Battle of Ideas

Labour should fight Brexit all the way

Author: 

Martin Thomas

Prime minister Theresa May will formally announce her wish to quit the European Union, and thus trigger separation proceedings under Article 50 of the 1991 Maastricht Treaty, on 29 March.

Current Labour Party policy is to give the Tories a free hand to shape Brexit. Labour leaders say they must defer out of respect for the referendum decision on 23 June 2016.

Labour should be convincing people that this Tory Brexit should be rejected by the majority, and that the majority should have the means to block it.

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Around the world: 

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.

Publications: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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).

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Around the world: 

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.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

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.

Publications: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Trade Unions: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

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 History of the Russian Revolution

It is 100 years since workers in Russian took power to run society in the collective interests of the majority.

Over the course of this year we will be publishing extracts from Leon Trotsky's book The History of the Russian Revolution to tell the story of the revolution. As they are published we will post the links to the extracts here.

A series of excepts from Leon Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution.

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: 

The Bolsheviks and Democracy: Martov’s Mysticism

Author: 

Albert Goldman
The Menshevik internationalist, Julius Martov, furnishes theoretical arguments for all those who behold in Stalinism a necessary and inevitable product of Leninism.

THE PUBLICATION IN English of a  of essays by the late Menshevik leader Martov under the title of The State and the Socialist Revolution [1] is intended by its publishers, the semi-syndicalist, semi-anarchist, semi-socialist International Review group, to furnish theoretical arguments for all those who behold in Stalinism a necessary and inevitable product of Leninism.

Trump: threat to abortion rights worldwide

Author: 

Elizabeth Butterworth
Trump-Pence are going after abortion rights in the US as well as globally.

One of Trump’s first executive orders after being installed as President was to reintroduce the Mexico City Policy, or “Global Gag Rule”: a technicality in the funding of overseas aid, which was introduced by Reagan, revoked by Clinton, re-introduced by Bush and revoked again by Obama.

Publications: 

Around the world: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Eugene Debs: The Day of the People (1919)

Author: 

Eugene V. Debs
Eugene Victor Debs speaks for socialism, in January 1919.

(Soon after Debs made this speech, Karl Liebnecht and Rosa Ruxemburg were murdered by German reactionaries)

Upon his release from the Kaiser’s bastile – the doors of which were torn from their hinges by the proletarian revolution – Karl Liebknecht, heroic leader of the rising hosts, exclaimed: “The Day of the People has arrived!” It was a magnificent challenge to the Junkers and an inspiring battle-cry to the aroused workers.

Left anti-semitism: racism as anti-racism (1984)

Author: 

Clive Bradley and Martin Thomas
A review by Clive Bradley of Steve Cohen's, 'That's funny, you don't look anti-Semitic', and a comment by Martin Thomas.

Both published in Socialist Organiser, summer 1984.

***

'That's funny, you don't look anti-Semitic', by Steve Cohen, an anti-racist analysis of Left anti-semitism (Beyond the Pale collective, £2)

This book should be read and re-read by everyone active on the left. For years, the left - revolutionary or otherwise - has glibly held up its hands in horror at the very idea that it might be anti-Semitic. Anti-semitism is rarely mentioned except as an afterthought to ward off criticism from Zionists.

100 years of jazz on record

Author: 

Jim Denham

It was fortunate for both jazz and the phonograph industry that their emergence co-incided: the improvisational music that is jazz was caught in its early days by the phonograph, and jazz repaid the industry a million times over in sales of music that owed its existence to early jazz.

Is the fact that the first jazz records were made by five white guys a practical demonstration of racism, even in the foremost art-form developed by African-Americans?

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Culture and Reviews: 

4. The Comintern and the Fourth International

The nascent Russian workers’ state survived beleaguered the civil war and resulting economic collapse, but saw capitalism stabilise and the immediate possibilities of workers’ revolution recede across Europe. Lenin and Trotsky sought to reorient the Communist Parties through their joint work in the Communist International, particularly at the Third (July 1921) and Fourth (November 1922) Congresses.

Around the world: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

The democracy of others

Author: 

Martin Thomas

“No-one combats freedom; at most they combat the freedom of others”, wrote Karl Marx sarcastically, in an article defending the freedom of the press. For a long time now, in politics, “democracy” has had the same status.

In the turmoil around the revolutions of 1848 Engels and Marx came to understand that a formal, merely-political democracy was possible, which would preserve the rule of profiteers and of profit in economic life.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

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Ritzy Living Wage campaign: “unleashing passion and creativity”

A socialist who works at the Ritzy Picturehouse cinema in Brixton, South London spoke to Solidarity about the Ritzy workers' Living Wage struggle (in a personal capacity).

An interview with a Ritzy worker, from the previous wave of Picturehouse cinema strikes in 2014.

Trade Unions: 

Publications: 

The Soviets and Democracy

Author: 

Maurice Spector*
What separated Trotsky from Stalin was not a matter of tempo of economic development but principle. State planning could be properly and creatively applied only under conditions of Soviet democracy

IMMEDIATELY AFTER the accession of Hitler, Trotsky wrote that the issue presenting itself to the masses was no longer Bolshevism versus Fascism but Fascism versus Democracy. Our subsequent critique of the Popular Front might make it appear that we had perversely abandoned this view when Moscow adopted it. That would be a complete misunderstanding. We rejected the whole conception of the Popular Front precisely because it was  impotent to combat fascism.

Lenin and the Russian Revolution

WL 3/28

Author: 

Andrew Hornung and John O'Mahony

Read online (below), or download pdf (see "attachment").

Who was Lenin? He led the workers of the Tsarist Russian Empire to make the most profound revolution in history in 1917. He was the leader of the Russian Bolshevik Party, without which the workers would have been defeated.



Who was Lenin? He led the workers of the Tsarist Russian Empire to make the most profound revolution in history in 1917. He was the leader of the Russian Bolshevik Party, without which the workers would have been defeated.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

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