Social and Economic Policy

Nationalise the Big Six!

On 5 February, Npower, one of the Big Six energy suppliers, hiked their electricity price by 15% for electricity and 4.8% for gas for customers on their variable rates. This is the largest single hike by any of the Big Six since at least 2013. If past experience is anything to go by, the rest of the Six will put their prices up too in the next few months.

For the poorest, the government’s attacks on welfare such as the benefit cap and universal credit will just make the situation worse. For pensioners and the chronically ill, fuel poverty kills.

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Trump’s “America First” means workers last

Author: 

Lance Selfa

Perhaps it’s foolish to take anything Donald Trump says as an articulation of core principles or beliefs. But this passage from his inaugural address hit many like a bolt of lightning: From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America First. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.

Labour leaders like Jimmy Hoffa Jr. are giving Trump the cover to paint his economic programme — which in reality is based on tax cuts for the rich, allowing corporations free reign, and selling the US as a low-wage economy — as “populist” and pro-worker.

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Trump: neoliberalism with a white nationalist face

Arun Gupta (from Jacobin magazine) interviewed Marxist academic Leo Panitch about Trump’s economic agenda, his relationship to transnational elites, and how neoliberalism’s crisis could mean revitalization for the left.


AG: Are there positive outcomes from this election?

An interview by Arun Gupta from Jacobin magazine with Marxist academic Leo Panitch about Trump’s agenda

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Stop Trump: On the streets against the “Muslim ban”

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Editorial

Organise, on the streets and in the labour movement! Argue for socialist, democratic, internationalist ideas which offer a real answer both to Trump’s rancid, right-wing, regression, and to the discredited status quo. That is how we can block Trump.

Against a determined push by Trump, the liberal bourgeoisie will not safeguard the mild cosmopolitanism on which it prides itself. It falls to the labour movement to defend even the limited bourgeois ameliorations.

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Labour should fight cuts, not manage them

Author: 

Will Sefton and Charlotte Zalens

Local authorities are currently putting the final touches to budgets for 2017-18, which will herald another round of swingeing cuts across the UK. These cuts follow £20 billion cuts to the core government grant made between 2010 and 2015, a 40% real-terms reduction.

A new system of funding based on the retention of Business Rates (NNDR), the tax levied on the basis of the value of business premises, is set to completely replace the block grant. A trial of the scheme involving several councils in the North West and Midlands is set to begin from April.

Both Corbyn and McDonnell know a radical anti-austerity Labour government would face huge challenges in reversing the government’s austerity programme, but they must take a lead now and back the labour movement in fighting back to defend and extend local services.

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Yes, a maximum wage!

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Jeremy Corbyn’s recent call for a maximum wage is a good move, even though he has now faded it out.

A maximum wage, or a punitive top income-tax rate, would be good, but would put only a very loose limit on inequality.

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Swimming against the stream

Author: 

Todd Hamer

“One of the most outstanding features of Bolshevism has been its severe, exacting, even quarrelsome attitude towards the question of doctrine.” — Leon Trotsky

According to the common sense, the far left is a place where rows over obscure points of dogma lead to endless arguments, fractures and splits. How else to explain the dozens of tiny grouplets claiming to hold the holy grail of revolutionary wisdom? But seen from close quarters, the opposite is the case.

A review of Can Socialism Make Sense?

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The left should not "Trumpify" itself!

Author: 

Michel Husson

On 23 January 2015, several days after being named as the Finance Minister of the new Greek government, Yanis Varoufakis answered questions from Channel Four. His first objective, he explained, was to take emergency steps to reduce the social effects of the crisis, and the third was to re-negotiate the debt. Between these two, and before even getting to the question of the debt, Varoufakis named as his target the system of oligarchy: “We are going to destroy the Greek oligarchy system”.

The idea that the left should develop its own "national sovereignty narrative" plays into the hands of the xenophobes.

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Residents plan Heathrow campaign

Author: 

Simon Nelson

Four Tory Councils are set to take legal action against the expansion of Heathrow Airport. Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead will be joined by Greenpeace in seeking a judicial review of the decision to go ahead with a third runway.

Court action is likely to delay any final decision actually being implemented. For the residents of the area and those who will be most directly affected the words of David Cameron, “No ifs, No buts. No third runway” now ring very hollow.

The interest in a working-class environmentalism amongst some of the unions appears to have faded in recent years. This is something that needs to be urgently rediscovered if the fight against Heathrow is to be won once and for all.

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Is socialism against human nature?

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Our recently published book Can Socialism Make Sense? takes on the arguments against socialism. In this abridged excerpt a critic of socialism (B) is answered by a socialist (A) on the question of human nature.

B: You can’t change human nature. Humanity remains an animal. Human nature — competition, individualism, selfishness, predatoriness — produces, protects, and preserves capitalism.

In a world of material well-being, of democratic collectivism, individualism would flower in a way it can never flower under capitalism.

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