Online pamphlets

The Working Class Self-Education Movement: The League of the "Plebs"

Author: 

Colin Waugh

In October 1908 industrial workers who were union-sponsored students at Ruskin College in Oxford founded what they called the League of the “Plebs”. Former students who had returned to their jobs as miners, railwayworkers, textile workers and engineers, supported them.

From January 1909 they began to organise socialist classes in South Wales, the North East, Lancashire and other working-class areas. Under the umbrella of the National Council of Labour Colleges (NCLC), there were, by 1926-27, 1,201 classes like this across Britain, with 31,635 students.

Between 26 March and 6 April 1909 union-sponsored students at Ruskin College, Oxford, conducted the “Ruskin College strike” (actually a boycott of lectures). In September 1909, they opened the Central Labour College.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

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Savage Violence in 20th Century Irish Schools: Why Did People Stand For It?

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

In his understated attack on the Catholic Church in Ireland for the sexual abuse of children, Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke also of the torture of children. In this the attitude of the 26 County Irish state itself was all-defining. This article by Sean Matgamna tells what happened when Socialist Senator Owen Sheehy Skeffington, acting together with a small group of concerned Dublin parents, who had set up "The School Children’s Protection Organisation”, tried to do something about the physical ill-treatment of children in the Church-run Irish schools.
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The violence inflicted on children in Irish schools in the first three-quarters of the Twentieth Century is today scarcely believable. John O'Mahony examines some documentary evidence, and remembers the Ennis National School...

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Marxist Theory and History: 

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When Militant/Socialist Party suggested a "Socialist Federation of Ireland" 1994

Author: 

Sean Matgamna
In October, 1994 Militant/Socialist Party very belatedly, when the IRA war was over, suggested a "Socialist Federation of Ireland" as the way forward.

In August 1994, the Provisional IRA ended the military campaign it had started in March 1971. There would be difficulties, some bombs would be set off in England after that point, but as we can now see the war in the North was effectively over. Throughout the 23 years of war the organisation now known as the Socialist Party, and its 1992 splinter, known now as Socialist Appeal, confined themselves to preaching “Socialism is the only answer” to the conflict in the Six Counties. It was heavily a Protestant-Catholic, Unionists-Nationalist civil war, half- smothered by the British Army.

Castro and the Cuban revolution

By Paul Hampton

Paul Hampton assesses Fidel Castro’s legacy — the nature of the 1959 revolution and the social and political changes Cuba is now experiencing.

The overthrow of Batista in the last days of 1958 was a popular revolution that socialists and radicals everywhere supported. Batista had made Cuba a vassal of the US and held down the Cuban working class with repression and a compliant union bureaucracy.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Around the world: 

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Hal Draper: An Eye-Witness Account of the Russian Revolution

Author: 

Hal Draper

The Russian revolution was the most important event of the 20th century.

It was the most important event in the entire history of the working class. The working class took and held power in territory that covered one sixth of the globe.

That working class power was overthrown in the early-mid 1920s by the Stalinist counter-revolution, which though continuing to call itself "communist" and "working class" put in a brutal and savage state bureaucracy as a new ruling class over the working people.

An account by I N Steinberg, a political opponent of the Bolsheviks, here summarised by Draper, shows that the 1917 upheaval was not a conspiracy but a real people’s revolution.

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AWL: what we are, what we do and why we do it

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Over a period of two centuries and more, humankind has made tremendous strides in developing its power to control nature and, in terms of medicine and surgery in all their aspects, over itself. But we have proved as yet unable to break through into the higher stage of civilisation whose objective preconditions have long existed - the stage characterised by rational, human control over our society, and over nature, by a harmonious relationship with the eco-system on which everything depends.

We are still at the mercy of irrational social and political forces, even while our power to tame the irrational forces of nature, at whose mercy humankind has been throughout its existence, reaches an amazing and still increasing capacity.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

The Levellers and Oliver Cromwell

Author: 

CLR James
On January 30, 1649, Cromwell and his officers executed Charles I. But the Levelers, leading the common people of London and the rank and file of the army, rose against the military government...

On January 30, 1649, Cromwell and his officers executed Charles I. But the Levelers, leading the common people of London and the rank and file of the army, rose against the military government, demanding the election of a new parliament based on manhood suffrage, and advocating a social program which showed that for them the revolution had. not ended but had just begun. A military revolt broke out in May. Fairfax and Cromwell took the field against the rebellion in person; the revolutionaries had to be struck down before they could make contact with other regiments.

The life and death of Henk Sneevliet, Dutch Internationalist

W L Introduction:
Leon Trotsky once said that the small revolutionary movement he led was like the apex of an inverted social pyramid, upon which the whole weight of capitalist society pressed down. Hounded and murdered by fascists and Stalinists, the Trotskyists suffered terrible casualties during and immediately after the Second World War, all across Europe, from France to Greece. The politics of independent working class socialism, which the Trotskyists represented, was everywhere defeated.

Tributes to the memory of Henk Sneevliet, founder of the Indonesian Communist Party, by Max Shachtman and by an unknown fellow-prisoner of Sneevliet when he was captured and killed by the Nazis in World War 2

Marxist Theory and History: 

Richard Franklin Pettigrew and the Fight Between Democracy and Plutocracy in the USA

Author: 

George Novack
The real traditions of plebeian democracy in the United States, since the Civil War, have been bound up with mass struggles against Big Business. Many anti-monopolist battles have been waged under the banner of democracy by movements and individuals apart from the tendencies inspired and guided by Marxism.

Recent converts to capitalist “free enterprise” glorify this system of robber rule as the foundation of American democracy. However, the real traditions of plebeian democracy in the United States, especially since the Civil War, have been bound up with the mass struggles against Big Business. Many anti-monopolist battles have been waged under the banner of democracy by movements and individuals apart from the tendencies inspired and guided by Marxism.

Leon Lesoil, Trotskyist Martyr

Author: 

Parti Communiste Revolutionnaire (Belgium, 1945)
The story of the life of Leon Lesoil, Belgian Trotskyist martyr.

Son of a worker, a worker himself from the age of 13, Leon Lesoil awakened to a political life during the First World War. Caught up by the wave of patriotism and chauvinism that swept over Belgium after the German invasion, he enlisted in August 1914 in the sincere belief that the war was in defense of Justice, a “war to end all wars.”

Woodrow Wilson and Bolshevism: What the Peacemakers did to Europe

Author: 

Sherry Mangan
Woodrow Wilson and Bolshevism: What the Peacemakers did to Europe. A Marxist account of the last phaze of World War One and what happened after the war by Sherry Mangan

“If America had not turned her back upon the world ...” The Wilson Day speeches last December were built around this theme: that what “lost the peace” and started Europe on the path to fascism and the Second World War was the fact that America became “isolationist” and rejected Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations. The corollary theme is: this time a real world-wide organization of the United Nations will enforce democracy, outlaw war, and sprinkle benevolent pints of milk over a “better world.”

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