Battle of Ideas

Defend Jackie Walker? Not like this! Antisemitism and the left

Author: 

Ruth Willis

The most informative thing about the recent controversy in Momentum — around comments made by Vice-Chair Jackie Walker at an antisemitism training event — has been less the words Jackie Walker herself said, and more the comments made by some of those who have rallied to her defence.

Racist antisemitism has been a shocking feature of debates among leftists over the removal of Jackie Walker as Vice-Chair of Momentum.

Publications: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Trotsky and the Jewish Question

Revised version of an article published as "Marxism and the Jewish Question" in "Two Nations, Two States" (2002, new edition 2016)

Revised version of an article published as "Marxism and the Jewish Question" in "Two Nations, Two States"

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

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Livingstone and the “anti-Zionist” left

Author: 

Sean Matgamna
The Ken Livingstone affair focuses attention on one of the major problems inside the left.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Ken Livingstone: Bad History, Worse Politics

Author: 

Dale Street
Ken Livingstone keeps on demonising Zionism as hand-in-glove with, or favoured by, Hitler. Dale Street examines the historical record.

Issues and Campaigns: 

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Marxist Theory and History: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Dealing with Livingstone

Author: 

Editorial
The AWL's take on the Labour Party's suspension of Ken Livingstone from the right to hold office for a year.

Publications: 

Against supporting "progressive imperialism" in Iraq

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Contents [Note 1]

Ex-Marxist Blairites and “Reactionary Anti-Imperialists”

Their case for backing Blair

Support for lesser evils?

Not a penny for this system!

Progressive Imperial Democrats?

Was it the bourgeoisie that won “bourgeois democracy”?

The Russian experience

No imperialism?

Capitulators of today and yesterday

Mañana Third Campists

Conclusions

Edited and reworked version of articles which first appeared in Solidarity 3/63 to 3/65, 2 December 2004 to 20 January 2005, in response to polemics in favour of critical support for the USA in Iraq

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

Notes on early Irish history

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Ireland has a singular history. Unlike England, it was never part of the Roman Empire. There was trade with the Roman Empire most importantly with Roman England, and Ireland was culturally influenced by the Roman Empire. For instance, a Roman script replaced the primitive and clumsy Ogham script. In the period of the final decline of Rome, the Irish joined the other barbarians in raiding Roman and immediately post-Roman England for loot, including slaves. Among those slaves was, famously, the future Saint Patrick.

How Ireland became "Irish"

Marxist Theory and History: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Liam Daltun: Stocking up on theory

Author: 

Liam Daltun

Introduction by Sean Matgamna

Another day

The document we reprint here, Liam Daltun's account in a letter to Sean Matgamna of events in the Irish Communist Group, deals with an important episode in the history of the Irish left.

The ICG, set up in 1964, was a foredoomed experiment in building an organisation involving both Trotskyists and Chinese-oriented "revolutionary" Stalinists.

Liam Daltun's account in a letter to Sean Matgamna of the dispute in the Irish Communist Group in 1965.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

Selective quoting, history and bad faith

Author: 

Dale Street
Free Speech on Israel campaign selectively quote historian Francis Nicosia in defence of Livingstone's comments on Zionism and Nazi Germany. This contradicts Nicosia's basic argument that German antisemites were hostile to Zionism.

Yesterday’s “Guardian” (13th April) published a statement from the so-called ‘Free Speech on Israel’ campaign. The text of the letter and the full list of signatories is at:

http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/letter-guardian-reject-call-expulsion-ken-livingstone/#more-3000

According to the letter:

The story of Martin McGuinness

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

The young Martin McGuinness was a typical Catholic boy who grew up in the six north-east counties of Ireland, in the Protestant-sectarian backyard of the British state, the "Protestant sub-state for a Protestant people".

McGuinness had talent and he had guts. What he didn't have was a strategy that could win a united Ireland.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

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Which battle is this?

Author: 

Ann Field
Review of “The Battle of Grangemouth – A Worker’s Story”, by former Ineos convenor Mark Lyon

“The Battle of Grangemouth – A Worker’s Story”, written by former Ineos convenor Mark Lyon, is as “a vital new book”, “a book which had to be written”, and “one of the most important books in modern working-class history.”

That is what Unite claims in its advertising campaign for the book, published by Lawrence & Wishart in association with Unite itself.

Momentum grassroots conference: an opportunity almost missed

Author: 

Simon Nelson and Sacha Ismail

Two hundred Momentum members, including about 80-90 delegates from local groups, attended the 11 March national grassroots networking conference held by the organising committee appointed by the old, pre-coup Momentum National Committee. For a fairly comprehensive factual report of what happened, see here.

The outcome of the conference was overall a positive one, but there were a number of problems that marred what could have been a much better event.

Report and analysis of the 11 March conference.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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Labour movement unity, not nationalist separatism!

Author: 

Dale Street

Will there be another referendum on independence for Scotland after the EU referendum? That is now a central focus of mainstream political debate in Scotland. And that spells bad news for socialists and the broader Labour and trade union movement.

At a UK level the EU referendum saw a 51.9% majority in favour of “Leave” on a 72% turnout. In England 53.4% backed “Leave” on a 73% turnout. But in Scotland 62% backed “Remain” on a 67% turnout.

The drive for a second referendum will work against uniting workers of all national identities (article from June 2016).

Around the world: 

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The paradox of February

Author: 

Leon Trotsky

Continuing a series of extracts from Leon Trotsky’s History of the Russian Revolution. On 2 March 1917 a Provisional Government is formed; it has the support of the Petrograd soviet. Trotsky explains why the February revolution ended with a transfer of power to the liberal bourgeoisie.

Read the rest of the series

Trotsky explains why the February 1917 revolution in Russia ended with a transfer of power to the liberal bourgeoisie.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

What is the “social strike”?

Author: 

Daniel Randall

Recent strikes by “gig economy” workers (e.g. Deliveroo) are profoundly significant. They explode the myth, peddled by some on both left and right, that so-called precarious workers can’t organise, and that the proliferation of those types of work is in the process of rendering labour organising historically redundant.

A fetishisation of novelty can sometimes blind us to the fact that what’s required is not “new kinds of strike action”, or new forms of organisation, but rather a rediscovery and relearning of old lessons, ideas, and strategies, now forgotten or lost.

Marxist Theory and History: 

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Trade Unions: 

John Reed: Soviets in Action: An Eyewitness Account of Working Class Democracy in the Russian Revolution

Author: 

John Reed
The American Journalist John Reed describes what happened in the Russian workers revolution of 1917 and after.

Through all the chorus of abuse and misrepresentation directed against the Russian Soviets by the capitalist press there runs a voice shrill with a sort of panic, which cries: ‘There is no government in Russia! There is no organisation among the Russian workers! It will not work! It will not work!’

There is method in the slander.

The Labour Left in the 1980s and Trotskyism: a survey by banned Marxist paper, Socialist Organiser (1990)

Author: 

Editorial in Socialist Organiser
A critical survey of the Labour Left in the 1980s, written in July 1990, when the Labour Party banned Solidarity's predecessor, Socialist Organiser.

On 25 July [1990] the Labour Party's National Executive Committee voted to ban Socialist Organiser.

The left we have and the left we need [1997]

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

The 18-year period of rule by the Tory Party, which was ended on 1 May by the election of a New Labour government, was one of profoundly radical change. The bourgeoisie remade and reshaped institutions and social relationships and, to a considerable extent, the working-class itself.

To find anything comparable to it in scope, depth and consequence you must go back to the 6-year rule of the post-war Labour government in the second half of the ’40s.

How the revolutionary left was shaped and reshaped from the late 1960's to the 1980's and how it can reorientate itself. [1997]

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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