Battle of Ideas

On the "social strike": a response to Plan C

Author: 

Daniel Randall

Recent strikes by Deliveroo and UberEats drivers are profoundly significant. They explode the myth, peddled by some on both left and right, that workers in the so-called "gig economy" can't organise, and that the proliferation of those types of work is in the process of rendering labour organising historically redundant.

Does the concept of the "social strike", promoted by the left-wing group Plan C, have the capacity to overcome the current weakness of organised labour?

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Trade Unions: 

The left and non-violence - a reply to the Guardian

Author: 

Dan Katz

The Guardian (19 August) is horrified by a discussion which took place inside Momentum’s steering committee. Momentum’s aims had been discussed in the meeting, and it was proposed by some to remove a commitment to only non-violent methods. The text was amended and the promise of non-violence at all times removed.

The Guardian is trying to whip up a scandal about a discussion that took place in Momentum about violence and non-violence.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

What is a "Leninist sect"? Is AWL one?

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

In July 1990, Socialist Organiser, a forerunner of Solidarity, was banned by the Labour Party, apparently on the instigation of Frank Field MP, the same Frank Field who now floats the idea of Labour right-wingers contesting elections as “independent” against democratically selected candidates of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

A challenge to the ban at the 1990 Labour Party conference won a majority of Constituency Labour Party delegate votes, but failed to overturn it.

In 1990, Socialist Organiser was banned by the Labour Party, apparently on the instigation of Frank Field MP, the same Frank Field who now floats the idea of Labour right-wingers contesting elections as “independent” against democratically selected candidates of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

Publications: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

On the insidiousness of Press TV

Author: 

Omar Raii
In a way getting angry at someone on the left appearing on Press TV is a bit like getting angry at England playing poorly in the World Cup. It’s a dreadful and appalling thing but it happens all the time.

In a way getting angry at someone on the left appearing on Press TV is a bit like getting angry at England playing poorly in the World Cup. It’s a dreadful and appalling thing but it happens all the time. And therefore I cannot legitimately claim to have been outraged when hearing that the Young Labour International Officer, Abdi-Aziz Suleiman of former NUS fame, spoke on Press TV to support Jeremy Corbyn. I must admit I was a little surprised that he was speaking to George Galloway who one would have thought had been discredited enough even for Press TV but I was clearly wrong.

What is Trotskyism?

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Click here for the debate around this contribution.

19th and 20th century socialism is a house of many rooms, cellars, attics, alcoves, and hidden chambers (not to speak of private chapels and “priest-holes”).

There are in it the utopian socialists of our pre-history reformists and revolutionists, parliamentarians and insurrectionists, “direct action” anarchists and union-building syndicalists, council communists and kibbutz-building utopian Zionists.

A fragmented tradition of revolutionary Marxism.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Rivers of rubbish: on the reputation on the left of AWL's predecessor, Socialist Organiser (1991)

Biblical scholars, I understand, have a terrible time of it working out what some of the long-vanished early Christian groups believed.

They have to rely on such chance survivals as the "Dead Sea Scrolls". Most of the rich history of the competing Christian groups in the later Roman Empire is lost: the victorious Catholic Christians entwined with the Roman and later states from the early 4th century onwards, suppressed their opponents and left little trace of them and their beliefs except for factional slanders and lies. Mostly we don't know what they believed.

We need a culture of honest criticism on the left, and an end to telling lies about other socialists.

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

Who is Tom Watson?

Author: 

David Pendletone

Watson comes from a Stalinist-Labour bureaucracy background. He used to boast that his father had been expelled from school for writing pro-Cuba graffiti. On leaving school, Watson got a job in the Labour Party headquarters in Walworth Road. He then went to study Politics at Hull University in 1990; after initially eschewing student politics he became involved in the Labour Club and in 1992 became the Union President.

Watson has always been a machine-politician Stalinoid intriguer.

Publications: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Connolly and the Unionists

Author: 

Michael Johnson

Part nine of Michael Johnson’s series on the life and politics of James Connolly. The rest of the series can be found here.


The prospect of the Third Home Rule Bill sparked a widespread mobilisation of Ulster Unionists in opposition to the measure, backed to the hilt by the Tory establishment who hoped to use Ulster to defeat Home Rule for Ireland as a whole.

Part nine of Michael Johnson’s series on the life and politics of James Connolly.

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

A revolutionary socialist, Asian Labour MP – in the 1920s

In 1922-23, there was a Communist Labour MP in Battersea North, South London, Shapurji Saklatvala. Having lost his seat in 1923, he regained it in 1924 without official Labour backing but no Labour candidate standing against him, and held it until 1929. He was the first person to be arrested during the 1926 General Strike, following a speech calling on troops not to act against strikers, and was jailed for two months.

In the 1920s the working-class constituency of Battersea North in South London had a Communist Labour MP, Shapurji Saklatvala.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Trident renewal and the future of the Labour Party

At Workers’ Liberty’s Ideas for Freedom event (7-10 July) Luke Akehurst of Labour First debated Labour left activist Laura Rogers on whether the Labour Party should be in favour of renewing Trident.

At Workers’ Liberty’s Ideas for Freedom event (7-10 July) Luke Akehurst of Labour First debated Labour left activist Laura Rogers on whether the Labour Party should be in favour of renewing Trident.

Luke Akehurst: I’m in favour of the renewal of the Trident system, of buying a new set of submarines to enable the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

What is the nature of the British deterrent? It’s a minimum, independent, strategic deterrent. The most important concept here is deterrent. The whole point of having this system is not because you want nuclear war.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

Jeremy Corbyn and the Middle East

Below are some articles discussing Corbyn's politics in connection with the Middle East, particularly Iran, and more generally.

Corbyn and the Middle East: the hypocrisy of the right, a challenge for the left (by Sacha Ismail, July 2015)

For Corbyn, and better politics (by Colin Foster, July 2015)

James Bloodworth is wrong about Jeremy Corbyn (by Sacha Ismail, August 2015)

A collection of articles from the last year discussing Corbyn's politics in connection with the Middle East, particularly Iran.

Around the world: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

How to wipe out left-anti-Semitism

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Jackie Walker, a woman of mixed African-Jewish background, and vice-chair of the Labour Party's left-wing group, Momentum, has been suspended by the Labour Party on grounds of anti-semitism. The charge of anti-semitism is based on a fragment of a Facebook conversation from some months ago. Her anti-semitism consisted in the statement that Africa too had experienced a Holocaust.

We need to specify what left anti-semitism consists of, in order to debate, educate, and clarify.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

The Preacher and the Slave, by Joe Hill

Author: 

Joe Hill

Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right,
But when asked about something to eat,
They will answer in voices so sweet:

Chorus:
You will eat bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky.
Work and pray, (work and pray),
Live on hay, (live on hay),
You’ll get Pie in the Sky,
When you die, (that’s a lie!)

A song about religion.

Publications: 

Culture and Reviews: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Songs of liberty and rebellion

Author: 

Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Yevgeny Yevtushenko who wrote this denunciation of Russian anti-semitism, was the USSR's licensed-rebel poet in...the late 50s and early 60s.
"Over Babiy Yar/ there are no memorials....I am frightened...Dreyfus. I am he...I am also a boy in Belostok...the public-bar heroes are rioting...the corn-chandler is beating up my mother..."

Yevgeny Yevtushenko who wrote this denunciation of Russian anti-semitism, was the USSR's licensed-rebel poet in...the late 50s and early 60s.

Publications: 

In Memory of Heroes: Warsaw's Three Insurrections During World War II

Author: 

A. RUDZIENSKI
Warsaw's Three Insurrections During World War II

Warsaw belongs to those heroic and
martyrized cities like Stalingrad.
London, Budapest and Berlin that
marked turning points in the war.
But Warsaw is distinguished from
these other cities by this—that the
imperialist war passed through War-
saw at its beginning, at its climax,
and at its end, leaving in its wake
dead and barbarous ruins that have
not been seen since the remote times
of Attila and Genghis Khan.
When Hitler invaded Poland, it was
Warsaw which bore the whole weight

Our New Book: Can socialism make sense?

Author: 

Paul Hampton

This is a review of the new book by Workers' Liberty Can socialism make sense?

A review of Can Socialism Make Sense? by Sean Matgamna.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

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