Battle of Ideas

Reduce borders, don't raise them!

Author: 

Editorial

Borders divide the working class more than they divide capital. That is the core socialist argument for voting no to separation in Scotland’s referendum on 18 September.

The core argument can be overruled where one nation is conquered and ruled to ruin by another. Then, the national oppression creates divisions as evil as any border. Separation lifts the oppression. Workers are better united by a common struggle in which the workers of the oppressor nation side against their own ruling class’s sway over others.

Borders divide the working class more than they divide capital. That is the core socialist argument for voting no to separation in Scotland’s referendum on 18 September.

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Scotland: for a democratic federal republic!

What we say about the Scottish independence issue.

Written in 2009

Blink once, and the momentum for Scottish independence looks like a steamroller travelling faster and faster downhill. Blink a second time, and it looks quite different.

In 1969-71 large oil and gas reserves were discovered offshore from Scotland. The Scottish National Party boomed rapidly, reaching 30.4% of Scottish votes in the October 1974 general election. Its vote has bounced up and down since then, but since 1988 it has been almost always above or close to 20% in UK general elections.

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Monbiot, Scottish independence and cod-psychology

Author: 

Dale Street

On 3 September the “Guardian” carried a truly dire article by George Monbiot entitled “Scots voting no to independence would be an astonishing act of self-harm – England is dysfunctional, corrupt and vastly unequal. Who on earth would want to be tied to such a country?”

Monbiot begins by inviting his readers to “imagine the question posed the other way around”, i.e. what if Scotland were independent and the referendum were on whether to “surrender its sovereignty to a larger union.”

Scots who vote no to independence are, says Monbiot, self-deluding imbibers of ruling class ideology.

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Which “us”, which “them”?

“There are five million of us in Scotland, but sixty million in the rest of Britain. We’ll always be in a minority. That’s why we’ll never get the government we want.”

That’s the SNP case for a ‘yes’ vote on 18 September. Anyone who has attended referendum debates will have heard this argument – word-for-word – from SNP MSPs.

Even if not always expressed in exactly the same terms, that’s also the argument being fired back on the doorsteps by people who are saying that they will vote ‘yes’ on Thursday of next week.

The case for a ‘yes’ vote in the Scottish independence referendum on 18 September is inherently nationalist.

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Scottish independence will weaken global ruling class? A critique of "Critique"

Author: 

Dale Street

Oh dear.

The magazine “Critique” – formerly a “Journal of Soviet Studies and Socialist Theory” with a specific focus on Stalinism, but now an all-round “Journal of Socialist Theory” – has decided to back independence for Scotland!

“Critique” has always prided itself on having a better grasp of Marxism, a deeper understanding of the nature of the transitional epoch, a clearer analysis of the decline of the law of value, and a more profound insight into the application of the Marxist method and political economy than the rest of the left.

Critique magazine, self-styled sophisticated Marxists, backs independence for Scotland.

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Emile Zola, Socialism and Anti-Semitism

Émile Zola was one of the foremost novelists of late 19th century France. He was also sympathetic to socialism and a hero in the “Dreyfus Affair” of the 1890s. This interview with him by Max Beer appeared in the Social Democrat (magazine of the Social Democratic Federation, then the main Marxist group in Britain) of October 1902. Beer was the British correspondent of the German socialist paper Vorwärts and author of a History of British Socialism.

An interview with Émile Zola, one of the foremost novelists of late 19th century France who was also sympathetic to socialism and a hero in the “Dreyfus Affair” of the 1890s, which appeared in the magazine of the Social Democratic Federation, then the main Marxist group in Britain, in 1902.

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Daniel DeLeon's "Socialist Reconstruction of Society"

Workingmen and Workingwomen of Minneapolis:

Daniel DeLeon, the centenary of whose death falls in 2014, was one of the great early expounders of Marxism. In this speech, delivered in Minneapolis on July 10, 1905, he explains the root ideas of Marxism that are enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers of the World, recently founded.

How they failed Rotherham's children

Author: 

Editorial

The Jay Report, which investigated abuse and sexual exploitation of children in the Rotherham area between 1997 and 2014, estimates over 1400 children have been victims. This is appalling. It is also an issue for the left.

The Jay Report highlights over 1400 children abused. What are the issues for the left?

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Lenin: The collapse of the Second International

Lenin's analysis of the collapse of the Socialist International at the outbreak of war in 1914



Lenin's analysis of the collapse of the Socialist International at the outbreak of war in 1914


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9



PART 1

Marxist Theory and History: 

The Poverty of Anti-Zionism [1992]

Author: 

Brigitte Stora
The difference between criticising Israel and supporting the Palestinian demand for their own state, and backing Arab nationalist or Islamist demands for the destruction and abolition of Israel, must be kept clear amidst the present outrage against Israel. This 1992 article, from the French Trotskyist journal 'Critique Communiste' discusses the issues.

Between condemnation of Israel's conduct in the war that may now be concluding and denial of Israel's right to exist there is logically, politically and morally a very wide gap. However, those who deny Israel's right to exist frequently succeed in blurring that distinction.

The Collapse of The Socialist International in 1914

AT their Convention in Paris two weeks before the outbreak of the catastrophe, the French Socialists insisted on pledging all branches of the International to revolutionary action in case of a mobilization. They were thinking chiefly of the German Social Democracy. The radicalism of the French Socialists in matters of foreign policy was rooted not so much in international as national interests. The events of the War have now definitely confirmed what was clear o many then.

This is chapter 7 of Leon Trotsky's The War And The International, 1914

Stop the "anti-prostitute" vigilantes! (1994)

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

LEAVE ASIDE for the moment the question of
whether or not they should do such a thing. What hap-
pens when you set a gang of men - any men - to roam the
streets as vigilantes, harassing, bullying, and intimidating
prostitute women?

They will soon be harassing, bullying, and intimidating
women who are not prostitutes - women who by their gait,
clothes, make-up, or behaviour, or where they happen to
be on a street or in a neighbourhood, look to the gang of
men "like prostitutes."

What happens when you set a gang of men - any men - to roam the streets as vigilantes, harassing, bullying, and intimidating prostitute women?

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Priests Who Don't Believe in God? (1993)

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

"Must The Priest Believe?" — in God! — would, I thought, as my eye first flicked over the programme page, be a satire or a skit.

But no, it was a serious edition of Joan Bakewell's "Heart of the Matter", provoked by the case of a Church of England priest, Anthony Freeman, unfrocked for publishing a book explaining why he no longer believes in God.

There are quite a number of Church of England priests who do not believe in God....

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When priests rule: An Irish horror story all workers should learn from

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

An 81 year old retired Irish cardinal, Desmond Connell, has gone to the High Court in Dublin for a writ to stop his successor as Archbishop of Dublin from handing over church files on paedophile priests to a state-organised inquiry into clerical abuse of children.

The Catholic people of Ireland are now once again, in the grotesque Cardinal Connell affair, being unpleasantly reminded of what rule by priests, bishops, and cardinals sometimes has meant for them.

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Another Yalta conference

Less than two months ago Richard Brenner (Workers Power) and Alan Freeman (Socialist Action) and other Western leftists were feted in the Hotel Yalta-Intourist by Russian fascists and ultra-nationalists at a conference to boost Russian imperialist designs in Ukraine.

The same initiative met again on 30-31 August, but dispensed with the left-wing decoration.

Members of the following European fascist or far-right organisations were invited to the conference:

Second meeting of the so-called "anti-fascist" - in reality pro-Russian imperialist - conference.

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Black slavery in North America

Author: 

George Novack

History is rich in examples of the revival of institutions appropriate to more primitive civilizations in advanced societies. Mankind is infinitely ingenious in adapting old cultural forms to new uses under the changed conditions of a new social order. Like a thrifty housewife, humanity hesitates to discard familiar acquisitions, however outmoded; it prefers to store them in attics or cellars in the hope of finding a use for them in the future. The history of economics, no less than the history of philosophy, religion, and politics, shows that such expectations are often realized.

History is rich in examples of the revival of institutions appropriate to more primitive civilizations in advanced societies - old cultural forms adapted to new uses under a new social order. Chattel slavery in America is a striking case in point.

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'Politically Correct'? Linguistic Stalinism!

Author: 

Jim Denham
As we were saying, in Socialist Organiser in 1991

A Labour-controlled council in the West Midlands recently decided to
ban a children's book from its libraries on grounds of racism.

The book, apparently, tells the adventures of a cheekly little monkey. The "racism" arises because the book's illustrations show the monkey dressed in a schoolboy's uniform: the good burghers of Sandwell decided that this would give offense to black people. A case, perhaps, of "racism" being in the eye of the beholder.

Trotsky's widow Broadcasts to the Russian Workers, 1956: "New Regime of Lies—But Stalin's Old Methods"

Author: 

Natalia Ivanovna Sedova, (widow of LeonTrotsky)
Text of the speech by Natalia Sedova Trotsky recorded in Mexico City and broadcast to Russia via Radio Liberation

This is Natalia Ivanovna Sedova, widow of Leon Davidovich Trotsky, speaking from Mexico City. J am addressing myself to the workers and peasants and, in the first place, to the young people in Soviet Russia. The present rulers, Khrushchev, Bulganin, Mikoyan and others, having inherited the Stalinist dictatorship, are conducting an intensive propaganda campaign so as to distract from themselves the powerful wave of dissatisfaction and hatred for the thieves of the victories of 'the proletarian revolution, a wave "which grew in your hearts.

Civilisation, Backwardness and Liberation (2003)

Author: 

By Sean Matgamna

What is the attitude of Marxists to "backward" and "underdeveloped" countries and peoples who are being assaulted, occupied, or colonised by a more advanced but predatory civilisation?

What is the attitude of Marxists to "backward" and "underdeveloped" countries and peoples who are being assaulted, occupied, or colonised by a more advanced but predatory civilisation?

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