Battle of Ideas

Q&A on the general election

Author: 

Darren Bedford

In almost every constituency, Workers’ Liberty favours a Labour vote in the general and council elections in 2015. But the Labour Party is committed to maintaining austerity, just like the Tories. Why vote Labour?

In almost every constituency, Workers’ Liberty favours a Labour vote in the general and council elections in 2015. But the Labour Party is committed to maintaining austerity, just like the Tories. Why vote Labour?

Publications: 

The Voice of Richard Wright, Black American Communist

Author: 

James M. Fenwick
This assessment of Richard Wright, the great black American Communist, author of "Black Boy", and "Native Son", appeared in the New International, late in 1941, as a review of “Bright and Morning Star”.

AMONG ALL THE THOUSANDS of authors turning out short stories and novels today, Richard Wright is one of the few who stir the depths of one’s pity and anger.

Speech on the Way to Prison (1943)

Author: 

James P. Cannon

This last opportunity to speak to you for a period, comrades, is also the first opportunity I have had to thank you all for the gifts that were presented to me and Rose on the occasion of the fifteenth anniversary of our movement. We were both given gold watches by the comrades of Local New York. While I will not be able to take the watch with me to Sandstone penitentiary, I will nevertheless be able to take something even more valuable than the watch or any other material gift. That is the memory of your kindness and your friendship.

This fine declaration of faith, principles and motives for socialist action was made by the great American Marxist James P Cannon as he and 15 others prepared to go to jail for their political activities.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Universities, capitalism and free speech

For centuries, university campuses have been, relatively speaking, a haven within capitalist society for free debate and criticism.

A high point, for much of the 20th century, was the right which universities in Latin America won to keep the police off their campuses and have university officials elected by staff and students. That began with the University Reform Movement in Córdoba, in northern Argentina, which opposed a focus on learning by rote, inadequate libraries, poor instruction, and restrictive admission criteria, and spread across the subcontinent.

For centuries, university campuses have been, relatively speaking, a haven within capitalist society for free debate and criticism - but today free debate and criticism on campus is under threat from several angles.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Trade Unions: 

Publications: 

Understanding the Muslim far-right in Algeria, and beyond

Author: 

Marieme Helie-Lucas

Marieme Helie Lucas is an Algerian sociologist. She participated in the national liberation from French colonialism and was close to the then-underground PCA (Parti Communist Algerien, Algerian Communist Party). She worked as a senior civil servant during the first three years after independence, before leaving to teach at Algiers University for 12 years.

Algerian sociologist and socialist-feminist activist and writer Marieme Helie Lucas argues that the Muslim fundamentalism must be understood as a populist, far-right political movement.

Around the world: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

After the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher Jewish supermarket: thinking through the new and rethinking the old

Author: 

Pierre Rousset

Pierre Rousset is a long-standing member of the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), and its predecessor organisation the Revolutionary Communist League (Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire, LCR) in France.

Veteran French Trotskyist Pierre Rousset discusses the political aftermath of the January 2015 Islamist attacks in Paris.

Around the world: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Greek Lives Matter: What Next?

Author: 

Barry Finger
What can Syriza do next?

The immediate political problem for Syriza and Varoufakis is to create "fiscal space" to generate a countercyclical momentum. They have to increase government spending to more than offset the declines in the nongovernment sectors. But the Greeks are caught in a straightjacket. By agreeing to join the Eurozone, Greece, like all other member states, effectively ceded their fiscal sovereignty. They no longer have a unified central bank and treasury to call upon to support their spending decisions.

Articles on Greece and Syriza

A collection of articles on Greece going back to July 2014, with a link to older articles.

Around the world: 

Marxists, ecology and the fight against dangerous climate change: two documents

The first of these documents was passed at the Alliance for Workers' Liberty conference in 2008, in the midst of a very fruitful period of discussion and activity around these issues for our organisation.

The second was passed at the last AWL conference but one, in 2013. Note the change of position on nuclear power.

Climate change and socialist politics (AWL conference October 2008)

Two documents, from the 2008 and 2013 Workers' Liberty conferences.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Campaign for free speech on university campuses!

Below is a model motion for students to put to their students unions and for consideration at NUS conference.

This students union believes

There is a rise in meetings, debates and publications being suppressed on campus, whether by campus authorities, the state or student unions.
In one particularly alarming case, Birkbeck College management closed a conference because a far-right racist group threatened to protest.

This student union further believes

Model motion for free speech on campus.

Charlie Hebdo and the politics of anti-imperialism

Author: 

Barry Finger

"Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross, must be unequivocally condemned. That is why what happened in Paris cannot be tolerated. But neither should we tolerate the kind of intolerance that provoked this violent reaction." (Bill Donohue, Catholic League)

"Now, I think there’s a critical difference between solidarity with the journalists who were attacked, refusing to concede anything to the idea that journalists are somehow “legitimate targets,” and solidarity with what is frankly a racist publication." (Richard Seymour, Lenin’s Tomb)

US socialist Barry Finger contributes to the debate around the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the left's attitude to political Islam.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Borotba: charlatanism masquerading as socialism

Author: 

Dale Street

Introduction

“Hah, hah! Everybody is laughing at Borotba now!” read a comment posted beneath one of the articles translated below, after last November’s sham elections in the Lugansk and Donetsk ‘People’s Republics’ had reinforced right-wing control of the two ‘People’s Republics’.

In Britain, however, Borotba is still treated as a credible organisation and a reliable source of information – above all by the “Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance” (SARU) campaign and by the various organisations affiliated to it.

Borotba's Stalinist politics: articles from the Ukrainian left.

Around the world: 

Discussing the issues behind the rise of the left in Greece

A group of young socialist activists from Britain are going on a delegation to Greece between 23 and 26 January, to be there during the election. Six of the delegation members took part in the dayschool which London Workers' Liberty held on 18 January, alongside a good size group of other young people, to discuss the political issues behind Greece's dramatic political situation.

A report of the dayschool on Greece held by Workers' Liberty on 18 January.

Around the world: 

Resolution on Greece (January 2015)

We want the left-wing party Syriza to win the Greek elections on 25 January. What else should socialists say?

The following resolution on Greece was written and passed at the Workers' Liberty national committee on 17 January. (See the resolution we published in January 2013, when the period of intense, even pre-revolutionary, struggles in Greece had not yet clearly come to an end.)

A resolution on the situation in Greece passed at the Workers' Liberty national committee on 17 January, eight days before the Greek election.

Around the world: 

The issues after Charlie Hebdo

Author: 

Yves Coleman

This article will not deal in detail with the facts about the two murderous attacks, on 7 January at the headquarters of the weekly Charlie Hebdo and on 9 January in a Parisian kosher supermarket, which have been widely explained in the media; but with some of the problems and discussions inside the radical left and anarchist circles

Most of the left and the anarchist groups, in France, as in other countries, have adopted one of two opposite and wrong attitudes.

A French socialist writes: The left has not been able to clearly denounce the Islamist murders in Paris without either overstressing the importance of Islamophobia, or overstressing the reactionary character of Islam...

Issues and Campaigns: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Finance and the "other exploitation"

Review of Costas Lapavitsas: Profiting without producing, Verso 2013


Capitalist exploitation is not just by the boss extracting from the worker, in return for a meagre more-or-less “living wage”, an expansible value-added which may be something like three times what’s paid out in wages.

It also comes from making working-class households pay interest on debts which they run up, often on disadvantageous terms, because of their relative poverty and relative lack of power in the markets.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Back to basics in the unions!

Author: 

Ira Berkovic

The most explosive and inspiring flashes of class struggle in Britain in the three years since the defeat of the public sector pensions dispute have not been national-level pitched battles between large employers and/or the government, and one or several big unions, but local-scale struggles, usually over pay.

Outsourced cleaners at the University of London and SOAS have won significant victories, bringing the workers nearer to parity with their directly employed colleagues’ sick pay, holiday entitlement, and pension arrangements.

How can revolutionary socialists in the labour movement help workplace struggles, spread them, catalyse new ones, give them a political perspective?

Publications: 

Trade Unions: 

A reply to Simon Hardy on Islamism and imperialism

Simon Hardy’s article criticising “The AWL on Islamism” avoids the wilder claims made against us, but it looks as if he has not read Sean Matgamna’s 2006 piece very thoroughly, or thought about it very hard.

Does Workers' Liberty ignore the role of imperialism in the rise of Islamism? Or does much of the British left reproduce a simplistic picture which blurs over Islamism's counter-revolutionary character?

Issues and Campaigns: 

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