian socialism based on the Guilds. A distributist, Penty also published Restoration of the Guild System in 1906.

SOCIALISM WAS ORIGINALLY A VISION that society could be organized as a cooperative community. In the 1820s, Charles Fourier in France and Robert Owen in England championed the idea of an economy based on cooperation and community. Instead of pitting workers against each other, a cooperative mode of production and exchange would allow them to work for each other. Fourier and Owen founded socialist movements that dreamed of replacing the state, or restricting it, or enlisting it to support producer cooperatives. Debates over these issues roiled the socialist movement from the beginning and sundered the first movement for Christian socialism.

Christian socialism began in the 1840s with the Anglican trio of Frederick Denison Maurice, John Ludlow, and Charles Kingsley. Maurice, a theologian and cleric, argued that cooperation is the moral law of the divine moral order. Socialism reflects the divine order by creating a cooperative society. Fatefully, the first Christian socialists clashed over consumer cooperatives, the state, and cooperative syndicates. Why should producer cooperatives be favored over consumer cooperatives? Should the state finance producer cooperatives? Are labor syndicates inevitably divisive and radical? Debates over these issues thwarted the first wave of Christian socialism.

The mighty second wave in Britain, beginning in the 1880s, was mostly Anglo-Catholic. Many Anglican socialists were stubbornly cooperative in the Owen and Maurice mode, some joined the Fabian movement after it arose in 1884, some joined the Christian Social Union reformers who came out of Oxford, some gave highest priority to socializing land, and many joined the workers party movement after it arose in 1893. But Christian socialism had an ethical wellspring that qualified its commitment to these ideologies. Christian socialists were committed to an ethic of equality, freedom, cooperative community, and divine love. No ideology, whether Fabian or Syndical or Social Unionist or Marxist, was more binding than these religious and ethical convictions.

(1) Britain’s Reactionary Racists React! http://nationalliberal.org/britain%e2%80%99s-reactionary-racists-react

(2) Encyclopaedia Britannica https://www.britannica.com/topic/guild-trade-association

• IF YOU want to help the National Liberal Trade Unionists promote a sensible non-socialist (but still anti-capitalist) form of trade unionism please contact us via natliberal@aol.com and/or visit our Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/groups/277840098977231/

• ALSO Check out: Twitter @National Liberal

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From The Liberty Wall – National Liberal Trade Unionists – Restore The Guilds (Part 1)

WE NATIONAL LIBERAL TRADE UNIONISTS – NLTU – are neither of the ‘left’ or the ‘right’. In addition to this, we are equally opposed to both capitalism and modern-day socialism. Indeed, we believe that there is very little true difference between both systems. Whilst we believe that ordinary working folks are the backbone of any nation, we regard ourselves as ‘beyond class’. As the NLTU Facebook site – https://www.facebook.com/ groups/277840098977231 – notes:

The National Liberal Trade Unionist aims to promote a non-socialist trade unionism i.e. building employee protections rather than class revolution. The group will support the principles of liberty e.g. the protection of all individual employees, and patriotism e.g. the defence of workers from globalisation, and promote a liberal e.g. supporting greater employee share ownership, agenda.

From this, it follows that we’re particularly interested in alternative economic systems that offer both security & betterment for ordinary working folks. Thus some of our ‘points of reference’ include Distributism, Social Credit, the Co-Operative movement and Syndicalism. We’re also interested in Guild Socialism (as advocated by the likes of William Morris, GDH Cole and Arthur Penty). With this in mind, the NLTU recently came across a thoughtprovoking article in the Plough Quarterly, a US-based ‘magazine of stories, ideas, and culture to inspire faith and action’. Written by Gary Dorrien, the article – https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/social-justice/ economic-justice/restore-the-guilds – provides an excellent history of Guild Socialism (referred to as ‘Christian socialism’ in the article).

We invite our readers to share their thoughts when this article is reproduced on the NLTU Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/groups/277840098977231/ – or the National Liberals Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/groups/52739504313/ It goes without saying that there are no links between Gary Dorrien, Plough Quarterly, the NLTU and the National Liberal Party. We’d also like to point out that whilst the article is written from a Christian perspective, the NLTU and NLP welcome members & supporters from all religions and none. Please note that the NLTU has kept the original US spellings and phrases as they are.

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Restore The Guilds – What today’s labor unions, democratic socialists, and mutual aid societies might learn from the colorful history of Christian socialism in Britain.

(Left) William Morris (24th March 1834 – 3rd October 1896) was a British textile designer, craftsman, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. His designs for furniture, fabrics, stained glass, wallpaper, and other decorative arts are associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement. (Right) John Ruskin (8th February 1819 – 20th January 1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era. He was also a draughtsman, philosopher, prominent social critic, reformer and philanthropist. Ruskin was a major influence on Morris – especially his views on the social and moral basis of architecture.

IN 1906, a British Christian socialist named Arthur J. Penty had a straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back moment. Penty loved the decentralized economic democracy envisioned by two Victorian literary icons, Oxford art critic John Ruskin and radical novelist William Morris, but there was no organization devoted to these ideas. Ruskin and Morris had passed on, and the dominant movement for socialism in England was the Fabian Society, which promoted a centralized government collectivism that nationalized all means of production, exchange, and distribution. Penty, a reluctant Fabian, did his best to stifle his revulsion at Fabian meetings and admonished himself to be realistic – after all, Fabians undeniably prevailed on the British left and were the most politically viable option. But when Fabian Society leader Sidney Webb hired a utilitarian architect to design the buildings for the school he founded, the London School of Economics, that was more than Penty could stomach – he couldn’t work with philistines. Fabian collectivism, he fumed, was socialism without a soul. Somehow the ethical, human-scale socialism of Ruskin and Morris had to be renewed in a twentieth-century form. The movement he sparked would call it guild socialism.

More than a century later, with capitalism run amok and several purportedly socialist states spectacularly come and gone, guild socialism might be just what we need. The cry for an alternative to corporate capitalism is certainly getting very strong. Decades of letting big banks and corporations do whatever they want have yielded a revulsion against neoliberalism from many sides. Americans are losing their tolerance for extreme inequality, an ecological crisis is pressing upon us, and an overdue reckoning for America’s long history of racism has come. The convention that Americans have nothing to learn from the history of socialism has become unsettled, to put it mildly. Democratic socialism has made a dramatic comeback as the name for a different kind of society in which freedom and equality strengthen each other and no group dominates any other.

But democratic socialism has a complex and problematic history of its own. The name registers that socialists who were committed to democracy had to distinguish themselves from socialists who were not. Democratic socialists ran for office, appealed to socialist ethical values, and achieved progressive reforms through coalition governments. Their socialist values should have made them principled feminists, anti-racists, anti-militarists, and anti-imperialists, but many settled for weak gestures toward these causes. They should have welcomed Christian socialists into the parties they created, but only in England, select British colonies, and Switzerland did that happen.

Democratic socialists never achieved democratic socialism anywhere. Instead, they built Social Democratic parties, enacted progressive reforms, and built advanced welfare states, which came to be called, revising the meaning of a distinguished name, social democracy. Democratic socialism has a predominant legacy of state socialist aspirations inspiring campaigns for progressive reform. I do not say this to slight social democracy. Only social democracy has come close to fulfilling the doctrine of human rights expounded in Christian social ethics, by establishing nationwide policies of universal health care, a living wage, generous parental leave, and free higher education. In Germany, social democracy has reached into the management of corporate enterprises, creating supervisory boards in which 50 percent of the board members represent workers.

But democratic socialism is not inevitably about aspiring to state socialism and settling for social democracy. The deepest impulse in it is the original socialist vision of cooperative community. Christian socialists championed this idea long before German Marxists (against their intention), Continental neo-Marxists (ambiguously), and British Fabians (very intentionally) made socialism a project of the state. “State socialism” was an oxymoron to the radical democrats, communitarians, Marxists, anarchists, and Christian socialists of the early socialist movements. Karl Marx himself envisioned a revolutionary order featuring collective ownership, no classes, and no state. The Marxian fantasy of a stateless communist utopia was a major problem for every socialist party that competed for votes and sought to take the reins of the state. Even as the Social Democratic parties drifted toward state socialism, equating socialism with nationalization, dissenters within these parties resisted this trend or tried to bend it in the direction of worker guilds, guild networks, and other forms of decentralized economic democracy. In Britain, guild socialism was the leading resistance movement. It was loaded with Christian socialists and secular ethical socialists who renewed a politics of radical democracy that is still worth reviving today.

• FIND out more about National Liberal Trade Unionism:

Liberal Trade Unionism
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Once upon a time the Trade Union movement in Britain was largely part of the Liberal movement. The majority of officials were even members of the Liberal Party. This continued from when the first unions were formed up until the turn of the century. The, then new, ideology of socialism took hold amongst many officials who believed that the future of politics was a class struggle and that only a working class party could represent or even deliver power to that class. Thus the Labour party was formed and Trade Unions became synonymous with the party.
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In the present day workers still require the services of a union, whether as individuals or as a collective. In the short run, jobs are under threat and employee rights are under attack. In the medium term, workers face the negative effects of globalisation e.g. wage depression or unemployment.
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Many however feel that those unions in the TUC, wedded to a confrontational class-based politics, are ill-equipped to respond to these problems.
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For example, socialism is no longer popular. The TUC’s ‘workers of the world unite’ slogan rings hollow to British workers losing jobs overseas. Class politics is the exception to the rule and the ‘working-class’ no longer automatically regard the Labour party to be their natural representatives.
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Non-Socialist Trade Unionism

In Europe there has always been an alternative trade unionism, either ‘Christian’ or Liberal, and this often resulted in separate unions that reflected their ethos. In the UK such groups failed to found their own unions and slowly shrank in importance within existing ones.

We believe in a non-socialist unionism that seeks to protect the interests of its’ members at work rather than as an arm of political or class revolution. In this way unions can focus their energies in the workplace rather than frittered away trying to control the Labour party. A separate liberal union could effectively influence ALL political parties to adopt policies to protect employees in the workplace.

A sensible alternative

Whether via its’ own union or within another our supporters will be support the principles of liberty (putting the individual member first) and patriotism (defending workers from globalisation), and be liberal (increasing employee share ownership) and economic (focusing activity in the workplace) in practice.

If you want to help us promote a sensible non-socialist trade unionism please contact us via natliberal@aol.com and/or visit our Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/groups/277840098977231

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From The Liberty Wall – Nations without States – Love Your People : Love Your Nation : Love The Awá People!
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Liberal Worker Says Shop Local This Summer!

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From The Liberty Wall – Nations without Sates – Calling All Aborigines, Aché, Ainu & Ahwazi People …

“Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

• Martin Luther King Jr.


THE GREATER LONDON AUTHORITY (GLA) ELECTION should have been held 17 days ago – on 7th May.
They’re held every four years and 25 seats are up for grabs. The election is unique in that it comprises of three different ‘contests’ – each with its own ballot paper. This means that the London electorate votes for the Mayor of London, 14 Constituency Members & 11 Members that represent the whole of London (London-wide Members) all in one hit.

As this section of the official London Elects web-site notes – https://www.londonelects.org.uk/im-voter/what-do-mayor-london-and-london-assembly-do – the London Assembly is responsible for areas such as policing, transport, housing, planning and the environment.

However, due to the Covid-19 crisis, the GLA election has now been postponed until Thursday May 6th 2021. But what has all this got to do with Nations without States?

The main reason is that our friends and comrades of the National Liberal Party -NLP – were intending to stand candidates (under the banner of Self-Determination For All!) in the election. Here, they were hoping to draw attention to the fact that countless people around the world are demanding Self-Determination – whether it be some form of recognition, autonomy or independence.

Self-Determination is the raison d’être of the National Liberal Party.
Therefore, they’ll support the right of all people who desire freedom. This includes for example the Catalans, Flemish, Kurds, Sikhs and Tamils. (The irony of the election being held in London – the English capital – won’t be lost on supporters of both NwS & the NLP. For those who don’t know, England doesn’t have its own Parliament. Westminster is a British, and not English, Parliament!)

The NLP have advised us that they are still organising for next May – although, now that there’s no immediate hurry, much of this is now being done behind the scenes.

Nations without States will also keep on highlighting the causes of those people who desire some form of Self-Determination. As our educational outreach posters (above) indicate, to date we’ve looked at the Aborigines, Aché, Ainu & Ahwazi People. Next up will be an article about the Åland Islands.

In the meantime, however, we feel that it’ll be appropriate to reproduce an article which appeared in issue 1 of Nation, the ‘Newsletter of Nations without States’. Identities, Self-Determination and Initiatives provided information about NwS and outlined our strategy. It talks about the need to ‘build a broad-front alliance which consists of self-determinists from the British Isles and the various foreign Diasporas living here.’ Whilst fighting elections wasn’t specifically mentioned at this early stage – although we feel that it’s implicit in the article – issue 2 of Nation reported that NwS wished to build ‘a whole new voting demographic.’

As usual, we welcome any feedback from fellow Self-Determinists once this article appears on Facebook/Nations without States.

Identities, Self-Determination and Initiatives

NATIONS WITHOUT STATES (NwS) is an exciting new activist based pressure group sponsored by the National Liberal Party. The NLP – Britain’s true centre party – is the only party that supports self-determination for all nations. Check out its website: www.nationalliberal.org

Founded in March 2012, the Organising Committee of NwS consists of Jagdeesh Singh, Graham Williamson and Sockalingam Yogalingam. It is currently appointing NwS Representatives, who’ll become official links to their community’s Diaspora. It also hopes to produce a self-determinist manifesto and constitution in the near future.

The main aim of NwS is to highlight the plight of all peoples who aspire to nationhood. These might be based on peoples or tribes within a state or even across borders; folk that may or may not have been independently organised in the past. They might have a linguistic or historical separateness from their neighbours or fellow citizens. All seeking statehood will aspire to recognition, autonomy or independence.

We will support the right of all such peoples to determine their future. These include, for instance, the Kurds, Flemish, Sikhs and Tamils. Nations without States – NwS – supports the right of self-determination where it is based on a sound and just position and is supported by the majority of its ‘national’ community.

As self-determinists we believe that the concept of nationhood is universal – and in an era of globalisation it needs protection and promotion as one solution to our political ills. A proud and recognised nation within its own state and at ease with itself is far more likely to ensure internal and external peace than any ‘supra-national empire’.

Thus, Nations without States will aim to:

• Showcase the many suppressed nations and those groups that struggle to obtain recognition for their nations and/or some level of autonomy or independence. We will do this via conferences, meetings, demonstrations, days of action, pickets, publications, leaflets and social media. Here we’ll look at the ‘forgotten nations’ of the world explaining their historical background, their present situation and what the future might hold. We are more than happy to allow representatives of such peoples as individuals or groups to present their case.

• Help build a broad-front alliance which consists of self-determinists from the British Isles and the various foreign Diasporas living here. We will co-ordinate the representatives and groups among the various Diasporas in the West so that each cause will benefit from each other’s experience, strength and contacts. Hopefully, by working together – via joint conferences, demonstrations and educational outreach material – each group will be able to push their national cause that little bit further towards their goals.

NwS is unique because it links all of our national struggles. We believe that joint strategies and the pooling of our resources will make us much stronger. This is essential – as we’re up against powerful governments who have a vested interest in denying people self-determination. Some of these governments are openly dictatorial – indeed, they’re not adverse to a spot of genocide. Even some of the ‘democratic’ governments just pay lip service to true democracy and human rights.

They also have lots of money to spend on PR. In many cases they can call upon a compliant media to either smear those fighting for self-determination or simply not bother reporting views which represent an ‘inconvenient truth’.

Those interested in helping NwS overcome these vested interests and obtaining self-determination for all of our nations, should contact nationswstates@aol.co.uk or check out Facebook/Nations without States.

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COVID-19 KASHMIR CONFERENCE

An electronic Conference on Kashmir’s Lockdown running quite separately and earlier than the global one was held last week. Various Kashmiri organisations, politicians, human rights activists and our (national) Self-Determinist pressure group Nations without States, attended.

Some notable attendees included the Conference Moderator Barrister M. Tramboo, Chairman Professor K. Buchner MEP (the Conservative Green ODP), and President in exile Carles Puigdemont (of Catalonia). The Conference discussed the need for the world to acknowledge Kashmir’s Self-Determination and Human Rights.

A Resolution was agreed by the participants calling the UN, EU, individual states and whomever will listen, to lobby for a solution (to follow). It was agreed that such conferences should be held on a regular basis.

Our Parliamentary petition was brought up as one initiative, amongst many, that supporters can get behind: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300570/

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