Tony Saunois: Brexit was mainly a revolt against the elite and the political leaders

foto: Tony’s private archive


Posted on May 9, 2018 by Il Grido del Popolo©


Tony Saunois from Committee for a Worker’s International, autor of “Che Guevara: Symbol of Struggle”. 


What does your political experience says about future of socialism?


TS: If we look at the situation facing global capitalism today then we can be very optimistic about the future for socialism. The global crisis of capitalism is structural and on going. The collapse in the social base of the main pillars of capitalist rule – the political parties, parliament, the state together with the unprecendented inequality between the super rich and the poor all point to system which is rotten ripe to be ended. It is a system in decay. On the other hand the development of new technology and the possibilities which arise from it together with the globalised economy indicate that the building of a socialist world would be easier today that in the past if the working people took control and ran society democratically. However, this does not mean that socialism will just drop from the sky automatically. It must be fought for. The ruling class will fight to defend its interest. The most optimistic prospect lies with the new younger generation who with a real socialist programme and instrument of struggle could transform the world and build a new socialist alternative. The future is either socialism or barbarism.


Your thoughts on European trade unions? Are they here to help to the workers or they are sold to corporations?


TS: This is a very important question. The trade unions are potentially a crucial instrument for struggle to defend the interests of working people. However, in the main, the majority of the trade union leadership in Europe have been incorporated into capitalism. The vast privelages of the trade union bureaucracy means they are largely detatched from their members conditions of life. In the main these leaders hold back the struggles of working people and offer no leadership. It is necessary to transform the trande unions from below and building fighting oppositions to the leaderships. It is also necessary to build trade unions amongst the new, younger layers of the workers especially those is the precarious sector which in the main are not unionised. This poses new challenges and tasks.


What is the UK future after Brexit?


TS: Brexit was mainly a revolt agains the elite and the political leaders. An expression of anger. After Brexit, the class divisions and struggles in the UK will deepen. It is likely it will split the Tory party and may be the Labour Party as well. It will resolve nothing and will open new conflicts. However, on a capitalist basis the same would apply if the UK remained in the EU. As socialist Brexit, linking up with the working people throughout Europe to establish a democratic socialist European confederation is the real alternative.


What does Trotsky represents for socialism today?


TS: Trotsky was one of the great leaders of the Russian revolution in 1917 who later fought the Stalinist dictatorship which later emerged. He role historically was very important. There are crucial lessons to be drawn for the struggle today from his writtings and analysis. The world situation is very different today. It is important to grasp the method of Trotsky, Lenin, Marx and Engels and apply it to todays situtation. It is not a question of simply repeating the phrases of Trotsky his method is the crucial thing to absorb and apply today.


Your comment of Putin’s politics? Is it anti imperialistic?


TS: Putin, is leading a regime of Russian oligarchs and capitalists. His regime is in conflict with the western powers. Putin has very skillfully out manouvered them internationally in Syria, the Ukrain and other areas. The west has denounced Putin’s regime and its methods. The western political leaders are hypocrits as they have done everything they accuse Putin of doing. However, his regime does not represent the interests of the Russian workers but of the oligarchs.


How can modern left politics answer to challenges of 21 st century, where there is no mainstream socialism as it was in 20 st century?


TS: Following the collapse of the regimes in Eastern Europe and the former USSR the capitalist class conducted a massive ideological offensive saying that socialism is finished. They promised a new era of capitalist peace, democracy and prosperity. The leaders of the old traditional socialist and Labour Parties accepted this. Today we see the reality of global capitalism. The mass poverty, inequality, war, environmental crisis and the turmoil in the world is the reality of modern capitalism. It is necessary to rebuild a new genuine democratic socialist movement to challenge this system and explain that an alternative is possible. This is not easy. It is a new historic task for socialists. Yet it is necessary as there is no other alternative to capitalism. It was not socialism that failed but the bureacratic dictaorships which failed. The global capitalist crisis is driving a new generation to fight against capitalism. Through experieince and with the explation of socialism by socialists a new powerful socialist movement can and must be built.


Is socialism today important or it have lost all it’s „weight“ in political arena in Europe?


TS: The capitalists like to argue socialism is irrelevant today. However, on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx many serious capitalist commentators are compelled to accept that Marx was right in his descritpion and analysis of capitalism. The capitalist class in reality are terrified that in theis eras of capitalist crisis a new generation of young people are begining to seek out Marxist and socialist ideas as an alternative to the capitalist chaos we suffer today.


You wrote a book about Che Guevara, „Che Guevara: Symbol of Struggle“ – what is Che Guevara legacy today?


TS: I think the main legacy of Che Guevara today is the uncompromising struggle he waged to defend the oppressed and that he was uncorruptable. His methods were mistaken but his heroism, dedication to the struggle and incorruptable features together with his empathy for the poor and peoples suffering have left an enduring legacy for generations.


How to educate today’s working class when more and more positions in factories and else where is becoming controlled by techonology?


TS: This is a very crucial question for socialists today. The application of new technology and other changes in the economy have changed the composition of the workforce in many countries. Although, the more traditional sections of the working class still exist albeit with far fewer numbers. These layers can be won to socialist ideas and they still have a powerful position economically in some countries. At the same time there are new layers of young workers in call centres, fast food, precarious jobs centres etc. One of the crucial tasks for the socialist and workers movement is to draw these layers into struggle and to get organised for the first time. This is not an easy task due to the conditions of work and other factors. However, the task has begun. The strikes at MCDonalds by young workers just joining the union are important. In the UK another layer of fast food delivery workers at ‘deliveroo’ aorganised themseves into a new union and took strike action. At the same time newe layers from the formerly middle class are joining the working class. In the UK the tremendous militant strike of the hospital doctors reflected this. For the first time they began to use strikes and other protests usually used by the working class. This layer swung over politically to support Corbyn and Labour in defence of the free public NHS healthcare system. These are very encouraging developments althopugh at an early stage. These new layers through experieince in struggle will need to learn the lessons of more traditional workers but a start has been made. Capitalism is once again creating its own grave diggers as Marx commented.


Is Cuba last socialist country with „human face“?


TS: The great Cuban revolution was a leap forward and won tremendous international support. Cuba was an remains seen by many workers and youth as the last socialist opponet of imperialism, especially US imperialism. The conquests in health and education and the role of Cuba in supporting the struggles of workers in Africa and other countries rightly  won enthusiastic support. The revolution, however, although emensley popular, resulting in massive gains for the Cuban people; did have some important weaknesses. There was from the begining a top down approach where the CDRs and other organs of power acted more as a transition belt for the government rather than a system of full democratic workers control and management. Today Cuba has taken some steps towards capitalist restoration. Mainly as a result of the embargo and its isolation following the collapse of the former USSR. Capitalism has not been fully restored and some gains of the revolution remain. These we defend. However, now it is necessary to struggle for full workers democracy in Cuba to defend the gains of the revolution and for this the revolution must be developed in other Latin American countries to break down Cubas isolation.




Interview was prepared and made by Gordan Stošević