Some people refuse to learn. Others refuse to remember. And still others remember what they have learned only up to the moment when events call upon them to put it into practice, whereupon they start to forget. Critics of the Independent Socialist League’s position on the war are asking that we support the United States in the war, not only in Korea, but in the Third World War that is being prepared.
Why is there any need to publish a memoir of the Holocaust? Who but a few on the fringes of society deny the genocide happened? The reason to publish is because a significant section of the left has twisted its solidarity with the oppressed into de facto support for organisations who deny that the Holocaust happened. In England the Socialist Workers Party, which once prided itself on the slogan “Never Again!”, has uncritically endorsed Hamas in Palestine and Hizbollah in Lebanon. Both deny the Holocaust!
In the last issue of Solidarity, Mordecai Ryan outlined the history
of the ILP, the main British "centrist" organisation of the 1930s and 40s. Its nearest equivalent in Britain today is the SWP. As mud is a mix of earth and water so centrism is an unstable and almost always incoherent mix of bits of revolutionary Marxist political tradition and aspiration with alien, reformist, etc elements.
What follows is a summary of the political and ideological traditions on which Workers’ Liberty and Solidarity base ourselves.
Isaac Newton famously summed up the importance of studying, learning, and building on forerunners. “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”, he wrote, referring to René Descartes, his contemporary Robert Hooke, and presumably also to his direct predecessor Isaac Barrow.
In science few people think they can neglect the “tradition” and rely on improvisation. In politics, alas, too many.
The leading American Trotskyist, James P Cannon spoke at a memorial meeting in New York for Leon Trotsky on 22 August 1945. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had just taken place (August 6 and 9), and Cannon used the occasion to express his outrage at the atrocity.
What a commentary on the real nature of capitalism in its decadent phase is this, that the scientific conquest of the marvellous secret of atomic energy, which might rationally be used to lighten the burdens of all mankind, is employed first for the wholesale destruction of half a million people.
The 1950s movie The Wild One is about a motorcycle “rebel” gang, led by Marlon Brando, invading a small American town and frightening the natives.
Someone asks the Brando character: “And what are you rebelling against?” Famously, he replies: “What’ve you got?”
The film was, for decades, banned in Britain. That may have been to protect impressionable British Marxists, especially the SWP, from mistaking the Brando character’s philosophy — whatever it is, I’m against it — for a serviceable political programme. It is now the core and only approach of the SWP.
During the recent Holocaust memorial week, the following question was posed many times in the media: has humanity learned the lessons of the Nazi genocide? The question is hard to answer in sound-bites. In fact, there was very little discussion about what the lessons might be.
One of the big lessons about what the Nazis did to the Jews, the gypsies, and other people in Europe, is that the ground was prepared for genocide by years of state-sponsored discrimination and prejudice.
By August Grabski*
On 27 January the presidents of Israel, Poland and Russia as well as the representatives of over 40 governments honoured the victims of the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz. Auschwitz is built near the town of Oswiecim in Poland. Here, during World War 2, the Nazis killed one million Jews, 19,000 Gypsies and 70,000 Poles and Russians.
Just before and on 27 January, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, part of the Polish radical left participated in small demos in a few cities (e.g., Warsaw, Krakow, Gdansk, Poznan).
I once bought a tape of songs from the 1984-5 miners’ strike, and what did I find in amongst the songs by miners and about miners?
A song about the 1982 British-Argentine war over the Falkland Islands which took it for granted that the right socialist approach was to back Argentina — the Argentina of the butchering military junta under Galtieri.
By Vicki Morris
On 25 August many Parisians will mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the capital, a significant moment in the defeat of the Axis Powers in the Second World War.
On 25 August 1944, overwhelmingly, Parisians cheered the arrival into Paris of the French 2nd Armoured Division in the vanguard of the Allied forces.
by Mickey Conn
The first Trotskyist groups had emerged in the mid-1920s as Communist Party
members grew interested in Trotsky's work. With little contact between
groups, and divisions on factional lines, various small groups grew and
split. By 1937, there were three British Trotskyist groups: the small,
Scottish Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), the Revolutionary Socialist
League (RSL) and Militant.
In Hitler: the Rise of Evil (Channel 4 TV) Robert Carlyle gives a brilliant portrayal of the maniac himself. Carlyle condenses what he was politically and socially into a personality. We see his manner, body language, servile and half-fawning, like a dog with his tail down, towards his social "betters". We see the connection between his floundering attempts to find his own place in the world and his cranky nationalism, his need to find scapegoats and "conspirators" to explain the terrible things that happen to himself and to Germany.
In the aftermath of the war in Iraq, there are the first stirrings of an independent labour movement. Workers are beginning to organise to deal with the problems of unemployment and unpaid wages, war damage and reconstruction. Many bourgeois commentators look back to the post-war reconstruction of Germany and Japan as enlightened alternatives to US policy in Iraq. In this article, Bruce Robinson examines the history of the German labour movement in the immediate post-war period and discusses questions of relevance today in Iraq.
By Sean Matgamna
"An injury to one is an injury to all" - and therefore socialists who opposed the recent Iraq war of the USA and UK should back George Galloway?
Sixty-seven years ago this month the Nazis began their final assault on the Warsaw Ghetto, where 40,000 Jews were making a last desperate, heroic stand against Nazi barbarians determined to annihilate them. A mere remnant of Warsaw's once-large Jewish population, they had decided that it is better to die on your feet, fighting, than to die on your knees, unresisting. The Warsaw Ghetto was the first instance of an uprising by "civilians" in occupied Europe during the Second World War. Joan Trevor tells the story.
Not your usual Hollywood Holocaust
Roman Polanski's Palme d'Or-winning film about the Warsaw Ghetto is one that certainly deserves to get a wide audience. It is based on the autobiography of Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, who was one of the twenty Jewish residents (from a starting point of 360,000) of the capital to survive the holocaust.
The film begins when Szpilman, played by Adrien Brody, is interrupted while recording a Chopin concert for state radio - the Nazi invasion has begun. We see his family at home wondering what to do next. The men have been called up to defend the country and are frantically packing, but they don't all want to go. Meanwhile, the first Nazi laws have been published by the city's new leader, one Dr. Fischer, filling pages of newsprint. Where should the money be hidden? Does one have to sew the regulation star-of-David armbands themselves or can they be bought? Where can one go for a coffee? On what bench may one sit? Where will the money come from to get something to eat? And then the Ghetto.
The bulk of this volume is an examination of the economic talks between Nazi Germany and Stalin’s USSR in 1939-41, while Stalin remained “neutral” and Hitler was at war with the West. They ended with the German attack on the Soviet Union, on 22 June 1941. As Ericson puts it, “Nazi Germany turned to bite the hand that had fed it for the past twenty-two months.”